by Wil Barrett
April 20, 2017
KS is a brand that has been in the dropper post game for a good long while now. As many companies just begin to dip their toes into the market, KS emerged as one of the first to really commit to the concept all those years ago, having dedicated almost all of its output exclusively towards building height-adjustable seatposts.
We’ve tested loads of bikes that have had KS dropper posts fitted as stock equipment, and we’ve also reviewed numerous aftermarket posts that have been sent to us for testing. Models including the Dropzone, the Supernatural, the Crux, and the excellent LEV. While earlier versions of the LEV haven’t been entirely perfect (we’ve had numerous posts that annoyingly remain stuck down at full compression before they release after you tug on the saddle manually), there’s no denying the post’s smooth sliding action, quiet operation, and ease of service.
As with all dropper posts, the LEV does add weight over a regular rigid seatpost. And for the most part, this is a simple a trade-off that most riders are willing to make for the convenience of having the ability to adjust saddle height on the fly. But, as we all do, KS wanted to chisel away some grams to help minimise that weight penalty.
In 2013, KS announced it would be offering a carbon LEV dropper post. Unfortunately it wasn’t that much lighter (about 436g in its lightest configuration). It also didn’t have a lot of travel, with only 65mm of drop available. And for anyone who’s used a dropper with more than 100mm of travel, you’ll know that 65mm almost isn’t worth bothering with (unless you’re a World Cup XC shredder like Julien Absalon). And we would know, as we tested one of the KS LEV Carbon posts about this time last year in Issue 106 of Singletrack Magazine. While the post worked well and was easy to live with, the conclusion was that at £460, the 30 gram weight saving over the 100mm alloy version really wasn’t worth it.
KS was listening, and has been steadily working away at the design over that time. It’s been refining both the internals and externals, and has come out with a brand new option in its dropper post lineup; the LEV Carbon Integra (or LEV Ci for short).
The LEV Ci joins the current LEV Carbon as another option in the LEV range. The main visual difference is that the Ci offers internal cable routing, with the cable attaching at the base of the post, and routing internally through the seat tube of your frame. However, there’s loads of other changes too…
KS LEV Ci Dropper Post Features
- Carbon fibre internally routed dropper post
- Black anodized upper shaft
- Carbon fibre outer tube and carbon fibre lower saddle rail cradle
- Air sprung, hydraulic activation
- Patented one-way roller clutch bearing to minimise rotational play
- Travel: 175mm, 150mm, 125mm, 100mm, 65mm
- Twin bolt saddle rail clamp is compatible with standard and carbon saddle rails
- Comes standard with remote
- Southpaw remote upgrade available in alloy (£39) or carbon (£59)
- Zero offset head
- Diameter: 30.9mm, 31.6mm
- Claimed weight: 443g – 552g (including KGSL carbon remote w/Recourse Ultralight cabling)
- Standard KS 2-year warranty
- RRP: £480 – £540
The most important change is that the LEV Ci is available in multiple models beyond just 65mm of travel. In fact, the post we have on test comes with 175mm of travel! It’s also available with 150mm, 125mm and 100mm options, which join the existing 65mm travel model.
Structurally, the LEV Ci still uses the same twin-bolt saddle clamp that the regular LEV post uses, with two stainless steel bolts locking down the saddle rails onto a carbon fibre cradle. This design is also compatible with oval carbon fibre saddle rails for those who rock the true weight weenie style.
The actuator mechanism remains the same design as the current LEV, with a silver spring loaded arm located in a holster at the base of the post. The system is straight forward enough to install a cable onto, though we would have like to see KS adopt the reverse design with the cable head attaching at the base of the post, and the pinch bolt located at the lever end (as brand’s such as Fox and Bontrager have done).
Internally, you’ll find the same air spring and hydraulic cartridge used in the regular alloy LEV. The air spring is adjustable by threading a regular shock pump onto a schrader valve that’s located underneath the saddle rail cradle, and the hydraulic cartridge controls the post height so you can adjust the travel anywhere along the 175mm stroke. On the note of the internals, we’re informed by KS that the stuck-down issue we’ve experienced with previous LEV posts has been rectified with a revision to the sealing inside the post, so we shouldn’t have that same problem here.
Our test post arrived with the Southpaw lever, which features a split claw that clamps around your handlebar without need to remove the brake lever and grip to install and remove. The Southpaw remote is excellent in terms of ergonomics, with a large paddle that mimics a front shifter paddle. It doesn’t come standard with the LEV Ci post however, but it is available as an upgrade for £39 for the alloy version, and £59 for the lovely carbon one that we’ve got.
As for weight, our 175mm length dropper post in the 31.6mm diameter weighs in at 464g for the post on its own. KS claims the 175mm travel LEV Ci weighs as little as 400g, though that is likely for the skinnier 30.9mm size.
Oh and if anyone’s wondering, our test post measures in at 460mm from the middle of the saddle rail clamp down to the base of the outer tube (not including the cable actuator that hangs off the base of the post – total length with that is 490mm). And the distance from the middle of the saddle rails to the base of the collar around the top of the outer tube measures at 224mm.
Add in a full-length cable kit and the Southpaw remote, and you’ve got a 569g system, which is pretty close to KS’s weight claim for the 175mm travel option (552g). Of course that weight will come down a few grams once the cable is trimmed to length, and it’s worth noting that the Southpaw remote is heavier than the regular KS dropper post lever, so some weight could be saved there too. That said, the Southpaw remote is so good that we don’t really care.
As a comparison, we have a current KS LEV Integra dropper post in the office with 125mm travel, which weighs in at a very close 544g. Given that the LEV Ci features 50mm more travel, that makes it pretty darn impressive. Plus, it’s carbon, so there’s that too.
We’ll keep you posted (boom-tish!) on our progress with the LEV Ci dropper post, though if you’ve got any specific questions about it in the meantime, drop them in below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.
To get your hands on one, get in touch with Jungle Products for more information.