In Issue #109 of Singletrack Magazine, we put 10 different height-adjustable seatposts through the grinder as part of our Dropper Post Group Test.
KS first entered the dropper post market back in 2008 and has since expanded its range of aftermarket and OEM dropper posts, becoming one of the go-to names in uppy-downy posts. Representing KS’s most refined dropper yet, the LEV range was first unveiled in 2011.
The LEV Integra is the internally routed model, with a gear cable mounting to an actuator arm at the base of the post. The latest version features an all-black finish, a twin-bolt saddle clamp, and your choice of 100, 125 or 150mm of infinitely adjustable travel (since this review was published, KS now offer a 175mm travel version too). You can get the LEV in 30.9 and 31.6mm diameter options, though KS does offer a separate LEV 272 to suit bikes with 27.2mm diameter seat tubes.
Like all of the LEV models, there’s an air spring and a hydraulic cartridge inside that control the post height. The air spring can be accessed underneath the saddle clamp, and is adjustable between 100-250 psi. I preferred to have the air pressure on the higher end of that range to get the post returning faster.
KS’s standard lever has been used for years now, and it works well nestled up against the grips on either the left or right hand side of the bars. It is versatile, but I’ll admit I’m not a big fan of the ergonomics and the small lever’s susceptibility to stick cables. Unless they’re new and slick, the small lever requires a good deal of force from your thumb to get it moving. For those with 1x set-ups however, KS also offer the Southpaw remote aftermarket for £39, and it’s a highly recommended upgrade that increases the ergonomics significantly by placing the paddle under the bar where a left-hand shifter would normally reside.
Including cable housing and the standard remote, our 125mm travel LEV Integra post weighed in at 544 grams. That’s pretty good in the world of dropper posts, though if weight is a bigger concern, then consider the new KS LEV Carbon.
Although we’ve had this particular post for six months, the KS LEV Integra is a very popular OEM option, so we’ve had a lot of saddle time on multiple LEV posts as well as this one. In use, the LEV is very smooth in both compression and rebound; however, cable quality and routing will largely dictate your overall experience. Get that finicky pinch bolt set up properly with quality inner and outer on a frame that doesn’t have ridiculously tight bends, and you’ll enjoy smooth and reliable performance.
The LEV does require periodic maintenance though, and especially if you indulge in wet weather riding. Also worth noting is that you can’t pull on the saddle when the post is compressed, otherwise you’ll introduce air into the damper and cause the LEV to act like a suspension seatpost. Another irritating quirk of the LEV is that it occasionally ‘sticks’ at full compression, and particularly if it’s been left compressed for more than a few minutes. All that’s required is a quick tug on the saddle nose to free the post to return again, but we’ve had it happen on a load of LEV Integra dropper posts and it’s bloody annoying each time. KS has informed us that this issue has since been rectified as of mid-2016, with newer production models featuring redesigned internals to stop the IFP from sticking at that full compression. We have a 175mm KS LEV Carbon on review at the moment, so we’ll keep you posted on KS’s claims there.
Very smooth action, lightweight and dependable. The KS LEV is one of the more mature designs on the market, and it’s both easy and inexpensive to service. I’d highly recommend plumping for the Southpaw lever though, which is one of the best dropper remotes in the business. It’s occasional sticking is annoying, and the post is thoroughly reliant on healthy cables, but it’s otherwise a solid option. And if KS has indeed sorted out the sticking issue, then the LEV Integra will be up there as one of the best on the market.
|From:||Jungle Products, jungleproducts.co.uk|
|Price:||£300 - £360|
|Tested:||by Wil Barrett for 6 months|