I’ve been doing a bit of counting. I think I bought my first dropper post five or so years ago. Maybe a little longer. It revolutionised my riding and one has been a constant presence on most of my mountain bikes since. From Michael Jackson style crotch grabs to fully hydraulic systems; I still haven’t found the perfect post, however. Ignoring reliability issues, my biggest bugbear, as someone relatively long of leg has always been the short travel of many posts. Until recently 125mm seemed to be the standard, with the odd stand out offering a little more, and 150mm becoming increasingly common.
Long of LEV
A whopping 175mm of travel first attracted me to the KS LEV Ci (it’s also available in 65mm, 100mm, 125mm and 150mm options), but there is one other feature that sets this dropper apart from others currently available on the market. Carbon. Yep, main seat mast is made of unidirectional black stuff. This shaves around 85g off the weight of the post versus the regular KS LEV Integra: 461g vs 545g claimed – actual weight of our LEV Ci was pretty much bang on that (464g). Once the lever and cabling is thrown in, the weight came in at 569g.
If you aren’t sure whether you’ll be able to squeeze in all that post into your existing frame, 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. The insert length is 266mm.
It’s no surprise that the LEV Ci is KS’s top of the range post. The LEV Integra is essentially the same post, but with an aluminium sleeve and they also offer an almost bewildering number of options to cover most budgets. Back to the LEV Ci, though. Underneath the mythical black stuff is a cable actuated hydraulic post. In super simple terms, a bar remote pulls a gear shift cable, which in turn pulls a lever at the base of the post. Easy-peasy.
The saddle clamp is inline and uses a two-bolt mechanism that makes micro-adjustments straight-forward and quick. It will even work with oval-railed carbon saddles should you wish to continue the lightweight theme. It is available in 30.9mm and 31.6mm (tested) diameters, as well as 27.2mm (max travel 120mm).
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, 27.2 (only up to 120mm drop)
- Claimed weight: 443g – 552g (including KGSL carbon remote w/Recourse Ultralight cabling)
- Standard KS 2-year warranty
- RRP: £480 – £540
The LEV Ci was pleasingly straightforward to set up. It takes a little time to accurately calculate the length of cable outer required, but no more than a cup of tea’s worth (I’m patenting the Brew as the SI time measurement for all mechanic-ing duties). Another Brew later, at most, and you’ll be up and running. We’ve really appreciated the approach taken by Bontrager and Fox recently, where the cable head attaches to the base of the post, allowing for any fine-tuning of inner cable length at the lever end of the system. Sadly the LEV uses the more commonly spotted grub screw clamp at the base of the post, and the cable threads through the lever in a similar way to a gear-shifter. Once set up this makes next to no difference, but takes a little more thought to get the cable length bang on. Micro adjustments can be taken in by a barrel adjuster at the bar.
As a consumer, I want a completely hassle free, reliable, functional bit of kit. As a reviewer, when you find that holy grail, it does leave you scratching your head wondering what to write. This is one of those occasions. The LEV Ci just worked. Up and down in conditions ranging from dry and dusty through to sloppy and muddy. Wicked. What’s that? You need a little more? Okay, okay. Let’s start at the lever.
It is worth noting that our post came with the KS Southpaw. This is a paid-for upgrade. It costs £39 for the aluminium version and replaced the standard lever, which is smaller, lighter and integrates with an ODI lock-on grip should you wish. It’s a worthy upgrade, despite the slight increase in weight. The Southpaw places the lever in exactly the right place to be able to actuate the post without changing bar grip. This sounds like a basic requirement for a dropper, but it is something that has taken a long time for quite a few companies to get nailed.
On the trail, I found it really beneficial on technical traverses, allowing me to raise the post for loose, steep climbs and shove it out of the way quickly on the crest to be able to descend with confidence before reversing the process. It also really helps on those panic drops when the trail catches you unawares. Is there anything more frustrating than bouncing down a technical descent with the saddle up your backside because you fumbled the dropper lever? There was the smallest amount of play at the lever, which didn’t affect performance at all, but did create an occasional very soft rattle.
The post action was smooth, both in drop and return. The KS isn’t keyed, meaning there are unlimited height options between fully extended and depressed. Out of the box, the return isn’t as fast as some, taking a second or two to reach full extension – I personally preferred this to a jack-in-the-box style surprise every time I pressed the lever. Increasing air pressure in the post will speed up the return a little if you prefer.
I did find that the post was very sensitive to over-tightening of the seat collar. A rushed assembly without fibre-grip didn’t provide the friction needed to keep the post solid without causing binding between the post outer and inner. Once suitably pasted, there were no issues though.
What about the extra drop? Well, I certainly didn’t notice (or particularly need it) all the time, but on very steep trails, it was great to be able get a little lower on bike. I found it more confidence inspiring rolling into a technical section of trail and left me more likely to commit first time. For me, this is the biggest compliment you can pay to a piece of kit; it let me ride more, ride better and have more fun.
After several months of use there is a miniscule amount of rotational movement in the post. This translates to barely a mm of movement at the saddle nose. I think this is an entirely reasonable state of affairs, but one that we’ll keep an eye on to make sure there is no deterioration.
Previous KS posts that we have tested have had an issue where they have stuck down on depression. KS claim that this has been fixed on the LEV Ci, and there were no issues at all during the test period. Good news.
But is it worth it?
If you want to replicate the exact build of our LEV Ci it will cost £520 at full retail. That is an extraordinary amount of money for a seatpost. Is it genuinely worth that? Well, if you want a long-drop dropper, value reliability and are keen to shave as many grams as possible then, maybe. Personally, I’m not sure I could justify the extra cost over the regular LEV Integra (£360 for the 175mm version, plus £39 for the Southpaw lever), but those looking for the ultimate lightweight enduro bike may be able to do so.
A superb dropper post, combining long drop, excellent reliability and light weight into one, pricey package. Want to build your dream super bike? Look no further.
|From:||Jungle Products, jungleproducts.co.uk|
|Price:||£520 (as tested)|
|Tested:||by Tom Hill for 4 months|