The not-so-minor details
KS LEV Ti dropper post
Add $70 for Southpaw lever kit
The best externally-cabled dropper on the market.
Cable tension must be quite precise.
The KS LEV is is a cable-actuated dropper post available with either external or internal ‘stealth’ cable routings. While we love the clean looks of an internally routed post, many older (and some newer) frames aren’t compatible with internally routed posts. And, even if your frame is compatible, sometimes the hassle of threading bits of housing through your frame packs all the enjoyment of stubbing your toe on the way to taking a piss at 2:00am. For this reason, when we wanted to fit a dropper post to our Yeti SB5 test bike, the external version of the LEV got the nod. Just for kicks, we also went for the Ti version of the post, which has a carbon lower seat clamp and titanium hardware and saves a few grams.
The usual issue with an externally routed post is that the cable is normally affixed to the top of the post. This means, when you drop the seat, you end up with a dirty big loop of cable dangling about your rear wheel, buzzing your tyre and generally being a pest. The LEV avoids this problem with its unique actuation system. The post’s mechanics are all located mid-way down the post, closer to your frame’s seat collar, on the non-moving portion of the post. No Flapping Cable Syndrome.
The post’s minimum insertion mark doesn’t leave you with a lot of room to manoeuvre, so it’s handy to know your seat-to-bottom bracket measurement before you order. We went for the 125mm travel version, but there’s a 100mm version, or a 150mm drop for people who really want their seat out of the gouchal vicinity.
The standard KS LEV kit comes with a small, unobtrusive lever that can be mounted in place of one of the lockrings of an ODI lock-on grip. But with our test bike running a 1×11 drivetrain, we opted to use KS’s Southpaw lever instead. The Southpaw lever might be a tiny bit heavier than the usual lever, but it sits where your left shifter would have traditionally been located, which is the best location for a dropper post lever as you barely need to move your thumb to activate it.
Installation is reasonably straightforward. The only real complexity comes when you’re trimming the cable – it needs to chopped very precisely. If you chop the cable too short, the post’s locking mechanism won’t properly engage meaning the seatpost height won’t stay put. Too long as it either won’t fit into the little cable compartment, or you’ll need to wind on a ton of barrel adjustment to take up the slack. The classic twin-bolt seatpost head is zero fuss, unlike so many of the completely useless single-bolt post heads out there.
After only a few rides, we’re overwhelmingly happy with this post. It’s an infinitely adjustable system – there are no preset steps in the drop (unlike the FOX DOSS air Specialized Command Post), and we prefer this. Sometimes it’s nice to run the saddle just a centimetre lower, and posts with preset levels of drop don’t allow this. The lever is super light to operate and has superb ergonomics, especially compared to the relatively heavy push needed for a RockShox Reverb post. And because it’s so little effort to quickly bump the post down or up, you use it more than you otherwise would with a less user-friendly post. The rebound speed can be adjusted via the schrader valve under the seat post head, but out of the box the rebound is at a sensible rate which won’t inadvertently neuter you, unlike Specialized’s Command post.
Our only criticism is we found the post is very sensitive to having the cable tension correct. There’s a fine line between having the Southpaw lever feel floppy and vague, or having too much tension and the post therefore not locking into place when you release the lever. We can see this being a potential concern, as a gummed up cable/housing could hinder the precise nature of the operation. Still without many months of riding this product under out belt, it’s impossible to comment. We’d love to secure a longer-term review on this post to see how it performs after a winter of neglect.
All up, we think this post will answer the prayers of plenty of riders. Admittedly, it does also come at a price that will make you pray a bit too. If your frame doesn’t have the provisions for an internally actuated post, or if you simply can’t stomach the arse ache of internal cables, then the KS LEV is the best option on the market, hands down. It gives you all the pluses of an externally cabled post, but without the flappy cable downsides, and works effortlessly too.
Read some other dropper seat post reviews while you’re here!
FOX DOSS vs Crank Bros Kronolog vs RockShox Reverb – http://flowmountainbike.com/tests/adjustable-seatposts-three-way-test-crankbrothers-kronolog-fox-d-o-s-s-rockshox-reverb/
Specialized Command Post – http://flowmountainbike.com/tests/tested-specialized-command-post-blacklite-adjustable-seat-post/