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Existentialism-- Just a bloody good excuse to go riding...

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Review: KS LEV

UPDATE 10/10/12 : Had something to edit and update on the installation section. I don't want to be responsibile for botching up someone's expensive investment if they should be reading this while doing their post installation)

About time for another adjustable seatpost review and finally got my hands on a LEV, thanks to Eugene from GHC.

From testing various ones in the market, I was betting my coin this would be "the post". Right out of the box, the sleek black on black lazer etched logo makes me feel the moolahs that went into this was all well worth...   'Nuff of the wincing and justifications... 

"THE post"?

There is no problem free adjustable seatpost. Period.

Some swear by one or the other but each will have end users reporting issues over time. It boils down to a matter of degree- some are outright failures that should never have even left the drawing board. Others may have a couple of areas like bushing tolerance etc overlooked. A key point for me is how a company responds to issues to resolve it.

While having their fair share of problems, KS seems pretty on top of the adjustable post game. Continually revising and improving their products with changes that shows actual improvement from listening to users feedback.

More importantly there is finally a post that addresses the cable positioning plaguing pretty much all hydraulic posts in the market now, saved for the few that uses one with frames that provide internal routing. Personally I don't see that as something every frame manufacturer will follow. The scope therefore for those kind of internal routing post is limited.

But with the LEV it means no more excess cable bowing or rubbing every which way on your frame when lowered. Yes its probably old news to write this by now.. but its pretty much "the whole point"! It might seem opiniated but anyone coming out with another new post now that doesn't resolve this is basically just positioning their product in second tier.

Running thru the externals...

Complete package with uncut cables for a 5" drop post at a competitive weight of 571gm.

A critical area which always gets my attention. The whole clump of bits and pieces in this area has to deal with one's entire weight from butt up. Constantly subjected to forces in all directions when riding and of course those less than stellar moments when you come crashing down on the saddle after air time. It's one reason why I have religiously avoided weight weenie posts (be it adjustable or not) using ridiculous weight shaving designs and bolts that's probably as strong as bean sprouts.

KS has experimented with quite a few designs. From the single bolt with a spring between the 2 clamping plates in early i900 to the somewhat awkward off-set plates with opposing side screws in the i950. Having owned both I can say they clamp well and tight to seat rails, though adjustment is a little quirky for the latter.

No complaints here. They pretty much nailed it with the clamp design on the LEV. Opposing screws front and back to hold things down works as proven in many other seat posts. Bolts are the right size for strength consideration in this area. While it isn't new but the acutely cambered bolts when locked down with half-dome nuts on fitting curvatures in the top clamp plates makes it a breeze to adjust seat tilt angle. On this aspect, it is much better than any of their other post or for that matter many other competing products out there.

Due to the cambering that leaves tons of clearance for the hex key when tightening.. there's no accidental knocking into the post or having to repeatedly move the hex key in and out while tightening. Another little nice touch.

It just remains to see if feedback from some users regarding trouble with the bolts working loose will happen with mine... From the looks of things.. I say don't grease anything here and it should be fine. Hope I won't have to eat my words to say here that the clamping would stand up to some punishing butt thumping over time..

Bottom clamp sits over and protecting the air-adjustment chamber valve. Neatly packaged.

Not stripping anything more beyond this since everything once mounted and installed was working fine...

Bottom section of post has a warning not to remove until user has seen a video on KS website.

Sounds good to me as that says they do not treat end consumers as idiots where everything has to be sent back to the factory or comes with the usual "only to be open/serviced by authorized dealer" crap.

Minimum Exposed Height (for 5" post)
Bit of trivia for the inseam-challenged.
Distance from max insertion to center of seat rail width.. 7.25".


It was a strange looking bag of small odd looking bits for the actuation section.. reading the well written instructions, it's easy to follow the logic of how things work when these are stringed together.

Exhibiting my usual paranoia, I have modded to make things work smoother and hopefully last a little longer.

The hooked plastic piece seems to be rubbing on an open ended cable housing as pictured in the instruction. Exposed end in the housing!. Hmmm, that didnt make much sense. (please see UPDATE below)

Even when capped, the surfaces of the 2 plastic ends would be rubbing each other and wear out eventually.. with an odd shape piece like this-- getting a replacement will probably pose some inconvenience.

A sliver of delrin would probably be better but not having any... I added a very thin piece of washer in between. This lets things slide around a little, smooth but doesn't affect the actuation in any way. Pushing it down-- it's  makes lubing the inner from this end easy as well.

The inside of the actuation box is rather simple. Basically the claw piece will pull the bar down and the tension comes from the spring below it.

One of the point touted for the LEV apart from the lowered cable positioning is that it is easy to remove the cable and you can take the post with you if you ever have to lock the bike somewhere.

Fidgeting with the whole stringed-up bits while trying to press the spring down to remove or put it in isn't exactly a breeze. Still it is a good thing if you should ever need to do so without removing levers and all.

However with this compact enclosed actuation box, it would eliminate one problem..  stuck post due to contaminated cable and the actuation area in their other models... With the LEV there really isn't much chances of grit plugging up to render the post inoperable.

A word on the installation.
Instruction booklet says to leave 22mm of inner cable longer than the housing. Cut to that length, insert and tighten the set screw.

Looping everything together, I measured and measured many times over.. no way the 22mm was gonna be enough such that you can still squeeze everything down to snap the bits inside the actuation box without a volley of expletives.

The final length I decided on was 27-28mm. Cut and it took a bit of finger work to tighten without having slack at the remote lever end.

In retrospect it would probably have been easier to just leave the inner and snip off with a clipper after the setscrew has been tightened up...

SO take it from me.... DO NOT CUT THE INNER CABLE but install all the small parts and check the spring tension.. when everything is ok, snip off excess inner cable.

IMPORTANT: If you are trying to install while reading all the above... please finish reading  below.

Was tipped off from a reader and realized I had it installed wrong! -- The hook plastic piece is actually the ferrule meant to fit into the actuation area! The extraneous bit (the "hook") is fills up the gap at the bottom of tha actuation box after the whole ferrule has been fitted in.

Still wondering (and kicking myself) how in the world couldthat have been missed. Damn!

Finally gotten everything the way it should. But quite frankly-- the "wrong" way I had earlier was a lot easier to get the cable tension right with with non-stock remote in use and to fit things in.  So instead of deleting-- I have just strike out those descriptions for now.

Yes yes for all the adjustable post fanatics there--You know what I'm talking about. That irritating 1-2mm slack that you can never quite get rid of when installing these things which is all the amount ever needed to make the damn post not work or feel sloppy)

Anyway that hooked ferrule was pretty much toast after all the mawing it gotten. The material (probably LDPE) has a hardness of cheese literally. A normal and slightly longer ferrule is now doing a job better holding things in place. Only setback is the gap for the inner cable to go through is left "unfilled" 

The correct orientation but sadly the funny ferrule is reaching its terminal stage... RIP

Replaced with a normal shifter-housing ferrule. As an afterthought-- those rigid aluminium ones might have been better. But after a 1 hr battle offighting with these bits.. will do that for next time...

A final check this morning before work and a clearer pic to make sure everything is "A" OK.

Remote Lever...
Guess it works for most people as the design has not been changed at all except for the "upgraded" carbon thumb knob over the alloy one of the i950. While not doubting that it works just as well, however its not to my liking.

For one, the activation is fixed and it means needing to use an ODI compatible grip for the lock-ring. Two...if  like me, with short fingers, ergonomics sucks as it requires finger leaving brake lever when activating the post or an over arched thumb to operate the lever.

In summary, it's just excessive hand/ finger movements. The angle of the cable exiting the remote is awkward, even with a vee brake noodles or using one those soft bendy housing sections... it just leaves too much of a cluttered look than I would care for.  Lastly the whole contraption juts out in a weird angle when handlebar is turned too much.

If there is one adjustable seatpost I absolutely dislike, I'm not naming it. However the irony is that they have the most versatile and no nonsense remote in my opinion. Thankfully, this works well with many other posts in the market including the LEV.

Aligned with the outgoing cable direction, the lever can be flicked on a 360 degree plane. Push or pull... do whatever strikes your fancy and all with just a tiny flick of the thumb while fingers need not leave the bar/ brake lever. I'll just leave in plain sight what is being referred to.. looks like I'm not the only one having such thoughts too

The Test
Settled for a 30km road ride as there wasn't time to hit the trail after installing and building up the new bike...

Very smooth operation. Someone told me that the internal is basically the same as that of the i950. Seems so and very much to my liking. No getting up to initiate a butt drop to lower the post. On this aspect, its just the typical KS butter smooth light lowering action as with their other models.

Rebound speed was just right but there was no pronounced indent or sound to signal when it has come back up fully. I might have gotten too used to my DSP Bighorn in the last few months. That one has a very positive feel, letting you know once the stanchion has snapped to max height. Maybe a little more air in the LEV might help but in any case this is not a problem. Just an observation here. Once up it stays up without any play. Only thing left now is the durability of the product that only time can tell...

Did some simulated "OH SH!T" moments approaching a flight of stairs fast while dropping the post at the same time. All in one quick motion and really works well with the non-stock remote... Having tried this with all my other adjustable posts with their respective stock remote-- this chimera LEV combo is by far the quickest and smoothest.

Lateral play, wiggly saddle?-- Brand new out of the box, everything is nice and tight.. Not that I would be looking forward to any of that.

The only thing nagging me now is, sorry to keep repeating-- the whole stringed up bits going into the actuation box area. Neat, yes. Longevity and durability? Remains to be seen. After looking at it in more detail the clawed piece seems a little fragile for my liking. But let's see how things hold up over time.

So much for the"pro and cons". Overall it does what it was designed to do and doing it well. A little more expensive but if you are an adjustable seatpost junkie like me, its, recommended.

Two rather useful and detailed videos from KS themself on the LEV is well worth watching...



  1. Nice read, but here's a little bummer. I have this post, bought less then 2 months ago. But now it's in the shop for a warranty claim. Apparently, the inner cable snapped at the top barrel, clean.. On the shop's loaner seatpost now and feeling the withrawal symptoms already... :(

  2. Faulty inner cable? GOt a pic at the mentioned barrel area?.
    My biggest nag is still the whole string of small bits that goes into actuation box-- a bit miniscule for my liking.

  3. If u meant the barrel adjuster snapped after a crash... happened to me before on the i950. Just replaced it-- takes those smaller screw thread sized one used on roadie shifter barrels though...

  4. The post is at the shop for warranty now so I can't feta photo of it. But basically, it's the inner cable that's attached to the silver barrel that's in turn attached to the "claw" that's in turned attached to the remote cable, that snapped. This is the Kevlar thread that's in that actuation box, that transfers cable action to activate the actuator at the bottom of the post.

  5. That “hooked looking plastic piece” is the “end cap”. If the cable housing is inside of it there is no way to get any dirt or dust into the cable housing or inside “that little actuation box“, which is o-ring sealed. It also holds the cable housing securely without benefit of the additional zip tie and washer upgrade.

    Nice job on the Joplin remote. I mounted the KS remote right above my shifter and I use my thumb very comfortably to operate it. It’s feels like another paddle above the 2 shifter paddles.

  6. Hi. thanks./ Looks like I botched up right there.. ie reverse the direction of that hooked piece! :)

    Will rejig the thign tonite... Thanks again.

  7. Really looking forward to see how this works long term for you...may finally send in my i950r....let's hope it lasts longer than two weeks this time. :)

  8. Just an update to share, I've gotten the post back GHC but it was actually a botched repair, cos the lever couldn't activate the post because the inner kevlar string was far too long, plus whoever fixed the post scratched up the post, probably with a bench vice, at the junction box area. In the end, after much haranguing, GHC gave the green light to C2C to give me a new post from a new batch as a replacement. According to KS, there's a plastic isolator that's supposed to be in the barrel pinching the Kevlar string that the "claw" attaches to that prevents scoring of the Kevlar string causing the string to eventually slip off. This plastic isolator comes with all the new batches.

    Btw, the plastic barb's other "job" is also to hold the junction box's red cover in place to prevent it from dropping off somewhere in the trails...

    1. Thx.. Yea the cover can work loose- i just use a mini zip tie.
      Will check out the plastic isolator info-- didnt know about that.
      Probably easy enuf to DIY something to cover afterwards if really need be. Yea that string bit was something I wondered whether would last the lifespan of the post.