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Added a comment about product review Tested: KS LEV C Adjustable Seatpost 10/27/2014 9:14 PM
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I'm betting Sean "Griz" McClendon would approve of the LA riding given our other options like sitting in traffic, or watching high-speed chases (while sitting in traffic).

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This product_review has 16 comments.

Liked a comment on the item Tested: KS LEV C Adjustable Seatpost 10/27/2014 6:24 PM

I don't know if I can really trust this review. A self proclaimed weight weenie using Oury grips? That just doesn't fit, he should go foam all the way. Those foam grips will kill you in the wet for sure, but hey, it is worth it for the weight savings. And, there are more cables on...more

Added a comment about product review Tested: KS LEV C Adjustable Seatpost 10/27/2014 6:24 PM
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TRex,

I appreciate the skepticism given the general nature of Vital focusing on more "aggressive" riding disciplines. I've used those Oury grips for what seems like forever, even when I lived in Oregon and it rained all the time. I really like the diameter it gives my grip and the dampening effect of the rubber (80 miles into a 100mile race every little bit helps). Yes, they kind of suck in the rain, but here in SoCal it never rains so it isn't a concern. I have a couple sets of foam grips in the garage that just sit around b/c I love me some Oury.

Do I really have six cables? Damn, you are right:
1. Front brake
2. Rear brake
3. Front derailleur
4. Rear deraileur
5. Fox Front Shock - CTD (climb, trail, descend) remote
6. LEV C KGSL Carbon Remote

Seat pack contains: 29er tube, patch kit, a dollar bill (patch tire) tire patch kit (I run tubeless, if I can patch the tire, I will), Mini-tool.

There is a Garmin 500 on the stem + heart rate monitor strap = data. I'm a computer nerd, what can I say.

Yes, two water bottles. Riding out of LA I go through about a bottle an hour. I typically ride at least 2 hours, but usually closer to 3 or 4, on a training ride. There is a refill spot up on the top of Mulholland near the Nike tower where I refill. I'd be happy to show you sometime.

I run tubeless. I also race 50 and 100 mile mtn bike races. If I get a puncture that the Stan's doesn't fill, I have to patch the tire. If the patch fails, I put a dollar bill between the tube (from the seat pack) put in the tube, and bam! back riding. I'm assuming you don't ride endurance distances, so trust me when I say an extra 29er tube is pretty useful when out in the middle of nowhere.

My jersey holds the mini-pump, keys, wallet, phone, and food. Lots of food if out for 4 -6 hours. Those three pockets fill up fast.

The big air canister - I carry a mini pump in my jersey, but it sucks pumping up a flat 29er tire with a mini-pump. Also, in the saddle bag is another CO2 cartridge. CO2 is your friend when pumping up 29" tires.

Regarding XT cranks. The whole build is XT. On purpose! Why? Going XTR adds significant cost, reduced long-term reliability, and only saves 1/4lb. Additionally, I went XT because I knew I would be riding 200+ miles a week, having to replace parts, and it is more cost effective to work with the XT product line. Additionally, in my experience, it is much less likely for XT products to spontaneously fail than XTR, and I'd hate to be in the middle of a 50 mile US Cup race and have something break.

I live in LA. You are more than welcome to ride the bike with the post and check it out. Seriously. It is an 18" frame. My bike shop is Bike Effect in Santa Monica or Pedaler's Fork in Calabasas. Tell 'em to give me a ring and we can meet out on the trail and swap bikes, or meet at the shop or something. Pedaler's Fork does a rad "Ride n' Pint" if you are ever in the area...

This product_review has 16 comments.

Added a comment about product review Tested: KS LEV C Adjustable Seatpost 10/27/2014 3:08 PM
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Fantastic. It's a pretty awesome post, so I'll pick some up to make it a permanent install. Thanks!

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This product_review has 16 comments.

Added a product review for KS LEV C Adjustable Seatpost 10/26/2014 9:14 PM
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Tested: KS LEV C Adjustable Seatpost

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Josh Cady

The LEV Carbon (LEV C) is made by KS USA. Based in Foothills Ranch, California, the Orange County company produces hydraulic height adjustable seatposts and rear shocks. Within their array of dropper posts, KS markets the LEV C to cross-country weight weenies (me) looking for a little more confidence on the descents, and anyone else looking to add a very light weight dropper post to their rig. Per my M.O., I took the post's ability to handle my cross country riding style to the extreme, and tested it on many of the same trails Curtis Keene trains on for the Enduro World Series.

KS LEV C Highlights

  • Built for cross country and trail riding
  • Saddle Drop: 65mm
  • Remote Adjustment: KGSL Carbon Remote with Recourse Ultralight Zero Movement Cable System
  • Diameters: 30.9mm & 31.6mm
  • Length: 400mm
  • Head/Rail: Zero offset two-bolt microadjust/standard rail
  • Color: UD carbon mast/black collar/hard black anodized stanchion
  • Weight: 452-466g
  • MSRP: $589.00 USD

Initial Impressions

The LEV C is built with a unidirectional carbon fiber mast and an anodized stanchion tube providing 65-mm of saddle drop which is actuated via the KGSL Carbon Remote connected using the Recourse Ultralight cable system. This cable system provides about 28-grams of weight savings over standard shifter cables and housing. The carbon fiber head is micro adjustable with two titanium bolts, and is available in a zero offset version only.

Initially I was skeptical of the usability of a dropper post in cross country riding. After unboxing the unit from its Spartan-esque packaging, I was a little hesitant to pop out my super light Ti seatpost, realizing I had no internal or external cable routing options available on my frame. However, closer inspection revealed a polished, well-built product, and the directions seemed easy enough to follow, so I popped the post in, switched the seats, and after three zip-ties and one cable cut, I had it installed and working in less than 30-minutes.

The two cable routing guides, one at the KGSL Carbon Remote, and another providing a 90 degree bend up to the connection on the post make routing the provided cable very simple and clean. Lacking on the external routing was some sort of clamping guide to secure the cable itself more effectively than zip ties. There is an internal routing option, but my trusty steed does not have such a feature. I was however glad to be able to put my saddle satchel and can of CO2 on this post without a problem.

On The Trail

Using the post is straight-forward. You press the lever and apply a little pressure to the saddle, and the post drops. To raise it, press the lever again and stand up. The action is super slick, and the pressure required on the lever is minimal. You can drop the saddle as little or as much as you want, but to set dozens of Strava PRs on the local Santa Monica downhill segments, I found dropping it all of the available 65-mm to be the most effective. Running Shimano XT shifters with gear indicators I had to put theKGSL Carbon Remote further towards the stem than I would have liked, but it is still a simple lever to press once you develop the muscle memory (the gear indicator window could also be removed from the shifter to make room, or the remote seatpost lever could be mounted between the brake lever and the grip, for those who run their brakes more inboard).

Given that I hadn’t previously ridden a bike with a dropper post, I initially feared the post would affect my climbing, add weight to the bike, or malfunction. Well, I didn’t notice the weight difference, the post never malfunctioned, and the bike climbs like usual. Where it affected my riding was on technical downhill sections. Dropping the post the full 65-mm really brought my center of gravity much lower than normal. I am usually a cautious descender, but with the post dropped, I could really let go. Technical downhill single track became much more fun to ride and I attacked the steep descents with ease, even hitting a few rollers.

The 65-mm of drop doesn’t seem like a lot on paper, but for a cross country riding platform it is a good amount to work with and gives you a super confident, stable descending stance. I don’t see how adding even more travel would help in an endurance race, but having this second, more aggressive, riding stance really helps break up the strain of hours in the saddle. I for one am really happy to have it on the bike, and I plan to keep it on for the foreseeable future.

Speaking of the future, I thought that after putting some rides in with the post, it would start to work itself loose, move up and down slightly, or wobble back and forth but it has remained solid. There is a little side to side saddle movement when off the bike, but it is minimal and not noticeable when riding (and this is absolutely par for the course in dropper post land anyway -ed). I tried to get the post to fail, even commuting on it with a backpack full of stuff a number of times, but nothing exciting happened. The LEV C functions the same today as it did the day I installed it on the bike. As previously pointed out, the action on the seat drop and return is really slick; a light press on the lever nets you a smooth piston motion down and back up, with no creaking or sticking to report.

Things That Could Be Improved

The only real issue I had with the post is the cable routing. I'm not sure I have a good solution to offer for externally routing a cable to the LEV C and admittedly my bike lacks dedicated cable guides (as do many XC frames), but there has to be a better option than zip ties. I could send the frame to Moots and have a fourth set of guides welded on, and have considered this as a permanent solution, but for now I’m leaving the zip ties in place. A concern for some will be the price, at nearly double the dollars of the mainstream dropper post out there. However, you are paying for a hassle-free, very light, easy-to-use post from a brand renowned for its reliability (and one of the only serious options out there built specifically for cross country applications).

Long Term Durability

I have put a good amount of miles into the LEV C post, and I have no long term concerns so long as the post is properly maintained and serviced (you are supposed to service it as often as your drivetrain, which is to say, I have installed it and done nothing but occasionally wipe it down). As previously noted, there is a slight side-to-side “jiggle” of the seat when off the bike, but I never notice it when riding and it appears to be a non-issue - as indeed it is on most other dropper posts available today.

What's The Bottom Line?

The LEV C is a solid, easy to install, and easy to use dropper post. The remote lever is small enough that you can put it just about anywhere you want on the handlebars. The LEV C product implementation places function over fashion, something I especially appreciate given the 50- and 100-mile courses I tend to find myself racing on, and, on top of it all it is pretty darn light.

For more information, head on over to www.kssuspension.com.


About The Reviewer

Josh Cady grew up a third generation Coloradan, and got his first mountain bike in high school. While wrenching at local shops in college, he raced 24-hour events along with the occasional cross-country race. He discovered cyclocross living in Portland, Oregon. In between cyclocross seasons, he rides and races a variety of endurance cross country style events. He is much more adept at riding up something than down it, but has fun doing both. Currently residing in Southern California, Josh is a GrassMoots team member for Moots Cycles out of Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

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Added a product review for Urge 2014 Supacross Helmet 7/27/2014 10:37 PM
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Tested: Urge Supacross Helmet

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review by Josh Cady // Action photo by Xotio Media

The Supacross is a 14-vent cross country/trail helmet from the French company Urge. While not new to the helmet scene, this is Urge’s first foray into protecting the brain-housing part of cross country riders. It is available in six different colors, has adjustable padding inserts, and is equipped with a dial-in retention system. It is fabricated with in-mold construction and made with a recycled EPS shell. The straps are made from recycled PET. Available in S/M (54-57cm and L/XL (57-60cm), it retails for $129.95.

I took the helmet’s ability to handle the cross country riding style to the extreme. My goal was to put about a thousand miles of riding into it, so I used it for everything from commuting to work, riding local trails, and competing in Utah’s Crushar in the Tushar, a 70 mile dirt adventure with 11,000+ feet of climbing.

Supacross Helmet Highlights

  • Built for cross country and trail riding
  • 14 vents
  • In-mold construction
  • Adjustable “Gangsta pad” padding. Comes with two sets of two pads. For example, the thicker pads make it a “large” size, and the thinner pads make it an XL.
  • Dial-In retention system
  • Sized in S/M (54-57cm) and L/XL (57-60cm)
  • Six color combinations: black/white, white/silver, yellow/black, black/green, white/blue, or black/red
  • Weight: 9.2 oz (260 g)
  • Recycled EPS shell
  • Straps made from recycled PET
  • MSRP: $129.95

Initial Impressions

One of the first things I noticed and liked about the helmet is the use of recycled materials in its construction. I always respect a company for trying to keep the cost to Earth low. The helmet seems slightly thicker in general than other cross country helmets and I wonder if this is a result of using a recycled material or an engineering feature for the helmet’s CPSC/CE1078 Certification.

In general, the Supacross is somewhat simple and conservative in terms of features, but it definitely unique on the design side of the house. The number of vents is pretty low. There isn’t a separate visor or an option to install one (the front lip of the helmet is designed to act as a visor). The two round vent holes are more about aesthetics than function, giving the helmet its unique look. I’m all about keeping it simple, and the straps and retention system are easy enough to adjust. I had to do a little bit of “shaping” of the foam to get the helmet to sit right on my head, but this is pretty standard for my odd shaped noggin.

On The Trail

Cross-country riders are a fickle bunch. We wear spandex and weigh pasta along with our bike parts, so I was somewhat concerned that the higher weight of the helmet would prove to be a problem. On rides of three, four, or five hours I never noticed it.

I also never had a problem with it coming loose. Even after thousands of feet of descending at the Crushar over washboard dirt fire roads, the helmet held in place, which was fantastic. I was initially slightly concerned with the retention system, as it seemed a little minimal, but I never had a problem with it.

I was expecting the low number of vents and the slightly thicker nature of the foam to create an overheating problem, but I can’t say I ever noticed the helmet creating any excess heat. I did notice the back of my head was a little more exposed due to a lack of material in the design, but the fit of the helmet came low over my forehead, an area I am much more concerned about protecting.

Things That Could Be Improved

While not the lightest, I never noticed the helmet on my head after initial adjustments, except when I was sweating. After baking in the sun for hours and then climbing up the Tushar mountains, I saturated the front pad, and the sweat was dripping down my forehead and off my nose. To be fair, I sweat more than the average rider, and I shave my head. On longer or high intensity rides, I usually go roadie and wear a cycling cap to help with the sweat. As I couldn’t fit a cap comfortably under this helmet, I had to rely on the helmet's own pad system to channel the moisture away from my eyes, which it has trouble with the more I sweat.

I like the idea of an integrated visor, but it doesn’t seem to perform as well as a separate removable visor. In the morning or evening rides into the sun, I found myself using my hand to block the direct light.

I also would have liked to have been able to park my sunglasses somewhere in the helmet, but the way the vents are laid out I couldn’t find a seat for them. Not a big deal, but like I said, we cross country riders are fickle, and I want to think I look cool when drinking my non-fat recovery lattes.

Long Term Durability

I have put a lot of miles into the helmet, caked the helmet straps a salty white from sweat, and the padding chalky yellow with sunscreen. I have no longevity concerns to report.

What's The Bottom Line?

The Supacross is a solid, moderately priced helmet and a successful first stab into the cross country market for Urge. Its unique look isn’t for everyone, but it has grown on me. Despite the sweat wicking issues I have with the helmet padding and the lack of a removable visor, I still use it for most everything but the longest of rides.

Visit www.urgebike.com for more details.


About The Reviewer

Josh Cady grew up a third generation Coloradan, and got his first mountain bike in high school. While wrenching at local shops in college, he raced 24-hour events along with the occasional cross-country race. He discovered cyclocross living in Portland, Oregon. In between cyclocross seasons, he rides and races a variety of endurance cross country style events. He is much more adept at riding up something than down it, but has fun doing both. Currently residing in Southern California, Josh is a GrassMoots team member for Moots Cycles out of Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

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