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
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.