Kind Shock LEV Integra Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Smooth infinite travel, lightweight, low stack height
Cons: Plastic remote, history of breakage/unreliability
Manufacturer: Kind Shock
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Our Analysis and Test Results
KS makes dropper posts, and aside from a couple of handlebars and stems, that is pretty much their forte. They've been in the game for quite a while, and they make a broad range of droppers with various lengths of travel, weights, and routing options for virtually every type of rider. As mentioned above, our test post came OEM on one of our tester's bikes. Within a week of owning the new bike, a small part of the actuation mechanism broke off, and the entire post was promptly replaced by warranty. The replacement post was installed days later, and the KS LEV Integra has operated trouble-free for over a full season.
Smoothness and Functionality
When mounted alongside the other dropper posts on our side-by-side test apparatus, we were impressed by the smoothness of the KS post in its extension. We found that it was among the easiest to compress, right up there with the 9point8 Fall Line, Fox Transfer Performance, and the Bike Yoke Revive. Our LEV Integra ran buttery smooth through its travel at all times with no sticking or inconsistent movements.
The speed of return on the KS post can be adjusted by adding air to the air spring through the Schrader air valve that hides in a recess under the saddle clamp. Like most of the saddle clamp air valves, the cap on KS's wasn't that easy to remove, and a set of needle-nose pliers comes in handy. We never adjusted the pressure in our test post, and when we finally checked it, it was at 210psi, which served us well. The rate of return can be slowed down or sped up by adjusting the pressure within a range of 100-250psi to dial it in for those of you who like it tortoise slow or castration quick. The KS post has a light but audible noise at the top out for those who like to hear when their post reaches full extension.
There was the tiniest amount of lateral play, wiggle, in the saddle apparent from day one, but it was so minimal that we couldn't even consider complaining about it. This minimal play continued throughout our test period and never got worse over time. While we were never super impressed by the remote lever design, perhaps we should upgrade to the Southpaw 1x lever; it worked well and was among the easiest in actuation force of all the dropper posts we tested. In our opinion, the easier it is to press the lever, the better, so we certainly like this aspect of the LEV Integra.
The KS lost some points to the competition for their basic remote lever design. As an aftermarket purchase, the KS LEV Integra comes with what they call their KG alloy remote, while OEM models come with the KGP polycarbonate (plastic) remote, which we tested.
The two remotes are the same design made with different materials. The KS remote is a small vertically oriented lever that can be mounted on either side of the handlebar for compatibility with any drivetrain configuration. Its ergonomics and design are nothing special, but it's small and tucks in neatly next to your shifters, brakes or grips for a clean looking handlebar.
Unlike most of the other remotes in the test, the KS polycarbonate remote that we tested doesn't have a hinged clamp, meaning you have to remove your grips to mount it. This isn't a problem if you're running lock-on grips, but anyone using foam or any other type of non-locking grip may need to cut them off or spend the extra time to remove and reinstall them. Once mounted, the remote can be rotated on the handlebar to find the best position for your taste, and the small lever has a short throw and an easy actuation force. KS also sells an aftermarket 1x under-mount lever called the Southpaw, which you can find online for about $32.
Despite complaints of incessant noise from the KS LEV Integra saddle clamp during our previous dropper post test, we had a completely different experience with our current test post. The zero offset head and standard two-bolt saddle clamp design have never made a single extraneous noise, ever. Our saddle clamp bolts have stayed tight, keeping our seat in the position where we want it for months on end.
The KS saddle clamp design is quite simple: two bolts, fore and aft, tighten down the upper and lower halves of the clamp onto the saddle rails. It's nothing especially exciting or groundbreaking, but ours works, and that's all we need it to do. The LEV Integra hides its Schrader air valve under the saddle clamp, so adjusting the pressure in the air spring requires fully removing your saddle and saddle clamp to access it.
Ease of Setup
The cable-actuated design of the KS LEV Integra is relatively easy to set up, but the fact that the cut end of the cable is at the bottom of the seatpost made this post require a bit more patience and time than several of the other cable-actuated posts in our test. After installing and removing dropper posts numerous times in the course of our testing, we determined without a doubt that we prefer cable-actuated systems where the cable terminates, is cut, at the remote end of the system. That said, the LEV Integra can be installed by virtually anyone with basic mechanic skills and a set of proper cable/housing cutters.
Once you've run the housing through your frame, the most challenging part of the process, the primary challenge during installation is finding the right tension on the cable where it attaches to the actuation lever at the bottom of the seatpost. We are told you want the cable to be exactly 18mm longer than the housing. The cut end of the cable slides through a hole in a small cylindrical cable bushing and is held with a set screw. The bushing sits in a cradle in the actuation lever with a slot for the cable in both the lever and housing stop, which makes for a simple tool-free connect/disconnect system.
Lightest in the test, the KS LEV Integra tipped our scales at only 576g, including the cable, housing, and remote as mounted on our test bike in the 150mm length. Interestingly, in our grams per millimeter of travel calculation, we found the Bike Yoke Revive to come is slightly lower than the LEV. That said, if weight is a priority, then the LEV Integra may be the post for you.
At $323, the LEV Integra is a good value. Typically in the bike world, when something weighs less, it tends to cost more, but this is not the case with the KS Dropper. Considering the weight, overall performance, and longevity of our test post, we feel that the LEV Integra is a good value. It is important to note that the price varies by travel length with longer drop lengths costing more. For example, the 170mm post retails for $350.
Our first impression with the KS LEV Integra wasn't the best, as no one likes sending in their brand new dropper post for warranty within weeks of purchasing a new bike. It took a little while to regain our trust as we got over that initial impression, but the replacement post has performed admirably and trouble-free ever since. The adjustable air spring, smooth and consistent travel, lightweight, and reasonable price make the KS post one of our favorites. It's our Top Pick for Lightweight Performance and offered more fluid action and was easier to install than droppers that cost significantly more. If you're looking for a lightweight dropper that won't completely break the bank, the KS LEV Integra may be the post for you.
Other Versions and Accessories
The LEV Integra comes in 27.2mm, 30.9mm, 31.6mm (tested), and 34.9mm diameters. The 27.2mm diameter comes in 65, 80, 100, and 120mm drop lengths. In the larger three diameters, the travel options are 80, 100, 125, 150, and 170mm. In addition to the LEV Integra, KS also produces several other dropper posts. Their lineup includes a variety of drop lengths and routing options, internal or external, for hardtail XC racers, downhillers, and budget-minded riders. KS also manufactures a variety of aftermarket accessories, including colorful anodized remote parts, seal collars, as well as the Southpaw remote, a 1x shifter style lever, which you can find for around $32 online.
— Jeremy Benson