The KS LEV Integra underwent the longest test period of all our dropper posts. The LEV Integra came stock on our tester's Ibis Ripley LS and has taken more than a full season of use and abuse. In that time we have found the KS dropper to provide smooth, consistent and reliable travel while requiring little to no maintenance. Not only has it performed well, but it's also the lightest post in our test by over 30g. KS primarily produces dropper posts and the LEV Integra is among the most popular as an aftermarket purchase due to its light weight, reasonable price, smooth performance, and low stack height. Read on to find out how it stacked up against a competitive new selection of dropper posts.
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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Kind Shock LEV Integra
|Price||$259.95 at Amazon|
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|$375.00 at Backcountry|
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|$324 List||$199.00 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Smooth infinite travel, lightweight, low stack height||Infinite travel, smooth action, triggy remote, revive reset valve||Innovative, easy compression, adjustable spring rate, six travel lengths, available parts||Loam lever is excellent, reasonable price, smooth action||Inexpensive, highly customizable, lightweight|
|Cons||Plastic remote, history of breakage/unreliability||Long extended length, expensive||Finicky installation-cable tension, poor performance if set up improperly||Slightly grainy feel||Not the smoothest, less refined lever|
|Bottom Line||Smooth and consistent and reliable, the KS LEV Integra was also the lightest dropper post in our test and our Top Pick for Lightweight Performance.||The small German component manufacturer Bike Yoke is making one of the best dropper seatposts on the market today.||The winner of our Top Pick for Innovative Design award, the Fall Line is an interesting and thoughtfully designed new dropper post.||PNW Components is a relatively new player in the industry and the Bachelor is a high-quality dropper post at a reasonable price.||A wallet-friendly and customizable seatpost that is gets the job done but avoids going above and beyond.|
|Rating Categories||Kind Shock LEV Integra||Bike Yoke Revive||9Point8 Fall Line||PNW Components Bachelor IR||OneUp Dropper|
|Smoothness And Functionality (25%)|
|Saddle Clamp (25%)|
|Ease Of Setup (15%)|
|Specs||Kind Shock LEV...||Bike Yoke Revive||9Point8 Fall Line||PNW Components...||OneUp Dropper|
|Measured Weight (length tested)||576g (150mm)||684g (185mm)||617g (150mm)||701g (170mm)||636g (170mm)|
|Positions||Infinitely Adjustable||Infintely Adjustable||Infinitely Adjustable||Infinitely Adjustable||Infinitely Adjustable|
|Travel/Extended Length (mm)||80/100/125/150/175mm, 300/340/390/440/490mm||125/160/185mm, 396.2/466.2/516.2mm||75/100/125/150/175/200mm, 325/350/375/440/500/560mm||150/170mm, 458/498mm||150/170mm|
|Drop length tested/Extended length, claimed||150mm/440mm||185mm/516.2mm(484.8mm not counting the actuator at bottom)||150mm/440mm||170mm/498mm||170mm/450mm|
|Saddle layback||Zero offset||Zero offset||Offset or inline geometry, purchase of conversion kit required||Zero offset||Zero offset|
|Remote||OEM: polycarbonate/plastic, Aftermarket: KG Alloy||Triggy 1x remote lever(2x, 1x I-Spec B, 1x I-Spec II also available)||Thumb:(tested) universal with 1x adapter, Trigger: finger actuated, or Digit: 1x left undermount||Loam lever||Carbon remote|
|Cable Style||Internally routed, cable actuated||Internally routed, cable actuated||Internally routed, tool free quick connect system||Internally routed, cable actuated||Internally routed, cable actuated|
|Stack Height/Ride height||50mm compressed, 200mm extended||42mm compressed, 226.7mm extended||59mm compressed, 209mm extended||60mm compressed, 225mm extended||37mm compressed, 207mm extended|
|Included||Cable and housing||cable and housing, Triggy remote, Air valve adapter, Quick Reset lever||Torque key, cable, housing, 2 year warranty||Cable and housing, 3-year warranty||Cable and housing, travel adjust shims, one year warranty|
|Tested Diameter and travel length.||31.6, 150mm travel||31.6, 185mm travel||31.6, 150mm travel||31.6, 170mm travel||31.6, 170mm travel|
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 in 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.
Of course, the cable and housing have been replaced, but we consider that to be routine maintenance for any cables on a mountain bike. The actuation is easy; the travel is smooth and consistent, and best of all it is lightweight. We have not experienced the creaky self-loosening saddle clamp or extended break-in period that were the chief complaints our testers had about the LEV Integra during our previous dropper post test. Overall, we've been quite impressed with the performance of the KS post over time and also during our side-by-side testing.
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. In fact, it tied the Thomson Elite Covert, Crank Brothers Highline, and Bike Yoke Revive for smoothest during extension. We also 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 works well and was among the easiest in actuation force of all the dropper posts we tested. Only the 9point8 Fall Line and the Bike Yoke Revive require less lever force to actuate. 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 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 difficult 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. This process isn't nearly as complicated as dialing in the quick-connect systems on the Race Face Turbine or 9point8 Fall Line but may take a couple guesses and checks to get perfect. 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. The connection at the bottom of the seatpost is almost identical to that of the Fox Transfer Performance, although the Fox is easier to install because they have the cut end of the cable at the remote.
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. It weighs more than 40g less than the next lightest post in our test, the Race Face Turbine, and over 100g less than heavyweight posts like the Thomson Elite Covert, or the e13 TRS+. 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