Hands-on Gear Review

Kind Shock LEV Integra Review

The KS LEV Integra impressed us with its smooth action and consistent performance and is our Top Pick for Lightweight Performance.
Kind Shock LEV Integra
By: Jeremy Benson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 31, 2017
Price:  $379 List  |  $279.95 at Backcountry - 26% Off
Pros:  Smooth infinite travel, lightweight, low stack height.
Cons:  Plastic remote, history of breakage/unreliability.
Manufacturer:   Kind Shock
85
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 7
  • Smoothness and Functionality - 25% 10
  • Saddle Clamp - 25% 8
  • Remote - 25% 7
  • Weight - 10% 10
  • Ease of Setup - 15% 8
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  • 2
  • 3
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  • 5
Top Pick Award

Our Verdict

The KS LEV Integra underwent the longest test period of all our dropper posts. Truth be told, the KS LEV Integra came stock on our tester's Ibis Ripley LS and has taken 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. In our previous dropper post test, the KS LEV Integra lost significant points for a squeaky and self-loosening saddle clamp, as well as a "long break-in period." We had no such complaints about our current test post, so read on to find out how it stacked up against a competitive new selection of dropper posts.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

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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 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 light weight. 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.

Performance Comparison


Testing the KS LEV Integra while riding near Truckee  CA.
Testing the KS LEV Integra while riding near Truckee, CA.

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 and the Crank Brothers Highline for smoothest during extension. We also found that it was among the easiest to compress, ranking third easiest in compression force after the 9point8 Fall Line and the Fox Transfer. Performance 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 provided the second easiest actuation force of all the dropper posts we tested. Only the 9point8 Fall Line required less lever force to actuate. In our opinion, the easier it is to press the lever the better, so we certainly enjoyed this aspect of the LEV Integra.

Over a season's worth of dirt  grime  and general abuse and the KS LEV Integra is no worse for the wear.
Over a season's worth of dirt, grime, and general abuse and the KS LEV Integra is no worse for the wear.

Remote


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.

The KS polycarbonate remote lever  foreground  while mounted for side-by-side testing.
The KS polycarbonate remote lever, foreground, while mounted for side-by-side testing.


Unlike every other remote 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. In fact, the KS post was second only to the 9point8 Fall Line in ease of actuation during our side-by-side testing. KS also sells an aftermarket 1x under mount lever called the Southpaw which you can find online for about $32.

Saddle Clamp


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. As a matter of fact, the zero offset head and standard two-bolt saddle clamp design has 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 ground breaking, 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 thoroughly removing your saddle and saddle clamp to access it.

The adjustable air spring hides its valve within the head of the seatpost under the saddle clamp.
The adjustable air spring hides its valve within the head of the seatpost under the saddle clamp.

Ease of Setup


The cable actuated design of the KS LEV Integra was 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.

Weight


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. It weighs more than 40g less than the next lightest post in our test, the Race Face Turbine, and over 100g less than our heavyweight, the Thomson Elite Covert. If weight is a priority, then the KS LEV Integra may be the post for you.


Our top pick for Lightweight Performance  the KS LEV Integra weighs 576g including cable  housing and remote in our tested 150mm length.
Our top pick for Lightweight Performance, the KS LEV Integra weighs 576g including cable, housing and remote in our tested 150mm length.

Best Applications


We found the LEV Integra to provide smooth, reliable, and consistent performance and we feel that it is the best option for riders looking to save a few grams on their bike. It would be a shame to just pigeon hole this dropper for the weight conscious though, as it is suitable for all types of riding and riders. The low stack height of the LEV Integra, 50mm compressed, and 200mm extended in the 150mm travel length, may also be appealing to folks trying to squeeze a longer drop length onto their bike.

Value


At $379, the LEV Integra only retails for $29 more than our Best Buy award winner, the Crank Brothers Highline. It also costs around $100 less than the more expensive dropper posts, such as the Thomson Elite Covert, the RockShox Reverb Stealth, and the Race Face Turbine. 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.

Testing the LEV Integra in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
Testing the LEV Integra in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

Conclusion


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


The LEV Integra comes in 30.9mm, 31.6mm (tested), and 34.9mm diameters. Travel options are 100mm, 125mm, and 150mm (tested). In addition to the LEV Integra, KS also produces many 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

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