KS ETen Seatpost Review

Jan 16, 2013 at 0:07
Jan 16, 2013
by Matt Wragg  
 
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This may well be the most important dropper seatpost we've seen this year. Here at Pinkbike, our love for dropper seatposts is unanimous - if you're into trail riding the question has to be why wouldn't you want to run one? However, we also can accept that for many people they look like a lot of money for something that essentially attaches your saddle to your frame. That's why this ETen is so important: it's not the most advanced, the lightest or the one with the most features. What it is, is the cheapest by a long, long way. Weighing in at $150.00 (or 100 Euros on this side of the Atlantic) it's around a third to a quarter of the price of its bigger brother, the Lev, and posts like the Rockshox Reverb and Fox DOSS. Does that drop in price equate to a drop in performance though?

Side view.
It definitely doesn't look like a cheap alternative.

KS ETen seatpost details:

- Available in 30.9 or 31.6mm diameter
- 100mm travel, 385mm length
- Alloy remote
- 20mm offset standard rail
- Black anodized mast and head w/ hard anodized stanchion
- Weight: 723g (including remote)

- MSRP: $150 USD

Details

The ETen shares many of the same genes as the Lev (our post is a pre-production version branded here as ExoForm, which is what KS use for some of their slightly lower-end products in the Far East). Most important of all is the one-way bearing that helps eliminate play in the shaft. Combined with grooves on the damper, it's a system that is well-proven to keep the post running true for a long time. Where you start to see the differences is in the features available - it only comes in 100mm drop, where the Lev boasts 125mm or 150mm options as well. You are also limited on seattube sizes: 30.9mm or 31.6mm, although this shouldn't be a problem for most people. It weighs in at sensible 723g including the lever, giving up around 100g to the Lev. At the head is a big, simple, single bolt clamp to hold the saddle in place - it's not the most sophisticated setup, but if you want refinement, it's gonna cost more. One detail we do like very much is the black shaft - we'd go as far as to say we prefer this to the gold finish on the more expensive Lev.

Details 2.
Details 1.
The finish on the post is the same as you would expect on a much higher-end option, and we like the black anodising on the shaft. It's at the head where you can see that it's somewhat less refined, with the big, simple bolt to pull it all together, although it shares the same actuation mechanism as all of the earlier KS posts.

Inside is where the big differences are. To keep the costs down, KS buy in a damper, rather than assemble one in-house. The dampers are sealed steel units, which rules out servicing the post yourself - if something goes wrong it's going to need to go back to the distributor. Being made of steel accounts for much of the extra weight in the post too. It is because of the bought-in damper that the travel is limited to 100mm; their own dampers are much shorter - with this one a 125mm drop would mean the post would be too long to fit many frames, so the decision was made to offer the single option. Controlling it all is the same lever the use in their other posts, the difference here being that it's a cheaper version. It is fair to say that we would expect the ETen to have a shorter life than many of the more expensive posts, for the simple reason that it costs much less and that extra money you spend buys craftsmanship, materials and technology.

Setup

When we were initially installing the post we felt guilty for taking the stock Thomson Elite seatpost out of the test bike and replacing it with a "budget" post. Then we remembered the "budget" post cost a fair bit more than the Thomson. We were impressed with how easily it went onto the bike, especially since our test bike had internal routing, so we had to completely disassemble and reassemble the cabling to mount it. The process maybe took ten or fifteen minutes, including a minor panic about making sure we'd cut the new cable (the old one frayed as we took it apart) to exactly the same length as the old one. Cunning use of grubscrews and a barrel adjuster at the lever make it a hassle-free process.

On the scales.
While it's no featherweight, an extra hundred grams isn't a huge penalty and certainly not something you notice out on the trail.

On the Trail

One thing we noticed straight away was play in the head - we need to take it apart and re-grease the bolt to see if it solves the issue, but we're not surprised with the one-bolt clamp. That said, when you're riding it's barely noticeable and it's something we could definitely live with. Response to the trigger is a touch slow and the motion of the post seems quite sluggish, especially if you haven't used it for a bit. We were worried that going from the 125mm drop we're used to would be a problem, but in the end it's not something we noticed out riding. When you hold the ETen next to its modern, and far more expensive, competition it does lose out, but not by much. A few years ago we'd have happily accepted this as a high-end post and the fact we can be critical says more about how far things have come on that it does about this post. When you get down to the bottom line, this post works well, offering all the benefits we've come to love about drop posts for around a fraction of the usual price you'd expect to pay.

Pinkbike's take:
bigquotesOf course the ETen loses out to its more expensive rivals, not least KS' very own Lev post, on many fronts - it's heavier, we doubt it will be as durable, it's more difficult to maintain and its performance isn't as refined. However, it works well and when you're out on the bike, concentrating on the trail ahead of you, can you really tell the difference? If this level of performance is available at this price, we'd expect to see some companies looking very hard at their offerings and asking themselves whether they can continue to justify asking their current prices. At the moment, as far as we know, KS are the only company to offer a quality dropper seatpost at this pricepoint and we think this will open up the joy of dropper seatposts to more and more people, and that is a great thing.
- Matt Wragg

www.kssuspension.com
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78 Comments

  • + 197
 So, Matt Wragg prefers the black shaft. Interesting.
  • + 42
 But only when he's down on his luck and low on cash.
  • - 8
 That's what she said.
  • + 11
 And apparently size isn't everything..
  • + 1
 Issac Hayes theme now we talk'in Shaft
[Reply]
  • + 64
 For those of you asking for Pinkbike to review products in the lower price range, here ya go! I have to agree that this type of product is the most important because it's an answer to the rising prices of bike products. I'm shopping for a dirt bike and it has made me realize how ridiculously expensive mtn bike parts can get(and what we're willing to pay)! Thanks, Pinkbike!
  • + 5
 crackalackin' i was actually looking at buying one of these too, would love to see a long term review.
  • + 9
 Thank you pinkbike. I will be buying one for my fiancé, she dosent ride as much as myself so it's hard to justify a reverb. I'm stoked to have a good review on a entry level product. Without this review I would have known nothing about this product and would have not bought it. Well done pinkbike.
[Reply]
  • + 9
 Seems as a great budget option for other models. Makes a lot of sense for 150$.

Then... why no picture of the lever? I was hoping to see something beating the size of the contraption on Fox Doss.
  • + 10
 Because I forgot? It looks the same as all the other KS levers.
  • + 3
 ah c'mon it is completely irrelevant Big Grin - I just wanted to scratch some Kashima...

The funny bit is that one could make a easy point by showing a KS lever next to the one from Doss Big Grin
  • + 1
 @mattwragg Any idea where to get one in the UK?
Ta!
  • + 1
 I bought one for my wife's bike just one month ago .. it's just as explained in this post .. and at a retail price of 109 euro it carries out the work very well .. Smile
The lever is the same as for dropzone remote .. only it's black resin instead of red aluminum ..
  • + 1
 Anyone know what happened to the 30$ Sette dropper that was around in 2009? Why can't they be that cheap?
  • + 3
 @larryssman - I think you answered your own question!
  • + 1
 lol but seriously, why so expensive!
  • + 1
 I bought one of those settes when they were out as a joke and it seriously worked signifigantly better than the $400 first gen command post that i also had, needless to say i do not ride a dropper anymore
[Reply]
  • + 7
 I've had the KSi950 for 2 years now. Never had an issue. No internal maintenance at all. Seatpost is still functioning the way it did out of the box. Perfectly. A useful addition to the seatpost is a small section of DH tube zip tied at the collar and just below the saddle mount. This eliminates the shower of crud from the back wheel polluting the external seal and working its way to the internals of the seat post dramatically reducing maintenance.
  • + 2
 Good idea. Having worked on many though, I would still pull it apart and do the basic service after 2 years..... The roller bearings start to wear on the finish of the shaft if it's run dirty. Takes only about 10 min.
  • + 3
 I know this is going to get me burned, but how come no one makes a boot for it? All I ever hear is how poor the seals are on these things. I had an 11 and 12 Reverb and ended up selling both of them when i got it back from SRAM due to the seals failing. I'm not hard on my equipment, but I am a fat ass (230lbs) geared up.
  • + 2
 buy a Lizard Skins headset neoprene cover and wrap it around the seals, do this on my Joplin 3 and it's never had any issues. Gave my Joplin it's first full strip and clean and new oil last week after more than 2000km of hard trail riding and it works fantastically, still trying to figure out why people think the first Joplin was such crap, mine's been faultless all along
  • + 1
 Same here, but mine's a Joplin 4. Had it for 3 years now, not a single issue. That being said, I'm interested in the Thompson offering...
[Reply]
  • + 5
 KS makes solid dropper posts. I've had the KSi950 since shortly after it was released and never had a problem that could not be remedied with easy home service. The actuation mechanism needs better protection from the elements because a little dirt in there and it will start acting up. I guess they did remedy that with the Lev. It is also fairly sensitive to cable tension. I take it apart every few months and gave the internals a clean and re-grease and it still works perfectly. It only very slightly extends when lifting the bike up by the saddle and has very little play at the head (and that's after many many months of riding in all kinds of weather), and these are niggles that most or all droppers on the market suffer from to various degrees. I really like KS's remote, and prefer cable actuation over hydraulic actuation for reasons of ease of trailside/emergency repairs. There have been some bad batches that suffered from things like a little sag at full extension (as ampa commented above). I have not had to deal with KS's customer service directly to comment on that.

I have also used the Reverb (really smooth, but not a fan of the remote or hydraulic actuation), Specialized's Command Post Blacklite (don't like the predefined drop points, and very fast return speed..BAM! in the nuts) and X-Fusion's Hilo (the most crudely made one in my opinion, but it does the job)
[Reply]
  • + 4
 Ice lift V8 dropper post.
Positives: 27.2mm, cable is in a fixed position, 550g, extremely easy to service, less play than my Crankbrothers and KS, 90 euro with remote.
Negatives: only 90mm travel. Been using it for a couple months, only niggle has been relatively frequent readjustment of the cable tension.
  • + 1
 Please review the ICE as it is cheaper and available in 27.2.
  • + 2
 drakche that is just a telescopic seatpost with a groove to stop it spinning.
  • - 1
 Yeah, it's called getting off your bike, taking out an allen or using your hands, and lowering/raising your seatpost. Not that hard, some can even do it while riding!
  • + 2
 That completely defeats the purpose of a dropper post...
[Reply]
  • + 5
 I have a KS i950 remote seatpost for 8 months and it works perfect, like the first day! No maintenance needed yet!
[Reply]
  • + 5
 Yes. If the prices of bike stuff get even higher I have to change to swimming.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 i bought one of these last year - terrible, terrible post - the return action was slow and irrattic. there are now much better more reliable dropper posts out there from Forca and a reverb can be bought for only a little more.
  • + 2
 Interesting, I've had mine for quite some time as well, and it works perfectly. A reverb isn't a "little" more either, it's at least twice the price of this post. It's not supposed to be a high end post either, if you want something like a reverb, you have to fork out the money for it.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 i got my x-fusion for 200, it had has some technical problems but each time I sent back to x fusion and they repaired it, in fact this time they replaced the entire seatpost FREE OF CHARGE, super happy with that company on customer service and standing behind their stuff. KS is a great company as well and glad to see something like this being put out there, I would have made my g.f buy this one instead of the $300 she went with..oh well
  • + 2
 You have low standards if you are super happy with a company that replaced it's defective product after returning it to them more than one time.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I have had so many problems with posts that have that single bolt clamp design for securing the saddle- I sheared so many bolts and it left me riding multiple miles back without a saddle. I foresee this will have the same problem
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Guys. Don't get your hopes up. In Ireland this seat post costs 200 Euro with remote. Prices in UK are RRP £160 sterling for the non remote and £199 for the remote version. Bullshit. Something costs 150 dollars in US here it cost 200 pounds (320 freaking dollars). Here you go! Rip off everywhere. Welcome to Europe!
  • + 1
 Sorry 200 euro in Ireland without remote.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 For my riding, I do not think I need one! I think a blog on the concept of not needing everything that comes out would be nice.. Im a bit worried that after significant amounts of riding time, it might fall apart! ITs not so cheap on the wallet if you have to buy 3 in a row because they don't last.. I would like to see a long term review! Its looks like a good basic simple design from the consumer standpoint!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 I hope there is a long-term review focusing on durability cause for a 90 EUR (non remote version) it's a bargain, and a great upgrade.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 i payed 100 euro incl the remote,it works really great,the trails are different now Wink
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Well done KS for kick starting cheaper alternatives to the sky rocketing prices of dropper posts! Other manufacturers may have to follow suit? Smile
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Uh, Matt, it sounds like you rode this thing for all of ten minutes.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I've had problems with my i950r and Rick at KS has always been good with a speedy turn around time.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 I wish there was a 27.2 dropper. Need a new bike I guess.
  • + 1
 KS offer their higher-end posts in 27.2.
  • + 3
 You can always get one of them minging gravity droppers! They come in 27.2mm
  • + 4
 X-fusion Hilo comes in 27.2mm - keep rocking steel hardtails!
  • + 1
 Awesome. Thanks all. Will be looking into that.
  • + 1
 Anyone that buys a Cannondale or Giant pure race-XC 29er carbon frame also has the same problem. But I guess they are not putting dropper posts on them.
  • + 5
 I have the same problem but what's even BETTER is Thomson will have a 27.2 Dropper soon.
  • + 2
 For real? Will wait for that. I have a cadabra, but from before they came with the bigger seat tube. Love the bike, just wanting a dropper.
  • + 2
 @thirty9cents yeah, and it will cost as much as a new bike frame... :S
  • + 1
 A 125mm post in 27.2 diameter is what I'm looking for...doesn't seem to exist/be available though!
  • + 1
 Yeah, at least 125. 100 seems to short, might try it anyway. Better than a rigid post.
  • + 1
 Hite-Rites are around $20 on average still to this day, and will work with any diameter existing seatpost if you have the right clamp adapter.
  • + 1
 And Hite-Rites are so easily worked from a handlebar mount, right? Pretty useless contraption these days especially with the short drop.
  • + 1
 There was a remote made for them by Interloc Racing Design, who still exist. Short drop? The standard hite-rite was 3", the extra-hite drops 4 1/2 inches. The only one I'd call short is the racing lightweight one with its 1 1/2" drop.
  • + 1
 Yes, I know that IRD made remotes but they did not work well and were virtually vapour-wear. The ones that were out there did not work because they relied on cable tension to hold the saddle in place and they had to be constantly fiddled with to maintain a good clamp on the post. It's a flawed design from the start.

Hite Rites in the longer versions also did not work. As soon as the post got at all gritty because they did not have enough spring tension. The short drop versions work pretty well though. Although I use a 4" drop on my HighballC it is considered short by most people because the 5" drop is by far the biggest seller.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Weighs more than a carbon road frame o.o
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I'll stick to my gravity dropper. A year of abuse, no problems yet, and very easy to clean and maintain...
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Awesome. Thanks all. Will be looking into that.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Any word on when it will be available?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 can't go wrong with KS! Rick is the man!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 what about C.B. Jopplin ? you can find it at $120 at ebay
[Reply]
  • + 1
 you can already get an reverb for 180/200€...
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Will we see this on a lot of bikes OEM for 2014?
[Reply]
  • + 0
 How does it compare to the kronolog?
[Reply]
  • + 0
 what an incredible choice when presented with a gravity dropper
[Reply]
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