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?
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
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.
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 Trail
While it's no featherweight, an extra hundred grams isn't a huge penalty and certainly not something you notice out 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:
|Of 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