The Making of a KS Lev Seatpost

Feb 5, 2013
by Matt Wragg  
 
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As dropper seatposts have become more popular in the last few years, a previously little-known Taiwanese brand has come to the forefront of the market. KS Suspension had been making low-end forks and shocks since 1983, but they weren't a name familiar to serious mountain bikers. Then in 2007 they released their Cobra dropper seat post. At a time when it was hit or miss whether your post would work or not, they began to build a reputation for reliability and have continued to improve their products since. Today their Lev post is one of the best posts out there. We visited their factory in Tainan, Taiwan to see first-hand how there are made.

No shoes
  The assembly starts with the damper, but you're not allowed to just go charging in there. It's head-to-toe over-clothing to make sure you don't contaminate the room as that could compromise production.

Components for damper assembly.
The damper assembly area.
  Every single one of KS' high-end seatposts starts its life at these two tables.

The oil is continuously filtered to keep it pure.
The dampers are assembled under oil.
Freshly-assembled dampers.
The assembled dampers being rested.
  The dampers are assembled by hand under oil, to make sure no air is in the system. To keep the oil as pure as possible it is continuously filtered, if dirt got into the system it could compromise the damper.

Storing the dampers in oil.
  After assembly the dampers are left to rest in oil for a week to make sure they are correct. If there is a problem the damper will extend during that time, so the faulty units can easily be identified and removed from production.

Small assembly room.
Small assembly details.
Small assembly.
  Coming back from the damper assembly is the small assembly area - things like grub-screws are mounted into barrels. This part doesn't need to be kept quite as sterile as the damper assembly, but because of the size of the parts being assembled they keep the space nice and empty. If you ever want to feel fat-fingered, come and watch this for a few minutes...

Detail of the nitrogen charging machine.
Nitrogen charging.
Detail of the nitrogen charging machine.
  Once the dampers have been rested and the defective ones removed they move through to this machine where they are nitrogen-charged and become working dampers. They use nitrogen because it's more stable than air.

Testing the bushings
Bushing detail
  Before assembly begins in earnest, the bushings are tested to make sure they are the perfect fit.

Ready for assembly.
Tools and grease.
  Ready for assembly.

Assembly.
Fitting the base.
  Step-by-step the post comes to life - it's surprising how many stages there are. Each little bit is done by hand and painstakingly checked.

Details of the mechanism 2.
Details of mechanism 1.
  It's worth taking a close look at the mechanism - an intriguing mix of simplicity and clever thinking. The Lev is activated from the base, which makes it perfect for internal routing, but also allows for the unique cable routing on the regular version. A solution as simple as a thin cable is run down the inside of the barrel to activate the mechanism.

The patented bearing.
  This is the feature that has always made KS posts unique - the one-way bearing. It keeps the post stable in the barrel and combined with grooves on the damper assembly eliminates play from the post.

Finished Levs ready to go.
Finished Lev heads
  A batch of KS Lev posts ready to go.

QC details 2.
The QC lab.
QC details 1.
  Although not all of them make it out to customers immediately. Despite the rigorous checks throughout production, many of them still have to pass through the quality control office where every minute detail is scrutinised.

Testing details.
The testing room.
Lever testing.
  And some of them never leave the factory, but end up here in the testing room. Every last function of the post is tested to destruction, whether it's torsional twisting at the head, repeated compression and extension or lever movement.

The KS team.
  These are just some of the people who bring the posts to life - (left to right) Annie, Mama Grace, the production manager, Stephen, and head engineer, Jackie.

www.kssuspension.com
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122 Comments

  • + 171
 Now show us the cranbros factory for comparison, they must have have rats running around the place and six inches of filth on the floor.......certainly would explain the quality of their products.........
  • + 30
 You could eat your dinner off that floor!!
  • + 9
 It looks like a friggen Toyota assembly plant... Fuuu so clean... I'd lick a wall or two for shits. Just saying
  • + 59
 If it's anything like the factory I work in they'll clean up before visitors come round.
  • + 1
 Boo86 - good one, so true hehe Smile
  • + 7
 my workshop even cleaned for the prime minister visit was nowhere near that clean
  • + 8
 You're dealing with smart and organized Asians...it'll be clean. After all, the way a room looks, clean or messy, is very telling on who you are.
  • - 26
flag ObyGobyWanoby (Feb 5, 2013 at 8:51) (Below Threshold)
 ha, i can't help but laugh when i read justincs's comment... definitely funny dude regardless of the fact you have no idea what you're talking about
  • + 0
 Floor looks super clean because the dudes on 4th picture spilled massive amount of oil end it up mopping every where because the woman at the front on the last picture told them to do .Gangnam styles
  • + 10
 Crank Brothers wheels are the biggest piece of shit known to man kind. They fail easily (got a test pair where I work took em out on 1 ride to the Surrey Hills and boom failed). If they don't fail they are quite difficult to true up again. They are really only good for looks.
  • + 1
 lol your guys are funny.clean or dirty place.people are buying this product anyway...and RyanWensley about Crank Brothers i had the same problem with it after two using it.you just got bad luck..
  • + 6
 I love their pedals. Never spent much time on any of their other stuff, but I heard their bars were nice.
  • + 1
 I love their pedals until I get a rock strike and its either new wings or if your lucky it just unclips your foot, also fun is when all this gooey crap comes out the seals after riding in the rain, never had any of those issues with shimano although they release too early IMO
  • + 2
 Anyone notice the first picture the dude got his bare feet in them booty slipper things ha
  • + 50
 Hey guys... thanks for all the great comments about KS. We appreciate the support!! Just wanted to comment on the alleged 90 kg weight limit.... THERE IS NO SUCH WEIGHT LIMIT on our products. Not sure where this silly rumor started, but it is completely false. In fact, the seal "spike" pressure is well above what any human could put on the seat post under any conditions. And if it makes you feel any better, I personally weigh 103 kg, and have been on our posts since day one without incident.
  • + 25
 Good, because I'm a fatass too!
  • + 6
 I really like to hear that(No weight limit).. I`m not overweight, but I love to eat!
  • + 6
 O good , I'm 99 kgs , no I'm not pregnant and stop asking......
  • + 1
 I'm still waiting for the 150mm drop posts to hit the uk, had it on order since early October! Seems like a great product if only it would turn up... Article is good but painfull looking at the product that I still don't have, refuse to buy any other dropper because of the cable route and endless unreliability issues. Any news on when they'll be here Rick-KS?
  • + 2
 Hmmm.. I think they (shops) shouldn`t limit you with weight because manufacturer does not limit you either.. interesting.
  • + 3
 wish I could trade my Reverb for one!
  • + 1
 Awesome post about... posts. Smile
@Rick-KS my non-remote KS works awesome, and I am 100kg. I have had it a few months on a Diamondback Mission with no troubles at all. I haven't seen the best results from RS Reverbs that my friends are using.
  • + 1
 Hi Rick-KS any news on the Lev 27.2? I have never managed to find one to buy online or distributors with them in stock.
  • + 2
 Direct from the source in response to an email I sent:

There is no weight limit.

Respectfully,

Ron Easton
KS USA
26741 Portola Pkwy 1E658
Foothill Ranch CA 92610
  • + 12
 Very nice industry insider ! thanks pb !
  • + 9
 Awesome post.. Had mine for a few months now and can't see how I lived without it before!!! If your in the market for a dropper then get a KS Lev, you won't be disapointed.
  • + 1
 Me too. Had my post (125mm) since Oct... riding in all conditions here in CA. Awesome post. You really should ride one of these to truly appreciate it. KS LEV rules!
  • + 7
 mate had a crankbros one lasted 3 months....he got a ks dropper an still goin strong 9 month later with no probs! thumbs up in my opinion
  • + 4
 9 months? That's cute

I have an I7 from KS since it came out and I've been already through 3 saddles. Seriously.
2 of them were no name carbon and the other from Sella Italia. I'm in the 4th saddle now.
That dropper can take a lot of punishment.
  • + 2
 The internal components look virtualy the same as the 900i/950i. (just had someones 900i apart today)

On the 900i/950i the valve was at the head of the post. I'm guessing they've changed the layout of the actuator, so the valve is now accesible by the cable in the lower half.

Clever and relatively simple development of the original design. I guess the increased production steps/costs have led to the higher cost over the originals.

Waiting for 150 version before I upgrade.m
  • + 3
 the process looks complicated and looks like there's a lot of parts and work involved. no wonder dropper seat posts are costly. i the end, my money goes to whoever can make it affordable and reliable.
  • + 1
 Gave up on my ksi7 simply because it never arrived after 9 months of waiting and I know I'm not the only one . Maybe they should add a third starting bench? Supply does seem a bit useless in the UK. Much better looking than the X fusion I ended up with. And no iv not had any problems with it.
  • + 1
 I've had one on my 33.6lbs Custom Marin Attack Trail 6.8 AM beast for a few months now. I ride it hard, weigh around 190lbs without Gear, and havent had a single issue. With gear I would imagine I'm easily tipping the scales at around 96KG...no sweat!. They are not on the cheap end of things, but I'm increadibly happy with it, we worth the cost! Would recommend to anyone.
  • + 1
 KS has a great product. HOWEVER, I have a major issue with them not warrantying/fixing a new OEM post that has never been ridden or installed. I was told since it was OEM that I had to pay $100+ for repair. Not very cood customer service. I didn't send it in to the repair center, waiting for the Thomson to come out.
  • + 2
 Did you send it back to your dealer ... and Bike Manufacturer ... the Bike Manufacturer as the supplier of the OE post should warranty it and take care of replacement. Its a part they have spec'd to their bike and have the responsibility for repairing it under warranty.
  • + 1
 Sent it back to KS directly. They pretty much said "sorry". BTI is listed as the warranty service center. They want $110 to look at/repair it. This is KS responsibility, not the bike maker. Thanks though..
  • + 4
 It's really not though. This happens quite frequently with oem parts. The component companies sold the part to the bike manufacturer and that's who they take warranty claims from. Hit up the dealer you bought the bike from and they can get it taken care of through the manufacturer.
  • + 3
 I'd second that. The dealer that sold you the bike is responsible for everything it had on it. That's why they advertise X years warranty on frame and Y years on parts etc etc.
  • + 1
 Ordered a 150 LEV 30.9 and it arrived after three month waiting time. Ordered in October arrived in January. So far only one ride on it due to the weather. The post was a little sticky at the beginning but after using it a few times, everything is now very smooth.
  • + 1
 I've been looking at getting the LEV as the LBS has said that the cable will fit through the 4mm pre drilled hole so I can internally route part of the cable. Is anyone knowledgeable enough to know the cable size for it just before I order it from America?
-One more thing, I've heard it sometimes has issues holding the seat in place. Anyone any thoughts on that?
  • + 1
 Gutted - my Lev 150 won't stay completely up. Its only months old. Bought it from Germany. thank feck the UK has a new dealer. I'm back to the old faithful and original gravity dropper until the Lev is fixed. You can't beat the spring and a pin of the original gravity dropper for simplicity and reliability. I have 3 of them currently. I have had 5 in total. The only reason I went for the Lev is 150mm travel instead of 125mm currently from everyone else. O with the exception of the new reverb, but I've had a 125mm stealth one of them fail too. My wife has the original KSi900 and that has worked faultless for 3 years. I too had the sticky thumb lever straight out of the box, but its just due to a little too much carbon after manufacture. So I just worked it rapidly for a few hundred times without a cable. It only took a few minutes. It has its own internal spring as well as the spring in the post.
  • + 1
 Nice article :-)
I would buy LEV if they had 34,9 mm version. For me there is still an issue that nitrogen charge because service at home is out of the question. But on the other hand servicing Reverb inner chamber at home is also a problem.
  • + 1
 My post works perfectly but the thumb actuator is so sticky[out of the box] that no amount of cable tension will return the thumby to it's resting place. I must flick it back with the back of my thumb or the post acts like a spring. I don't have time to send it back for ...whatever....cause i am Caribbean bound so I just installed a Kronologe and it works flawlesly. I expected the Lev to be IDIOT proof especially after reading 4 stellar 5/5 star revues of it being the shit. I hate to be negative but It is not. The tuning fork cable puller that acts like a dogbone has bent slightly trying to move the thumby. I was stoked as shite to get one as I have blown through 3 Reverbs and 2 Joplins and this post seemed so silky and solid. I adore the thumby if and when it works but the bottom line is it was $150.00 more than the Krono and $50.00 more than the reverbs with their cable issues. Now it needs an overhaul right out of the box and since I rode it a few times I might be blamed. meh.
Not impressed.
  • + 1
 Seems odd to me...the "Thumby" return is controlled by the spring at the head-end, not to be condescending but have you checked if the spring is installed properly and/or is the cable running smoothly with no kinks or binding at the housing ends? All these would cause the return issue you describe in my opinion....BTW, I just installed one on my Tracer 2 and it worked perfectly right out of the box but I can see how a kink or weak spring could cause a problem.
  • + 2
 For anyone coming across this, this seems to be mostly caused by mounting the thumb lever on an ODI grip. If it's too snug or too close to the grip it creates friction in the lever preventing it from returning on its own.
  • + 2
 ya man i discovered after moving the ring off the grip for comfort it worked perfectly
  • + 1
 My first gen KS post is still going strong, 2 and a half years after purchasing. Has never skipped a beat, I've not touched anything on it. Next one will be a KS, no doubt! Converted a few friends away from Reverbs and Fox too, no broken levers Wink
  • + 1
 3 years now on my i950r. haven't needed to touch it either. Incredibly easy to take apart, clean and re-lube though if needed.
  • + 1
 I'm really leaning towards this. I was going to wait for Thomson to release their post, but there's been too many good reviews on this. After having a Joplin and two Reverbs fail on me, one would think I would have learn to stay away from droppers. But I really do enjoy it when it works. Remember when disc brakes first came out? I think that droppers are going to get more better and reliable over time like brakes did.
  • + 1
 I have not seen a pic of a Thommy with a remote. If I did I would wait.
  • + 1
 I just wished that Thomson would have made it a fixed cable instead of having it up at the head. Other than that, I'm sure it'll be solid.
  • + 1
 i'm done with the cable moving cause of the head conection. Right now i'm using a Kronologe
  • + 1
 The quality of the hand tools on the workbench seems questionable to me , could the same quality find its way in the parts selected for bushes, o-rings, chrome stell balls, aluminium tubing, lubes, etc? Do the tools make the man? Very good , informative and detailed article. I dont think crankbros has any filth on the floor.
  • + 1
 What's the issue with the tools? They look perfectly fine to me...
  • + 5
 Nitrogen, 22% more stable.
  • - 5
flag krsh (Feb 5, 2013 at 5:36) (Below Threshold)
 Nitrogen is bs, only means that you cant service it yourself :/
  • + 6
 Like in suspension nitrogen is mostly used because it does not contain water vapor. Water vapor in your seat post could do a couple of things, turn to steam and expand (changing pressure) on a hot day, or wash around inside and remove grease from where it should be!! tbh the effects are hard for most people to recognize, fill with air and it will not make a huge difference. Its nice to see a manufacturer going that extra little mile to build in quality to there product though.
  • + 3
 I must apologize, I was a bit harsh towards nitrogen. I agree that it can improve the system, but given the choice between air and nitrogen I'd choose air because of easier service.
I have a fox van rc rear shock and I loathe the day when I am going to get it serviced. Because of the nitrogen filled piggy back I can't do it myself, and taking it to an authorized service center and getting it back will take a few days and more $$ than if I did it myself. Because of this I can safely conclude that the shock will see less maintenance than it should.
So in the end, is filling stuff with nitrogen worth it? Yes, if you've got the money to take it to an authorized service center and if you've got a spare if the service is gonna take more than a week (that can happen quite often in Slovenia unfortunately).
  • + 0
 Well, the nitrogen isn't the problem, it's trying to recharge the KS atll. It's a very silly procedure requiring you to modify a ball inflation needle... The source of a lot of rage for me.
  • + 2
 Nitrogen is really only an advantage in very high speed damping situations, like in racing cars, and maybe DH shocks. Not necessary for a dropper post. Ganbei, there is no way water vapour could turn to steam. Only liquid water can turn to steam. If there was liquid water in the oil, that could be a problem, but there is no way a dropper post is going to get to 100 degrees c and turn water to steam.
  • + 5
 If it's water vapor, technically it already is steam, only colder. Chemically they are identical. Just sayin...
  • + 1
 @krsh - most good Tyre shops will pump nitrogen and you only have to pay the first time that you get it filled, after that top ups are free.
  • + 1
 Cold water vapour would be a fog or a mist? Either way, air is just fine for a dropper post.
  • + 3
 SO much for making fun of stuff because it was made in taiwan. That place is cleaner than my local hospital.
  • + 2
 i am working at the worlds third biggest chocolate manufacturer. looks like KS's production is cleaner than ours. can't decide wether smile or cry Big Grin
  • + 2
 Got a new ks lev and after less than 5 hrs of use acts like a suspension post. Very disappointing considering how expensive it is.
  • + 1
 Same here..but it was two weeks. Sent it back, glad I have a back up.
  • + 2
 Two months on my KS LEV 125 and couldn't be happier with its performance!

gp4.pinkbike.org/p2pb8962454/p2pb8962454.jpg
  • + 2
 My KS i900 has been beaten on for 1.5 years. Not a hint of trouble. I will definitely be buying a LEV when this thing dies.
  • + 2
 Had ks I950 non remote for two years. Works effortlessly without even thought of service. Tempted by Lev.
  • + 1
 I have a ks I950 as well. I'm going on my fifth season, I service it once a year (as per the manual, lube,grease etc) and it's been reliable with no problems at all. In my experience, it's been a great post. Good article.
  • + 1
 have you ever had the thing apart?( undone the bottom nut and lube the stanchion seals) or is that what you meant by service. I regulary undo the large seal cap (undo and slide up stanchion to clean underneath). Never been brave enough to do the lower service on it.
  • + 4
 Yes, it's easy. If you have a small set of needle nose pliers or pine spanner remove the end cap ( it's red anodized with holes at the bottom of the post) It might be a bit of a fight to get it out but it will go. There will be some dirty oil - pour it out, clean out the shaft with some rubbing alcohol. Lube the seals with some light weight grease and pour a very small amount of oil back in - I use 10w30 motor oil but just a cap full. The manual suggests 20ml but I find this too much. You'll need to experiment a little because too much oil and the shaft won't go down and too little and it will stick. It's very easy. I've included a link, it shows how to dismantle and trouble shoot your post - it's very thorough and helpful.

www.watermanatwork.com/Land/Cycling/BikeShop/KSAdjSeatpost/KSAdjSeatpost.html

Take care,
  • + 1
 Super useful article which I used to do some light maintenance on the post.
  • + 1
 Great !!
  • + 1
 I also went to the referenced link, great write up.

One addition to the maintenance: I have a remote actuated post, and often get mud and crap stuck under the red lever that's connected to the cable. This can cause the remote to become non functioning. Disassembling it allows me to clean out the mud and get it operating smoothly again.
  • + 1
 Right on !
  • + 1
 Clean or Not. Lev KS are junk. Reliability is poor and their customer service is absolutely terrible! They don't even fix them properly when broken. Never buy from them.
  • + 3
 So that's where my new post is coming from...
  • + 1
 I really hope they have got better since I bought my 950r, nothing but issues with it.
www.themountainbikelife.com/2013/01/kind-shock-ks-i950-r-long-term-review.html
  • + 2
 Now thats what I call a clean factory...holly crap, you can easily eat from that floor. !
  • + 3
 27.2 still only 100mm?
  • + 0
 Oh interesting! And very good to know about this internal cable... How long before it breaks? And can we fix it ourselves or have to send the post back?
  • + 1
 There is a video on youtube, i have had mine since august 2012 and its been perfectly fine, but i have had 2 friends where the cable has snapped
  • + 1
 Thanks for the info! But I think after 6 month ANY product should still be perfectly fine, especially considering how much those toys cost!
  • + 1
 No wonder it's taking them so long to make mine. Wiggle put back delivery another month Frown Worth the wait I think
  • + 1
 a small but freakin committed company.
  • + 1
 I like when these posts come out. They keep me entertained in class
  • + 1
 love articles like that! please keep them coming!
  • + 1
 i like the clean house Smile
  • + 1
 comment clean up ..? why ..??. this stinks..
  • + 1
 Awesome now lets move that work back to north america!
  • + 1
 Swag uniforms! Smile
  • + 1
 Lower the priceSmile
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