First Look: KS Electronic Wireless Dropper Post - Taipei Show 2014

Mar 5, 2014
by Mike Levy  


Is the end of cables near? That might be pushing it a bit, but KS' prototype electronic seat post does away with wires entirely, instead using a wireless remote that activates a piezoelectric motor within the post. It still depends on the exact same internal design found within other KS posts, with the flow of oil moving from one chamber to another to allow it to move through its travel, but rather then a plunger activated by a cable to control the flow, a piezoelectric motor opens and closes a small valve to accomplish the same thing. The prototype pictured here uses a lithium polymer battery, similar to what you'd find inside of your phone, that is tucked into the post's main tube, but KS is investigating using a gel battery that would open up all sorts of packaging options. There is also the possible tie-in with batteries that power electronic drivetrains, something that we'll soon see a lot more of soon, meaning that KS might have the option of eliminating a battery within the post altogether. The topic of battery life is still open ended given that KS has yet to decide what they'll be using to power the seat post, but 60 or more hours of ride time is what we've seen out of suspension forks that use a piezoelectric motor to control its lockout function, so there is no reason why KS couldn't come up with a similar or even more impressive
figure. What happens when the battery dies? This prototype automatically reverts to full extension if its battery runs out of juice, thereby allowing you to pedal out of the bush without wrecking your knees, but maybe not hit any booters on your way back to your truck.

KS
  The production remote won't look anything like the proof-of-concept version pictured here, with KS working on a pint sized setup that will take up next to no room on your handlebar.


The action is controlled via a remote that will be mounted on the handlebar, and there will be no cables connecting it to the post. That means no frustration while trying to pass an internally routed cable through your frame, and certainly no more external routing that can sometimes turn into a game of seeing how many zip-ties it takes to tame a wayward cable. The quick and dirty remote pictured above is not intended to be mounted on the bar, but rather just to test the post's action, and KS said that they expect the production remote to be quite small in size - picture a lock-on grip collar with a small button on it that can be easily pushed with your thumb. The prototype shown here is the only one in existence at this point in time, and KS is expecting a production version to be roughly two years out, so don't go and sell your cable activated dropper post tomorrow. We're excited for the future, though, and to see how KS develops the concept.


www.kssuspension.com


133 Comments

  • + 232
 Why dont you just put a gnome in the seat tube and feed him a cracker every time you want him to raise the thing. Cable-less and plus you'd always have crackers with you. Problem solved
  • + 147
 Stupid labour laws won't allow that sh*t anymore.
  • + 5
 I'm sure you'd get "60 hours of ride time" from it in the design laboratory but you'd probably get about 5 minutes of riding time in the British mud and slop before it goes wrong!...........actually on second thoughts it's probably less likely to wrong than a cable actuated post due to less moving parts/ better sealing....... bring it on!
  • + 10
 It's not as though there are loads of exposed moving parts to this though, the motor/battery are internal and the remote mechanism or electics will obviously be housed. I wouldn't get ahead of yourself and poo-poo it before you've even seen a review or tried it yourself. I think this could be the 'next big thing' so to speak . . .
  • + 34
 No self respect gnome would do that.
  • + 5
 Don't forget though if you were riding an especially hilly area your designated gnome would probably overload on crackers and then it'd be a case of snap, crackle, pop when you hit some gnar! You'd have gnome gore everywhere. It'd be brutal having to wash gnome splatter off at the end of the ride (not speaking from personal experience you understand).
  • + 7
 good idea, but the gnome would add more wieght to your bike, plus every lake or pond you would go past he would probaly want to go fishing in it
  • + 5
 enduro gnomes
  • + 6
 I believe they are brining out a carbon fibre gnome, instead of your garden variety porcelain version! Plus, you cold stuff him in the bottom bracket so you'd lower your centre of gravity!
  • + 6
 where can a guy get a good quality gnome these days?
  • + 73
 Gnome Depot
  • + 4
 Best comment ever
  • + 3
 No Gnome is 100% efficient though, eventually the "waste" will have to be expelled.....

I''ll stick with the battery idea.
  • + 4
 Nope , I don't won't any electronics that close to my ass
  • + 11
 Maybe they could make it vibrate?

As a low battery warning...
  • + 2
 naturally. need to know when the battery is low. maybe it can dispense chamoise butter too for those long rides? hahaha
  • + 1
 DOA gnomes would be a mess to return... Do you think they would also come with the 2 year warranty?
  • + 1
 Please, gnomeore....
  • + 96
 The time to wreak havoc on your friends wireless seatpost is almost upon us!
  • + 13
 You are an evil mastermind, dear sir
  • + 36
 haha hit the UP button just before they drop into a steep chute... aaaannnndd faceplant
  • + 9
 and possibly bruised balls and in extreme cases no more babies….
  • + 11
 Would be amusing to find out what the frequency is and f*ck about with them :p
  • + 12
 It would be amusing to watch the seat go up and down in sync with the microwave oven at the cafe post ride.
  • + 4
 this is my main fear...
  • - 1
 as cool as this is, i think this is ahead of its time
  • + 0
 I'm sensing a lot of hurt balls and over-handlebar highlights in our future.
  • + 4
 Some one make the App and I'll buy it
  • + 35
 This is the kind of forward thinking innovation I like. Not just trying to repackage an old design.
  • + 3
 29centimeters of diameter seat post (eventually make it white) aaaaand REVOLUTION.
  • + 23
 How about a self charging system like in a watch. Put something in the crank arm that starts charging or provides power to the motors. Haven't ridden in a few days? Give your bike a few shakes or turn the crank a couple times. Immediate power and the charging can start under motion. You'll need a charge for when your coasting and breaking... Bouncing about may be enough. My watch never fails me. Just give it a shake if I haven't worn it in a week, set it to the correct time and off you go.
  • + 3
 or a little turbine/generator that spins when the oil passes on the action of dropping the seatpost. Thus charging the battery everytime you drop the post.
  • + 3
 Still need charged. Source: friction.
  • + 3
 friction would detract from the charge produced, but with a little extra energy put into lowering it, the charge could be generated.
  • + 2
 I agree on the action of raising and lowering the post being enough to generate a useful charge. it would be a matter of making it all fit in the design without making the post too long or heavy.
I think those types of watches use a piezoelectric device that converts vibrations into energy. Could definitely work, and would probably be very small and extremely lightweight. Anyone remember the K2 skis that used a piezoelectric device to supposedly "absorb" vibrations? Don't think it did squat in actually noticeabley dampening the vibrations, but it did convert the energy from the vibrations into electricity, in the form of a tiny little light.
  • + 1
 what about the friction from brakes? tons of heat energy there that could be utilized, they would just need a way to capture it.....
  • + 1
 You could never make a post function entirely using the friction created by the lowering/raising of the post. There's no such thing as a 100% efficient machine, so you'd need some outside source of power to get the post going up and down. Using the bumping around from the bike (like kinetic watches), or a small generator in the crank or wheels would work, but it might be tricky to get those logistics figured out.
HEAD skis still use this tech to stiffen up the tip and tail on their race skis. The vibrations are turned into stored energy that is shot back into the ski to add more rigidity through your turns; I feel like they must be doing something right, since they were the most winning ski in the Olympics this year.
  • + 2
 Well you would be the outside source of power on the way down, using your mass to compress the post. Then the pressure in the air chamber would be the power source on the way up. It would have to capture a ton of the energy used in the process though, or you would need to use it sooo often that it might not be practical. The piezo would produce a constant supply of energy, and would probably take up wayyy less room and weigh much less. Plus they are absurdly durable.

I hadnt heard about HEAD utilizing that kind of technology, especially in a world cup level race ski. If so thats pretty rad! Most world cup "race stock" skis only utilize rediculously stiff construction and a lot of titanium sheets to make there skis rigid and able to store a shit ton of energy to rebound you into the next turn. They will make the top sheet to look like the normal "race" skis, but they dont utilize any of the tech they market elsewhere and are completely flat on top. Just a hell of a lot of ski.
  • + 11
 I see bluetooth type wireless connectivity as one day being a reality for shifters, brakes, remote seatposts etc but I don't see any industry as amateurish as the bike industry being able to implement it well. Having said that putting it on something that is non mission critical like a seatpost might be a good way to test it for the masses. But you won't find my ass testing anything like this in first generation "production" (sarcasm intended) stage.

So Mike's opening paragraph with reserved skepticism is warranted. Having said that, thank god this is not a Crank Bros product otherwise let hilarity ensue
  • + 31
 For Brakes.. Imagine riding a pretty steep and rough section and suddenly *connection lost*
f*ck Electronic in Bikes. Just f*ck it.
  • + 8
 I'm with you. The bicycle is slowly losing it's crown as mans most efficient means of transportation with the more and more electronics we implement to it. It is just another thing to go wrong.
  • + 3
 @sicklikeasinrad actually you don't need anything electronic on your bike. This are not base components, they are performance enhancers. I doubt we will ever see Di2 equipped touring bikes and city bikes with electronic dropperposts. The most advanced thing well see on a city/touring bike is either a gear hub or a gear box.
  • + 23
 I remember when v brakes changed to canti's and people were sceptical. I remember when brakes changed from cantis to cable and rotors, people said that the mud would make it so they would never work I remember when brakes changed from cable to hydraulic, now that was never going to work, too fragile, what happened when that hydraulic connection failed when going down a hill, you were screwed..., Wheel size, clutch mechs, dropper posts, carbon parts, suspension technology, wider bars, shorter stems, electronic shifting etc. Everything that is different has its doubters, in the end of the day, if it can be developed, tested and proven to work then all is good. There are plenty of remote medidal devices that people are dependant on for life.... we are only talking about a seatpost here, not something life critical. The tech is out there, so no reason why mountain bikes cant embrace it for certsin areas.
  • + 8
 Current cable actuated posts sometimes don't work, so this can't be any worse.
  • + 1
 ^ what he said
  • + 6
 Would you put wireless brakes in your car?

I'll put wireless brakes on my DH rig when gasoline tanker trucks are approved for the same.
  • + 4
 No one makes wireless brakes, so who knows that the fuck you guys are on about anyway.
  • + 1
 @hexhamstu - Exactly!
  • + 1
 wireless brakes I would not deal with, now you have to worry about brake power loss of a different kind. I would be surprised to see an electronic self shifting drive train soon.
  • + 1
 Wireless brakes haha. That's where I draw the line!
  • + 1
 Formula 1 teams are having issues with the new rear "Brake-by-wire" system they MUST use, so it's out there now. The pedal has a sensor, not wireless, but works on that principal. The new 2014 Infinity Q50 will be "steer by wire", no steering column!! Most of today's cars gas pedals and transmissions are controlled by electronics. I'd much rather have the safety of a cable or hose that I installed and know I will always be able to count on it, not like some electronic things I've used.

A dropper post in this case wouldn't be so bad as the default is in the extended position, but riding home in one gear, as long as I have thumbs, it's cables for me.
  • + 3
 There have been wireless control systems in planes for some time now fyi. But the aerospace industry's QA is perhaps a bit more refined than the bike industry
  • + 1
 @betsie - yeah, thats totally true. but you can't compare hydraulic to electronic brakes. yeah, everything can fail, even mechanical brakes. but i see so much electronical things fail, even if its just for a second, in this second you can hit a tree because you can't brake and break your neck. one second fail with the internet (private) - no problem, one second fail with internet on brakes - i don't want to think about what could happen. all examples..
  • + 4
 Dont get on a modern plane, bad news, they are fly by wire. There is issues with reliability for bike components, especially electronic ones. But road users have had electronic shifting now for some time, with mountain biking it may be price prohibitive technology though, due to development costs and the price point people are willing to pay for the profits the manufacturers want to realise. There are plenty of medical devices out there that keep people alive, now if they fail for even a second jt can be life and death.
  • + 1
 @dirrrtjump, no offense meant, but it sounds like you need to do a little reading on the different methods of wireless communication in modern devices
  • + 2
 @betsie The QC for aerospace industry and medical equipment is a nightmare. Bikes companies don't have such strict requirements. Also, Road bikes are not in the kind of environment as mountain bikes, You got dirt, mud, rocks, jarring, crashes etc. electronic shift gear box would be the best option IMO.
  • + 1
 I would not say that the requirements of aerospace and medical are a nightmare. Not from my experience as a development engineer for nearing 20 years. I have developed in both sectors (as well as many other sectors), currently in medical. I have always been in R&D.
It is not about a QC nightmare, poor design and sourcing makes QC a nightmare, good practice and good design makes QC a given with high yields. I have worked on and developed everything from 1 off bespoke solutions, harsh environment electronics (>200ºC, with over 200G shock loading), home medical device design for mass manufacture, where your DFM has to cater for >1M units PA.
I love being a development engineer, it always brings up new and interesting challenges. When you work for a small company, you get to develop the projects that others think is impossible, when you work for a large company there is lots of focus on cost saving, yield, lifecycle support and throughput.
  • + 0
 "You got dirt, mud, rocks, jarring, crashes etc. electronic shift gear box would be the best option IMO." Jarring really f*cks up electricity makes it flow backwards and shit.
  • + 1
 Hexhamstu, I am talking about hardware that can take the rigors of mountain biking without the weight penalty, not the electronics inside. Betsie, I am going off my experience having done welding for aerospace, It's a headache but fun at the same time the challenge is fun..
  • + 5
 nice thought but i'm getting sick of chargers now Frown 1 for my phone, 1 for my blue tooth ear piece, 1 for my laptop, 1 for headphones, 1 for my gopro 1 for my lights, 1 for my blow up doll. oops wrong forum Smile now i have to charge my bloody seatpost... Frown good idea though I get a few more sockets is needed Frown or a misses that don't require batteries Smile
  • + 5
 Great, something else for my bike that if it has issues I can't fix it myself and the bike shop won't touch it. Nothing like having to send one of the most needed parts of your bike in for service only to have to wait 3 to 4 weeks to ride again. Brilliant!
  • + 5
 FINALLY! With criticism of shift cable actuated seatpost, fragile levers, routing problems - this solves everything with little to no disadvatage. I've been thinking about wireless dropper for a while...
  • + 3
 I think this is a great application for wireless tech on a bike, and I like the idea of it a Whoooole lot more than wireless shifting, suspension control and blahh blahh blahh. You will be able to remove your seatpost without fiddling with cables coming out of it, or f'ing with internal routing, and Even put straight on another bike! Woah! Wouldnt That be Rad! lol It will create a Ton more options and versatility when it comes to designing the remote actuator, and where you can place it on the bar, which would most likely be anywhere you wanted! If you havent noticed, electronics have come a pretty damn long way, and theres no reason at all this wouldnt work flawlessly. If anything, the electronics would probably be the Most reliable part of the dropper post, as all the current droppers are still working out so many reliability issues related to the internals. So many possibilities. If you are single-mindedly opposed to this, I think its probably just out of principle, and not so much out of actual reason. The most disapointing thing I read in this article is that it is still estimated as being 2 years away from introduction.
  • + 3
 well i was wondering if this would happen. i have always been aginst needing an external source of power for a bike to work (other than making the thing) and funnily enough i still am. if you want something that does it for you get an mx bike... or a cracker eating gnome as duskrider said.
  • + 3
 I'm not opposed to things such as wireless shifting, but I'm more for the "old school" cable actuated shifting. That being said, if they (being KS, RS, CB), can get this working well, I'm 100% for wireless dropper posts! Great idea!!!
  • + 3
 sorry guys, I can't go ride today cause i forgot to plug in my bike. So now my electronic dropper post, di2 shifting, and electronic lockouts all don't work. All electronic bike parts just look really stupid, what if you go on a road trip and camp? Or you want to ride that epic 75 miler but you don't have enough juice? Or you forget to plug it in when you get home? And that's not to mention the weight of adding a battery to every system on your bike.

no thanks
  • + 5
 Stress less… at least you don't have 5098 cables running from your handlebars
  • + 5
 Hammm - I've told you a million times not to over exagerate...
  • + 1
 okay fine, 642 cables...
  • + 3
 Wireless frequency transmissions underneath the gonads. Excellent idea. They should also make bike shorts where you can carry your cell phone right over your balls. The more wireless transmissions the healthier.
  • + 2
 Wish I'd thought of that. Less kids equals more bike money.. Not that I'd trade them for a bike... Although...
  • + 2
 This is one of the best news around dropper posts since they were introduced to the market. The cables were always a nuisance. Either externally (loops) or internally (accessibility) routed. So getting rid of those stupid cables would make me happy.
  • + 2
 this is a welcome development, personally the only thing that put me off having a dropper post are the cables as i didnt want to have a bunch of cables on my handlebar and frame. i wonder if the "motor" that manages actuation that manages the oil flow will be heavier compared to having the traditional cable setup?
  • + 1
 Not everything what is possible has to be implemented to real life...look at cars...nowdays there are electronics everywhere but the ones your really like and want are from yesterday..Ferraris, Challengers,Mustangs Wink ...so please let a bicycle be a bicycle for god sake!
  • + 1
 My new KS dropzone has been a fkin nightmare in this british winter, its seized up after every other ride, Im sending it back to get serviced and then Im selling it
I suppose at least this avoids the cable filling with grit like it currently does.

it may be ugly and clunky but Im so glad I kept my old gravity dropper, its going back on this weekend!

anyway what Im saying is if KS cant get a hydraulic/ mechanical seatpost to work in the real world I dont see how an electronic one will be any good
  • + 1
 Aye I was going to comment something similar. I have had two KS posts, an i900 and now a Lev and both suffered from seizing up - you have to bounce on them to get them to go down. Eventually the i900 wouldn't stay up or down... So yeah would be better if they focused on making them work right and be more reliable than this bollocks.
  • + 1
 If there's moisture between the oil cartridge and the outer mast, the seat post will have issues working properly. Follow the service videos on line and clean/lube your post @Kimbers. The dropzone is super easy to take apart and clean.
  • + 1
 The problem was actually with crap coming off the back wheel and under the saddle, jamming the actuator arm at the top of the post, once I'd stretched a bit of innerutbe over the top of the post it made things a lot more reliable, even riding in constant mud and wet UK weather. But of a design flaw really but, my cover worked well
  • + 1
 Can't they just make it like a computer chair? Handle underneath the front of the seat that you pull up & with no weight on, it comes up, with weight on, it goes down? I don't see what the point of having a cable & H-bar switch is. Raise it on long grueling climbs, drop it before the shred. Clean & easy.
  • + 1
 KS already makes a lever action dropper post...
  • + 1
 That would be cool if it could send a tweet or post a Facebook status update whenever the post was activated!

Jk or course.

How about solar power to charge it? Not to say during a ride, but when the bike is in storage. Have a detachable leash to a solar panel than can suction to a window. Trickle charge it for free.
  • + 1
 *of course (damn iphone)
  • + 1
 2.4 ghz signal ? hacking dropper posts, yes. lol. Jokes aside this is cool but I have never had an issues with my reverb so I can't see spending money on this unless that changed. On the drivetrain side I have snapped countless derailleur cables so yes plz bring wireless to drivetrains or at least ditch the shitty cables.
  • + 1
 Would love wireless electronic rear shifting, dropper post and 'smart' e-shocks.
Pod on the right bar grip with up/down shift. Pod on the left grip for dropper post control and on-the-fly shock tuning.
Guessing it's the future, and will make for a tidy bike.
  • + 2
 So... Laser sights on pistols are really cool at the range... until your battery is dead. For my recreation (which I don't get to do as often as I like), I don't want a dead battery to spoil the fun.
  • + 4
 In the future. Bike shops will have both Bike MECHANICS and Bike ELECTRICIANS!
  • + 5
 Just use good old Jedi powers.....
  • + 5
 Good to see KS raising the bar (post)!!
  • + 1
 include the ability to determine the distance the post drops with each press of the remote please, with a long(er) press dropping it all the way. 1" increments should do it...
  • + 1
 I think this is a good approach. I would like to see an option that adjusts the saddle angle with the height. ie. when it is completely dropped, the saddle tip is not pointing to the ground.
  • + 1
 Give the technology a few years and I'm sure it will be great. We are already deep into the times of recharging electronics anyways! GoPros, lights, phones, computers, Bluetooth devices...
  • + 3
 bikes should not have electronics on it, bikes should be all mechanical, with the except of computers light e.t.c
  • + 1
 just something else to go wrong, i cant understand that technology is rising and electronics are the next thing, but this comes at a high cost usually. nothing wrong with the old methods....
  • + 1
 Is this not the same technology used in the remote Love eggs you can buy from certain Ahem...Shops? Just push the buttin and a little vibration of pleasure....Wouldn't want to get the buttons mixed up!
  • + 3
 why not just have an under-seat lever for when the battery dies...instead of defaulting to the up position??
  • + 1
 I was thinking the same thing. Wouldnt even need to be a full size lever, just long enough to maintain functionality in the event the battery dies or the system fails. I like it.
  • + 2
 Watch out i think DW already has a patent for this. Haha. Nice job KS you refined the dropper post and now you bring us wireless goodness!
  • + 2
 Awesome idea. The main things putting me off dropper posts are the price and the extra cable or hose. If they make this put my name down for one. Cracking idea, love it.
  • + 3
 And it can be yours for the low price of $700!
  • + 1
 I emailed KS about getting my seat post fixed for the second time and no response. So think I will pass on the electronic model and by a reverb instead
  • + 1
 What email address did you send to? KS USA only works on seat post for the US. If you need service, the
Canadian Distributors (Cycles Lambert and Live 2 Play) are the service centers for KS Canada.
  • + 1
 I used the contact info on the website but no one told me in an email back who I should be contacting about it. An email back from the US would have been nice saying take it to Live to Play. But this was back in March 2014. So thanks for the reply even though a bit late but I have since bought a Reverb.
  • + 1
 Ahah imagine that you have frequency interferences with other ridder, you can therefore control the dropper post of other bikes ;-) up down up down aha ah
  • + 2
 This is how it begins. The apocalypse. Ipad compatible frame comming soon. Twitter at each corner.
  • + 1
 As long as it proves reliable, am for it. Good solutions for those frames without internal cable routing. hope it comes to market.
  • + 1
 I wanna see mind controlled dropper posts, shifters and suspension adjustments...
  • + 2
 I'm all for it...! Bring it KS!
  • + 2
 clapper post.............goes up and down when you clap.
  • + 2
 How bout a rechargeable AAA that lives in the seat tube
  • + 1
 They haven't figured out a wired post that works properly, and now want to go wireless? go figure...
  • + 1
 batteries are heavy, expensive, always need recharging or replacing, and never last long enough.. bad idea in my opinion
  • + 2
 The cold kills batteries.
  • + 1
 Wait. So you are telling me... I could have one less cable on my genius.... Woah.... I didn't know that was possible.
  • + 2
 Yay......next we will have electric windows on our bikes.
  • + 1
 The dead battery solution is EZ! Engineer it to use Solar power/ charger? With battery mode available for night rides.
  • + 1
 I wish KS would spend more time making their dropper posts NOT fail - like mine has twice since I bought it in October.
  • + 1
 these electronics companies should rather concentrate on delivering affordable and reliable products to the consumer.
  • + 1
 There is a standard quick release seatpost collar, that's very affordable, dropper posts aren't a necessity in my opinion.... I could live without mine.
  • + 1
 Next I want a handle bar that gets wider and narrower at the push of a button
  • + 2
 I'm looking forward for the wireless brakes!!!
  • + 2
 That just sounds sketchy
  • + 1
 soon mtn bikes will be called motorcycles
  • + 1
 Everbody knows this was eventual.
  • + 1
 Ahh hold up guys cant ride yet gotta charge my dropper post
  • + 1
 Just another thing to fail during a zombie apocalypse.
  • + 2
 26 days to early
  • + 1
 Solar powered dropper post option, so no night riding for you guys!
  • + 1
 That y we love mountain bikes_____O^O_____
  • + 1
 LEV wtf are you doing!
  • + 1
 This is cool!
  • - 2
 One part of me wants to say "might as well just go ride a dirt bike if bikes are going to need power supplies.

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