The Mountain Bike Life

I have had the KS i950-r in my possession for quite some time now. Notice that I did not say I have been using this post for quite some time now, and there is a reason for that. In the one and a half years I have had this post I have probably been able to ride it for less than half of that time. Now, this is not all Kind Shocks’ fault; it has been in my closet for a few months now, ever since my Whistler trip where it shat the bed while I was riding the awesome Whistler XC trails. I sent an email to Rick at KS after I got back and he told me to ship it back, but to tell the truth I forgot, mostly because of the inconvenience of it all, but most of all I am just not happy with the product, it broke within a few months of getting it back from them last time and I am a bit frustrated with the process right now.

This is the 2nd time I have had to ship it down to the States to have them “fix” it, and the reason this time is because they use a nitrogen charged system that is not user or shop serviceable…really bad form if your product is going to malfunction as much as mine has IMO. The first time I sent it down was because the head of the post un-threaded when a friend who was borrowing my bike crashed. I have heard a few others who had this issue, and it is easily fixed, but when my buddy went to tighten mine back up he really wrenched on it and tweaked it so the inner post and outer were not lined up anymore.

This post really has not seen that much use for the length of time I have had it – I was off the bike for over 8 months because of broken bones (not bike related) and then it has been off my bike for the past 5 months because I have not sent it in for repair. So really for the amount I have ridden with the KS i950-r it has caused me lots of issues. This is also the reason I don’t have more photos of it for this review. All I have is one blurry photo of it mounted up and I don’t see much point in mounting it to just take a few photo’s and then take it back off again. So I would like to apologize for the lack of eye candy here…I promise to not do this too much.

You may be reading this thinking it’s a negative review…well in a way it is…the post has proven to be unreliable to me, but it opened me up to the idea. Adjustable seatposts are amazing, no two ways about it. While my review may be negative for the KS i950-r, I really like the idea of adjustable seatposts. That this one has proven to be less than stellar will not taint me from the concept…but I think maybe I will wait till the next round to buy my next one.

If you want more information on the post I wrote about it a while back. I was very excited back then because this was something very new to me and really changed the way I rode in a positive way, but I guess having this many issues with a product can really influence the way we see it in the long term.

Here are a few final thoughts on the Kind Shock KS i950-r:

They have the best remote lever in the business – it’s compact and takes up hardly any room on the bars, especially if you have lock on grips, but I noticed a few things that could be better. First thing….you can’t tighten it up enough…if you do it seizes up the cable so you can not activate the post. This is quite annoying and really shouldn’t happen. The second is the stupid noodle that came attached to the lever…I got rid of that PDQ…just routed the housing straight to the bar…works great.

I had to replace the cables more than I would have liked in the wet months. Where the cable attaches to the seatpost is a huge sign that says…HEY WATER, COME ON IN! I have seen some interesting use of inner tubes to block the muck from getting in…I like this one best and will try to duplicate it when and if I get this post working again. KS now has a mud guard to help, but it does not look as good as the inner tube in the link above.

I did not have any issues at all with the seatpost clamp….it did its job and never slipped, and I did not find it difficult to set up either. I would prefer to see a micro adjust head on there instead, but this one worked fine for me.

The seatpost did slide down in the seat tube a bit and I had to adjust it about once a ride. I am using a hope QR so I know it was not a shitty QR that was to blame, and my previous Thomson seatpost never moved when I didn’t want it too. If I clamped the seat collar down too much the inner shaft  of the post would not move up and down freely. Maybe just a little more ribbing on the seatpost surface to give it a little more friction.

As I said in my initial review, I am tall and found that there was not quite enough length. Around here we have a lot of short climbs followed by steep and sketchy descents, so I go from all the way up to all the way down a lot and for the most part was able to feel comfortable in most situations, but when it got really steep and sketchy, it would have been nice to not have my saddle threatening my manhood…an extra inch would go a long way towards giving me and others like me a little extra wiggle room.

Send a tool out to your dealers to make it easy for them to service the post. I took my post into a few of the larger shops in town to have them open it up as I was experiencing issues doing so using the needle nose pliers and screwdriver method I have seen recommended on other sites. Turns out they use the same method and know of no tool that can ease the frustration of opening this post. I guess mine was put on really tight when KS serviced it last because none of the shops could get it open and while trying one shop messed up the interface a bit.

I really dislike the huge cable loop that this style of post has…it’s unsightly, adds extra weight and is easy to snag on branches, repair stands, other bikes while shuttling…the list goes on and on. I would love to see some great engineer figure out how to move it to the seat collar in a nice clean fashion.

Now, a lot of these issues are being fixed in the new LEV post that should be coming out in the next while…but I would be very hesitant to buy one ’til I know that the inner workings of the post are better than the one that is in my closet right now….I would like to see it be more user serviceable, or at least dealer serviceable so if something does go pear shaped that I will have it back in a few days rather than a few weeks.

Here is a list of what I think a good adjustable seatpost will need to be able to dominate the market…and get those final naysayers to take the plunge:

1. Make it reliable
2. Make it easy to service
3. Give a few options for length…not everyone is the same height.
4. Infinite adjust is a must
5. Keep the remote simple to use, small, close to the bar so it’s hard to break in the event of a crash, and adjustable so people can mount it under or on top of the bars as they need
6. Get rid of the stupid loop, and internal routing is not a solution – it’s great for a few manufacturers…but if you want it on more bikes you will have to figure something else out, aftermarket is where the money is
7. Make it reliable (this is in here twice on purpose…please…just make it reliable and easy to service)

None of the current posts really seem to have everything on this list…each one has its fair share of issues. If I were in the market for one of these amazing posts I would wait a while before pulling the trigger…save some more money and get some of the next batch…they look promising.

The thing is – I can live without this product…I can just hop off my bike and adjust my seatpost manually…like I have done for years. But once you get a taste of adjusting your post on the fly…going back to a stationary post is a hard pill to swallow….it would be like going back to driving an old Honda Civic after driving around a BMW M3 for a while, yes the Honda does the job, but it is way less fun. Adjustable seatposts let you feel the flow of the trail more, you never have to worry about the saddle being in the way on a steep sketchy section, or busting your knees on a climb, you can just push a button and move it to whatever height the trail and your riding style needs at that moment.

Look at the rest of our bikes, all these parts have had MANY years of evolution, the adjustable seatpost has only had a few years and it shows. Give them a little more time to mature and I think we will see these on every bike…they are that good…when they work.

Originally posted on my old blog on 1/5/12.

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