KS LEV - DIY Cartridge Rebuild
If you’ve got a KS LEV that has started sinking this should fix it. I started this thread quite a while ago and used feedback to improve on it. The process seems to consistently work based on feedback I’ve received. Just the simple process of recharging the system resolves the issue that results after air and oil mix in the chambers. Even without replacing seals, this seems to resolve the issue for a long time however I recently added the specs for the seals with an exploded view of the post so that you can replace them while you’re in there. If you try this, please let me know how it goes. Also let me know if any steps are confusing or if you run into any other issues. I’ll use your feedback to improve the thread. ***If all of this blows your mind, I’ve also performed this service including seal replacement for $50 plus shipping (with additional fees if any other parts need to be replaced) – PM me if this is a route you’d prefer to take***
DISCLAIMER: I’ve done this procedure quite a few times. I started on my own LEV, and have since repaired the LEVs and Supernaturals owned by several of my buddies. I then went back into my own LEV multiple times to gain additional photos for this thread. Mine is still running smoothly (though I did have to replace a seal I damaged) and my buddies’ posts have continued to be problem free. I’ve refined this post to be as clear as possible and the method works great. I've also added some tips from mistakes I've made myself. That being said - ATTEMPT AT YOUR OWN RISK.
***ATTENTION: Manufacturer Warning***
I have been contacted by the manufacturer and they have urged me to add this warning to this thread on their behalf:
"The procedure explained by the user in this thread is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS and could result in severe injury or death to the person performing this. These warnings are also clearly stated on our website and in our manuals. This posting may cause some consumers to disregard our warnings and severely injure themselves attempting this procedure listed."
"We at KS USA do NOT endorse the servicing of the oil system, it is factory sealed, and not to be opened by the user as the internals are under EXTREME PRESSURE!"
"We offer a 2 year warranty on our products, so if a customer is having an issue, they can send the post in to us and we will REPLACE the cartridge at no charge under warranty. If it is outside of the warranty period, the consumer can purchase a new cartridge assembly thru their local dealer."
Mike A from KS USA
I’m starting the procedure after disconnecting the remote cable from the post and removing the post from the bike. If you have trouble with this, consult your owner’s manual. Although there is a great instructional video at kssuspension.com to do the first 8 steps, I’ve included these anyway to demonstrate my technique for Step 5, which is far more difficult than appears in the video. Also pay attention to a warning in Step 7 to prevent damage to your DU Bushing. Alternatively, skip to Step 9 to get right to the cartridge section or to the near end to see the exploded view and links to replacement seals. I've also added a section regarding the Supernatural differences as this procedure works for it as well, with just a few modifications.
Step 1: With your post in the soft jaws of a vice, remove the end cap using a strap wrench to expose the actuator lever. If you have the 2nd Generation Integra, see differences below (towards the end of this thread).
Step 2: Compress the actuator lever to slacken the internal cable. Rotate the end barrel in order to disconnect it from the lever.
Step 3: Gently pull the cable snug and tape it against the outside of the post with electrical tape.
Step 4: Push the post through or carefully pull on the actuator assembly to expose the inner shaft. Then spray clean with alcohol to prepare for the next step.
Step 5: Remove the LEV from the soft jaws, protect the exposed shaft with a portion of rubber inner tube, then place it in the soft jaws and snug it just enough to prevent the shaft from rotating while you loosen the actuator assembly with a wrench. Alternatively, you could use a rubberized soft jaws like this:
Rubber Vice Clamp - Golf Accessories - Amazon.com
**THIS STEP MAY BE VERY DIFFICULT DUE TO A STRONG THREAD LOCK ADHESIVE – THE ACTUATOR LEVER IS A SOFT METAL AND CAN BEND EASILY – TAKE CARE NOT TO DAMAGE IT - ** (((EDIT))): LESS TOOLS ARE BETTER HERE IF POSSIBLE – SOME ACTUATORS MAY NOT BE AS DIFFICULT TO REMOVE AS OTHERS – VICRIDER222 RECOMMENDS THIS TECHNIQUE: “You will get as much if not more grip by putting on a clean, tight fitting household latex glove and grabbing the degreased shaft with your hand…keep your thumb out, place the shaft along the base of your 4 fingers and close them. Squeeze them as tight as you can, then turn the actuator base with your other hand”
Step 6: Remove the actuator assembly, the rubber bottom-out bumper, and the piston/push rod - **NOTE THAT THERE IS A LONG END AND SHORT END OF THE PUSH ROD – THE LONG END NEEDS TO FACE OUT TOWARD THE ACTUATOR**
Step 7: Loosen the top collar with a strap wrench, then remove the cartridge assembly from the outer shaft. Be carefull not to lose the 3 copper guide bushings on the cartridge assembly. **WARNING – On the KS video, the shaft is yanked with some force so that the copper guide bushings knock the silver DU Bushing out. This works most of the time however if the DU Bushing is stuck, you may blow the inner coated ring out of the DU Bushing (See pic below). You can avoid this buy removing the black top collar, then protecting the stachion with a towel and grasping the DU Bushing CAREFULLY with channel locks and twisting it back and forth slightly to help loosen it (Pictured below though stanchion is not covered to make it easier to see). If you do blow out the DU Bushing, it’s OK. They can be purchased at Universal Cycle
WARNING – avoid this at Step 7
The picture above can be avoided by loosening the DU Bushing using channel locks as pictured below (be sure to protect the stanchion first – (not done here for visability). You just need to twist the DU Bushing slightly in order to make sure it’s not seized before giving the firm pull mentioned in Step 7. BE SUPER CAREFUL IF YOU CHOOSE TO DO THIS AS YOU CAN EASILY SCRATCH THE STANCHION – I KEEP SPARE DU BUSHINGS AROUND BECAUSE I PREFER TO REPLACE IF THEY BREAK RATHER THAN RISK SCRATCHING THE POST
Step 8: Remove the 3 copper guide bushings, then slide off the DU bushing, collar, and bottom of the seat clasp (these could stay in place but will just be annoying)
Step 9: Unscrew the Schrader valve cover and release the pressure from the system using a screwdriver/nail/etc.
Step 10: **EYE PROTECTION AND POINT AWAY FROM YOUR FACE - SEE MANUFACTURER WARNING ABOVE BEFORE ATTEMPTING** Using snap ring pliers, unscrew the cap of the cartridge, lift the cap slightly, and dump out the oil. There may be a loud “pop” of pressure releasing when you loosen the cap.
Step 11: Flip the cartridge around and use your finger to push the Schrader valve assembly and the other internals through the cartridge as one entity. You may need to use a dowel rod or protected screwdriver to push it all the way through.
Step 11 b: You can now break the internals down further as pictured below – **AVOID REMOVING THE SLIDING PIECE OF BLACK PLASTIC (INTERNAL FLOATING PISTON – IFP) FROM THE METAL TUBE IT’S ON – IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO GET BACK ON BECAUSE OF A VERY TIGHT SQUARE GASKET ON THE INNER SURFACE** (Additional note – you will have to remove this if you intend to replace the inner quad ring seal)
**DON’T REMOVE THIS IF YOU CAN HELP IT – YOU CAN SEE THE INNER SEAL HERE THAT I DAMAGED TRYING TO GET THIS THING BACK ON THE METAL TUBE**(If it slides off [or you’re replacing the seal] and it’s difficult to get back on use this tip from HappyMTB.fr: “I manage to get it back on without damage by pressing it gently against the tube and using a tool (an owl or a small screwdriver should do) to push the gasket around. Apply a little more downward pressure on the IFP where you start pushing on the gasket so that the gasket starts to slide on the tube and then work your way around…be careful not to damage the surface treatment of the tube with the tool.”)
Step 12: Next, replace the valve assembly and the metal tube with the IFP on it. You will want the IFP approx. 2-3 mm away from the end opposite to the valve assembly end. You can assemble these and insert them as one entity. The IFP may need to be guided using your finger to keep it from slipping up further as you replace the tube it’s on. You can also reinstall the cartridge end cap after this step to help push it down approximately 3 mm.
Step 13: Add Fork Oil (I use 5 WT) to fill the cartridge at least to the bottom thread (though I go a little farther for good measure).
Step 13 b: Preparation for step 14: When I went back into my own LEV, I noticed that the coated inner rod on the damper assembly was partially unthreaded (you can see a small gap just below the coated shaft on the first picture below – the second picture is after I rethreaded it down tight). This should be checked before step 14 because if it’s unthreaded slightly, the actuator push rod within the shaft will not be able to fully reach and activate the dropper.
Step 14: Insert the push road (being sure the long end faces out toward the actuator). Then install the push rod cover. This will allow you to open the valve as you insert it into the oil in step 14 b.
Step 14 b: While depressing the actuator piston to open the valve, insert the damper assembly through the oil and down into the inner metal tube of the cartridge assembly just until the gold coated part is leveled with the top end of the inner tube. Oil should be overflowing as you do this, which should prevent air in the chamber. Tighten the cap using the snap ring pliers. **USE CAUTION WHEN TIGHTENING THIS AS THE CAP TENDS TO WANT TO CROSS THREAD**
Step 15: Use a shock pump to add pressure to 150-250 psi. After you’ve added some air, depress the actuator piston to be sure the post is fully extended before filling to the desired pressure. After you’ve added air, with the internal shaft fully extended, you can attempt compressing it against your workbench – if it doesn’t sag, you’ve succeeded in eliminating the sag issue.
Step 16 to finish: Simply follow the KS video to finish the reassembly. Here’s the video:
KS LEV Service - YouTube
**One problem you may run into is when threading on the posts end cap. As advised by the video, you thread it on until the last few threads, then use the remote to activate and compress the post before tightening the last few threads. If the post won’t stay in the down position, tighten the end cap a little more and try again before you freak out.
Please let me know how this goes if you try it. Additionally, if there are any really confusing areas or you feel there is some editing I need to do, please let me know.
Also, thanks to everyone for the tips on posting, using Photobucket, and improving my technique.
*Additional Useful Information:
If the internal cable is broken, replacement is pretty easy following this video from the KS Website: KS LEV Service - YouTube
Ron Easton used to be pretty good about mailing you replacement parts but it seems things have changed and now they direct you to your local dealer. If you’re impatient like me, I’ve listed ways to have an endless supply of cable and isolator pellets to do this repair. (You can reuse the metal end barrels, but you need to use a lighter to melt the old isolator pellet out of there before passing the new cable through).
1 mm Braided Kevlar Kite String:
Free Shipping 100ft 250lb Braided Kevlar Line for Fishing Camping Kite Flying | eBay
"Isolator Pellets" This is bean bag filler - they're a little big but you can easily snip them down smaller with wire cutters to get the size you need:
Darice Bean Bag Filler Plastic Pellets, 16 oz: Crafts : Walmart.com
If you prefer the actual parts, I recently discovered this website but I have not purchased these parts and don't know if the grub (set) screw is included with the end barrel.
Barrel (according to the description, this is missing the set screw which I previously saw on the site separately but can’t find now) *Again, you can reuse your originals – just use a lighter to melt out the old isolator pellet:
Kind Shock Lev Barrel Cable Clamp Each
Kind Shock Lev Kevlar Link Cable
Another newer source for a lot of KS parts:
Universal Cycles -- Kind Shock Seatpost Service Parts
I ran into this issue while examining my buddy’s broken LEV. His actuator lever assembly actually busted through the bottom of the post end cap. There is a lip on the actuator assembly that makes contact with a lip inside the end cap and it appears this holds the entire weight of the rider. In the picture here, you’ll see the lip is “stripped” on both the actuator and cap (using an allen key in the photo to point it out). When weight is placed on the saddle, the post begins to sink into the cap, eventually breaking the internal cable, then jamming the lever against the bottom of the cap. Once the lever hits the bottom, the post is locked into the activated mode (sinks when weighted, rises when standing). Be sure you examine yours if you dismantle it.
LEV EXPLODED VIEW AND SEAL SPECS:
1 x 18 mm
1mm X 18mm Metric Buna-N 70 O-ring [N1.00X018] : The O-Ring Store - O-Rings, Hydraulic Seals, and Kits, We make getting O-Rings easy!
1.8 x 15 mm
N1.80X015 Buna-N 70 O-ring [N1.80X015] : O-Rings - The O-Ring Store, We make getting O-Rings easy!
2 x 8.5 mm
2mm X 8.5mm Metric Buna-N 70 O-ring [N2.00X008.5] : The O-Ring Store - O-Rings, Hydraulic Seals, and Kits, We make getting O-Rings easy!
109 Buna-N 70 X-Rings / Quad-Rings [QR-109] : The O-Ring Store - O-Rings, Hydraulic Seals, and Kits, We make getting O-Rings easy!
1.8 x 5.3 mm
N1.80X005.3 Buna-N 70 O-ring [N1.80X005.3] : The O-Ring Store - O-Rings, Hydraulic Seals, and Kits, We make getting O-Rings easy!
113 Buna-N 70 X-Rings / Quad-Rings [QR-113] : The O-Ring Store - O-Rings, Hydraulic Seals, and Kits, We make getting O-Rings easy!
114 Buna-N 70 X-Rings / Quad-Rings [QR-114] : The O-Ring Store - O-Rings, Hydraulic Seals, and Kits, We make getting O-Rings easy!
2 x 17 mm
2mm X 17mm Metric Buna-N 70 O-ring [N2.00X017] : The O-Ring Store - O-Rings, Hydraulic Seals, and Kits, We make getting O-Rings easy!
_____________LEV INTEGRA DIFFERENCES__________________
If you have the 2nd Generation LEV Integra, the initial steps will be slightly different.
With your post in the soft jaws, use a crescent wrench to unthread the bottom assembly from the black casing as shown below.
Then simply skip to step 4.
This is something I originally posted later on page 1 of this thread. I recently tried to edit it and received a forbidden message for some reason so I'm tacking it on here.
My wife's Supernatural needed a little more work than I anticipated tonight so I took advantage of the opportunity and created an exploded view of the post for comparison to the LEV (note that when you reassemble this post, it's actually better to have the IFP at the opposite end than is pictured below):
Of course once I got the thing apart, I realized that these are factory charged and there initially appeared to be no way to recharge the system. Luckily, there were other threads online with people who experienced the same sinking feeling.
There's actually a very small hole within one of the craters on the cartridge end cap - this is the area where snap ring pliers are used to remove the cap:
This hole connects through to an even smaller pinhole beneath the lower o-ring on the cartridge cap. I've removed the o-ring in the picture below to reveal the pinhole:
Once the cartridge is reassembled and you're ready to add air, you have to get a little creative as some other threads have mentioned. I used a basketball inflater wrapped with electrical tape (there's got to be a better attachment that seals better - let me know if you're familiar with this) and my shock pump. **EDIT - you can actually use the inner plastic tubing from a standard piece of derailleurs cable housing around the inflator tip**
Downside is that you can't really get an accurate read on pressure so I just added a little at a time until I got the desired speed of activation. **EDIT - this is not true. You can get an accurate reading. I use the LEV guidelines of 150-250 psi
The other difference over the LEV is that the air chamber is on the opposite end so oil is added a little differently.
When I reassembled this, I pushed the IFP down into the cartridge by itself first, then replaced the middle tube and pressed it down in (luckily it didn't give me problems like the IFP on my LEV). **EDIT - a better way is to keep the IFP on the inner tube and insert them together, then using a thin dowel or other rod, push the IFP down into place**
I then filled that inner tube with 5 wt. oil nearly to the brim, then installed the final inner shaft into the oil (I had to depress the activator lever against my workbench as I installed the inner shaft - only as far as needed to then replace the cartridge end cap)
Next, screwed the end cap on and added air with the terrible taped-up needle tip. Post is working great now so I got lucky. Wasn't exactly a smooth process and took way longer to figure out than I care to admit but it's done now and I figured this may help someone along the way.
Sorry for the rough layout and poor quality photos.
**EDIT - I've since done this on another Supernatural that continues to run flawlessly**
Last edited by cakelly4; 04-01-2015 at 08:27 PM.
LEV Rotational Play Repair
If you have a SIGNIFICANT amount of rotational play in your post (nose of saddle rotates left and right), this should resolve it or dramatically reduce it.
There appear to be 4 factors that affect rotational stability in the LEV:
1. The copper guide bushings – these reside in the grooves in the cartridge/stanchion and slide along the groove tracks inside the black casing
2. The one way roller bearing – if the post rotates one way slightly in the grooves mentioned above, this bearing prevents it from moving back, thus minimizing rotational play
3. The grooves inside the black outer casing – I suppose these may get worn and potentially widen over time
4. The grooves on the stanchion – these can likely get a little sloppy with wear over time and therefore allow a little play.
The first two of these factors can be fairly easily replaced. By doing so, you will greatly reduce any rotational play you may be experiencing.
The following procedure was performed on my wife’s LEV after the rotational play increased to the point of feeling the saddle move beneath her while pedaling. As always, attempt this at your own risk. Mine went very smoothly however damage to your post is possible and once you start the procedure, there’s no going back until you have finished.
1. You will need to purchase a new one way roller bearing and 3 copper guide bushings. Be sure to order 3 guide bushings. They are available for a reasonable price here:
2. I found it easier to get purchase on the old bearing assembly by first removing the nylon inner portion using a screwdriver. Once you do this, you’re stuck and will need to follow through to the end of the procedure before your post is functional again.
3. Next, place your post upright in a vice with soft jaws and use a downhill tire lever (works great) or large screw driver (risk of marring) to gently work the metal outer ring loose. I did a little at a time and worked my way around slowly until it lifted approximately 2-3 mm.
4. Next, reposition your downhill tire lever underneath the entire metal ring. The tire lever was perfect for this and really helps prevent damage to the post – keep that in mind. Gently lever the ring out by working your way around it gradually.
5. Clean the bearing surface and grease it lightly with slick honey or other grease to facilitate pressing the new bearing.
6. Prepare your new bearing. Pay attention to the orientation of the bearing. The surface that should be facing up (visible after installing) has a slightly more prominent and rounded edge when compared to the underside. The first picture below shows the top – it’s easier to see this when you have the bearing in front of you.
7. Gently position the bearing level in the post so that the grooves (guide bushing paths) are lined with the same grooves in the black casing. I used my stanchion with the copper guide bushings in place to line up the new bearing, and pushed it down gently by hand to get it seated.
8. Once the bearing is in position, you can get it partially seated by using your hands to push the bearing down into place. Be sure to apply even pressure all the way around so that it goes in straight.
9. Once you get it evenly seated by hand, you can use a hub bearing press attachment and a rubber mallet to finish the job. I used a Hope Pro II Evo hub bearing press (I can’t remember the size) to gently tap it into place.
10. Reassemble your post as directed. Don’t forget your new copper guide bushings.
Good luck if you try it and as always, let me know if you have any better suggestions, questions, etc.
Last edited by cakelly4; 06-30-2015 at 11:57 PM.
Reason: Additional Service Procedure
KS LEV - DIY Cartridge Rebuild
Excellent work! I've been doing this to my Reverb ever since RS released the videos, but I figured the KS post worked in a similar way. I've been wanting an offset post for awhile now and Rockshox won't make a reverb with an offset. Just curious, do you think the KS dropzone has the same or similar cartridge as the LEV? I would change to that in a heartbeat if I could rebuild a dropzone like you've done here with the LEV.
Don't know for sure. I think the cartridges are supposed to be fairly similar but I have not worked on one. My wife has the Supernatural (very similar to Dropzone) and she hasn't had any sinking issues yet. Since the actuator mechanism is on the top, I imagine there may be some differences in where the oil (or air if any?) goes.
Good point. I will say though that the internals of the KS look very similar to the RS Reverb. The parts look a little different, and some parts are longer than others due to differences in the actuation point, but in the end, it is still 3 tubes with 1 tube extending up and down.
Originally Posted by cakelly4
I'm curious, did you change any of the o-rings on the inside of this post? If the RS Reverb starts to sag, it is pretty much a guarantee that one of the dynamic o-rings (ones that either move with the extending shaft or have the shaft moving along side the o-ring) has gone bad and needs to be replaced. It is a long procedure and maybe I missed the 'fix' step or didn't realize what was being fixed to prevent sagging.
Lastly, you mentioned other threads/forums that have more discussion on this? Can you direct me where these are?
Good question regarding the seals. So far, the posts that I've fixed have done just great after this rebuild with no replacement of internal seals. Aside from mine, the other two I fixed began to have the problem shortly after purchase and so my theory is that there are some bad cartridges out there that already have a small amount of air in them. Alternatively, there could be a slow leaking seal and maybe my repaired ones will fail again sometime down the road. Another theory that I've read in some of the other threads is that by lifting your bike by the seat (with the post in the partially down position) you are potentially creating negative pressure in the system and sucking air into the oil chamber. This is also why I'm interested in receiving feedback from others who try this. Will be interesting to see if the rebuild effectively fixes the problem long-term, short-term, or not at all for some people.
Originally Posted by Laterilus
Here are the other sites that I previously mentioned:
ks lev dropper post sag ?
So I just decided to edit this post because I found this quote from a thread I started on a local forum:
Mischief Bruise Quoted:
"My LEV developed 1" of sag last year during a cold weekend where the highs reached the mid-20's during the day. I called KS and spoke to Ron Easton about it, and he said that colder temps could cause some of the seals to shrink, letting air and oil mix, which was causing that sag. At the time, he said that KS was in the process of re-sourcing those seals from a different manufacturer, so I might recommend getting a new kit from KS when doing this repair."
That thread is located here: Repair Your KS LEV
Hope this info helps
Subscribed -- and many thanks to Chris for taking the time to post the this, saving us the hassle of having to send away the post to KS.
You're welcome. I hope it helps for others as much as it has for my own LEV.
Great step by step. rebuilding adjustable seatposts definitely is time consuming and lots of steps. Especially when you don't rebuild one every day, it is easy to make mistakes. When i rebuild mine, i just hope i don't have extra parts sitting there and be scratching my head saying "where were those parts supposed to installed?"
I wish more people did DIY/write-ups like this. I know how to do just about everything by now but it would have been nice along the way.
Would be in for one of these on the Fox DOSS for when mine inevitably starts having issues.
edit: you really put 150-250psi in a LEV? My DOSS asks for something like 15-20psi max and at my return speed preference it's in the <10psi range, so low it won't register on my pump! haha
Yup. LEV manual states 150-250. I believe factory setting is at 150psi. I'm guessing the air chamber on the DOSS is much smaller than the LEV's
Originally Posted by Alias530
Edit: I mean the DOSS is probably a larger air chamber, hence lower pressure.
cakelly4, that's an awesome step by step, thanks for the effort you've put into it. I was looking for something like this and nearly gave up. I don't need to service the cartridge just yet, but I know one day I'll need these instructions.
I have an issue maybe you can help with given you've done a few Levs already:
I've just done the basic service on my Lev for the first time based on the KS youtube video, just cleaned everything and re-greased using Slickoleum.
After reassembly the post is super smooth but I hear loud "breathing" when the post compresses and expands. I can hear air getting sucked in and out through the cable junction under the red KS logo cover where the cable terminates. Initially I wasn't concerned by that, just assumed that it might be because I used a bit more grease than necessary.
But after the first ride following this service I discovered that the silver bottom from the bottom end cap blew out and was rattling inside my frame! Most likely because during the ride I compressed the seatpost quickly, and air did not have time to escape through the cable junction box so it blew out the bottom.
The silver bottom is held in place by an o-ring, just like the cable junction cover so there was no permanent damage and I was able to reinstall it. This happened while the red cable junction cover was held in place by an extra thick after market o-ring and this is why I think the silver bottom blew out while the red cover remained in place.
I have now switched back to the original size o-ring on the red cable junction cover and now when I push the seat post down to test it the red cover gets pushed out by the air pressure. If I don't address it I will probably lose it on the trail. Any idea what is going on? Did you experience this with the posts you serviced?
I thought maybe I wasn't purging the air from the post properly during reassembly. But I don't see how that would matter since the post is able to suck air in through the cable junction box when it expands anyways. I'm at a loss as to how I've "introduced" this issue by the basic "clean and lube" service...
Brings me to the second question:
What is the purpose of compressing the post before the end cap is fully tightened as in the KS service youtube vid? Might it be related to my issue? Note that I did execute this step as per instructions.
Been meaning to reply back to your post. Again, outstanding information and work done here. It's stuff like this that keeps me coming back to MTBr even though the vast majority of the posts on these forums are junk. Good to know there is still worthwhile posts out there.
Originally Posted by cakelly4
Ok, enough gushing; I've re-read your procedure many times over now as it is obviously full of details. I'm a like-minded person and would prefer to sweat all the details.
It is so interesting to me that the designs of both the LEV and Reverb are almost identical, but with subtle differences. One of the main things I noticed was the use of quad seals (I believe you referred to them as 'square gaskets', cakelly4). This was a mistake on SRAM's part. All the internal seals are the typical round seals. I have since replaced all the dynamic seals in my Reverb with quad seals. It made a lot more sense to me to get double the sealing contact for any of the seals that have to move.
The IFP for the LEV is pretty much identical to the Reverb. Yes, those seals are a ***** to get back in, but it can be done with some patience. I squeeze them together to make a little 'taco'. Place your pinky finger or a wooden dowel on the other end just below the recessed area where the o-ring will seat. Once I get one end of the taco in, I'll wedge the rest of the o-ring in the IFP so that it won't pop out, then slowly move the dowel around the recessed area while using my fingers from the opposite end. It's not easy, but it works and you can do this without damaging them if you take your time.
Also, speaking of the o-rings durability, I too am very curious about the run time both you and your friends get from your posts since you did not change any of the o-rings. My experience with the Reverb is that one of the dynamic o-rings has blown if the sagging starts. I like your method of checking for proper operation prior to completely rebuilding the post. I came to the same conclusion with the Reverb. I would like to add something though, after checking to see if the posts sags on your work bench, jiggle the skinny shaft around a bit. If air or oil starts to spray out, the o-ring is blown. Sure, that inner shaft won't jiggle during normal operation, but a good o-ring will still hold that seal with a little bit of side to side movement. I'm sure Kind Shock is like the rest of the manufacturers out there and uses Buna-N o-rings so it shouldn't be difficult to measure them and get replacements. I go to theoringstore.com to get o-rings for my Reverb and forks. Super cheap, and they have quad rings. Comparing to the Reverb, my guess is that the o-rings that tend to go bad are the ones on the two silver end caps, and definitely the quad ring on the skinny inner shaft (the one surrounded by the two teflon glide rings). In addition, I'm assuming the silver end cap you removed using a snap-ring pliers also has an o-ring on the inside of it to seal it around the skinny shaft? That one goes bad on the Reverb as well.
Your bleed procedure is brilliant. One of my main problems with the Reverb is the bleed procedure (for the internal portion of the post, not the remote). The more I looked at your bleed procedure, the more I realized that you are bleeding the LEV upside-down from the way that SRAM has instructed to bleed the post. No matter what I do, I always have 1-1.5mm of sag after a fresh bleed. I don't really notice it on the trail, but it is still annoying and I would like to get ALL the air out of the system. Whenever I get around to bleeding my Reverb again, I'm going to do it upside down using the same procedure you have listed here. The Reverb clamp head actually unscrews from the telescoping post part which would allow for an upside down bleed.
Lastly, I've been looking for a replacement for awhile for my Reverb. Not that the post is bad, I like it a lot, but I wanted the option of an offset seatpost. I fit better on those posts, but I didn't want a mechanical dropper like the Specialized blacklite. I was really considering the KS Dropzone, but there weren't any instructions on how to rebuild them.... that's what has kept me with the Reverb. Now that I've seen your procedure, I'm assuming the general design of the Dropzone will be similar and I'll be able to rebuild that one as well. So, I now have a dropzone in the mail on its way! I'll add to your thread here with a Dropzone re-build next winter (or the first time it starts to sag).
I definitely have experienced the "breathing" sound after servicing the post as you mentioned and would agree that it seems to be more notable when I've gotten a little carried away with the slick honey. I do think a thin smattering is more ideal. That being said, I've never seen the bottom blown out by air pressure alone. I DID however see the bottom blown out of a buddy's LEV where the actuator assembly lip stripped through the end cap lip and busted out the bottom (photos of this are in the above step-by-step) - this is the only reason I knew what you were referring to.
As for the junction box cover, part of your problem may be a worn out barbed ferrule at the junction - the lip is actually designed to mate with an indent in the junction box lid to help keep it in place and to keep the cable aligned properly. The other possibility is that your cover is upside down (with the indent up instead of toward the ferrule). You can buy a new ferrule here: Kind Shock Lev Cable Housing Ferrule Each or ask Ron @ KS to send you one. I've spoken with Ron Easton not too long ago and he mentioned that there is potential for an alloy ferrule to be available soon - thus the barb would be more durable.
The final step in the KS video is designed to prevent an excess bolus of air between the body and the cartridge. I think this step is only to keep a fairly neutral pressure as it seems impossible to keep any air from entering/exiting during operation.
My thoughts would be to go in and lighten up the amount of grease, check your ferrule and junction cover placement, and try again. Also, is Slickoleum thin like Slick Honey, or thicker? Thin definitely seems better for this.
Good luck. Let me know if this was helpful and how it goes. I'm always curious how these issues pan out.
Thanks for the positive praise. Psyched that this thread is helping others even a little. I am a little worried about my IFP after finally getting it back on. I did end up doing pretty much what you explained above to finally get it however I managed to shear a little rubber in the attempts before that. I will definitely keep this post updated as I get more miles on my post and as my buddies do the same. One guy unfortunately doesn't get to ride as often so it may be a while to get better feed back. So far he reports the post as being "sac-slapping fast" though, so that's a plus. The other guy has the LEV that had the stripped actuator so we're currently waiting on replacement parts. So far, the only one I can speak for is mine which has been problem free for miles after the first rebuild. I've since rebuilt it 2 or 3 times just to get more photos for this thread however. So I'm sort of resetting the longevity clock on that one (and with a slightly damaged inner seal on the IFP now - whoops). Definitely going to check out the o-ring website you referenced. And I agree that the quad seals just make more sense for the internals - weird that SRAM doesn't do that. I do wish there was a seal kit for the LEV similar to rear shock air sleeve maintenance kits. That would be the simplest way to maintain them longterm.
Good luck with the drop zone. My wife has the Supernatural and although it's a sweet post, my biggest gripes are the cable connection at the saddle and the external activator arm and cable getting gunked up frequently - her post is being serviced by me as soon as I leave this thread as a matter of fact. It just doesn't do well in excessively wet and/or muddy conditions. I'll soon be creating an under the seat mud guard for hers.
Once again Chris, nice work. Looks like that is what I'm going to have to deal with when my Dropzone arrives as the only thing different between the supernatural and dropzone is the clamp.
First of all, I'm confused as to why this small port is needed to add air. What is the matter with the normal schraeder valve for adding air? Isn't that what you did with the LEV? I think I'm missing something here. I know with the Reverb you add air to the normal schraeder valve once you are finished charging it with oil.
If the small port needs to be used, you could try using some sort or wax or rubber plug. It would be similar to a Fox rear shock when you have to charge the N2 chamber under the IFP. They don't have a schraeder core on their rear shocks, they use a rubber plug. That would produce the seal you want, then you stick the needle through that. It should seal back up as you remove the needle..... or at least that is what I will try when I have to do my post.
It doesn't surprise me that your procedure is a little upside down from the LEV since the valve has switched sides between the two posts.
Yes, I agree about the actuation lever on the Supernatural/Dropzone. It isn't ideal where it is located, but in my opinion, hydraulic is the way to go and I needed an offset post. The only way a mechanical post works for me is if I know the trail perfectly. That way I can set up my post where I want it well ahead of time before I actually need it. The hydraulic posts allow you to drop it whenever, where ever, and you don't have to slam it all the way down for it to be out of your way. I hate trying to 'find' the click in spots. Sometimes I only have time to drop my post 2 inches. That is still better than none at all if I'm coming up to a really chunky spot I didn't know was coming and my speed is a little more than what I wanted going into the section.
Thankfully, I don't ride in muddy areas so this probably won't affect me much. However, doesn't KS already make a mud boot for the supernatural? Isn't it this part?
Supernatural Mud Boot ? KS | Get Down and Dirty
Yeah, that mud boot is on hers but they still tend to get a little gunked up. In fact, I'm convinced that the boot also funnels water and grime down into the cable housing. Mostly a problem in very wet/muddy conditions though.
Now for the bad news: There is no Schraeder valve on the Supernatural (and probably the same for the Dropzone). This is likely due, at least partially, to the reversed chambers which leave no room for a Schraeder valve on the air side of the cartridge.
great post, thanks for the detailed pics. I just finished a relube of my lev which is basically this procedure but leaving the oil cartridge sealed. I used silkolene pro-rg2 grease as I have had a bad experience using slickoleum in the past. in warm temps it gets too thin and runs down to the bottom bracket. hopefully this is not too thick or sticky for the lev.
do you know the size or have a supplier for the o-ring that holds the cable attachment cover on? It appears to be 1/32 width 3/4 ID but I cant find anywhere to order this.
also when disassembling the post how do you pop out the upper bushing without damaging it? for me, the rounded ends of the 3 brass rods were not kind the lower edge of this bushing.
I take it back about the o-ring. metric 1x19mm makes more sense. still interested to see if anyone knows for sure
Not sure what o-ring size. I actually need to do this to mine soon and plan to bring it to the hardware store to find a similar match.
Originally Posted by rox
As for the DU bushing, that's tricky. I definitely ended up with some indents as well. Not sure there's a great way to avoid this. Maybe try gently extending the post until you can feel the guide bushings make contact with the DU bushing, then pull with steady pressure until the bushing pops out of the post body - may be slightly better than pulling hard and slamming them into it. I think the most important part of that Bushing is the inner teflon coated portion. I've gotten a few scratches on that just removing it from the cartridge as it runs over the guide bushing grooves - my recommendation there is to only remove the DU bushing if absolutely necessary to protect the inner surface. Also, Ron Easton was nice enough to mail me a new one when I called and asked.
Have you tried Slick Honey for the grease? In the Supernatural service video found on the KS website, they mention Slick Honey as being a similar alternative to the KS Post Paste. I use a thin smattering of that and it keeps the post buttery smooth.
slick honey is just the marketing (and marked up) name for englund slickoleum. I ordered a pack of 50 1x19mm orings. can send you some if needed and if they turn out to be the right size.
you have much better luck with ron than I do. I bent the upper plate of the seat clamp in a crash and have been trying to get a replacement forever.
I believe the cable junction cover o-ring size is ID=20mm by 1mm. I've tried both 20mm and 19mm and the 20mm comes closer to the original when compared side by side.
Originally Posted by rox
The circumference of the o-ring channel on the cover is around 66.5mm. The internal circumference of the 20mm o-ring is 62.8mm. 59.7mm for the 19mm.
I've recently obtained an obscene quantity of the 20mm X 1mm for cheap. Also happy to post a few to anyone who makes a decent contribution to this thread. Till I run out Just PM me your delivery address.
Thanks for the tips Chris. The red cover was the right way up but I did not push the ferrule all the way up to lock it. The ferrule is new, just replaced one I accidentally cut with the cable...
Originally Posted by cakelly4
I'm pretty sure the silver bottom blew out because of air pressure. If it was from the actuator base slipping past the end cap lip I would have felt it. But I just heard a pop, thought "that's a strange drive train sound" and kept riding...
I've repeated the basic service again, this time paying attention to the amount of grease used. To be honest I don't think it made much of a difference to how much grease ended up inside the mast. The stanchion is 25mm in diameter, while the internal diameter of the black mast is around 25.15mm. So even a light cover of grease is bound to fill the gaps almost completely. The "breathing" is still there (through the gaps around the cable ferrule) but it sounds a bit lighter. The red cover would still try to move out a bit so I put a bit of tape around it and went for a ride. The silver bottom stayed in place this time. I think after a couple more rides when the grease "settles" I won't need the tape on the red cover either.
To be honest I'm not surprised there is pressure build up and loud breathing occurring during operation. It's basic physics. But I'm REALLY PUZZLED why it wasn't there before my first service!
As rox said Slickoleum and Slick Honey are the same thing. I have both at home. They look, feel, smell and taste the same.
I'm in Australia, temperatures have been between 30C and 40C and beyond for the past couple of months (86F - 104F) but the grease has not dripped to the bottom of the end cap yet. The local KS distributor/service centre themselves recommended Slickoleum.
When I serviced my post I did not use a strap wrench. You will get as much if not more grip by putting on a clean tight fitting household latex glove and grabbing the degreased shaft with your hand. To avoid frustration do not try to grab it like a ski pole, it's too short to accommodate your thumb. Keep the thumb out, place the shaft along the base of your 4 fingers and close them. Squeeze them as tight as you can then turn the actuator base with your other hand.
Originally Posted by cakelly4
You'll also find that there is no need to use a wrench to turn the actuator. Just use your other hand which you'll find is capable of producing sufficient torque to eventually twist the shaft out of the grip of your fingers. Tightening it beyond this point is pointless. This is one of those threaded couplings where once the two parts meet and bottom out on each other they won't turn any further. This is why they use thread lock. I cleaned out the original white stuff and used the blue wax based Loctite 248. Just make sure the threads are totally free of slick honey when you apply the threadlock. When I went to do the service the second time I used the glove method with a cheap adjustable wrench on the actuator to break the bond.
I also use the glove on the end cap and the top collar. Just watch the torque because it works so well you might overdo it and damage the threads.
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