Pacific Northwest (PNW) all metal Dropper lever upgrade on a KS LEV Integra
The KS LEV Integra dropper post that came standard on my Cannondale Jekyll has always performed well for me. It is a cable actuated unit which requires very little maintenance. It’s cable actuated release helps to keep things simple. My only complaint was the lack of leverage with the OEM actuation lever. It isn’t a deal breaker but could use some improvement. I believe the design was kept short to allow for thumb clearance on a 2X (two chainrings in front) drive system, which you can see below the grip.
During a recent MTB crash, I broke the lower portion of my KS Lev Integra’s OEM lever. I decided now was a good time to look around and see what my options were, which were not that many! Most of the aftermarket units provide a nice lever, with a fair amount of leverage, but were made for 1X drivetrains. This wouldn’t work as it would inherently block my thumb from easily accessing the upshift actuator on my shifter.
I stumbled upon a local brand Pacific Northwest Components, right here in Seattle, Washington. They happen to sell a dropper lever unit separately, and for only $20! I had to give it a shot. I fired off an email to PNW and had a response back quickly confirming the lever would work just fine with the KS LEV. I placed my order and waited patiently.
The lever finally arrived, and I was not disappointed. It appears well made, and had a nice finish on it. Honestly for $20 I wasn’t expecting much. It did also come with a new cable housing, noodle, and internal cable. Since my housing was already in place and in great shape, I left it alone. The internal cable was too short for my application, so I had to use one I had on hand. Another 10-12 inches would be nice on the internal portion of this cable. This also makes me think the external housing would have been too short as well.
The first order of business was to remove the old lever. This was easily accomplished by loosening the clamp on my left grip and sliding it off. Next you loosen the clamp screw on the lever itself. This unit was an OEM version which requires it to slide all the way to the end of the handlebar to remove the lever. I needed just a small amount of additional slack in the housing to get it to reach the end of the bar. On the Cannondale Jekyll, there are mounting clamps which anchor the cable housing in place.
Some of the lever cable is internally routed and it runs along the bottom of the downtube to the bottom bracket, then back into the frame. I loosened them all and then removed the lever after obtaining the slack I needed. My next step was to remove the seat post by loosening the locking collar. Make sure you mark your seat height to make reassembly and setup go smoothly. You will need to feed the cable housing into the frame from the front of the bike, and work the slack back through the frame (for internal routing) to the dropper post to enable it to slide all the way up and out of the frame. Now you can disconnect the dropper post from the actuation cable. There is a little barrel clamp to remove from the actuation cable. This takes a 2mm and a 3mm Allen wrench. I cut the frayed portion off my cable and pulled it through the housing along with the old KS LEV OEM lever. I cleaned the dropper post, bar, and everything else I had disturbed to prep for reassembly.
As I mentioned earlier, the PNW lever does come with a noodle, however the KS LEV’s has an adjustable barrel, which I decided to use instead. I had to remove the end ferrule from it and it fit perfectly into the PNW lever housing.
I then routed my new cable through the lever and noodle, then through the housing back to the seat post location. Following KS LEV’s owner’s manual, I determined that 18mm of cable slack was needed from the end of the cable housing on the dropper post end. I marked it and made the cut.
I then installed the barrel clamp and the dropper post, after lubing with carbon assembly paste since I have a carbon frame. You will need to work the cable housing slack back through the frame towards the handlebars as you insert the dropper to your original height. The PNW lever has to slide on from the end of the bar, so ensure you get it on the handlebar before you tighten the dropper. I would loosely tighten the post to make sure everything functions correctly first. Loosely tighten the lever mount once you are happy with it location and angle. I adjusted the slack on the cable housing and slipped the grip back on to give everything a test. The dropper functioned correctly, but he actuation was a little close to the end of the lever stroke than I wanted. I am glad I kept the barrel adjuster! I was able to fine tune things to my liking. The lever felt great, and provided some much needed additional leverage over the KS OEM unit, but still stayed out of the way of my shifting lever. The last step is to torque the dropper clamp, lever clamp and grip. I will update after I take it out for a test ride, but my initial thoughts are I am going to love it! Let me know if you have tried different dropper post actuation lever combos in the comments below.