D ropper seat posts have become an essential component on a modern mountain bike. But I have found the handlebar lever that controls them to be almost as important as the post itself. This wasn’t supposed to be a KS bashing post, but I got really fed up with the Southpaw remote and replaced it with the Wolftooth ReMote. Perhaps you can see where this is headed. For the record, I actually do really like the KS Lev Integra dropper posts. I have three of them, on three different bikes; which means I also have three Southpaw remotes. Let’s just pretend the stock plastic KS remote lever that comes with their dropper posts doesn’t even exist, because it shouldn’t. It’s horribly un-ergonomic and difficult to press.
The KS Southpaw remote is an aftermarket accessory for KS dropper posts (any probably other brands), and rings in with a fairly steep MSRP of $35. It appears to be a decently durable piece, made almost entirely of aluminum, with a barrel adjuster for small cable adjustments. My main gripes with the Southpaw are two-fold: the lever action is not easy or smooth, and the bar clamp design is AWFUL. In all fairness, KS did just announce an updated Southpaw with a new clamp design that I hope fixes this issue. Though I don’t really care, as I’m never buying another Southpaw.
The current/old clamp design has two "fingers" that grasp around the handlebar and are tightened with a single bolt. The problem is that regardless of how tight you crank that bolt, the clamp will still slowly slide around as you use the lever. It’s especially pronounced on carbon bars. I mitigated this somewhat by using some rubber in-between the clamp and bar (which you can see in one of the photos below). As the lever creeps farther under your handlebar, it becomes less ergonomic and much harder to activate. This is exacerbated by the second issue, which is that the lever can be difficult and rough to engage. When the lever is new and clean, it feels okay. But give it a couple of rides and dirt works its way into that friction pivot (no sealed bearings found here) and it starts to gum up and require significant thumb pressure to activate. I found some relief in lubing the pivot, but it’s only temporary. One of my Southpaw levers actually started seizing up on me. It would not depress at all. I thought perhaps the cable and housing was the culprit, so I replaced them, only to have the issue continue sporadically.
The Wolftooth Components ReMote dropper lever comes in several flavors: the standard lever (which I am using), a "Light Action" variant, and a conversion kit specifically for the RockShox Reverb. The standard ReMote and "Light Action" variant are (and I quote): "Compatible with ALL CABLE ACTUATED DROPPER POSTS!" Boom! The "Light Action" variant is the exact same as the standard ReMote, except the lever arm is slightly longer, which reduces the force required to press the lever by 30%. I could see this as being helpful, but not necessary for most riders or applications. The longer lever also means a longer throw, so you have to physically press it farther.
The ReMote has a ton of killer features, the most important to me are the sealed cartridge bearing pivot, and the ability to clamp it right in with my Shimano IS-II brake lever clamp. The cable clamp on the underside of the lever is hard to discount as well. On a stock KS Lev post/lever, the barrel end of the cable sits inside the lever (just like a shifter, or old school mechanical brakes). Meaning that the cable length had to be precisely cut on the post end. KS gives you a specific millimeter cable length and a measuring tool, but it is still a bit nerve wracking, and can be difficult to get the cable length correct. Especially when the barrel adjuster on the lever only gives you so much leeway. With the ReMote, I just slapped on the barrel clamp on the KS post, and left the excess cable hanging out by the handlebar while I buttoned up the seat post and housing. Then you simply run the excess cable through the ReMote and it comes out underneath the lever, where there is a bolt clamp exactly like what is found on most derailleurs. Pull the cable taught, tighten the bolt clamp, cut the excess cable… done. No measuring. Impossible to screw it up.
After the easy install, the Jif creamy smooth, sealed ball-bearing pivot will put a big smile on your face after struggling with the gritty, difficult-to-press Southpaw. Activating the dropper post became significantly, hugely, massively easier. The lever and pivot design also require less throw, so the dropper activates more quickly and with more precision. I was surprised at how easily I could modulate the dropper as well. With the Southpaw, it was either on or off; your post was either slamming down or fully rising. With the ReMote it becomes much easier to get the post right where you need.
The universal clamping system on the ReMote is pretty sweet as well. There are various options for SRAM Matchmaker-style, Shimano IS-style, and standard handlebar clamps. I went with the Shimano IS-II mount that fit perfectly with the Shimano XT and XTR brakes on the two bikes I installed the ReMote on. Not much else to say other than the mounts are precision made and don’t slip around.
The last thing I’ll gush about the ReMote is just how well made it feels. Wolftooth’s precision and attention to detail is readily apparent, and justifies the expense in my opinion. There’s no stamped steel or mass molded plastic or aluminum here. It’s all precision CNCed and anodized aluminum. The lever has deep and heavily textured serrations cut into its face, making for secure, no-slip thumb placement (very unlike the Southpaw’s smooth lever face).