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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Seeking some input on this as I've owned my Element for almost 10 years, yet I've not found a solution to this recurrent issue.

Every year I've owned the bike, I've broken the shock mounting bolt that secures the rear shock to the 3D linkage (swingarm). I've called RM several times in the past and asked to send replacement bolts (the flat head hex screw that inserts through the rear linkage and the piston of the rear shock. They sent me a replacement and extra bolts before, but the last time I called, the told me they'd send a bolt, but it never arrived. Now the bolt has broken again and I have nothing to replace it with. So the Element is out of commision. I've searched a local store specializing in metric bolts, but it turns out, the type of bolt that the mount uses, having a threaded portion and a smooth nonthreaded portion, is difficult to find.

I've run my shock pressures from 175 to 225 and I'm 150 pounds. I ride XC on the bike and make sure the bolt is tight and without play. Nevertheless, the bolt breaks periodically, even when I drop of of 6 inch high curbs.

Has anyone experienced the same? Any suggestions on obtaining these bolts other than through RM?:confused:
 

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Where are you breaking the bolt? Are you breaking the head off the part that threads into the sleeve? Or are you breaking the sleeve portion of the bolt?

They still use an 8mm sleeve type bolt with a button head for the shocks on bikes like SXC, the only critical dimension is the width of the 3D link where the shock bolt passes through. It might be possible to find a tapered washer to allow the use of a button head bolt in a flathead application. The newer Elements still use the 8mm sleeve bolts for the shock even though they have switched to the 12mm pivot axles on the seatstay and main pivot, in the 2006 model (diagram) it's a 8mm x 36mm.

The easiest thing to check is that the both aluminium reducer bushings in the rear shock are the same width at each end of the shock. The ends will likely be different width from each other, but both reducers on one end should be the same width.

Then what you should try is to release the other end of the shock from the frame, and using any 8mm bolt through the 3D link to hold the shock in place, confirm that the shock axis sits parallel with the top tube and the frame mount end does not point off to one side or the other. That will confirm that there isn't an alignment problem with the 3D link and the pivot on the frame.

That's about the only thing I can think of that would consistently have enough twisting force at the 3D link to break bolts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Bolt breaks in the center, within the islet of the rear shock.

The configuration of the '99 Element race is a bit different than the picture you posted, but it's bolt #4 in the figure you posted. The difference is that the bolt does not insert through a sleeve #4 when secured through the link plates and shock piston, nor is the screw a button head, as in that diagram.

The breakage is always in the center of the shaft of the bolt and never the head. The center of the bolt lies within the islet of the piston of the shock.

From what I've been told by a LBS that used to see Elements, my kind of breakage was seen a few times by them. Do you think RM redesigned the linkage buy including the sleeve to prevent this kind of break?

I never suspected any misalignment in my frame or shock to frame, but I read your post carefully a few times and will check the bike.

Thanks your your help Rocky!
 

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I had a 2000 Instinct but I can't remember what the shock mounting bolts looked like.

What diameter is the bolt, is it a 6mm or 8mm? Does the flat head bolt thread directly into the opposite side of the 3D link or is there a nyloc nut on the opposite side?

If it is just a 6mm bolt with a smooth shoulder it sounds like you could drill the holes in the 3D link out to 8mm, get 8mm reducer bushings for the shock eyelet and adapt one of the new style bolt assemblies.

Can you post a pic of the each side of your 3D link?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
rockyuphill said:
What diameter is the bolt, is it a 6mm or 8mm? Does the flat head bolt thread directly into the opposite side of the 3D link or is there a nyloc nut on the opposite side?
The flat head bolt passes through the 3D link then the shock and then passes through the opposite 3D link and then threads through a nyloc nut. It does not thread directly into the link.

I will try to take some pictures tomorrow. It's too cold and dark tonight to head out to the barn to get the bike. :p
 

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That's promising, that sounds like it would fairly easy to update with 8mm sleeve bolt as the countersunk hole would not be a big problem if the hole were enlarged to 8mm instead of 6mm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Here are some photos of the linkage and bolt. The bolt always breaks in the same way. As you can see, the 3D linkage is one of the older types when the Element had less rear travel, but the quality of the 3D linkage is looks higher quality than some of the later linkages I've seen on Elements. The pivots are also look different than the diagram that you posted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Oh yes, forgot to mention that the front triangle is not original to the bike. It was replaced 3 years ago.
 

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Oh yeah, that vintage was all bushings not bearings on the 3D link pivots.

That should be adaptable to the 8mm sleeve bolt if the hole in the 3D link were enlarged to 8mm and the reducer bushings changed to an 8mm (or drilled out to 8mm), a 6mm bolt is going to be stressed badly.

With it breaking in the middle in the threads, it looks like it would help to have a 6mm shoulder bolt that only had the last 1/2" threaded.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
rockyuphill said:
Oh yeah, that vintage was all bushings not bearings on the 3D link pivots.

That should be adaptable to the 8mm sleeve bolt if the hole in the 3D link were enlarged to 8mm and the reducer bushings changed to an 8mm (or drilled out to 8mm), a 6mm bolt is going to be stressed badly.

With it breaking in the middle in the threads, it looks like it would help to have a 6mm shoulder bolt that only had the last 1/2" threaded.
The bushings are bombproof, never had a problem with them in years of riding. No play, no loosening.

Do you have suggestions on how to do the first conversion? Who, through RM? Have people done conversions themselves. I don't have the equipment for this. New linkages perhaps?
 

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The new 3D link with bearings aren't compatible with the old 3D link with bushings, so they wouldn't be interchangeable.

What you'd want to do is measure how wide the shock bush is at the 3D link end to figure out what reducer bushings you'd need, and then measure the outer width of the 3D link to determine how big the sleeve bolt is, then order those items up. If you had those pieces on the bench in front of you, the simplicity of the change should be calling out to you.

It might be worth a chat with Rocky to confirm that it is all possible to do, but it should be easy enough. They could likely supply the parts.

All you need is someone with a drill press and an 8mm drill (a shade bigger than 5/16"). It could likely be done with the 3D links on the bike but why tempt the fates. :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Good information. Looks like that's a solution for me since the 6mm bolts always broke where the treaded portion of the shaft began, the weak area. That bolt looks right.:thumbsup:

I'll look into drilling the linkage to accomodate the 8mm and also see if RM can supply the bolt. Thanks for all the help!!! How are you so knowledgeable?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
No, that's not from the bolt breaking. It was during a ride when the Fox shock lost pressure and then the seatstay bridge hitting the seat tube. Ouch! When the bolt breaks it's never a dramatic event as the two spilt parts of the bolts still stay in place. There were times I didn't notice a break until after the ride when I lifted the bike and play in the rear end alerted me. It's odd how I've owned this bike since 1998 and have rode off 4 foot retaining walls dropping down to pavement and the bolt doesn't break, yet then I'll ride off of a 6 inch curb and land hard and then the bolt gives way. :confused: I've also bent the bolt before without breaking.

When the front triangle was replaced 3 years ago, I turned in the original apple green paint with white RM lettering scheme that first attracted me to the bike. Since then, I've wanted some bike with that same green mated to a black rear triangle, but never came across a paint job I've liked as much.
 

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Aust95 said:
When the front triangle was replaced 3 years ago, I turned in the original apple green paint with white RM lettering scheme that first attracted me to the bike. Since then, I've wanted some bike with that same green mated to a black rear triangle, but never came across a paint job I've liked as much.
Yes, I agree, and about the black rear triangle being preferable to the silver too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
anthonyinhove said:
Yes, I agree, and about the black rear triangle being preferable to the silver too.
The first pic is the exact frame and fork I had. I liked that paint the most! Do you still ride the bike? Why did you change the rear to silver?

The Marz Z3 light was a stoutly built, short travel fork that was supremely small bump sensitive and plush but it bottomed easily for me.
 
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