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When I first started looking at full suspension bikes around 2010, my experience was that most sucked for pedaling uphill, but I really loved the Mojo SL and it seemed like the DW link made it climb way better than any other bike. Especially comparing to a Specialized FSR.

Recently decided I want something burlier and was going to with an HDR frame when I came across the Canfield Balance, which I read in many forums as being the bike that can handle the most disciplines by being the best pedaling downhilish all-mountain bike. If that's the case, I think that bike makes more sense for me, but I still like doing all day rides with lots of climbing so I don't know what I'd be giving up since I haven't ridden either one.

Have new suspension designs gotten that much better that I'll enjoy pedaling the Canfield Balance or does the Mojo HDR's climbing ability make it worth that feeling of being on rather than in the bike, which I wouldn't mind switching away from.

I've looked at the videos by Andrextr on Youtube and they are by far superior to the information that was easily accessible the last time I was considering what suspension I wanted, but I can't say I can fully connect the data to what the bike will feel like on a trail. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAicBI2QJNNrE2j_RkbzjYQ

I've only seen a couple people compare these particular two bikes, and I'm guessing that few people have ridden both. What I'd be interested to hear about is other people who have made somewhat analogous considerations, particularly within the past 2 years.

Cheers!
 

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Elitest thrill junkie
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Yes and no. They pedal very well, it's still possible to screw up a bike's leverage rate and bump absorption with poor design and shock choices, although there aren't too many DW bikes that are too screwed up in that regard. The other thing though is that many manufacturers, Canfield, Yeti, Intense, SC, are going to anti-squat profiles that are similar to DW. Not exactly the same, but they share a flat curve up around 100-120% of AS through much of the travel, which means they'll pedal consistent at different sag points and while the suspension is active (going over bumps ,etc). Then of course there's the single-pivot bikes like Evil that also achieve a pretty flat curve. The major difference in the DW bikes is they have significantly more AS in between zero travel and the sag point. I believe the idea is that if if the wheel goes into a negative bump, (pothole, backside of a bump, etc.) and you pedal, you need more AS to prevent weight transfer, this is where I see the biggest difference in the curves, between 0mm travel and the sag point. That said, again, over the majority of the travel, it looks like a lot of manufacturers are making them all similar now, so they should have some similar pedaling traits (good). Possibly more alike than they are different.

The question should really be what suspension allows me to have excellent pedaling and excellent bump absorption, because you can have one and not the other. For me, my DW links do this. There are enough bikes now with similar traits that most can probably not tell any real difference in this area. The "missing link" suspension looks promising, it's better IMO to wait and see how that turns out, when they get more shocks set up for it, when they get the suspension characteristics a bit better tuned and can shave some weight off the bikes, and then there's the DW link "6 bar" on the horizon too, so some interesting stuff may be coming down the pipeline soon.
 

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DW link was a godsent cure for the fox RP23, almost specifically. Not that long ago, any "good" frame had a fox rp on it, and they all suffered significantly because of it. Then DW bikes came out, which worked around the RP extremely well and changed how we think about bike suspension. In short, they worked like how a bike should work. They fixed the RP problem.

A ton of people also figured it out and installed better shocks too, but it was baffling how under the radar that flew. The early days of FS bikes, the early obsession with full blown platform damping, and the prominence of the RP shocks all paved the way for DW link to blow away the industry.

Its pretty surprising how well a bike with comparatively poor anti squat numbers can pedal when its properly damped. Thats also a worst-case scenario, as frames tend to be designed better today in general, so we end up with bikes with good anti squat and good dampers. The gap between a DW bike and everything else has shrunk considerably.

Either way, the canfield bikes pedal well, and use mini links anyway.
 

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As alluded to above, but a bit off topic from the OPs question, is how "platform" can be address by either linkage magic/monkey motion or by the shock itself.

On one end of the spectrum you have this new fangled Missing link design, with an awful lot of monkey motion. On the other end you have Trek's simple design with only modest AS but supposedly a killer shock that gives you all the platform you need - whether pedaling or not.

If cost were not an option I think I'd go with a Trek for my next bike, because in theory, I like their approach to suspension much better.

I'll also give up a bit of pedaling performance for a design that has been thoroughly vetted. For example, Santa Cruz's VPP. Seems they have their design really dialed in terms of reliability and stiffness. And even though it might give up a bit of performance to a DW (my current ride is a DW), I'm likely getting a SC for my next bike.
 

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I think just about ALL rear suspensions have gotten better.

A big part is related to shock tech. Shocks are definitely better. But rear suspension designs are improving, for sure. I agonized over rear suspension designs for my first FS in 2003. I ended up on a Specialized. I didn't buy my next FS until late 2014 (2015MY bike), and it's definitely better (Salsa Bucksaw w/split pivot).
 

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Elitest thrill junkie
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I think just about ALL rear suspensions have gotten better.

A big part is related to shock tech. Shocks are definitely better. But rear suspension designs are improving, for sure. I agonized over rear suspension designs for my first FS in 2003. I ended up on a Specialized. I didn't buy my next FS until late 2014 (2015MY bike), and it's definitely better (Salsa Bucksaw w/split pivot).
I'm going to say no, the shock tech is not much different, save for a few ultra-simple coil spring loaded compression valve bad-idea shocks and some tangents that the industry tried to go down (SPV). In fact, some of the shocks are worse, Fox Evolution forks and shocks, unleashed en mass on many bikes below the $4K mark, CCDB in-lines blowing up left and right and so on.

The shock technology of shimmed compression and rebound valves isn't radically different now, they've moved a lot of the damping to the reservoir valves now, where the main piston is doing a lot less of the work, to give more/easier adjustments, but that's been around since at least 2000 in the mtb world in various shocks. There really isn't any "technology" that exists that is far better than before. The fox boost-valve has been phased out of the coil and DH shocks (maybe others?) because it performed poorly, kind of taking a step back if you will.

A lot of the older bikes had to use much heavier compression tunes to make up for the lack of chassis stability and pedaling performance. This isn't exactly related to shock technology, the shocks are speced for the bike and what it "requires" to ride decently. Many of the FS bikes did not ride decently and needed a lot of band-aids from the shocks, band-aids that compromised performance in other areas.

Your bucksaw: Salsa Bucksaw 2015 - Linkage Design
has a relatively flat AS curve from around 125% to 100% at the end of travel. That's going to pedal damn well and allow the shock to do it's job without trying to make up for poor stability and acceleration weight shift (bob). The trick is matching the shock to the bike, but I wouldn't say that the shocks have made the big improvements here, it's really the bikes. Compared to a specialized, old or now, your bucksaw is going to pedal better, and it's not because of the shock.

I agree that most suspension has gotten better, but some have gotten a tiny bit better, while others have made some pretty big strides. Most of the poor examples seem to be a result of not re-designing the rear suspension to deal with the lower anti-squat provided by the larger chainrings common to 1x setups, but they are becoming more scarce. A few manufacturers have backed themselves into a corner IMO, proclaiming throughout the 90s and 2000s that their system was so good that nothing could ever be better, and now they are kind of "stuck" as better stuff has been designed and put out on the market. They try to make up for this with other features and distractions IMO, but the suspension is the #1 thing for a FS bike.
 
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Since there seems to be a lot of knowledge/experience in here figured I'd ask... how do a '16 Mach 429SL and '15 Jet9 RDO differ/compare head to head? They're both around 100mm and linkages look similar but Pivot is DW-Link and Niner is CVA.
 

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Since there seems to be a lot of knowledge/experience in here figured I'd ask... how do a '16 Mach 429SL and '15 Jet9 RDO differ/compare head to head? They're both around 100mm and linkages look similar but Pivot is DW-Link and Niner is CVA.
Niner JET9 RDO 29'' 2017 - Linkage Design

The 429 trail is on the same chart, but not the SL, still, the traits between the trail and SL are pretty close, very similar AS curve and so on. So the niner is less efficient and as the sag point increases (heavier load, etc.) or the rear suspension is activating (bumps, pedaling while it's rough, etc) it will be even less efficient, feeling a bit soggy. The 429 trail will be more direct through the travel, in terms of pedal stroke=acceleration. The Niner, for all it's fancy linkages, reacts fairly similar to a horst link (FSR), although some of those start off with more anti-squat than Niner is dialing in. These are bikes where the harder you pedal in nasty terrain, the less efficient it will get. Some people like to think that it "gives them more traction", as it feels like the suspension is using more travel in the rough while climbing than it would even on level ground. The pivot would stay higher in the travel, riding more "on top" of said nasty rooty terrain. The leverage ratio looks ok on the niner, so no hidden nastiness there. Now, it's a short travel bike, so it'll still fatigue you less than a big heavy all mountain bike IME, even a somewhat inefficient bike will be way better for an XC race if it's a light lower-travel bike meant for XC.

One thing to really note, that even though two bikes may "look" similar, they can have vastly different characteristics and fancy linkages do not mean better traits.
 

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Niner JET9 RDO 29'' 2017 - Linkage Design

The 429 trail is on the same chart, but not the SL, still, the traits between the trail and SL are pretty close, very similar AS curve and so on. So the niner is less efficient and as the sag point increases (heavier load, etc.) or the rear suspension is activating (bumps, pedaling while it's rough, etc) it will be even less efficient, feeling a bit soggy. The 429 trail will be more direct through the travel, in terms of pedal stroke=acceleration. The Niner, for all it's fancy linkages, reacts fairly similar to a horst link (FSR), although some of those start off with more anti-squat than Niner is dialing in. These are bikes where the harder you pedal in nasty terrain, the less efficient it will get. Some people like to think that it "gives them more traction", as it feels like the suspension is using more travel in the rough while climbing than it would even on level ground. The pivot would stay higher in the travel, riding more "on top" of said nasty rooty terrain. The leverage ratio looks ok on the niner, so no hidden nastiness there. Now, it's a short travel bike, so it'll still fatigue you less than a big heavy all mountain bike IME, even a somewhat inefficient bike will be way better for an XC race if it's a light lower-travel bike meant for XC.

One thing to really note, that even though two bikes may "look" similar, they can have vastly different characteristics and fancy linkages do not mean better traits.
Thanks for the excellent explanation.
I know the Niner is billed as CVA- Constant Varying Arc or something like that, but to my uneducated eye, looked like the DW-link so I assumed it would behave the same, but like you alluded to, the 429SL seems to ride higher up in the travel. Not that there's anything wrong with it, just a different, more active feel with the Niner.
 

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Niner JET9 RDO 29'' 2017 - Linkage Design

The 429 trail is on the same chart, but not the SL, still, the traits between the trail and SL are pretty close, very similar AS curve and so on. So the niner is less efficient and as the sag point increases (heavier load, etc.) or the rear suspension is activating (bumps, pedaling while it's rough, etc) it will be even less efficient, feeling a bit soggy. The 429 trail will be more direct through the travel, in terms of pedal stroke=acceleration. The Niner, for all it's fancy linkages, reacts fairly similar to a horst link (FSR), although some of those start off with more anti-squat than Niner is dialing in. These are bikes where the harder you pedal in nasty terrain, the less efficient it will get. Some people like to think that it "gives them more traction", as it feels like the suspension is using more travel in the rough while climbing than it would even on level ground. The pivot would stay higher in the travel, riding more "on top" of said nasty rooty terrain. The leverage ratio looks ok on the niner, so no hidden nastiness there. Now, it's a short travel bike, so it'll still fatigue you less than a big heavy all mountain bike IME, even a somewhat inefficient bike will be way better for an XC race if it's a light lower-travel bike meant for XC.

One thing to really note, that even though two bikes may "look" similar, they can have vastly different characteristics and fancy linkages do not mean better traits.


How accurate are those "Linkage Design" graphs?

I may be way off but doesn't he come up with those numbers and graphs from plotting pivot locations based on a photo of the bike? If that is the case, a mis-measured pivot by a millimeter here or there could have a significant effect.

I'd like to know because I reference those often.
 

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How accurate are those "Linkage Design" graphs?
I've read bike manufacturers argue with him over the accuracy of his interpolated linkage graphs. They regularly get touted as fact on this website but I think that every link he makes should come with a disclaimer.

Here's my disclaimer: No doubt he is very knowledgeable about suspension and bikes in general and provides a lot of value to MTBR, but I would prefer the technical, data based information to be left up to the manufacturers or a more technically sound development method.
 
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