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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A little background first:

I'm a relative NOOB to mtn biking. Bought an entry level hardtail 2 summers ago and have since done a couple of basic upgrades: better mech disc brakes, tires, suspension seatpost, etc... Weekend warrior, slow, could lose 15 lbs. Fairly good technical rider, though. You get the picture. So I'm pushing this 34 pound hardtail around Arizona and everybody is telling me to upgrade to a better bike. First thoughts were a better, lighter hardtail. I mean, keep it old school - right? Then I figure I should check out full suspension bikes.

Started reading about full suspension bikes and fell in love with the Yeti. Share the joy with riding buddies and damned if three of the guys I ride with don't end up buying the 575. My problem: cost. Don't even remember how I got to looking at IronHorse, but I did. Intrigued by the DW-Link, and explore further. Like what I'm hearing. Happen across an '05 MkIII expert frame on Ebay and land it for 300 bucks. It sits in my house for about 6 months. In the meantime, I'm on closeout special patrol duty. Shopping a combination of Jenson, Pricepoint, Bluesky, etc... I FINALLY end up with the following build:

Marzocchi AM SL 130-150 fork
Mavic 317/XT hubs wheelset
XT M760 crankset
SRAM PG 990 11-34 cassette
PC 991 hollowpin chain
X9 trigger shifters/rear derailleur
XGen front derailleur
Avid BB7 mech disc brakes
cheapie stem/bars/grips
tires/pedals/saddle/brake levers from the hardtail

Total damage: 1,563.78

Feeling pretty good about everything until I get back in these forums to re-educate myself about the shock setup. Come across all the loose linkage/shock play posts and start to cringe. Force myself to stay focused: take detailed setup notes (thanks yogreg in particular) and screw around with sag for an evening. Set it up and wait for morning....

Maiden voyage:

Pressures at 50psi top, 95 bottom - about 28% sag.
Setup the front fork per recs, only 5 inches of travel otherwise too high/tall for what we're riding.

Wow - I really don't like how upright and high off the ground I feel on this bike - UNTIL I hit the dirt. This is more a hardtail to full suspension issue regardless of bike, I assume.
Anyway, tool around for a couple of hours on mostly hardpack with some fast rollers, a few rocky descents, and a couple of short, loose rocky climbs. I'm immediately amazed at how little effort I seem to be expending compared to the old bike. The suspension felt pretty good other than one pogo stick moment coming off of a roller, and some significant bob as I got up out of the saddle to crest a small hill. Cockpit positioning seemed to minimize that the next time. Sometimes felt like the rear end was 'catching up' on rocky turns, and at times it felt like it was snapping back in line on rocky traverses. Assuming this is what is known as 'flex'. I can't say that it was bad, good, or ugly - I'd never experienced anything like it on the hardtail. I noticed it, but it didn't detract from the bike's performance (that I can tell). Climbs GREAT!!!. Other than the one significant wallowing sensation I had cresting a small hill out of the saddle, the bike just steadily zoomed uphill. I noticed a huge difference on the loose, rocky climb. With the hardtail that was always a hit or miss situation. With this bike, it's a sure thing. The AM SL fork really raises the front end, but I quickly adapted and didn't feel like it was difficult to keep it on the ground while climbing. At the end of the ride I checked the linkages: fine.
Noticed by the oil line on the shock (no travel o-ring) it looked like I was using almost all of the travel. This did concern me a bit because I didn't really do any drops or launch any of the rollers.

Second day:
Hit terrain that was significantly more rocky, rooty, and loose than the previous day. Threw in a 2 foot drop and a fire road climb for good measure.

Kept everything same as before with re: to shock/fork setting.

The perma-grin hasn't left my face. While the Marzocchi was still pretty 'sticky' up front, the rear was amazing. Tracked right over rocks that I needed to really crank over before (climbing). Floated over loose baby head filled descents. 2 foot drop to mostly flat was like butter. No bottoming out. No bucking me off and out of my pedals. Just..... whoosh. :thumbsup: As we climbed the road and everyone else was locking out shocks I just pedaled and pedaled. No noticeable bob unless I stood up and hammered. Even then, depending on how I weighted the bike the bob was greatly minimized. Never felt like the bike was wallowing or sapping energy. In fact, the opposite was true. The day before I kind of babied it as I also got used to the new geometry and riding style. Today the opposite was true: I picked the 'worst' lines and it ate them up. No linkage looseness - and I didn't seem to feel the rear end moving laterally as much on this ride.

Verdict: I can't believe how great this bike feels. Granted, much of my enthusiasm is likely to be merely a result of going full suspension, bike be damned. BUT - I have done tons of reading and talking about bikes and was honestly looking to find fault with this one. I do think I need to mess around a bit more with the sag settings to find the 'perfect ride', but am very pleased with my initial attempts. The DW-Link certainly seems to perform as advertised. I am one very happy guy right now.

Thanks for listening. <ahem> reading, I mean.
 

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It'll take the Zoke a few hard rides to break in. World of diff.
At 150mm you should have a head angle close to 69. And of course you know to add psi to the negative chamber to decrease travel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
westin said:
It'll take the Zoke a few hard rides to break in. World of diff.
At 150mm you should have a head angle close to 69. And of course you know to add psi to the negative chamber to decrease travel.
That's what I've read. Therefore I'm not messing with settings too much right now. I'll let it break in, then start adjusting pressures. Man, that is one tuneable fork....
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Just a little update: was raining today so the planned ride was scrapped, but I hopped on the bike and farted around the neighborhood and local park. Did some 'bouldering' and rode up and down some wood and concrete steps. Did a pretty scary 4 foot drop - yes I actually went back and measured it - (dirt to concrete) kinda by accident, but the bike soaked it right up. I'm not light (185lbs) and didn't really land too 'lightly' if you know what I mean. That would have spelled doom on the other bike. This definitely appears to be a bike that will handle more than I'll ever throw at it, but pedals nicely and climbs (especially techy climbs) as well or better than my hardtail. As I explained in my initial post, I'm pretty much a newbie to mountain biking, and especially to the world of squish so I'd likely be ecstatic about any full suspension I bought. But for some reason, I think I'll be as happy with this bike as any other I could buy. Now I've just got to quit reading all those posts about linkage and shock problems and just ride, ride, ride.

Thanks for listening....

BTW - That damn Marzocchi is still way sticky. I know: Patience....
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
westin said:
What is your PAR set at?
Now that's the million dollar question. I don't have a nice fancy digital readout on my Fox shock pump so I just have to guesstimate right now. I had no idea when I bought my pump I'd be trying to dial in pressures below 15 psi.... Next time I'm in the shop I'll try to get it set closer to 5 (based on what I've read), but all I know now is that it is probably between 5 and 15. How's that for accurate? What setting do you suggest?
 

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cavscout said:
Now that's the million dollar question. I don't have a nice fancy digital readout on my Fox shock pump so I just have to guesstimate right now. I had no idea when I bought my pump I'd be trying to dial in pressures below 15 psi.... Next time I'm in the shop I'll try to get it set closer to 5 (based on what I've read), but all I know now is that it is probably between 5 and 15. How's that for accurate? What setting do you suggest?
Less than 15. I ran 15 for a while then went to 5. Sounds like you're in the ballpark.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Uh oh. Here we go....

Well three 'real' rides on the bike and the loose linkage rears it's ugly head. After a short, but hard ride this early a.m. I noticed what I felt was some play in the headset. Went ahead and addressed that, but still noticed some play from the back. Set out inspecting and tightening linkage and shock mount bolts. Nothing loose until I got to the lowest pivot (3mm). Sure enough, there was significant lateral play, but when I went to tighten it up, the bolt just spun on both sides of the pivot. I couldn't find another 3mm allen wrench long enough to snake throught the cassette and FD to the driveside bolt. Instead of removing drivetrain components, I'll head to the hardware store for some loctite and a longer allen wrench. I'm assuming I can back the two bolts out with removing components? Anything else I should be aware of? That was the only place I found any looseness or play.

On a happier note, I fiddled some more with the shock settings. Decreased the sag just a tad (technical term), boosted the pressure in the top chamber closer to 55 psi and WOW! No bobbing while hammering the pedals over a rise, but still ate up all the trail chatter. I felt a significant difference in the shock performance from the previous rides. All of you MKIII owners that are merely satisfied, but not ecstatic about the bike - take some time to really dial it in. I am amazed what a difference just a few psi made today.

Here's hoping the loose pivot is a one time fix.
 

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cavscout said:
Uh oh. Here we go....

Well three 'real' rides on the bike and the loose linkage rears it's ugly head. After a short, but hard ride this early a.m. I noticed what I felt was some play in the headset. Went ahead and addressed that, but still noticed some play from the back. Set out inspecting and tightening linkage and shock mount bolts. Nothing loose until I got to the lowest pivot (3mm). Sure enough, there was significant lateral play, but when I went to tighten it up, the bolt just spun on both sides of the pivot. I couldn't find another 3mm allen wrench long enough to snake throught the cassette and FD to the driveside bolt. Instead of removing drivetrain components, I'll head to the hardware store for some loctite and a longer allen wrench. I'm assuming I can back the two bolts out with removing components? Anything else I should be aware of? That was the only place I found any looseness or play.

On a happier note, I fiddled some more with the shock settings. Decreased the sag just a tad (technical term), boosted the pressure in the top chamber closer to 55 psi and WOW! No bobbing while hammering the pedals over a rise, but still ate up all the trail chatter. I felt a significant difference in the shock performance from the previous rides. All of you MKIII owners that are merely satisfied, but not ecstatic about the bike - take some time to really dial it in. I am amazed what a difference just a few psi made today.

Here's hoping the loose pivot is a one time fix.
Do yourself a big solid and remove the cranks to have access to the pivots.
Clean everything and (blue) Loc-tite both threads on the two bolts. Tighten one bolt back into the shaft. Install shaft through the bearings on the drive side. Tighten other bolt. Make sure you let the loc-tite set-up.
After the fix you will be back in Happy Town.
Greg
 

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One thing any full suspension owner should do is inventory what exactly is needed to keep their pivots in check, and carry the appropriate tools to service them.

I carry this kit in the bottom of my pack. The important thing here is the second set of sawed-off 3 & 4mm hex keys, which fit behind the crank and allow me to snug up any pivot that may work loose.

Blue Loctite and proper torque will keep these from being a problem (they haven't loosened up on me yet), but if they did, an off-the-shelf trail tool wouldn't suffice.

 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
I did retighten the chainstay pivot by just snaking an allen wrench through the crankset, but that didn't last 5 minutes into the next ride. Pulled the bolts, loctite as suggested, snugged them back down. Noticed one bolt head becoming rounded - which brings me to thinking about replacement bolts. Anyone know the actual size (thread/diameter/length) of the 3mm bolt in the chainstay pivot? I don't really want to pull the bolts I just 'set' to wander around Ace Hardware for a replacement set. I'll wait to see if they hold or not. But it would be nice to have the replacements ready to go. Guessing it might be a good idea to do a 5mm head, stainless steel?
 
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