Mountain Bike Reviews Forum banner
1 - 3 of 3 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
43 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just getting back into the mountain bike scene, and I want to know your thoughts on current suspension technology (5"+). I'm from the motocross scene, so it's mainly coil over oil with air bleed offs on the forks or a gas pre-charge on the rear shock.

How are the new air forks? I'm a bit hesitant. I was in a local bike shop, the sales guy, after telling me air suspensions rock, pushed down on the fork of a Cannondale, and the seal popped off with a loud bang; it hit the guy in the head...quite classic moment.

What are decent forks? What are junk? How 'bout shocks?
 

·
"El Whatever"
Joined
·
18,889 Posts
jtomasik said:
Just getting back into the mountain bike scene, and I want to know your thoughts on current suspension technology (5"+). I'm from the motocross scene, so it's mainly coil over oil with air bleed offs on the forks or a gas pre-charge on the rear shock.

How are the new air forks? I'm a bit hesitant. I was in a local bike shop, the sales guy, after telling me air suspensions rock, pushed down on the fork of a Cannondale, and the seal popped off with a loud bang; it hit the guy in the head...quite classic moment.

What are decent forks? What are junk? How 'bout shocks?
Well, if you come down from MX... nothing on a bike will surprise you.

Recent forks and shocks have "platform" which kind of slow compression damping with blow-off effect. So chassis forces do not affect the fork, but bumps do.

The 'trend' nowadays is kind of more damping in the beginning of the stroke or slow shaft speeds, with a low damping thru the middle of the stroke or normal speeds and a ramp up in either damping or spring rate during the end of the stroke to avoid bottom out.

Depending on the level (read: price) of the shock/fork you can have classic ported pistons dampers or shim valving or some systems that try to match shim performance with orifices and blow-off valves (TST from Marzocchi and Motion Control from Rock Shox).

Brands to look at:
Marzocchi
Fox
Rock Shox (which made a strong comeback in 2005)
Cane Creek

Hot stuff:
Shocks
Cane Creek Double-Barrel (derivated from Ohlins shocks)
Fox DHX Air or Coil
Marzocchi Roco
Manitou Swinger (Air or Coil too)
Manitou Revox
Progressive Suspension 5th Element Air or Coil

Forks:
Marzocchi AM1
Marzocchi Marathon
Fox TALAS
Fox Vanilla RLC
Rock Shox Revelation and Pike

I wouldn't recommend Manitou. 04 and 05 they had miriads of problems and even though they have nice customer service, with their forks is hot-or-miss and their SPV (Stable Platform Valving, see above) tends to die with no warning (an issue with lubing/sealing of the core of the SPV). They have nice offers for 06... let's see if they sorted it out. Their shocks are good, however.
 

·
Time is not a road.
Joined
·
4,150 Posts
You're going to have to decide what type of riding you're going to do because suspension has been tailored to different riding, including XC (race), trail riding, Freeriding, urban/jump and downhill. Some forks and shocks are pre-tuned for their design and some can be tuned across a whole range of disciplines.

At 5" of travel, I assume you're in the trail riding realm. Those forks listed above are all good options in that area. There's a good mix of coil and air options. Air is pretty good these days. They've figured out how to make air supple over small bumps and ramp up nicely at the end. But they tend to have more adjustments, so if you don't want to muddle thru this kind of adjustability, stick with coil. The weight penalty with coil forks is generally about .5 lbs.

At 5" of travel in the rear of the bike, you'll almost undoubtedly have some sort of air shock be it Fox, Manitou or RS. They make coil over shocks that fit 5" travel bikes (Vanilla, Swinger 3-way, Romic), but the weight penalty is greater, about 1 lb, and the performance of basic coil over shocks is not better than air shocks. Not until you get into coil shocks with the added adjustment (that is, a reservoir) will you increase your performance capabilities. The problem then becomes fit, as many 5" travel designs are not made for these types of shocks (DHX, Swinger 4-way, Cane Creek Double Barrel, etc.). The idea, I think, is that 5" bikes can and should be relatively light and this type of shock generally is not (you can get Ti coils which reduce weight). The added reservoir then creates the fit issues. Some bikes can accept these shocks though. The Titus Moto Lite, Turner 5 Spot and Intense Spider EVP (not sure on this one) come to mind.

I suggest you find the right platform first, then worry about what shocks and forks you'll need. You'll find lots of good info on this board and most of the suspension on bikes over $1500 is generally decent. There are always exceptions.
 
1 - 3 of 3 Posts
Top