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Always in the wrong gear
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, obviously skills classes are a common thing, and well worth the money. (The Ride Series, Ryan Leech Conection, etc)
I'm chillin on the couch today and there's a YouTube video by Phil Kmetz where he's working with a GT bikes engineer and they're dialing in settings on the new Force (before it went public).

I'm sitting here thinking "I'd pay more for a day of that than a skills day". I've thrown a lot of money and time at my suspension (rear shock by DSD, and a RUNT in the fork) and probably 4 hours total setting up and sessioning runs of babyheads and 1-4' drops, some jumps, and IMO, it's still 'not amazing'.
Why does 'tuning help' not exist?
Real Talk- legit question. Is it that the telemetry units are too new? Is the set up too complicated and fiddly? Is it a perceived lack of demand?

Like, I know all about ShockWiz, but I also know that's pretty hit or miss and a large minority of users say it was 'meh' for the money.

would YOU pay for 4 hours of access to a suspension guru with a phone-app tele unit?
 

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since 4/10/2009
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I think part of it is that there aren't many people who are expert enough with suspension setup who are willing to work with people on their suspension setup. The last time I worked for a shop, I floated this as an excellent add-on service, especially since the shop owner marketed his shop as being a more mtb-focused shop. But the owner was not excited by it.
 

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Do you mean days setting the bike up for you or teaching you how to do it yourself?

I run set up days where a small group of riders do laps on the gondola and I tune things for them, but I think you’re a little far away?

Remote tuning is coming in the future- the technology is pretty new though so needs a little bit of refinement
 

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Always in the wrong gear
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Do you mean days setting the bike up for you or teaching you how to do it yourself?
maybe a little of both?
Here's the video I watched. I want the guy in the apron (Phil calls him Louis?) to strap that thing to my bike and do for me what he's doing for Phil and his wife Hailey.
 

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Always in the wrong gear
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I think there's something to be said for baseline mechanical aptitude as well. Without that all the education and classes in the world likely would make little difference.

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For a lot of stuff that's absolutely true, but systems exist (see above video of Phil Kmetz) where the computer is doing all the analysis, and the guru tells/helps me interpret that data from the phone app and make the necessary changes. I fully understand how suspension works, I struggle bridging the gap from 'pretty good' to 'DIALED'.
 

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Vorsprung did (does?) offered tuning with full telemetry taken from rider during the tuning session.
 

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Because it's an expensive waste of time.

You use hundreds of dollars of time of a suspension tuner and all they can do is adjust air pressure and turn a clicker or two. That can be done in a workshop or carpark without spending hours getting there, setting up, kicking dust, watching someone else ride and then realising you can't fix that on the trailside anyway.

Suspension setup starts with calculated spring and damper rates. The result of that is almost always the suspension needs internal tuning to get it into ballpark. Spending hours trying to tune around a setup's existing limitations ends up with an expensive but extremely average result.

There is nothing you can do on a trail that will fix fundamental issues. Attempting to datalog a bad setup does nothing but create a mountain of useless data. Also. What successful tuner has time to waste like that?
 

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and what a workshop cannot provide is the learning curve for "how a suspension feels". insert random Loris explains Jordie his last run joke here. When discussing suspension settings during a ride or day in the bikepark with some friends I sometimes provide tips what to change, after the next run you ask that guy if it's better now and he's like "🤷‍♂️ maybe it is, don't know really"
The focus on "how the bike rides with different settings", tire pressure, shock/fork settings etc. when riding one has to learn imho, not just smashing out lap after lap. The technical explanation what each adjuster will change in the behaviour is of course required, but how a change in e.g. 3 clicks less rebound in a certain fork will change the ride impression, that's a thing one has to learn (or test ;) ) and remember.
 

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Always in the wrong gear
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Because it's an expensive waste of time.

You use hundreds of dollars of time of a suspension tuner and all they can do is adjust air pressure and turn a clicker or two. That can be done in a workshop or carpark without spending hours getting there, setting up, kicking dust, watching someone else ride and then realising you can't fix that on the trailside anyway.

Suspension setup starts with calculated spring and damper rates. The result of that is almost always the suspension needs internal tuning to get it into ballpark. Spending hours trying to tune around a setup's existing limitations ends up with an expensive but extremely average result.

There is nothing you can do on a trail that will fix fundamental issues. Attempting to datalog a bad setup does nothing but create a mountain of useless data. Also. What successful tuner has time to waste like that?
I mean, I guess that's your observation because you literally DO suspension for a living. For the rest of us it's not that simple we can't all just do a few bunny hops in a 'carpark' and dial it in like a guy who literally build suspension for a living.

I'm not asking for help over the internet to do this. I'm observing that it seems odd to me that there's not others willing to spend money having a guy who can help figure out why my/your fork can be supple but divey, or supportive but chattery, but not supple and supportive.
It ain't like it's one-on-one coaching. You get 10 riders with 10 tele units and each run you look at the software, and tell them 'Ok, you're rebounding too slow and not using all the travel. Do <this> and take another lap, we'll see what it says&#8230;
 

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Always in the wrong gear
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
and what a workshop cannot provide is the learning curve for "how a suspension feels". insert random Loris explains Jordie his last run joke here. When discussing suspension settings during a ride or day in the bikepark with some friends I sometimes provide tips what to change, after the next run you ask that guy if it's better now and he's like "?‍♂ maybe it is, don't know really"
The focus on "how the bike rides with different settings", tire pressure, shock/fork settings etc. when riding one has to learn imho, not just smashing out lap after lap. The technical explanation what each adjuster will change in the behaviour is of course required, but how a change in e.g. 3 clicks less rebound in a certain fork will change the ride impression, that's a thing one has to learn (or test ;) ) and remember.
In my experience, if you don't feel like something is off, then changes aren't likely to improve the situation. I can see why your friends shrug.

For the people who say 'my fork does <this> and I don't like it, but I can't make it go away despite 20 runs down the same 100yd section of trail, and monkeying with the settings"
A telemetry unit and a guy who understands suspension would be money well spent.
 

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I mean, I guess that's your observation because you literally DO suspension for a living. For the rest of us it's not that simple we can't all just do a few bunny hops in a 'carpark' and dial it in like a guy who literally build suspension for a living.

I'm not asking for help over the internet to do this. I'm observing that it seems odd to me that there's not others willing to spend money having a guy who can help figure out why my/your fork can be supple but divey, or supportive but chattery, but not supple and supportive.
It ain't like it's one-on-one coaching. You get 10 riders with 10 tele units and each run you look at the software, and tell them 'Ok, you're rebounding too slow and not using all the travel. Do <this> and take another lap, we'll see what it says&#8230;
This guide will get you a 90% setup guide in a carpark: 1 Page Suspension Setup Guide - Suspension Setup - Technical | Shockcraft

Looking at software and telemetry is close to useless as you're just collecting garbage. You need to start with a known good baseline and then you have big issue that your stock suspension just can't give you that baseline without internal tuning.

We've literally got 45kg girls and 100+kg guys trying to ride the same suspension. You can't do that with just clickers and air pressure. Even riders in the target 70kg range usually find stock doesn't work well.

Customers might not like being told, for example, that their rear shock internal valving is too firm and needs changed. But they're never going to get a good setup without it.

Watching this video, it appears to be the bike company base-lining setup on a new frame:
They were 6 runs in with telemetry before the rider admitted that he put 3 extra tokens in his fork and forgot to tell them. :LOL:

In my experience, if you don't feel like something is off, then changes aren't likely to improve the situation. I can see why your friends shrug.

For the people who say 'my fork does <this> and I don't like it, but I can't make it go away despite 20 runs down the same 100yd section of trail, and monkeying with the settings"
A telemetry unit and a guy who understands suspension would be money well spent.
Telemetry can't solve those issues though. When suspension doesn't respond in the way you want with external setup it's because you're fighting the internal tuning.
When the internal tuning is right the setup is fast, easy and intuitive.
 

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and what a workshop cannot provide is the learning curve for "how a suspension feels". insert random Loris explains Jordie his last run joke here. When discussing suspension settings during a ride or day in the bikepark with some friends I sometimes provide tips what to change, after the next run you ask that guy if it's better now and he's like "?‍♂ maybe it is, don't know really"
The focus on "how the bike rides with different settings", tire pressure, shock/fork settings etc. when riding one has to learn imho, not just smashing out lap after lap. The technical explanation what each adjuster will change in the behaviour is of course required, but how a change in e.g. 3 clicks less rebound in a certain fork will change the ride impression, that's a thing one has to learn (or test ;) ) and remember.
Even after years of setting up and dialing in my kid's bike, I still get: "It doesn't feel right." Can I get a better description? Harsh, soft, blowing through travel, no traction, bouncing off stuff. Anything more than it doesn't feel right?!!!
 

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change is good
Switchblade with a 38, 29+ rigid WaltWorks
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In all the years of riding, I really didn't have a handle on tuning my fork. Neither did many mechanics and self exclaimed experts. Rear suspension, yes. When I got an Avalanche tune, wow. I was being a dumb ass, tuning for linear feel in the mid stroke and trying to get full travel with basic trail riding. Even then, my mechanic, who actually knows suspension took out 5cc of oil, which I believe was to compensate for my less than super aggressive nature, made a big difference. On my 36 when going down a steep chunky chute, the O-ring would be at an angle. My weight was causing flex. I think the improved factory damper, adding a spacer and less binding on my 38 has made a difference. However knowing what a fork should feel like helped tremendously. If you can't spend the dough for a Avy cartridge, you may want to utilize these guys:

Trail Labs

Taking Mountain Bike Suspension tuning and service to new levels - haven't utilized but heard good things about them

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
 

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I think another point to raise is people have different expectations..what you might judge as bad suspension, another guy of the same weight may see it as fine or even great. Aside from the fact custom tunes can help greatly and get you more close to where you want to be, that doesn't mean in all cases everyones expectations are going to be met.
If you are the kind of guy that expects £3000 of suspension to ride over the ground like a hoverboard and pedal like a road bike then you are out of luck. Dampers are not new technology, they have been around for decades and decades, they have got better over the years but fundamentally they are still the same thing, they can only achieve so much. If you want your suspension to feel as comfy as riding on a pillow then it's not going to be supportive, it's going to bottom out etc... There is a happy medium to be had with all setups, but if you are expecting any damper, high end or cheap, custom tune or not to make riding over 8 inch rocks and roots feel like you are riding down the pavement, you're out of luck..the technology is not capable of that, the more you try to make the suspensiom compliant the less support it's going to give you and the more the bike will pedal like a pig. The reality is this, we can talk all day about the latest bike components, how this is faster than another, how it's plusher bla bla bla, but the fact is in the real world, not in a lab, a basic inline air shock is going to feel 90% as good as the most finely tuned coil...these are realistic figures not made up bs marketing or overhyped reviews from magazines or buyers. A hardtail probably feels at least about 60% as good as full sus down hill, 'in reality' so that leaves you with 40% of which just fitting a shock aborber of any kind set up for your weight will get you to 90%, then the last 10% blowing money on **** to get you closer to where you want to be... The gains in setting up suspension right are very noticeable for sure, but they are not miracles. You would notice a bigger difference in ride feel dropping your tyre pressure from 20psi to 10psi than any amount of shock tuning will ever do, the problem.is running tyres that low is not a good idea for many reasons which is why we don't do it...but my point is that is the sort of spectrum of chamge we are talking about. In the grand scheme of things it's f all.
 

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Always in the wrong gear
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
This guide will get you a 90% setup guide in a carpark: 1 Page Suspension Setup Guide - Suspension Setup - Technical | Shockcraft

Looking at software and telemetry is close to useless as you're just collecting garbage. You need to start with a known good baseline and then you have big issue that your stock suspension just can't give you that baseline without internal tuning.

We've literally got 45kg girls and 100+kg guys trying to ride the same suspension. You can't do that with just clickers and air pressure. Even riders in the target 70kg range usually find stock doesn't work well.

Customers might not like being told, for example, that their rear shock internal valving is too firm and needs changed. But they're never going to get a good setup without it.

Watching this video, it appears to be the bike company base-lining setup on a new frame:
They were 6 runs in with telemetry before the rider admitted that he put 3 extra tokens in his fork and forgot to tell them. :LOL:

Telemetry can't solve those issues though. When suspension doesn't respond in the way you want with external setup it's because you're fighting the internal tuning.
When the internal tuning is right the setup is fast, easy and intuitive.
I'm not saying your wrong. I recognize that you do suspension tuning for a living.
I think my disconnect comes from the video that (in my mind) shows the power of telemetry, which goes against what you say. In the video, A former pro DH racer takes a new bike with stock suspension, who clearly tinkered with it, and after a handful (8-10?) runs dramatically improved the performance by analyzing the data recorded.
I guess I could strap on a ShockWiz, but my struggle comes from the fact that I'm not well versed in what it's telling me. Say it tells me I'm too deep in the travel, is that fixed by psi or volume spacers? Or more rebound because it's packing down?
@iliketexmex - I mentioned it in my initial post. there were a few shops locally that used to, but they didn't get rented (dunno why); but I've actually read differently here on MTBR- most users report they're too simplistic and the data is indecipherable.
 

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always licking the glass
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4,428 Posts
No I wouldn’t pay for that. I’d find someone who does custom tunes who is willing to help you dial things in.

The problem is fiddling with the knobs doesn’t always fix what you need. For example, my suspension doesn’t have HSR adjustments. It doesn’t mean it cant be custom tuned to make
It work right.

Other times, its a matter of getting the knobs right. Like with my fork, i had to take off HSC and add LSC, but that’s because after the past year I’ve been learning suspension. At the same time, if i need help, i call my suspension tuner for his thoughts.
 
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