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  1. #1
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    Weight vs Suspension Design

    Would you rather have a slightly inefficient suspension design, like say an FSR-based design in carbon or...

    a Weagle or Maestro design in alloy?

    My dilemma is I really liked the Norco Sight and Range I rode over the summer, but the Range felt more like a downhill bike than a Sight with 20mm more travel. I think this was a combination of setup, but also weight. The Sight I rode was probably 28lbs, while the Range was probably 34lbs. Norco plans to do the Range in carbon by next year, and it will likely be one the cheapest carbon 160mm bikes available.

    The Maestro and DW-Link designs suddenly have gotten less expensive as evidence by the alloy Devinci Troy, and the Giant Trance. However, the carbon version of these complete bikes start at $4000 and I could not afford these bikes in carbon, nor are they 160mm travel.

    So, would you rather have more travel at the same weight with less pedaling efficiency, or less travel, same weight and better efficiency?
    I do custom ArcGIS and Google Maps, including data collection and sustainable trail layout. Ride Welsh Mountain

  2. #2
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    well first of all, there has been a shift in carbon design in recent years. Carbon is no longer about saving weight. It's about increased rigidity and vibration damping. If you look at bikes like Santa Cruz's carbon V-10, they don't save much weight. They do save a bit, but the real benefit is in the rigidity and smoother 'feel' that carbon brings. It's very nice, to be sure. But it isn't like it's some magical material that weighs nothing and will make you a pedaling superstar. I think suspension design and proper tuning makes more of a difference than a carbon bike simply being almost pound lighter. I say go with whatever bike has a better suspension design.


    The benefits of DW-Link and Maestro in my opinion far outweigh the FSR design. They cover a wider range of terrain better. With FSR and Horst link designs, I was constantly wishing I could re-tune the suspension on the fly. I could either make it climb well but be very harsh in the rough stuff, or i could soften it up and lose a lot of climbing ability. The Maestro on my old bike did both very well with no adjustment.
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  3. #3
    Formerly PaintPeelinPbody
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    What about travel vs suspension design then?

    Would you give up 20mm of travel on an FSR (160mm Range) to have a better pedaling platform like DW-Link, Split Pivot, or Maestro?
    I do custom ArcGIS and Google Maps, including data collection and sustainable trail layout. Ride Welsh Mountain

  4. #4
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    If it were me, I'd go with the better suspension platform and take the minor loss in travel. Others may disagree, but that would be my choice. It all depends on the bike model and what you want to be able to do with it. I've already alluded to the fact that I am not a big fan of the outdated FSR system. I like Maestro, VPP, etc MUCH more. Split Pivot is pretty good too, but I prefer the feel of the full DW-Link.

    If you spend the vast majority of your time jumping off stuff and pounding big rock gardens, you might want to go with a bit more travel. Every bit counts when you're constantly pushing the limits of your bike. If you climb a lot, if your friends who you ride with all climb a lot, and you like to do a bit of everything, I would go with the better suspension design.

    If you like to do what most people consider general all mountain riding, I think that anything from 5 to 6" should be just fine. For reference, I had a Giant Reign with 6" (150mm) travel, and only on the really really hard hits did I use up most to all of the travel. I'm a big guy and I only bottomed it out hard once, dropping down a few feet into an uphill transition (stupid me). Most of the time I was hovering in the 4-5" travel usage. So losing only ~3/4" shouldn't be too big a problem. I doubt you'd even notice it in terms of riding, since with added travel you run more sag. That extra sag means you'll only have probably around 0.4" more up-travel with the 160mm bike. People get too hung up on how much travel bikes have these days. They view 150mm as being too little travel so they go out and spend $900 on a new fork just to get 10mm more travel that they will never even notice.
    tangaroo: What electrolytes do chicken and turkey have again?
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  5. #5
    I Tried Them ALL... Moderator
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    Maestro and dw-link alloy, before FSR, in ANY material.
    "The mind will quit....well before the body does"

  6. #6
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    also, don't forget Santa Cruz and Intense's VPP suspension. It's very good too. Very comparable to Maestro in terms of performance.
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  7. #7
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    Something to keep in mind, split pivot is not DW-link, and they don't ride the same. It rides more like Trek's ABP with some slight differences and without a special shock. Basically, it decouples braking forces from suspension forces so you get fully active travel when braking, but it doesn't have the anti-squat characteristics of the DW-link. It will pedal well, but not nearly as well as the DW-link bikes. It will have more pedal bob and require some platform in the shock to tune out while climbing.

    Also, all DW-link bikes will ride slightly different depending on the designer's intent. I love DW-link, but the Pivot, Turner, and Ibis versions all ride differently. The Ibis is more plush and a little less efficient. The Pivot is more sporty and efficient and seems to accelerate quicker, with some loss of plushness/plow-bike feel. Still, it always seems to be a great pedaling design, and I haven't found another suspension design I like more.

    Now, I'm not Dave Weagle, but that is my understanding based on what I've read and bikes I've ridden.

    I definitely think efficient suspension is more important than weight...to a point. You start getting a bike around 35 lbs and you're gonna feel it on those big climbs. There's no denying, pounds are pounds, and you still have to propel them uphill. But proportional to most people's body weight, bike weight is a small percentage. The more fat you replace with muscle the less you're gonna feel a bike's weight. You're always going to notice poor suspension though.
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  8. #8
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    I have a 12.5 kg, 135mm, fsr full carbon bike. I also have a 14.3 kg, 150mm split pivot alu bike. The latter feels faster / accelerates with more snap. Naturally, this is not measured performance but purely arse-dyno.
    If I was you id do my very best to ignore the marketing and just ride what makes you feel the fastest and smile the widest. A good bike is more than just the sum of its parts.

  9. #9
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    First off, I disagree with how you all are throwing the baby out with the bath water. ALL FSR bikes are not created equal. I have owned many of them; KHS, Chumba XCL, MotoLite and the El Guapo. The worst pedaler was the Chumba followed by the KHS and then the MotoLite. The ML was not very inefficient but not the most efficient bike either. It had other traits that I disliked much more than how it pedaled. I must say that the El Guapo is the bomb in terms of pedaling efficiency. Titus hit a home run when they tuned that FSR rear end. The only time I ever want something different out of the rear suspension is on super slow square edge hits where it gets hung up just a tiny bit. In the same vein, I never find myself wanting more traction while climbing and it's damn near flawless on the downhill.

    I've also owned a Nomad v1.5 with the last gen VPP design, a Salsa single pivot, and a Yeti ASR5. Have also ridden a friends gen 2 Blur LT. For me, the VPP have their issues with pedal feedback and blowing through the mid stroke and the SP's chatter like mad when braking in the rough with their fair share of pedal bob.

    But to my point, I have only recently come to the conclusion that geometry and quality of travel has more effect on my opinion about a bike than the amount of travel. You will be better off with a bike that behaves how you want it to than you will having a bike with 10 or 20mm more travel. I say this because you'll be in the same situation you are in today, looking for a new bike if you end up getting something that doesn't meet your expectations.

    Making a decision about a b ike based on a 2lb difference between them is silly. That should be the last thing you look at.

  10. #10
    usually cranky
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    design before weight. ime a good design can hide the weight. but what makes a suspension design effecient is how you pedal. if you are smooth fsr works very well but you can get away with being more of a hack on virtual design and not having it bite you.

  11. #11
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    After owning VPP Santa Cruz Blur LT for couple years I am very suspicious of all suspension designs using chain tension as anti-squat device. The bike felt oh so good in parking lot test and when climbing smooth uphill. No bobbing at all, step on pedals and it springs forward. But soon I noticed that I was not able to clear technical uphill spots I was making on my previous ancient single pivot bike. Every obstacle at the edge of my strength and skills became unclimbable. VPP suspension was stiffening and even extending at the very wrong moment. When I finally replaced Blur with Specialized Enduro climbing technical trails felt like cheating .
    I heard that DW link is better than VPP in that area but frankly I don't want to check. FSR works perfectly well for me, it's neutral, predictable and behaves beautifully when breaking through rough terrain.

  12. #12
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    Where does the Yeti 575 fit into this discussion? I ask because the weight thing caught my attention and I know next to nothing about different designs.
    My enduro build which is not very weight conscious weighs 29.5 with pedals and has 6" fore and aft.
    It does not act heavy--matter of fact, it rides as light as my old 24 lbs XC bike.
    I'm afraid of heights so a 26'r fits me to a T.

  13. #13
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    My previous bike was a '10 FSR Comp. My current ride is an '11 575. Both bikes are very capable. I realize were talking about suspension design, not brand names. But thought I'd give my opinion when comparing the two.
    The Yeti 575 is in a different league. One being climbing. Before, I'd have to get off and walk the FSR while climbing steep sections of switchback. The 575 climbs the same sections effortlessly. As long as you are seated, the front stays on the ground. This was impossible on the FSR, as the front always lifted off the trail (due to the different geometry of the bikes).
    When comparing weights. There is no denying the 575 weights more. The frame is much more stout / rigid. Suspension wise, again goes to the 575. While the FSR is a very plush ride. The same can be said of the 575 when on pro-pedal. I've let a couple of friends try out the 575. Liked it so much. They now own one to.

  14. #14
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    I'd like to learn more about categories/types of suspension.
    What is the 2013 575?
    I'm afraid of heights so a 26'r fits me to a T.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Settertude View Post
    I'd like to learn more about categories/types of suspension.
    What is the 2013 575?
    Single Pivot. Doesn't really have any anti-squat built into it, but it pedals OK if you're smooth when pedaling and use propedal on your shock.

    FWIW, a local riding buddy switched rode a Yeti 575 for years and loved it, but he test rode some DW-link bikes at Outerbike and ended up having to buy a Pivot Mach 5.7 which is the same bike that I'm riding. It's one of those "ignorance is bliss/don't know any better until you try it" kind of things. He loves the Mach way more. It's just so much more efficient pedaling and you don't ever have to flip any propedal lever for climbing. It's also fully active under braking and the initial rearward axle path helps for square-edge hits. It really does work how they say. The nature of the DW-link design allows it to stay higher in its travel for most of the time and doesn't wallow in the mid to end stroke like some other bikes that make for mushy climbing in technical terrain. It accelerates fast too, when you put the power down, the bike just goes.

    Yeti's SB-66 is their own take on a virtual pivot bike and is their efficient pedaling platform. The 575 though tends to be much cheaper due to its basic technology and smaller cost to manufacture, so it's definitely their more budget-friendly option.
    Gotta get up to get down.
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  16. #16
    Bicyclochondriac.
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    Without getting into which suspension design is best, I will say that there are real differences, and IMO, a better design is worth quite a few pounds of weight.

    Regarding suspension vs travel, that's not really a good comparison. It is assuming that more travel = more better. That's not really the case. There is usually some range of travel that works best for a given type of bike/rider/terrain, and that's what is best. And this changes with different designs. Some designs with 6" of travel feel like others with 5" travel. That's not a bad thing, it's just how they work.

    Part of having the right suspension for your needs is having the right amount of travel.

    Travel numbers are, IMO, the single most over-rated and over-simplified spec on suspension frames. When thinking about how compliant or plush a frame is, it is more important to look at the effect the design has on the spring curve and how it responds to pedaling forces than if a frame is 125mm vs 150mm of travel.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by PHeller View Post
    I really liked the Norco Sight and Range
    Well then, end of discussion.

    Ride what you like and forget about what all the suspension geniuses have to say about this one or that one is better (which is usually marketing regurgitation; not science).

    All bikes ride differently. Better or worse is a matter of taste.

  18. #18
    undercover brother
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    Quote Originally Posted by b-kul View Post
    design before weight. ime a good design can hide the weight. but what makes a suspension design effecient is how you pedal. if you are smooth fsr works very well but you can get away with being more of a hack on virtual design and not having it bite you.
    Yup. I rode my buddies 23lb Trek Fuel 9.9 and my 32lb SB66 pedals soooo much better. I could care less about weight as long as I'm not lugging around 40 lbs. A little weight makes me feel more secure when the riding gets rough.

  19. #19
    Bicyclochondriac.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tangaroo View Post
    Yup. I rode my buddies 23lb Trek Fuel 9.9 and my 32lb SB66 pedals soooo much better. I could care less about weight as long as I'm not lugging around 40 lbs. A little weight makes me feel more secure when the riding gets rough.
    Yup.

    My current bike is my heaviest AND best climbing bike I've owned.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post
    My current bike is my heaviest AND best climbing bike I've owned.
    A dropper seatpost can tilt the scales and cause these results.
    I've got a bike
    You can ride it if you like
    It's got a basket, a bell that rings
    and things to make it look good . . .

  21. #21
    Bike to the Bone...
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    Geometry, sizing, build quality, suspension design are better than weight, but everything is a balance.

    My current bike is the heaviest and it's the best one going up and down that I've had.

  22. #22
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    Thank you for that.
    It was helpful.

    Quote Originally Posted by BaeckerX1 View Post
    Single Pivot. Doesn't really have any anti-squat built into it, but it pedals OK if you're smooth when pedaling and use propedal on your shock.

    FWIW, a local riding buddy switched rode a Yeti 575 for years and loved it, but he test rode some DW-link bikes at Outerbike and ended up having to buy a Pivot Mach 5.7 which is the same bike that I'm riding. It's one of those "ignorance is bliss/don't know any better until you try it" kind of things. He loves the Mach way more. It's just so much more efficient pedaling and you don't ever have to flip any propedal lever for climbing. It's also fully active under braking and the initial rearward axle path helps for square-edge hits. It really does work how they say. The nature of the DW-link design allows it to stay higher in its travel for most of the time and doesn't wallow in the mid to end stroke like some other bikes that make for mushy climbing in technical terrain. It accelerates fast too, when you put the power down, the bike just goes.

    Yeti's SB-66 is their own take on a virtual pivot bike and is their efficient pedaling platform. The 575 though tends to be much cheaper due to its basic technology and smaller cost to manufacture, so it's definitely their more budget-friendly option.
    I'm afraid of heights so a 26'r fits me to a T.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by BaeckerX1 View Post
    Something to keep in mind, split pivot is not DW-link, and they don't ride the same. It rides more like Trek's ABP with some slight differences and without a special shock. Basically, it decouples braking forces from suspension forces so you get fully active travel when braking, but it doesn't have the anti-squat characteristics of the DW-link. It will pedal well, but not nearly as well as the DW-link bikes. It will have more pedal bob and require some platform in the shock to tune out while climbing.
    FWIW, I have a split-pivot Devinci Dixon and it has virtually no bob. I was amazed at how efficiently it pedaled (coming from an FSR, however)...and I don't use a platform switch, just set it and forget. I race XC on a hardtail, but was impressed enough to actually consider a short travel split-pivot in the future. I've demoed DW-Link, but actually preferred the split-pivot.

    I would say suspension design before carbon...it makes more of a difference. The "best" suspension depends on the rider, terrain, and intended use though. If pedalling is a priority, I would shy away from FSR.

  24. #24
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    Re: Weight vs Suspension Design

    Quote Originally Posted by FlavC View Post
    FWIW, I have a split-pivot Devinci Dixon and it has virtually no bob. I was amazed at how efficiently it pedaled (coming from an FSR, however)...and I don't use a platform switch, just set it and forget. I race XC on a hardtail, but was impressed enough to actually consider a short travel split-pivot in the future. I've demoed DW-Link, but actually preferred the split-pivot.

    I would say suspension design before carbon...it makes more of a difference. The "best" suspension depends on the rider, terrain, and intended use though. If pedalling is a priority, I would shy away from FSR.
    That's good to know. I just said what I've heard DW himself say about the 2 designs. Glad to hear your split pivot pedals really well. Devinci makes some good looking bikes! Which DW-Link bike did you demo?

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