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  1. #1
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    Rocky Ridge, I hate you.

    Seriously, what is the secret to enjoying Rocky Ridge in Santa Teresa? I like roots, rocks, drops and downhill but the incessant harshness of this trail is just not fun. Would some tuning to my setup help?
    I'm riding a base aluminum Tallboy with 120mm RockShox Recon in the front and 110mm Fox shock in the rear. The recon is set at the recommended psi for my weight and I had the rebound all the way up which I figured would be good since the rocks are so close together.

    Been riding for 3 months but am progressing pretty well since I've already been on about 50 rides. Mostly have gone to UCSC but also Tahoe and Santa Teresa since it is virtually my backyard. (easy to get out 4 days a week when you get laid off a month after you buy a new bike.)

    Eventually I'm going replace the Recon with a 130mm Fox 34 or Pike but I'm trying to put in a little more time on the base setup before I descend into full upgrade-itis.

  2. #2
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    Trust me, I feel like my bike hates me descending that trail too.

    But last time I rode there (Monday) I actually cleaned the whole trail going uphill. Which was only my second time ever.

  3. #3
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    climbing any of that stuff pisses me off. dab dab dab dab. ugh! f it, h-a-b and eat a snack...

  4. #4
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    I always feel like I want to go over the rocks faster, to get more of a rolling speed, but can't at all. But speed helps me the most for the downhill at least..

  5. #5
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    Rocky Ridge doesn't require more travel but good speed and a 29er for roll over. The new gate near the end sort of killed the flow but keep riding and choose your line well. Don't look down at the little rocks but look ahead instead.

  6. #6
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    A well-sorted 160mm travel 29er helps!!

    Practicing pedaling up stairs too.

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  7. #7
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    29er with 130 or more in the back, and 26 or 27.5 with 150 to 160.

    I did so many demo at that park and have tried most popular bikes in each bike category there, down to single speed dirt jumper. Is not so much rock ridge proper, but being able to pin stile ranch fast after, that makes rock ridge worth it.

  8. #8
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    Welcome to the sport. It's not the bike... I've seen countless demonstrations of skilled riding on harsh trails on POS bikes. The more you do it, the easy it will get... Just keep at it and before you know it, it will seem easy (ish).

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  9. #9
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    I did it on the wreckoning and it was almost like I was riding on JNT

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by loplopk View Post
    I did it on the wreckoning and it was almost like I was riding on JNT
    Ron Switchbaxr used our the Wreckoning for a while there and said it was like riding the sanitized Gap trail.
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  11. #11
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    I ride it quite often on my camber or hardtail. Knowing the lines helps alot. The best way to figure those out for me was climbing it and seeing it from the other side at a slower pace. Climbing it is pretty fun nowadays that there is less get off and walk areas for me from practice. And it is way more interesting then that fireroad to the top tower. Following someone who knows the deal is also super helpful. Play the fine line of tire pressure to give some cushion but not destroy tires/wheels. I'm about 175 and run 28 PSI on all my 29er bikes. It almost seems like Stiles is more techy lately actually.

  12. #12
    fc
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    Oh, for riding up stairs and rocks, here's a decent video. The good ones are where one can pedal through stairs for extended periods. That requires the one of the most important skills in riding... centering. When the bike is tilted up for example, the rider is leaning forward to keep pedaling.

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  13. #13
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    It sounds like you bought the bike new. Did the shop set it up the suspension for you? It is not hard to learn how to. Santa Cruz has some starting points here at the bottom under shock set up https://www.santacruzbicycles.com/en-US/tallboy . The rest you can learn from youtube videos.
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  14. #14
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    Since there are no big hits, try dropping the pressure by 5-10 psi and slowing the rebound by a click or two.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sid Duffman View Post
    Since there are no big hits, try dropping the pressure by 5-10 psi and slowing the rebound by a click or two.
    I'll try that!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by MoHillBri View Post
    I ride it quite often on my camber or hardtail. Knowing the lines helps alot. The best way to figure those out for me was climbing it and seeing it from the other side at a slower pace. Climbing it is pretty fun nowadays that there is less get off and walk areas for me from practice. And it is way more interesting then that fireroad to the top tower. Following someone who knows the deal is also super helpful. Play the fine line of tire pressure to give some cushion but not destroy tires/wheels. I'm about 175 and run 28 PSI on all my 29er bikes. It almost seems like Stiles is more techy lately actually.
    I'm close to 200 lbs fully loaded and was running 26 psi front and 30 rear.

    Yeah the rocks are so sharp there I feel like I must be tearing the tires to shreds.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loll View Post
    29er with 130 or more in the back, and 26 or 27.5 with 150 to 160.

    I did so many demo at that park and have tried most popular bikes in each bike category there, down to single speed dirt jumper. Is not so much rock ridge proper, but being able to pin stile ranch fast after, that makes rock ridge worth it.
    I like Stile Ranch a lot. That trail has the decency to put dirt in between stretches of rock garden rather than just one endless stretch of sharp cobbles!

  18. #18
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    Do you know your tire pressure? Tubed or tubeless?
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    Do you know your tire pressure? Tubed or tubeless?
    Tubeless. usually set at 26 front and 30 rear. I'll lower sometimes when I feel like traction is not quite there.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by infotekt View Post
    Tubeless. usually set at 26 front and 30 rear. I'll lower sometimes when I feel like traction is not quite there.
    That's...high. I clock in around your weight and ride tubeless (narrowish rims; 2.35 tires) around 22 psi. Running lower pressures through rocky terrain can help remove some of the harshness. Although 110 mm of rear travel is more of a limiting factor in really rocky stuff.

  21. #21
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    I'm about 150lbs and run 28/30psi. Even have a DD casing right now in the rear.

  22. #22
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    I wouldn´t go 22PSI down Rocky Ridge. THink you risk your rims doing this.

    I love and hate Rocky Ridge, too. It is a good exercise for balance and trail skills - but it is a shier rhythm braker, doesn´t allow anything close to a flow. Just s-t-a-c-c-a-t-t-o all the way down ;-)
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  23. #23
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    It's not the bike

    Quote Originally Posted by squashyo View Post
    Welcome to the sport. It's not the bike... I've seen countless demonstrations of skilled riding on harsh trails on POS bikes. The more you do it, the easy it will get... Just keep at it and before you know it, it will seem easy (ish).

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    Learned this one day, pushing hard as I could down RR, on an old 2" travel backup bike. A mental mode shift happened, and suddenly I'm able to comfortably triple my speed on those awesome rocks - so much fun. Just like any sport, work at it, it'll become natural. So glad they haven't sanitized RR!!!!! (yet)

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by BerndK View Post
    I wouldn´t go 22PSI down Rocky Ridge. THink you risk your rims doing this.
    YMMV I guess. I have no issues thrashing around places like Annadel (Rough Go) and super chunky stuff like Elwell at 22 psi. Maybe my pump gauge is under-reporting.

  25. #25
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    The main issue is that you have the wrong bike for gnar. You have a cross country bike designed for low technical trails. The main issue is head tube angle with fork travel as a close relative. RR rides best with an all mountain bike with an HTA of around 66 degrees and a fork with at least 150mm travel. Other suggestions here are also useful such as no tubes and tire pressure. A Nomad is at home on RR. A compromise is the trail bike category such as the Hightower. Check the geometry differences and you'll know more than most bike shop people. I have a trail bike analysis on intermediateMTB.com that can help you figure this out. Two years of research because the bike shop folks are mostly clueless. I ride a Yeti 29er trail bike which pioneered the category. Just rode Mr Toads at South Lake Tahoe today...
    MTB blog for intermediates: http://intermediatemtb.com. Trail analysis videos, bike and component reviews, other stuff.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmpreston View Post
    The main issue is that you have the wrong bike for gnar. You have a cross country bike designed for low technical trails. The main issue is head tube angle with fork travel as a close relative. RR rides best with an all mountain bike with an HTA of around 66 degrees and a fork with at least 150mm travel. Other suggestions here are also useful such as no tubes and tire pressure. A Nomad is at home on RR. A compromise is the trail bike category such as the Hightower. Check the geometry differences and you'll know more than most bike shop people. I have a trail bike analysis on intermediateMTB.com that can help you figure this out. Two years of research because the bike shop folks are mostly clueless. I ride a Yeti 29er trail bike which pioneered the category. Just rode Mr Toads at South Lake Tahoe today...
    Huh? Rocky ridge is flat and pedally the whole way down. Give me a short travel 29er with modern trail geometry any day.

  27. #27
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    Set your sag to the recommended amount. 30% is a good start. Don't just let air out and hope for the best. Bad. Bad idea. I don't know why people recommend this. It is the equivalent of running a lighter spring in a spring coil shock. Which would be counter productive for rocky terrain.

    Also set the rebound properly. Slower is better for nasty terrain. It sounds like you have the rebound set to all the way fast. Again. Not good. One very basic way to set rebound is to ride off of a curb seated. The bike shouldn't bounce you back up.

    Here is more detail on rebound: https://www.pinkbike.com/news/To-The...ping-2013.html

  28. #28
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    I enjoy riding down Rocky Ridge trail. It's the horrible steep fireroad climb up to the start (from the parking area) that I really hate.

  29. #29
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    I'm pretty experienced, riding / racing for 20yrs, I'm 36.

    RR is really good for training to keep ur body loose. Once ur comfortable, line choice and zero brakes... Actually pretty good training, two-three loop.

    I've only been there twice but trying to get there once a week now.

  30. #30
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    That trail is a great test for suspension, I rode is 3x the last demo day that Trail Head put on. Too stiff and you'll vibrate your arms off, too soft and you'll stick a wheel.

    https://youtu.be/C8I5UBzH_nU

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by infotekt View Post
    Seriously, what is the secret to enjoying Rocky Ridge in Santa Teresa? I like roots, rocks, drops and downhill but the incessant harshness of this trail is just not fun. Would some tuning to my setup help?
    I'm riding a base aluminum Tallboy with 120mm RockShox Recon in the front and 110mm Fox shock in the rear. The recon is set at the recommended psi for my weight and I had the rebound all the way up which I figured would be good since the rocks are so close together.

    Been riding for 3 months but am progressing pretty well since I've already been on about 50 rides. Mostly have gone to UCSC but also Tahoe and Santa Teresa since it is virtually my backyard. (easy to get out 4 days a week when you get laid off a month after you buy a new bike.)

    Eventually I'm going replace the Recon with a 130mm Fox 34 or Pike but I'm trying to put in a little more time on the base setup before I descend into full upgrade-itis.
    You mentioned harshness. Get in the habit of resetting your shocks o-ring and really pay attention to how much of the travel you are using. Adjust psi in 5-pound increments. Until you figure out your shock pressure keep the rebound in the middle.


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  32. #32
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    I have more fun on RR on my Camber than my Enduro 29. It is really pretty flat and pedally for the most part. There's not a real need for a huge bike. Maybe its the number of times I have been down it but I like picking and choosing smooth/faster lines with the small bike instead of putting the blinders on and bulldozing the middle on the big bike. If I see you out there on a tallboy we can grab a lap.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davey Simon View Post
    Set your sag to the recommended amount. 30% is a good start. Don't just let air out and hope for the best. Bad. Bad idea. I don't know why people recommend this. [/url]
    It isn't just blindly letting air out and hoping for the best. The OP had a specific complaint (harshness) about a specific trail (Rocky Ridge), notes the other places being ridden (UC, Tahoe), and states that air pressure is set to the rec for weight.

    UC and Tahoe will certainly use up more travel than Rocky Ridge, so if not bottoming out harshly at those places, there is certainly some room to reduce pressure. The lighter spring will (theoretically/potentially) help with the harshness. Yes, going too low will be counter productive, but there's no harm in a little trial and error in small increments. For me, that's the fun part!

  34. #34
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    Here is another good video on suspension tuning. The video is DVO specific but it is a good overview:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROYjBhNoNoE

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    Ron Switchbaxr used our the Wreckoning for a while there and said it was like riding the sanitized Gap trail.
    I find the hardest thing is cardio on the climb. I blow up, hitting that many objects in succession and not being able to plow over everything on a 26er without a cardio surge. Threshold + sprints is basically the intervals. 29er would be nice, to make the "sprint surge" less wattage. More fit people can do it on a 26er....but, clearly, that's not me.

    Descending isn't too hard though, speed is more key and not getting hung up.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davey Simon View Post
    Here is another good video on suspension tuning. The video is DVO specific but it is a good overview:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROYjBhNoNoE
    Great advice about suspension setup and really sums it up.

    I crack up at all the absoluteness comments about needing 150-160 travel. I have 130 rear 140 front, Intense Spider 29C.

    Northstar, Downieville, SC, Tahoe, urban, does it all. At 160lbs I will go through travel at times but with the right technique and approach you can handle quite a bit of terrain with 130. Is Rocky Ridge uber gnar, 4-6' drops, highly tech or something? I have friends on hard tails who ride some nasty stuff - you're fine just take Davey's advice.

    "NorCal specs: 160mm minimum" lmao

  37. #37
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    It's not the shock, it's how you tune it


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  38. #38
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    I've hardly been to rocky ridge since they sanitized it 3-4 years ago; now it seems like at the point i'm going fast enough that it's fun the consequences for a bad line choice are higher than i want to pay. Stiles is still fun though.

    Slowing the rebound is exactly what you don't want to do on a trail with lots of impacts like rocky- the fork doesn't get enough time to recover from one hit before it has to manage the next one. Because of how a Recon is tuned you want to run the rebound even faster than you would on a more expensive fork.

    Something to keep in mind when riding trails like rocky ridge is that sometimes it's easier and faster to smack through 1 big rock because it ends up being smoother or sets you up better for what's below.
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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davey Simon View Post
    Set your sag to the recommended amount. 30% is a good start. Don't just let air out and hope for the best. Bad. Bad idea. I don't know why people recommend this. It is the equivalent of running a lighter spring in a spring coil shock. Which would be counter productive for rocky terrain.

    Also set the rebound properly. Slower is better for nasty terrain. It sounds like you have the rebound set to all the way fast. Again. Not good. One very basic way to set rebound is to ride off of a curb seated. The bike shouldn't bounce you back up.

    Here is more detail on rebound: https://www.pinkbike.com/news/To-The...ping-2013.html
    Thanks, I think this could certainly be part of it. I did have the rebound all the way fast on the shock.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by infotekt View Post
    Thanks, I think this could certainly be part of it. I did have the rebound all the way fast on the shock.
    What shock are you using? What bike? How much do you weigh?


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  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by darich View Post
    You mentioned harshness. Get in the habit of resetting your shocks o-ring and really pay attention to how much of the travel you are using. Adjust psi in 5-pound increments. Until you figure out your shock pressure keep the rebound in the middle.


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    It's only 110mm travel and I use it all every ride!

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davey Simon View Post
    What shock are you using? What bike? How much do you weigh?


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    The bike is an AL Tallboy with Fox Float DPS (110mm). I'm 193lbs. Honestly though I think the quality of the RockShox Recon (120mm) fork is the weak link here in terms of harshness. But I could be wrong since I don't really have any experience on other bikes with higher end suspensions to compare.

  43. #43
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    Am i reading correctly that you have the fork rebound set near full slow and the shock near full fast and you're bottoming the shock every ride? If so your suspension set up is WACK.
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  44. #44
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    Definitely SLOW that Rebound down and consider taking a Shock pump along on your ride. Keep in mind, you'll never get that super-plush feel from a 110mm bike but like dchester said you DON'T have to have 150mm minimum for hitting trails all over the country and having a good time doing it. Work on your skills and tune your suspension & tire setup.

    Just by looking at the numerous air pressures that people on this thread are reporting works for them does NOT mean it will work for you. Differences in your wheels, tires and your riding style make this NOT a 1-size fits all situation.

    For instance - I'm 225 loaded up and ready to ride and I get away with 25psi or slightly less on Carbon 30mm rims with fairly light casing Specialized 2.3 tires front & rear.
    I ride "light" on the bike but am fairly fast/aggressive due to my experience.

    Keep with it, keep experimenting with slightly different setups and always ask questions in here or at your LBS. HAVE FUN!
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  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by infotekt View Post
    The bike is an AL Tallboy with Fox Float DPS (110mm). I'm 193lbs. Honestly though I think the quality of the RockShox Recon (120mm) fork is the weak link here in terms of harshness. But I could be wrong since I don't really have any experience on other bikes with higher end suspensions to compare.
    Check out this website:

    https://www.ridefox.com/help.php?m=bike&id=555

    Read it back to front!

    Basically it tells you to do this:

    Set your body weight in the air shock

    Set the rebound:

    Click it all the way slow, or closed. Click it the other way 7 times

    Run the shock full open for a gnarly DH

    Adjust from there.

    If it still feels like you are bottoming out the shock, you can try tuning it with the volume spacers.

    Its all in the website I posted at the top of this post.

    Have fun!

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davey Simon View Post
    Check out this website:

    https://www.ridefox.com/help.php?m=bike&id=555

    Read it back to front!

    Basically it tells you to do this:

    Set your body weight in the air shock

    Set the rebound:

    Click it all the way slow, or closed. Click it the other way 7 times

    Run the shock full open for a gnarly DH

    Adjust from there.

    If it still feels like you are bottoming out the shock, you can try tuning it with the volume spacers.

    Its all in the website I posted at the top of this post.

    Have fun!
    I just went through it all. Seems having full rebound was a big mistake.

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by infotekt View Post
    I just went through it all. Seems having full rebound was a big mistake.
    Having an open enough mind to fix it wasn't though. I know guys who say "I've been doing this for 25 years!" they do a lot of things wrong, they don't have an open mind and they pass themselves on to others as coaches. Which is scary. And generally their rebound is set all the way fast for "climbing".

    So congrats on your first big step in off road cycling, being open minded.

    Now give my buddy Dylan Renn a call at A SingleTrack Mind. He's a great coach and in your area over the next few months.

    Even though I feel I've made it do the expert level with a lot of hard work and study I'm still a prime candidate for coaching.




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  48. #48
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    Rocky Ridge suspension follow up

    Adjusted the rear shock rebound based on Fox instructions and went for another loop on Rocky Ridge today.

    * Much more comfortable ride - more gliding over top of rocks.
    * felt slower but Strava says otherwise. I was 15% faster!
    * Sometimes the rear wheel felt disconnected to the ground. will adjust one click and try again.

    Fox documentation and this excellent PB article explain how rebound adjustment works. Most important to know is that while the shock may have 14 clicks of adjustment, depending on the air pressure setting there are only 2 or 3 rebound positions that are designed to work for that pressure!

    Thanks for all the help!
    -Matt

  49. #49
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    Nice one!!!


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  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by infotekt View Post
    I had the rebound all the way up which I figured would be good since the rocks are so close together.
    That may well be part of the problem. Try the recommended setting for your weight. Then play around with less, and more, rebound to see what the effect is.

    Too much rebound keeps the suspension from rebounding before the next hit. That compresses it further and hits you harder because being compressed, the spring rate is higher. Then the next bump compresses it more, etc. You end up with less travel because the shock is never getting back to the fully extended state.

    Generally speaking turning suspension adjustment knobs all the way is the wrong thing to do.

  51. #51
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    I don't know, I just rode RR up and down this morning and I feel like it is riding really well right now. Other than all the hikers this morning it was climbing great and ripping DH. 120 Camber was having no issues. Maybe it's just because of a rare south wind giving me a push on the ridge. Or riding with a fanny pack and no gloves making me feel extra enduro. It really felt in better form than I have seen it recently. And the new batch of baby cows are kinda fun to look at.

  52. #52
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    Reputation: Leopold Porkstacker's Avatar
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    Having ridden up and down Rocky Ridge over 100 times over the past several years (on bikes ranging from fully-rigid, hardtail, to full-suspension), I can only muster up these suggestions:

    • going up: there are no rocks, just your imagination; pump the bike fore/aft to clear them
    • going down: lower your seatpost and don’t use the brakes too much
    QUOTE from MTBR.COM: You have given Brewtality too much Reputation in the last 24 hours, try again later.

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