Elka Stage 5 = me not impressed at all
I had high expectations of this shock. For whatever reason I could not get it to feel good on my bike (Giant Reign X1). Apparently other people like it, so it must work on some bikes for other people. Not for me on this bike!
Update: They took a look at the shock and found it was indeed defective. I will be trying a different one next week.
I've also got to give props to Go-Ride. They really have proven to me that they care about their customers and will bend over backwards to help them out in tight situations. Their turn around time on getting the shock back, tested, and another one sent out to me is great.
New shock is for sure better and more controlled.
- Compressions feels amazing! Can't stress enough how tunable and buttery the compression is on this shock. Utterly amazing. Helps eliminate small bumps into nothing.
- Shock stroke is very supple and smooth. My last shock had bad stiction.
- Shock feels better in a lot of ways than my Roco TST but is still somewhat lacking.
- Rebound is a little better on this one than my last Elka Demo.
- Damn rebound just isn't cutting it even though it feels better than the last Elka demo. Way too little low speed rebound and then once the adjuster starts getting some, it ruins the high speed. :( Still major fail IMO. My Roco TST still puts the Elka to shame in rebound. I guess I could pay a lot more to have it custom tuned, but then I don't know how much I want tuned, which might add up to a lot of trips back for retuning the high speed rebound and lots of money. I like the PUSH rebound feeling the most where it is more damped on the low speed stuff and opens up for higher speeds.
I'm sure some people like having little or no low speed rebound, as it does help pop the wheel off of jumps and keep it higher in the travel. I find that in conjunction with the good compression and the preloading of the air chamber spring, the back of the bike actually JACKS UP when hitting multiple fast hits. This does not feel good to me personally, and has caused my feet to bounce off the pedals and other crap.
- Top Out. I'm sorry, but the damn air spring is really pissing me off. I don't know how you guys think of this, but the top out from an unchecked air spring drives me bonkers. Even with a stupidly lighter coil spring, it still feels funky.
The combination of the air spring preloading effect and the backwards damped rebound leave me not so blown away on this shock. Time for a CCDB and to be done with it!
I know elka and go-rideboth have good cs. Also, are you sure the shock was "tuned for your bike" as I have heard elka does. Mine feels great on my demo 9. Also, I know Elka asks about your weight and riding style when you go to buy one.
Really surprissed to hear about your experience of rebound adjustment. I find my Elka to be really sensitive to every click of rebound.
Are you sure the Elka was valved for your bike or was it just a generic tune for go ride test shock? If its just a generic tune, then id guess thats why it feels like crap on your bike
Compression tune felt great and dead on. Rebound should have been the slowest they make, which is what they recommend for the Reign X.
Originally Posted by Nick_M2R
Even if the rebound was better, I would still have to say it isn't going to blow me away like I was expecting. I think big monotube "air sprung" shocks just are not going to be my cup of tea.
I expect a CCDB to cure everything I didn't like about the Elka:
- Adjustable slow/high speed rebound
- No air spring preloading effect or air spring feel in mid stroke.
- Costs more, thus is better by fact! ;)
That to me might be worth the extra $200. :)
Thanks for the review, but please ask Go Ride to check if the rebound damper is malfunctioning, from what you said I wouldn't be surprised if there was a problem.
It seems weird because most people have been having awesome luck for it.
just curious how go-ride happened to have the right size shock with the right internals specifically for your bike and weight. I know they have a large selection but it seems they would have way to many to cover every specific situation.
Also i wonder how new the shock is. The program is pretty new and the shock might be as well. maybe it hasn't even had a break in time yet.
Everything you mentioned seemed strange because i had one and it was amazing and didn't suffer from the things you mentioned. especially the stiction. i found it quite the opposite.
Totally. Although I am not going to screw around with this shock again regardless.
Originally Posted by davec113
Altogether, I don't think this shock provides what I am looking for.
I'm not trying to make any wide claims about the shock, but I think it is important to let people know my experience. If there was something wrong with the shock, does Elka have quality control issues?
It's not a bad shock, I just don't see it ever being the mind blowing change people expect from something like a Bos or Double Barrel.
I got lucky that it was the right tune.
Originally Posted by climbingbubba
One thing that could be going on here... My Roco TST might, by blind luck, be the best tune I could want, and it just happened to come that way stock. I have never had any problem with it. It always works as I wish. I just could not help but think a "better" shock would be better.
It could be that the Elka was performing just fine, but since my Roco is by dumb luck so well tuned for my bike and rider, that I didn't get the improvement I was looking for.
I guess the take away here is, "if it ain't broke don't fix it". Sometimes you have to try something else to realize what you had was perfect already. I am still hopeful that a CCDB will turn out better for me than the TST.
Also, the compression adjustments on the Elka were very impressive. If I had a single pivot, that shock would have turned out more beneficial. Since my bike like really light compression, it didn't help my bike much. Compression and adjustment wise, USDA top choice T-Bone! :)
Interesting. Useable adjustment range is pretty friggin important. My AVA tuned 5th has a very sensitive rebound and it sucks. Fortunately it has no detents, so I can set it anywhere in the rotation and it stays.
One thing to note, even good mfg put out bad shocks from time to time. I had 2 shocks this last year that despite being new had to go back to the factory for rework. Not that I want to condone that failure rate, just sayin it happens.
The GoRide demo program is a very cool way to see if a shock fits you. In this case it may just not be a good fit for you and your preferences. I am with you, far better that it turned out to only be a $50 experiment. I have toyed with the notion of testing out a couple of other shocks just to see if they are an "upgrade".
How about the rider : 0
My friend i ride two elka 5's, one on a M3 with 9.5 travel and the other on a uzzi set at 6.75 both shocks ride completely different.I think maybe on your frame the shock might not be so happy for what ever reason but i can tell you that the rebound is not the problem.On my M3 if i am in only 3 or 4 inches of travel the rebound is very fast and snaps me out of turns and ruts just the way i need it to be, only when the travel gets going deeper will the rebound slow down and not buck no matter what setting i have it on. So do not give up on the ELKA 5 just maybe it's time to give up on your old style of riding and take it to a new level where the shock can shine. Trust your shock,trust yourself and go rip it up !!! : 0
I will agree with only one statement you've made and that's on the rebound. I find the shock to perform noticeably better than both the DHX 5.0 coil and the Roco WC on my Cove STD. My Elka came directly from the factory custom tuned for me and the bike which may make a difference. I have no complaints about the feel of the shock in any situation and do not share the feeling that it has poor midstroke performance. It keeps the back tire glued to the ground without feeling dead.
On the rebound...I do have my dial turned way in but the clicks before and after my current setting make a small but noticeable difference and do not change it so drastically that the performance goes to hell.
It's not for you and that's okay. I hope you find what you're looking for.
Been using the CCDB since it was available in 2006. I have not been on anything that feels as good.
Originally Posted by boogenman
CCDBs are definitely nice. I want to try the new Diverse shock as well. It's nice having so many good options out there.
You got a shock that either had issues or was the complete wrong tune for your bike.
Originally Posted by YoPawn
This fact is backed up by your statement that the Roco TST feels better than the Elka. I have ridden Roco TST shocks on a few bikes and always felt they were choked down and spiked way too much w/o a useable range of compression adjustment. Good for a pedal bike that may need lots of low speed damping at the expense of traction. The Roco WC is better for gravity riding, but can have a bit too much wallow for me.
The Elka offers the most seamless performance I have experienced in a shock to date. The hi and low speed compression adjusters work beautifully, have a very large usable range of adjustment and stay decoupled (they feel truly independent of each other). The increase in traction and control when switching to an Elka is quite significant. I passed the Elka on my DHR around to a few of my (dhr riding) friends at Northstar last summer and after just a single run every one of them could not believe the difference in performance. They went from "is it worth the effort to switch shocks?" to "do I have to give it back?"
Mini link bikes do require very specific shock tunes to behave properly, and the Elka shines on this suspension design when tuned for it.
One other thing to keep in mind, Elka custom tunes each shock for your bike and if you don't like the initial tune they will revalve your shock to suite your needs for free. I don't know of any other suspension manufacturer that will do this.
It's too bad the test didn't give you a good idea of how well this shock can perform, and this brings to light one of the difficulties involved in running a shock demo program.
Avalanche will do it again w/o charge in the first 60 days. Not sure about CC, I know they are very helpful in the setup of the shock. But I can't say if they will revalve or not (no 1st hand exp with them).
Originally Posted by 1soulrider
The CCDB's are all the same. No need for a re valve.
Eh... apparently not. ;)
Originally Posted by YoPawn
I've previously owned Fox DHX 5.0, Roco TST and WC, Avalanche Chubbie, and Push'd Vanilla... the Elka is my fave so far.
Not sure what the dealio with yours was, but don't slag the shock off based on your brief demo experience. Ive got one on my new ride and am impressed so far. How impressed? I've only got 3 rides on it, and it's on a new bike so I can't really make fair comparisons against the shocks I've owned on previous bikes. However... for sure I can say it feels very good so far.
Also! No tools required for compression adjustments. Gimme a freaking break, I've owned and Avy and it felt great when it was tuned in, but no way in hell a $600 shock like the Avy or CCDB should require tools for adjustment. Weather changes, traveling to ride, and just coming to understand the shock are 3 reasons I want to be able to change those adjustments every ride, no tools required.
I was also very impressed with the documentation provided by Elka. Much as I liked the Avy on my last bike, it took several calls to Craig to figure out how to tune it (since the adjustments weren't labeled on the shock, and were labeled incorrectly in the manual :madman: )
Couple other things I dig.
- Backing off the HSC completely does not bypass the LSC circuit on the Elka.
- The adjustments do what you would expect them to, unlike "pro-pedal", "boost valve" or other cool marketing terms that don't explain what's actually happening inside the shock.
- Cool that Elka provides awesome hardware- steel sleeve with aluminum spacers, instead of aluminum step-down reducers that focus the load on the center of the shock bolt.
I also dug the price- I think mine was under $500 shipped? Thats cheaper than a fox rc4.
So you have an Elka now, my question is what is this new bike that it is mounted to?
Also must note that back to back testing of the Elka vs the RC4 (same bike) left the Elka out front in my opinion.
Just out of curiosity, I have a question for you Yo Pawn. What year is your Reign x1 from?
Pardon the crap phone picture....
Originally Posted by 1soulrider
Anyways only have 3 rides in on it so far, but she's a keeper :D
Got the K9 cups slackening it out to 66.5 degree up front. But still low 30's with the elka & float 36. Feels like a really good match for our local stuff, I'm pushing or climbing for everything and our trails are fairly smooth, so a light bike is nice. But the rune is very stiff and the suspension & geometry are dialled in nicely for steep trails with booters and drops.
Trade shocks with Krispy and see if he has the same problems... He probably won't want to part with his CCDB.
(The old and new Reign X run the same size shock BTW.)
I know they have the same stroke and eye-to-eye but the 2007-08 and 09 had the glory hole. On Elka's site, they don't list the pre-2010 Reign x1 as compatible with their shock...
It may just need a test fit. I remember you could run a CCDB in the old frame, but it had to be upside-down with the roost guard removed. The Elka may be the same way...
Originally Posted by nightnerd
Elka did try their shock on the pre-2010 Reign X and it didn't fit.
YoPawn - try checking the pressure in the chamber with an air pump. it should be around 150-160 psi. if it's not, just pump some air to reach that pressure.
if the pressure keeps coming down (after a few rides) you might have a defective reservoir cover/valve.
Very nice! I keep hearing good things about Banshee's new bikes. Never thought I'd say that...
Here's a better pic of FM's bike. I just stole it out of his garage:
Nice bike FM!
Elka uses nitrogen in their shocks, using a shock pump is not recommended & probably would make the shock perform less than its potential.
Originally Posted by ThePunisher
The elka does look prettier than the pics on their website..
nope - if you call Elka they will suggest the same thing Punisher suggested. for a small amount like 30 to 50 psi's, it's okay to use a hand pump. if the pressure is way low - then yeah, you're better off sending your shock in for service.
Originally Posted by highrevkev
I guess my 2008 Reign X1 frame didn't get the memo. :cool:
Originally Posted by ThePunisher
I wonder if they are only claiming that it does not fit because the damper doesn't like the suspension design? :confused:
I will take FM's word that it is a better shock if you get a good one that is tuned right.
Update in my original post. Shock was borked.
Kinda figured it had to be..
Originally Posted by YoPawn
Hope you get a chance to ride an Elka in good working condition, I'm pretty sure you will be impressed.
I hope this prompts them to test their shocks before sending to people for demos. I was kind of under the impression they did this already and was surprised they did not.
Originally Posted by 1soulrider
It's good news that I might still have hope for this shock after all. I was worried about having to poop out the extra money for a CCDB. :D
Get back to us when you will get the new shock. Riding a 2008 Reign x1 too, I'm particularly interested in reading your second review of the shock. By the way, Elka dudes are within 30 minutes drive from where I live. Unfortunatly, they don't have the demo program...
Updated review with working shock up above. Better, but I'm still not blown away or impressed enough to buy one. :mad:
oh you were talking advantage of the Elka/Go-Ride demo program?
Originally Posted by YoPawn
I think you got a defective shock again.
If I already had one in ownership I wouldn't worry and just spend money to have it custom tuned. Otherwise, I'm not going to buy a shock knowing that I could potentially spend just as much as a Double Barrel in the end to get it right. I do see lots of potential there in the future as they refine the Elka. Hasn't really been around long enough to go through a couple development cycles to nail just right or offer tunes for various bikes ALONG with various rider types. I like a slightly regressive rebound and the Elka seems to be progressive in my experience.
I dunno man. Something is not right, maybe Elka doesn't have the tune right for your bike or it's not tuned for your weight. I have owned a lot of shocks including the Roco tst and wc, the Elka is in a different league (along with pushed stuff and avy).
Anyways, good luck with the cane creek!
I think it just comes down to preference. I don't see anything wrong with the Elka if it is how your like your shock to feel.
The Reign X doesn't really need good compression damping to feel good. I've found that frame is all about getting the rebound dialed. Roco TST just happens to have a rebound that works for my frame and riding style I've been on other bikes with the TST that feel like dog turds, as in the Kona Stinky. As well, I'm sure the Elka feels spectacular on other frames that I could like.
Also keep in mind, that this was a demo shock, and I didn't have the honeymoon effect from buying it. Thus, I am going to be really critical about my assessments to make sure I spend money on something I feel is worth it in terms of cost/vs./performance. Right now, the Elka is not $450 better than my Roco TST, but in itself the Elka is a great deal at $450. If I had no shock and only $450, I would buy the Elka no question and then have it tuned down the road when more cash comes rolling in.
Also again, people have bought CCDB shocks and not liked those either. So, I think it just comes down to picking your flavor. Some people are lucky in that their flavor is $200 cheaper than others. :)
Originally Posted by YoPawn
Keep in mind no extra $ is needed to custom tune this shock for you...it is custom tuned for you when you buy it, and if it doesn't impress you they will retune it for free to meet your needs.
But, as you said, every rider is different and what is great for some may not be so much for others.
The Cane Creek DB is a good example of this, many rave about it and others can't stand it.
Different strokes for different folks.
I just got my Elka Stage 5, and all I can say im sticking with Elka for a long time. Also the fact their pretty local to where I live. Ive tried, DHX 5.0, CCDB, Marzocchi Rocco wc, Rock Shox Vivid 5.1, and Avalanche. It defiantly blew the Rocco, Vivid and DHX out of the water hands down. The Elka feels like a mix between a Avalanche and CCDB. The shock is so smooth and plush. Its defiantly the shock I wanted. Simple. The shock's Compression and rebound can be felt with each click, and it just seems endless in its travel.
Make sure you get the Shock tuned correctly for your frame / setup. Anything incorrectly set up can feel like ****.
Yep that's my impression as well. The Elka feels very similar to the Avalanche I had with that "back wheel stuck to the ground" feel, even when cornering over chop. The difference is, the elka has firmer low-speed compression, which I like... it feels very "composed". And the no tools required thing... big advantage for elka in my book, compared to Avy/CCDB.
Originally Posted by commencal-guy
To me the difference between the "custom tuned" shocks I've owned (Avy, Elka, and to a lesser extent, Push) and the stock one Fox & Marzocchi shocks is immediately noticeable. That's why I keep coming back to this thread and scratching my head (sorry YoPawn)
Nor did you get the :30 minute conversation with Elka where they ask about your riding style, weight, frame, suspension preference, size and frequency of airtime and climbing, etc etc, correct? I am wondering if that's where things went wrong. I have only had great experiences with Go-Ride, but it seems optimistic that they had a demo shock&spring which just happened to be "perfectly" custom-tuned for you.
Originally Posted by YoPawn
Well anyways, I would also say that for most of us non-racers, the difference between a custom-tuned shock and a stock one should be noticeable, but won't give us super-powers or anything. A custom tuned shock can improve most any frame, but not really change the characteristics of the suspension design.
Does Elka actually give you guys different shim stack tunes based on your needs totally custom?
I ask because they have three tunes of rebound and compression for each. In a way it is custom tuned for everyone's bike.
Mine came with the 30 and 30 rebound and compression. Which is exactly what they recommend for my frame.
That is probably better answered by Elka.. ;)
Originally Posted by YoPawn
I think they do tune to the rider, not the bike, if you order from them directly.
The reason I say that, why else would they have asked me for my weight and lots of questions about my riding style.. if the only factor they actually consider is frame design?
I think they use the chart you mention as a starting point, then tune from there based on riding style and weight.
When first contacted Elka they sent me some information that's not on their site. I think it's intended for customers, rather than being advertising? But here is some stuff from it....
Q: What is “custom” about your shocks?
A: We adapt the damping range for each bike design (leverage ratio, travel, rising or falling rate, etc.) and provide
the appropriate spring rate for the rider weight. We are also able to fine-tune the hydraulic internals (valving) to
suit specific needs expressed by the customer, whether a manufacturer or individual.
Elka Suspension’s design is a high-speed and low-speed adjustable compression system paired with a standard De
Carbon main damping system (shimstack main piston). This design provides infinite internal tuning possibilities and
intuitive external adjustability. The hydraulic valving (internal shimstack) can easily be tuned for each bike’s suspension
design. The adjustment range then becomes fully usable for the rider, allowing more precise fine-tuning with smalller
increments (more precise clicks).
When properly calibrated, this design enables our technicians to dial in the perfect amount of low-speed damping, usually
on the strong side. The overall feeling of the suspension that results is firm, nimble, stable and quick. The chassis tends to
maintain its ride height, use less travel, reduce unwanted suspension movement and weigth transfers does not affect
geometry as much. In short, the bike has a strong “platform” feeling throughout the entire travel, the shock reduces the
force transmitted to the rider and this general feeling can easily be adjusted in the parking lot via the low-speed
The main difference between our product and the competition is how it reacts to major impacts, vibrations and in
situations where traction is limited. Most competitors are using “poppet valves” systems that are either open or closed
based on the pressure building inside the shock upon an impact. With those, you have to compromise between plushness
and comfort vs. chassis firmness and bottom-out protection.
Our exclusive high-speed compression circuit is in fact an adjustable progressive blow-off valve, based on a piston and
shimstack design that is preloaded by a spring which controls the initial resistance of the valves. The high-speed
compression adjustment actually increases or reduces the preload on that spring. The adjustment then controls the
threshold where the blow-off circuit opens to reduce the pressure building up in the shock upon an impact. Since this
circuit is parallel to the low-speed compression circuit, the transition between the “firm” state and the “plush” state is
12/8/09 - 4:52 PM ELKA SUSPENSION INC. p.2/5
progressive and smooth and proportional to the force of the impact. In short, the shock is firm unless an impact
overcomes the set threshold point and become plush, but only as needed to “erase” any bump or obstacle. The resulting
comfort is unique and traction is optimal in every situation.
Elka’s rebound circuit is also a feature that is beneficial for hardcore riders and racers. With a single knob, riders can
easily dial in the rebound, yet inside the shock the rebound shimstack is speed-sensitive. The rebound can be fast and
nimble (based on the rider’s preferred settings) but still be significantly slower upon major impacts to prevent any
“bucking” effect that could catapult the rider off the bike. Unlike competitors that have position-based dual-stage rebound
(i.e. RockShox Vivid), the Elka rebound circuit is based on the speed at which the shock goes back to full extension. In
our opinion, this is more predictable and much easier to set because the shock will always feel the same over different
kind of impacts. This makes it easier to preload the suspension to bunnyhop over obstacles without affecting how the
shock reacts on big square-edged impacts. Elka’s rebound thus have all the advantages of a high/low-speed rebound
circuit (similar to a CaneCreek Double Barrel) without the inherent complexity to adjust the settings.
On a race course, the Elka Stage 5 makes the bike firm and stable, fast and nimble and that pedals well. Corner exits are
quick and precise because the rear end won’t dive as much and won’t use as much travel unless its needed. This shock
can help a rider gain confidence by providing the impression that the more you throw at it, the more it can handle.
From their description of the rebound, it sounds like mine was working as designed. I don't like their rebound philosophy, even though I can see it working better for others. Feels too "racey" to me. If I was into more jumping this shock would feel pretty good as it really likes to hop and pop when you want it to.
Got my CCDB! :band:
Obviously I'm really stoked on this shock. It does EVERYTHING better than the Elka even without making any changes to the adjusters. It got even better once I did start tuning it.
Most noticeable is how the DB transforms the way the entire bike handles, not just the rear end. My fork sticks better now and the whole bike just feels like one cohesive damped unit. Within 2 runs I was charging corners way faster and with more confidence knowing the bike would track a line and not get kicked out.
For drops, the DB seems to use all of its travel a little easier than the Elka. On the other hand, it uses all the travel, but I never feel the end. On top of that the DB keeps the wheel AND my feet planted together at all times. The Elkas would kick my feet off the pedals.:nono: You would think this translates to a bike that can't be hopped around and jumped as easily. In fact, quite the contrary. My bike bunny hops easier than it ever did, but still has rebound damping in effect at all speeds. In fact it seems like damping is happening all the time and never stops.
Elka is a noisy punk. DB is utterly silent.
DB is totally incognito inside my Reign X frame. Looks like a old coil Vanilla is in there. Did I mention it also comes with a beer opener inside the adjuster tool?
I know a lot of people want to convince themselves that their $200 cheaper shock is just as good, but it isn't ;) ;) ;) Even if the DB was $400 more, I would say it is worth it. I hate always wondering what that next best thing might have been like if I had shelled out the dough. In this case, it was worth every penny and I don't ever have to wonder if anything is better. Cause there isn't. :D
Also, keep in mind that this is the latest redesign of the double barrel. As far as I know, the last one sucked balls at high speeds and low leverage bikes. So keep that in mind when researching and seeing reviews of the old one.