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  1. #1
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    Helius AM and box of Avalanche Downhill Racing goodies

    Box of Avalanche Speed Sensitive Valve (SSV) goodies destined for my Nicolai Helius AM



    I知 not selling this stuff just reporting back on what I知 finding out while riding them. There is some good info on the Knolly forum about Avalanche stuff and the Nicolai forum seems to have become a Bos fan zone so time to cross pollinate

    This is all geekery and it痴 not to make me faster but to make the bike handle how I want which pleases me

    I wanted improvements to my suspension and knew what I wanted which wasn稚 a three option switch to faff with or some other marketing departments wet dream. I致e tried the Bos VIPr and Deville combo (thanks Dipper) and I liked them but the current warranty and servicing hassles had me worrying as I like to fiddle and tend to break stuff. I致e always ended up getting rear shocks custom tuned and had decided that even my all-singing-super-adjustable-never-need-custom-tuned CCDB needed a tweak to improve it. I did consider a CCDBAir but I thought I would end up wanting it custom tuned too? I致e been looking at Avalanche Downhill Racing stuff for a few years and when on a work trip to Phoenix Arizona last year some of the guys I rode with were running Avy forks and shocks so I had a chance to ask what they thought; all positive feedback especially regards tuning options and longevity. When I read about the Avalanche fork tune cartridges becoming available for a Fox 36 and Marzocchi 55 Forks (both of which I have), and tuning options for the much maligned Fox DHX Air shock it became an itch which I thought worth a scratch; especially since I could now do fork and shock from the same tuner. So I entered into an email conversation with Craig at Avalanche and spoke to him a few times about what we thought would work for me. He suggested sticking with coil shocks and forks but the weight weenie in me wanted to go air as I have a few Enduro type races I want to enter this year so I decided to get my Float fork tuned rather than my Coil Marzocchi. For the shock since I didn稚 own a DHX Air shock Craig recommended buying an older version as it has a multi position Pro-Pedal dial which converts to a better Compression Adjuster than the three position Pro-Pedal switch on newer DHX Air痴. The DHX 4.0 version also doesn稚 have the volume adjuster which is removed as part of the modification anyway so he suggested a DHX Air 4.0 with a dial and once we found a suitable shock on eBay USA I bought it and had it sent to Craig. When he was ready to carry out the work we had another quick chat and he built my shock and fork cartridge and sent them over to the UK.

    The modified DHX Air is lighter than a CCDBAir (heavier than a Float R/RP23 etc though)



    This is what my AM now looks like (bit of a sleeper... "why are you running a DHX Air when everyone knows they are sh*% Mr... and 36mm stantioned forks are so last year" ).



    And this is what I think so far.

    I'm very impressed with the Avalanche tuned fork and shock. Compared with all other shocks I've used including CCDB's and custom tuned Fox this is my favourite. It holds up in its travel which makes it feel good on tamer terrain and doesn't blow-through through the travel when you do big weight shifts to the rear like many air shocks do (Especially the standard DHX Air). In the gnar it feels like a coil shock; when you start hitting stuff hard and fast all the travel is there and the shock is able to recover quickly enough to take the next hit without packing down. It feels quite like a BOS VIPr but a bit more fluid feeling at the start of the travel and without the 田hirping.
    Overall feeling is one of efficiency - it only uses the travel it has to and doesn't give me that falling over the back feeling that I used to get with big weight shifts on the CCDB/Float. Pedal stroke wise it feels really good and when clawing up techy steeps the shock feels like it痴 working for you rather than against you in the way it rebounds from rocks and roots helping with grip and almost pushing the bike along (yes really).
    With the Avalanche tuned 36 up front the two work together well as they have similar feeling; there is plenty of mid stroke support which limits brake dive yet they feel smooth and bottomless when hitting stuff hard and fast. Get out of the saddle and honk and again fork and shock are only using the first part of the stroke so not wallowing around too much. Where the Avalanche combo feels amazing is when being pumped much better than anything I致e tried before, almost like a great big hand is shoving the bike forward with each pump (yesreally).

    Best fork and shock I've used by far and very much worth the cost.


    MORE ON THE FORK

    Installation was easy as I followed the Avalanche instructions... and I did indeed need the blowtorch to release the Loctite on the rebound cap. Heat then twist, heat then twist, etc as it痴 a very fine thread and took a while. Once installed filling with oil was easy and getting the fork back together was no bother. I bought some MAXIMA Race Enduro fork oil from ebay as Avalanche recommend using fork oil designed for cartridges (Spectra which is what Avy use is not available in the UK as far as I could find out). Going from the FOX RC2 Cartridge to open bath Avy the fork gained 150g which means it now weighs only 100g less than my Marzocchi 55 RC3 Ti. If I壇 realised that before I might have got the cartridge for the Bomber but the 250g of the 36 was calling the weight weenie in me .
    Performance wise the fork is a huge improvement over the 36 RC2 (older 2010 FIT cartridge). It feels overdamped in the garden but on the trail it is superb. I used to run about 55psi as a compromise pressure; this gave 20% sag which is less than I wanted but it prevented wallowing, fork dive, and end of travel harshness (packdown?). I知 now running 50psi which is about 30% sag and I think I will go lower still as I致e yet to feel dive is a problem and the fork is not yet as plush as the Bombers (I doubt it will ever be but it痴 fun to try should I have bought the kit for the Bombers though?).

    MORE ON THE REAR SHOCK

    After the first ride I reduced the air volume as the DHX Air has a high volume can and I found it was wallowing in the early travel a little (I致e done this with my other Float shock so expected this to be the same). It was an improvement and now the DHX feels really well suited to my AM. It feels better than either the Float or the CCDB which is high praise. The TF/Push tuned Float I have is a great XC shock as it has plenty of compression damping so doesn稚 give up its travel easily (unlike before it was tuned). Where my simple Float was not enough such as for rides with big hits and long doonhalls where it gets very hot I used the CCDB. I loved the CCDB on the downs as it soaks everything up but for techy climbs it can wallow deep in the travel making you feel like your falling over the back. The Avalanche DHX Air feels like a great combination of the two. As with the fork it feels overdamped in the garden and sitting on it I知 getting 30% sag at the same pressure I do with the Float (and the same sag as the CCDB). Out on the trail it feels little different to my Float at low speed which is great in the normal stuff, but when the speed increases it seamlessly gains the fluidity of the CCDB and I知 using all the travel without feeling like I知 falling over the back or suffering lots of pedal strikes (like the CCDB sometimes does). Coming from the CCDB the Avy also has loads of pop and playfulness which is something I missed when running the CCDB. I liked the CCDB but I prefer the Avy DHX Air.

    FORK & SHOCK

    So far so good. I致e not done everything I want with them yet but so far they feel better than the other forks and shocks I致e tried (Yes, even the BOS stuff!). As good on the XC stuff as the Float/Float combo I have and as good on the doonhalls as the CCDB/Marz set up. Where the Avalanche combo has amazed me so far and really feels special is when you start attacking and pumping trail features. This is something I love about hardtails but some full suspension set-ups just don稚 work that well at it. I loved my CCDB/Marz combo at speed but for low speed and pumping they felt too soft and had more squish than pop. I think CCDB痴 are quite slow to rebound from deep in the travel which is why they don稚 pump too well, and perhaps why people say they feel a bit dead or 斗ack pop賠 and Marzocchi forks are generally a bit softly sprung and underdamped which feels great at speed but isn稚 overly responsive (IMHO etc). The Avalanche combo feels amazing when being pumped much better than anything I致e tried before, almost like a great big hand is shoving the bike forward with each pump (yesreally). More testing and riding required but so far I知 very very impressed.

    Thanks to Craig at Avalanche for reading and listening to my ramblings... and for making me the best fork and shock combo I've tried yet


    I'm enjoying the ride and the geekery

  2. #2
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    ah, great news . Didn't know about the dhx air tune having not really checked out ava before now. Thanks for the heads up. An email has already been sent craig to see if the 5.0 i have lying around can be modified to fit my trusted Turner 5 spot (yes, somehow got lost in the nicolai forum on my way to the turner forum ). would be really fun to compare it with the ccdba i have on currently with devilles up front. Great write up.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the detailed review. I've been following Avalanche in the Knolly Forum and they always get great user feedback. I've been waiting months for Surf Sales to retune my Stoy and I am now thinking of ordering a Woodie instead. A Avy 55 coil is also very tempting.

    How long did you have to wait?

  4. #4
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    Awesome write up!

    Thanks for sharing the geekery, I'm to blame of that also.

    I'm fairly happy with my Vector Air HLR but the Revelation is not on par. Too bad Craig doesn't touch anything 32mm but oh, well...

    Anyway, I have ruled out any big upgrades this year, but I'll need to get a hold on a decent 1 1/8" fork before they disappear from the market (or all you can get are Recons, low end Suntours and such). Never a fan of Fox and I'm considering also a BOS Deville. Being in Australia doesn't help either.
    Check my Site

  5. #5
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    Thanks all, glad to see my geekery has not been wasted

    klinkekule; let us know how you get on. I'd be interested in what you think compared to your CCDB.

    loam; I had to wait a few weeks for the fork cartridge to be built but I was also waiting to find the right shock and get it sent to Avy so I wasn't in a hurry. Best advice is to call Craig and see how long it will be; but its worth the wait.

    Warp; I have some Rev's on my hardtail. They are the team version with the Blackbox internals and are 1.5" steerer with 20mm Maxle so should be the stiffest and best performing version... but they are a huge disapointment in stiffness and feel. I can see them getting sold very shortly as I'm simply not enjoying them. I wish I'd bought the Marzocchi 44 RC3 Ti's I saw at the time... probably a better fork out of the box and Avy are now doing a kit for them. Rare as hens teeth though

    I think I'm going to Avy up my Marzocchi 55 RC3 Ti's and pop my Avy Fox 36 Float's onto my hardtail... I'm tempted to try a 29er hardtail but something putting me off is that I don't fancy using any of the 29er forks available

  6. #6
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    I agree with you about lack of 29er fork choice. Maybe Craig might be persuaded to make a cartidge?

    I'm realy interested in the 55 cartridge. What's the best version for conversion?

  7. #7
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    I was looking at the Marzocchi 55 options this morning and it looks like it will fit any of them as long as you have the rebound adjustment fork cap from the RC3 model.

    Helius AM and box of Avalanche Downhill Racing goodies-55-rc3-fork-cap.jpg

    Details here.

    Marzocchi 55 35mm Cartridge Kit

    Maybe Craig knows where you can buy just the cap?

    I've not looked as the 55 forks I have are 2010 160mm RC3 Ti's so the cartridge will fit mine.

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    I am 29er already as many of you know but I would dearly love a damping upgrade to my Fox 34s. CR conception in France do one but don't respond to any of my emails :-( I might see if Avy do a 34 kit...anything to go the CTD!

    The new Pike might be better? Whoa about that for a hardtail?
    Aka chainline...

  9. #9
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    Thanks for the information.

    Craig just got back to me (fantastic customer service, I just e-mailed him a few hours ago) and suggested the 2012-13 55 170mm RC3 EVO Ti as the best for conversion ( I need the 170mm version).

    He also said he was working on a 29er based on Fox 34's.

    With so many customer service issues with BOS recently I'm seriously thinking of selling up the BOS stuff and going over to Avy.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by the_pilot View Post
    I am 29er already as many of you know but I would dearly love a damping upgrade to my Fox 34s. CR conception in France do one but don't respond to any of my emails :-( I might see if Avy do a 34 kit...anything to go the CTD!

    The new Pike might be better? Whoa about that for a hardtail?
    "Might" is an important word in that statement. I'd like to see more information on the new Pike before jumping in... especially considering my previous RS (Pike and Revelation) experience.

    If Craig makes a kit for the 34 that could be the answer... I don't want any of this CTD/Trail-adjust nonsence.

    I'm going to stay with the 26" wheel for a bit yet anyway and get my 55's sorted.

  11. #11
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    Excellent.I Think I'll sit tight and hope the 29er kit emerges this year
    Aka chainline...

  12. #12
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    Excellent write up pimp. Like phil I fancy doing something about my float 34 29er. Never managed to get it dialled in right(not that there's much option with the ctd cart). Avy might be worth a look.
    www.gravity-sports.co.uk

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  13. #13
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    Fork change.



    There was nothing wrong with the Avalanched 36 Floats... opposite problem.... I wasn't liking the Revelations on my Hardtail so the 36 Floats have had the travel reduced and will be used on there (again).

    The 55's now have an Avalanche cartridge installed. I'm hoping this will keep the plushness of the 55 but improve the damping to do away with the wallowing they were prone too before. In the garage and garden they still feel Marzocchi plush which feels better than the 36's; proper testing to begin in the next few days

    Looks much better with the Marzocchi fork IMHO

  14. #14
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    Looks great with the 55 on it... Ready for business, no F'ing about, get it done
    The_Lecht_Rocks: whafe - cheeers - may i offer an official apology for the wagon wheeler "dis-belief"

  15. #15
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    The 55's are forking awesome on it. It was good with the 36's but the ballance was not right with the fork not feeling as plush even when run at low enough pressures to cause other problems. With the 55 back on the front hunkers down and grips like the back... but without the brake dive and wallow these forks had before fitting the Avalanche cartridge.

    My bike now feels super ballanced in the suspension and its absolutley the best set up I've ridden.

    I've reduced the travel on my 36's to 130mm and put them on my hardtail where they feel amazing again... perhaps there is an issue with my 36 fork that having run it in 130mm for a year it didn't like going back up to 160mm (worn stantions)???

  16. #16
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    Updates.

    The reason my Fox 36 was feeling a bit poorly was the air side had some dirty oil and gunk in it (could it have injested some of the lubricating oil from the lower leg?). With the air chamber cleaned out the fork is now super smooth and performing brilliantly on my hardtail. The fork oil in the damper side was very clean when I serviced the fork.

    After the Trans-Savoie week long big mountain enduro race both the DHX Air shock and the Marzocchi 55 RC3-Ti fork were in need of some attention. The rear shock was still performing well but making some squishing noises. The battering of the TS race and a summers worth of riding had pushed some air into the oil so a service by a suspension tuner was required (I used a local guy). Craig did warn me about this and its a risk with any air shock which is worked hard; and why air shocks are best serviced more frequently than coil shocks. After the service the shock is working brilliantly once more.

    The 55 fork had gone a bit notchy and I was expecting there to be a problem with the seals or the oil; but when I popped the seals all was clean below? The problem was the wrap on the coil which had come apart and was jamming the coil in the leg. I stripped the fork completely to remove all the damaged coating and found the oil in the damper side to be lovely and clean (as with the 36). A little research later and I bought some heatshrink to re-wrap the coil and rebuild the fork (if you miss out the heatshrink on the coil the fork is rather noisy as the spring rattles about in the leg). I've greased up the spring and wrap so hopefully it won't happen again (for another three years). The 55 is now super smooth and performing brilliantly once more... and I now know to keep a better eye on the spring leg to make sure the spring wrap is in good condition

    I'm thinking about an Ion 16 for 2014 and I'm tempted to go for 27.5 but that would mean new forks like 34's or Pike's (although I could run smaller tyres which will fit in my 36's and 55's).

    I see Avy are now doing kits for Fox Float X & RP23 shocks, and all Fox 34 forks. Food for thought for my next purchase as I've been really impressed with the Avy kit I have been using.
    Last edited by thepimpmessiah; 12-05-2013 at 12:10 AM.

  17. #17
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    So awesome!!!!!!!

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by panzer103 View Post
    So awesome!!!!!!!
    I'm happy someone appreciates my ramblings

    My Helius and Avy DHX are off to a new owner as are the Avy Marzocchi 55's.

    I'm already speaking to Craig about the new shock and fork for my ordered Nicolai Ion 15 frame.

    I'm going to bite the bullet and get an Avalanche tuned Fox Float-X and 160mm Pike combo... it's going to be much awesomeness!

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