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  1. #1
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    DHX and Stable Platform - hype or innovation?

    I'm going to stick my spoon in this pot of s**t and stir it up... hope I don't ruffle too many feathers (sorry for the mixed metaphor).

    I live in Santa Cruz where Fox does its designing --- SC bikes does too. I know a lot of the crew, however I held out against the Fox DHX air (and coil) for a long, long time as too excessive, expensive, stiff and too hard to adjust etc. I now feel sorry I was so rude to some of the factory dudes and dudettes when they tried to explain the new DHX theory to me. I got my initial bad vibes about DHX from flat parking lot test rides where I got lost and frustrated trying to tune the shock on the fly. The DHX also makes the bike half a pound or heavier and makes the ride seem stiff, the opposite of what a Barcalounger bike should be, right?

    OKAY, HERE'S THE TRUTH - It's not DHX ProPedal technology that fails in any way (it's superb), it’s that FLAT ROOTLESS PARKING LOTS SUCK FOR TESTING BIKES. SC bicycles needs a REAL 'test ride program' --- they dropped the ball big time on this one cuz there's a ton of people riding around with the wrong size frame, shocks, parts etc.

    That said, take a bike with DHX air or coil (or the Manitou versions also) and point it up some steep skinny tech ST littered with rocks and roots and you'll never go back... just trust 'ol whangen' on this one. If you can't spend the ten minutes in a quiet place it takes to learn the five adjustments, then you're just lazy (or can't follow simple instructions).

    ProPedal (ie. stable platform valving) really is the wave of the future. In a nutshell: It's a hardtail uphill when it's smooth, that is, till you hit a rock/root section, then it's instantly full suspension. After the section it switches back to hardtail efficiency. I read somewhere that, depending on bike setup, 5 to 15 percent of your pedaling energy is lost uphill due to susp bob even BEFORE the tires engage the ground!!! So, IMO, this development is as important to suspension bikes as the new linear shock rates, maybe more so.
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  2. #2
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    i had an old van rc on my bullit.. switched to a longer stroke with pro pedal.. that shet is night and day.. there is no difference is suspension differnce when it counts, going down hill. I personally think that my riding style and level requires all the features of the DHX line,, it would be nice, but I cant justify the the dough required to get into one. a Ti spring maybe be better for weight savings for me. maybe on the next bike. ..

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by whangen
    I read somewhere that, depending on bike setup, 5 to 15 percent of your pedaling energy is lost uphill due to susp bob even BEFORE the tires engage the ground!!! So, IMO, this development is as important to suspension bikes as the new linear shock rates, maybe more so.
    I think that you are seriously mislead with your information. It sounds like you picked up all of your information out of an Ellsworth marketing brochure or something. Nobody has any 'proof' that bob causes a loss of pedaling energy. And by the way, the shock rates are not linear, and linear shock rates are not new.
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    Ah...I think you want the Turner forum!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard
    Ah...I think you want the Turner forum!
    What part am I wrong about, the fact that bob doesn't cause a 5-15% loss of energy, or that Fox's new shocks do not use a linear damping rate?
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  6. #6
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    Exercise in futility.

    Quote Originally Posted by bikerx40
    I think that you are seriously mislead with your information. It sounds like you picked up all of your information out of an Ellsworth marketing brochure or something. Nobody has any 'proof' that bob causes a loss of pedaling energy. And by the way, the shock rates are not linear, and linear shock rates are not new.
    Maybe I'm misunderstanding the drift of your comment about pedal bob and efficiency. I realize qualifying and quantifying pedal bob and how it affects efficiency is just about a losing battle, but are you saying that pedal bob doesn't affect efficiency? Then again, maybe it's a semantics thing when we refer to "bob".

    Whangen's revealation about stable platform shocks isn't particularly classified as the latest news' flash, but stable platform shocks do bring a "noticeable" efficiency to pedaling a bike...especially bikes with 5" or more travel. About 3 years ago when I got an '03 Bullit with a 5th Element coil shock, I think I may have felt like Whangen during my first ride. I already had a '99 Bullit with a Fox RC with less travel, and the difference between the two was very noticeable...and I mean in the pedaling efficiency department. Almost immediately I obtained a 5th E coil for my '99 and sure enough...much better pedaling and more energy over the long haul of a long ride.

    I also realize that some suspension designs have more "designed-in" efficiency and perhaps are not quite as "impacted" by a stable platform shock...but then...I can't qualify that observation either.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikerx40
    What part am I wrong about, the fact that bob doesn't cause a 5-15% loss of energy, or that Fox's new shocks do not use a linear damping rate?
    The 'bob issue' is pretty simple physics. Due to inertia laws the shock will not move (compress) unless acted upon. That means energy. It cannot move itself. The exact amount of energy that it takes to compress even a little bit comes from your legs.

    Think of trying to move a large boulder. As you push your feet may slip till you get traction. You are therefore expending energy to move your own body (read shock). Think of the energy of your legs compressing the shock - that's lost energy. Pushing down on the pedals to compress the shock is a form of 'work'... abet inefficient work for this exercise.

    After that needless work is completed, the leftover energy is applied to moving the bike forward. With the boulder metaphor, you push against the object slipping and expending energy till you get traction, that is again lost 'energy' or inefficient work. Whether it is five, fifteen or fifty percent is neither here nor there. That's up to the engineers to determine - As I said "I read it in an article somewhere" which implies it's untested theory as far as exactness goes but the physical principles are without debate. Anyone who's climbed a steep hill on a bobbing single pivot know this.
    Last edited by whangen; 02-15-2006 at 07:08 PM.
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  8. #8
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    What's new about new?

    Quote Originally Posted by TNC
    Whangen's revealation about stable platform shocks isn't particularly classified as the latest news' flash, but stable platform shocks do bring a "noticeable" efficiency to pedaling a bike...especially bikes with 5" or more travel. .
    Two folks jumped me for the use of the word 'new'.

    Let me clarify. By new I mean new to the general public, the great unwashed masses. What 5th Element was doing years ago was for mostly the coterie. Joe Smhoo now has ProPedal, Stable Platform et al (and generally doesn't have a clue how to adjust it or use it!). That's what I mean about 'new'. Perhaps 'popular' or 'ubiquitous' would be a better choice of words.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNC
    Maybe I'm misunderstanding the drift of your comment about pedal bob and efficiency. I realize qualifying and quantifying pedal bob and how it affects efficiency is just about a losing battle, but are you saying that pedal bob doesn't affect efficiency? Then again, maybe it's a semantics thing when we refer to "bob".
    TNC, I shouldn't have stated that 'nobody has any proof that bob causes a loss of efficiency'. That didn't come across quite right. I wasn't trying to state that there is zero loss in efficiency with bob, but rather, you can't go assigning a number like "5-15%" unless you can back it up. The fact that whangen read something like that makes me suspect, as I've never seen a test (not even German bike mags) showing that DHX=11.65% more efficiency, 5th Element=14.921% more efficency, etc. My example is EW's marketing stating that their design is 100% efficient. I'd like to see his napkin math on that one!
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  10. #10
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    This is something I've never really understood - the loss of efficiency in a long travel suspension set up due to "bobbing." I mean, as long as you're turning the cranks, and the tires are in contact with the ground, you're going forward, right?

    Now, I understand that some people may like the "feel" of stiffer, non-bobing suspension, but how does that make it more efficient?

    Another comparison that I can think of is a go-kart(no suspension) and a monster truck(mega-suspension) - as long as the wheels are on the ground - it goes forward - is the monster truck slower because of it's suspension travel?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by deoreo
    This is something I've never really understood - the loss of efficiency in a long travel suspension set up due to "bobbing." I mean, as long as you're turning the cranks, and the tires are in contact with the ground, you're going forward, right?

    Now, I understand that some people may like the "feel" of stiffer, non-bobing suspension, but how does that make it more efficient?

    Another comparison that I can think of is a go-kart(no suspension) and a monster truck(mega-suspension) - as long as the wheels are on the ground - it goes forward - is the monster truck slower because of it's suspension travel?
    I can't explain it in mechanics related terms, but I know one thing is certain, when I stand up and hammer, I feel like I can generate way more torque at my cranks on my road bike than on my mountain bike. It seems to me, at least, as if all the force that I'm applying is propelling me directly forward on the road bike, whereas on my mountain bike, it feels as if some of that force is also causing the rear shock to compress.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boogie Man
    I can't explain it in mechanics related terms, but I know one thing is certain, when I stand up and hammer, I feel like I can generate way more torque at my cranks on my road bike than on my mountain bike. It seems to me, at least, as if all the force that I'm applying is propelling me directly forward on the road bike, whereas on my mountain bike, it feels as if some of that force is also causing the rear shock to compress.
    I understand what you are saying about that feeling, but if you stand on the pedals of your mountain bike with the brakes applied, is the suspension using up some of that force? I mean, are the pedals moving forward, with no forward movement of the bicycle?

    I, too, always feel faster on my road bike, than on my long travel bike, but, then again, I am faster on the road bike, but it weighs 16.5 pounds, has tall gearing and 20mm wide, smooth tires. My long trave rig on the other hand, weighs 44 pounds, has shorter gearing, and 2.5 inch knobby tires @ 26 psi.
    Last edited by deoreo; 02-16-2006 at 01:53 PM.

  13. #13
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    FS not as pedal efficient as ridged

    Quote Originally Posted by deoreo
    I understand what you are saying about that feeling, but if you stand on the pedals of your mountain bike with the brakes applied, is the suspension using up some of that force? I mean, are the pedals moving forward, with no forward movement of the bicycle?

    I, too, always feel faster on my road bike, than on my long travel bike, but, then again, I am faster on the road bike, but it weighs 16.5 pounds, has tall gearing and 20mm wide, smooth tires. My long trave rig on the other hand, weighs 44 pounds, has shorter gearing, and 2.5 inch knobby tires @ 26 psi.
    I ride a 6 inch travel FR bike and love it. So dont get the idea that I am nocking FS. I think you all would agree that it takes energy to compress a spring right? Now you all would also all would agree that a bike takes a force moving down "you feet move up and down when pedaling" and converts it into forward motion right. With a rigid bike, the force you put into the pedals goes directly to forward motion minus frame flex and friction. Now with a full suspension bike, it takes energy to compress your shock. Then your shock takes that energy, and and rebounds it back at you creating "bob." So when you put one pedal stroke into a full suspension bike, part of that energy goes to the shock, and the rest is converted into forward motion through your drive terrain. So yes, pedal bob does soke up the energy you put into your bike. I dont know how anyone can deny that. Why do road bikers races want ridged frames? Probly because flexy "frames that bob" soak up energy. Why do we mountain bikers like frames that bob? Because they soak up the terrain, and we dont get thrown all over the place. The ARE NOT as efficient of pedaling bikes as a rigid road bike. But, take a road bike mountain biking and tell me that it works better than a FS bike. Well, thats my 2 cents worth.
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  14. #14
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    Finally somebody gets it....

    Quote Originally Posted by Mountainbikextremist
    I ride a 6 inch travel FR bike and love it. So dont get the idea that I am nocking FS. I think you all would agree that it takes energy to compress a spring right? Now you all would also all would agree that a bike takes a force moving down "you feet move up and down when pedaling" and converts it into forward motion right. With a rigid bike, the force you put into the pedals goes directly to forward motion minus frame flex and friction. Now with a full suspension bike, it takes energy to compress your shock. Then your shock takes that energy, and and rebounds it back at you creating "bob." So when you put one pedal stroke into a full suspension bike, part of that energy goes to the shock, and the rest is converted into forward motion through your drive terrain. So yes, pedal bob does soke up the energy you put into your bike. I dont know how anyone can deny that. Why do road bikers races want ridged frames? Probly because flexy "frames that bob" soak up energy. Why do we mountain bikers like frames that bob? Because they soak up the terrain, and we dont get thrown all over the place. The ARE NOT as efficient of pedaling bikes as a rigid road bike. But, take a road bike mountain biking and tell me that it works better than a FS bike. Well, thats my 2 cents worth.
    Man, I was getting depressed. I spent a long time writing out my physic's 101 explaination about pedal bob on this tread and couldn't see why anyone wasn't getting it.... and now, Halleluya. I could kiss you mountainbike extremist, even if you are some big hairy sweaty mt bike dude.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mountainbikextremist
    With a rigid bike, the force you put into the pedals goes directly to forward motion minus frame flex and friction. Now with a full suspension bike, it takes energy to compress your shock.
    Prove it. Trust me, I'm really trying to understand this.

    The drive train of a bicycle is a closed system. If you push on the pedal, it turns the wheel, it does not compress the shock.

    When we pedal a bicycle we create a low frequency resonance that we refer to as "bob"
    This resonance is present on a rigid bicycle, as well as one with 10 inches of travel. It is just much easier to see and feel on a long travel bicycle.

    However, this resonance does not lessen the efficiency of the drive train.
    Some people do not like to be able to feel this resonance, because if they have a wildly erradic pedal stroke it upsets their own personal rhythm in applying force to the pedals.

    Why do you think even roadies stress the importance of a smooth pedal stroke?
    Last edited by deoreo; 02-16-2006 at 08:29 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by deoreo
    Prove it. Trust me, I'm really trying to understand this.

    The drive train of a bicycle is a closed system. If you push on the pedal, it turns the wheel, it does not compress the shock.

    When we pedal a bicycle we create a low frequency resonance that we refer to as "bob"
    This resonance is present on a rigid bicycle, as well as one with 10 inches of travel. It is just much easier to see and feel on a long travel bicycle.

    However, this resonance does not lessen the efficiency of the drive train.
    Some people do not like to be able to feel this resonance, because if they have a wildly erradic pedal stroke it upsets their own personal rhythm in applying force to the pedals.

    Why do you think even roadies stress the importance of a smooth pedal stroke?

    Proof - Proof is outside of theory and your keyboard. Go rent yourself a DH bike with 10" of travel and a non-platformed rear shock. Next find a hardtail . Equal weight, crank lengths, similar geometry. Find a long taxing climb. When you are done with this comparison resonance, pedal bob, will have real world meaning.

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    Quote Originally Posted by keen
    Proof - Proof is outside of theory and your keyboard. Go rent yourself a DH bike with 10" of travel and a non-platformed rear shock. Next find a hardtail . Equal weight, crank lengths, similar geometry. Find a long taxing climb. When you are done with this comparison resonance, pedal bob, will have real world meaning.
    Ok, I've done this - I own a rigid bike, a non-platform 3.5 inch FS bike, a 6 inch platform shock FS bike, and an 8 inch non-platform FS bike. I really don't like the feel of the platform shock, and run the least amount of platform possible. My favorite is the 8 inch bike.

    On the long taxing climb that you spoke of, I didn't notice any major differences in pedaling efficiency, but what I really noticed was the weight difference of each bike.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by deoreo
    Ok, I've done this - I own a rigid bike, a non-platform 3.5 inch FS bike, a 6 inch platform shock FS bike, and an 8 inch non-platform FS bike. I really don't like the feel of the platform shock, and run the least amount of platform possible. My favorite is the 8 inch bike.

    On the long taxing climb that you spoke of, I didn't notice any major differences in pedaling efficiency, but what I really noticed was the weight difference of each bike.

    My comparison stated equal weights etc. If you don't notice any difference in pedalling efficiency you are not doing any real climbing. I ride in a large group of riders and can tell you first hand long demanding climbs @ a fast pace will push your skills as well as the equipment you are riding. I ride a SC Bullit as my trail bike so I can tell you first hand what more bike feels like. I ran it originally w/ a Vanilla RC - great shock but climbs were causing a lot of suspension movement under pedalling - end result I was pooped by the end of most climbs. Went to a 5th Element - Of course I was still worked by the end of most climbs but I had more leg power for the next aspect of the trail, plus I wasn't thinking about my bike Bobbing up and down during the climb.

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    [QUOTE=keen]My comparison stated equal weights etc.QUOTE]

    So, by this mode of thinking, if all else is equal, if my 16.5 pound bike could have 8 inches of non-platform suspension, I would still have a difficult time getting up a steep hill?

    The two bicycles I have ridden that were close in weight, are my 44 pound 8 inch rig with no platform, and set up with proper sag for my weight, and a friends 47 pound 8 inch rig with a platform shock, and slightly over-sprung for my weight - this should by an ideal case to prove your scenario ie: a very "stiff" pedaling bike.

    However, I still, much prefered the bicycle with no platform - both going up, and down.
    And since they both weighed nearly the same I was just as worn out from each of them at the end of the loop.

    And all of this still does not answer the question of HOW a stiff suspension creates a more efficient drivetrain.

  20. #20
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    Did I say?....

    [QUOTE=deoreo]
    Quote Originally Posted by keen
    My comparison stated equal weights etc.QUOTE]

    So, by this mode of thinking, if all else is equal, if my 16.5 pound bike could have 8 inches of non-platform suspension, I would still have a difficult time getting up a steep hill?

    The two bicycles I have ridden that were close in weight, are my 44 pound 8 inch rig with no platform, and set up with proper sag for my weight, and a friends 47 pound 8 inch rig with a platform shock, and slightly over-sprung for my weight - this should by an ideal case to prove your scenario ie: a very "stiff" pedaling bike.

    However, I still, much prefered the bicycle with no platform - both going up, and down.
    And since they both weighed nearly the same I was just as worn out from each of them at the end of the loop.

    And all of this still does not answer the question of HOW a stiff suspension creates a more efficient drivetrain.
    Exercise in futility in my post above? Many of these "bob", "pedaling efficiency", "stable platform" debates degenerate into a fuzzy, shotgun blast of semantics that accomplish nothing. Deoreo, I'd suggest you post this question in the suspension forum to get a more indepth and varied response. There are a few fairly informed posters there who can get close to actually making this issue somewhat understandable. The use of stable platform rear shock technology to produce more efficient pedaling is "just about" an absolute. The ability to explain the physics/science of this technology and its application to bicycles is "just about" absolutely lacking.

  21. #21
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    Here's a simple test of theory...

    Quote Originally Posted by TNC
    Exercise in futility in my post above? Many of these "bob", "pedaling efficiency", "stable platform" debates degenerate into a fuzzy, shotgun blast of semantics that accomplish nothing. Deoreo, I'd suggest you post this question in the suspension forum to get a more indepth and varied response. There are a few fairly informed posters there who can get close to actually making this issue somewhat understandable. The use of stable platform rear shock technology to produce more efficient pedaling is "just about" an absolute. The ability to explain the physics/science of this technology and its application to bicycles is "just about" absolutely lacking.
    Take three riders, preferably unbiased. Find a steep hill add some start and finish lines. Next add ONLY ONE test bike (test standardization) which has ProPedal or Stable Platform or any tuneable anti-bob shock. Disable the stable platform by dialing it down (counter clockwise on the DHX air). Don't touch anything else on the bike except the seatpost. DON'T LET THE RIDER SEE WHAT YOU'RE DOING AND DON'T TELL HIM/HER. This simulates a blind study - sort of.

    Stopwatch the first rider using no stable platform. After a breather, Have him/her do it again with stable platform full on (essentially a hardtail). Time him/her with the stop watch and record the data. Add another rider to the mix. Record data. Do the whole thing with another rider for a better statistical base. The more test subjects the better the statistical probablity. Average the results, plot it and voila... instant proof. You can use differential calculus to massage the data into hard numerical results, but that's a little beyond the scope of this forum.
    Last edited by whangen; 02-17-2006 at 10:23 AM.
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    Hehehe - yeah, exercise in futility, I know, I know - but this is a geeky topic that I'm very interested in!

    I am surprised that no one has brought up main pivot placement, and the design of the suspension system. I was a little mis-leading in my first post because I know that some poorly designed suspension systems can be affected by the pedal input. An example would be a single pivot design that locates the pivot on the downtube in line with the middle ring. - Providing little pedal feedback in the middle ring, but tending to be very active, and "inch-worming" in the granny ring.

    But, I believe that the actual power loss is quite minimal, and that we can adapt to it.

    What I would like to see is something like bikerx40 suggested - a real world test of different suspension designs with, and without a platform shock to get some kind of idea of percentage of loss in the systems.

    And, BTW, Keen, yes, you are correct that your SC Bullit can, and does benifit from a platform shock (edit- that's not a slam against the Bullit, it's a really great bike)
    Last edited by deoreo; 02-17-2006 at 10:30 AM.

  23. #23
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    Try it yourself...

    Quote Originally Posted by bikerx40
    Nobody has any 'proof' that bob causes a loss of pedaling energy. And by the way, the shock rates are not linear, and linear shock rates are not new.
    Try this:
    http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.ph...89109#poststop
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  24. #24
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    I agree, but...

    Quote Originally Posted by whangen
    Take three riders, preferably unbiased. Find a steep hill add some start and finish lines. Next add ONLY ONE test bike (test standardization) which has ProPedal or Stable Platform or any tuneable anti-bob shock. Disable the stable platform by dialing it down (counter clockwise on the DHX air). Don't touch anything else on the bike except the seatpost. DON'T LET THE RIDER SEE WHAT YOU'RE DOING AND DON'T TELL HIM/HER. This simulates a blind study - sort of.

    Stopwatch the first rider using no stable platform. After a breather, Have him/her do it again with stable platform full on (essentially a hardtail). Time him/her with the stop watch and record the data. Add another rider to the mix. Record data. Do the whole thing with another rider for a better statistical base. The more test subjects the better the statistical probablity. Average the results, plot it and voila... instant proof.
    try qualifying your results with a scientific explanation. I totally agree with you that this efficiency exists, but most of us do not possess the scientific knowledge to express the results in a way that satisfies the required "documentation" that some people need or want. Deoreo also mentioned another element that influences this efficiency issue...the suspension design that is being scrutinized. Some designs are more efficient by their inherent mechanical design, but I believe that they also benefit from stable platform shocks...just not as dramatically.

    Your original post mentioned "hype" as a possible element for stable platform suspension technology. I agree with you that it is not hype, and that manufacturers have not duped us into spending our money on a marketing scam. I can't really qualify it by scientific description, but neither can I fully and scientifically explain all of the benefits of full suspension on a mountainbike...but you won't catch me on a rigid.

    Maybe we try to complicate the concept of stable platform suspension technology. Isn't it basically a form of slow speed or beginning compression manipulation? See...there I go trying to get scientific...LOL! Charlie Curnutt's idea has been around a long time, and I think it may have more merit in the mountainbike arena than just about anywhere else. But that's just my opinion.

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    Statistical Methodology... zzzzzzzzzzz

    First, I'm happy people are struggling with these difficult concepts... that means their minds are open and they are, for the most part, learning new things. However...

    Don't turn your back on the standard statistical methodology that I put forward as a possible test regarding the "bob issue". This is the same standardized testing that outstanding labs and millions of scientists all around the world do to test cars, toothpaste, demographics, condoms and everything else under the sun. It's no gimmick and it's been around for a hundred years.

    The big trick is not to introduce MORE varables but to eliminate them for test standardization. That's why you MUST use one tunable platform bike and a series of riders. Guaranteed it will give results as long as the riders don't fudge it. That's why it's a 'blind study' - so the rider don't know if they're climbing a bob or no-bob suspension setup.
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