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  1. #1
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    DW vs. VPP vs. Maestro vs. VPP knock-offs

    I'm trying to get a handle on the major differences between the DW-Link and VPP designs. To the untrained eye, they look very similar aside from the upper linkage pivot direction.

    I've ridden several VPP designs (Nomad, Blur LT, 6.6, VPX), the Giant Maestro (Reign) and some VPP knock-offs (Balfa 2-step, Marin Mount Vision, Niner RIP 9). I'm currently riding a couple of IronHorse DW's (6Point and MKIII).

    I like all of them and have found them to climb well and descend extremely well. In my comparison, I'm finding that the IronHorse 6Point seems to be slightly better overall than the other VPP-type bikes I've ridden. Though that's hard to say because the riding time between each of the bikes mentioned has spanned a few years. But, the 6Point seems pretty sweet.

    So, can someone explain to me the subtle differences between all of the above designs and how the DW-Link is so different?

  2. #2
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    I ride the IH Azure and love the DW link. But this is the only FS bike I have experience with.
    Check out this website if you haven't found it yet dw-link.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by TBoneIH
    I ride the IH Azure and love the DW link. But this is the only FS bike I have experience with.
    Check out this website if you haven't found it yet dw-link.
    Yup... been there, done that. Thanks! How's your Azure? Looks like a great XC machine.

    I'm well aware of the benefits of the DW and how it functions, I just don't understand how it's different than the other virtual pivot bikes.

  4. #4
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    Pivot Location

    I was told that the differents were really in the lower pivot, the DW is higher than the Maestro.
    Something my LBS guy told me when I was looking at them.

  5. #5
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    My opinion is the DW is the best virtual pivot design available.
    The Maestro is basically a copy of an earlier dw-link design, so between those 2 I would go with the real thing.
    One difference between the DW and VPP is on the DW the links rotate in parallel and on the VPP they counterrotate.
    In my experience in riding the mkiii last year I noticed that the system works to keep the rider in a more upright position on climbs.

    I owned a blur XC for 6 mos and found that while the system was very efficient
    from a pure pedaling standpoint, I could not get used to the pedal feedback on the climbs. I found that while climbing rocky terrain in the granny ring there was noticeable pedal stall, which is the result of the excessive chain growth associated with the rearward axle paths that some suspension designs use (mainly virtual and most single pivots) to firm up the suspension as they compress.

    On the other hand, I found that the pedal feedback on the dw-link design, while still there, has a much more controlled feeling to it. The antisquat is designed to fall off as you go deeper into travel, but as I found out on my ride, you will still notice some choppy pedaling if the suspension is cycling deep into its travel in rocky granny ring situations.
    This situation is less common though, and many people
    say they notice little or no pedal feedback on a dw-link.

  6. #6
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    Awesome feedback... thanks for the info. That's what I was looking for.

  7. #7
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    Another one you might want to consider is one of the equilink bikes like the
    Felt Compulsion. It takes a different approach, not really a virtual pivot, but with
    all of the efficiency benefits but without the rearward axle path of the others that
    often leads to pedal feedback issues in tough terrain.
    I haven't ridden one, though.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by le_buzz
    Another one you might want to consider is one of the equilink bikes like the
    Felt Compulsion. It takes a different approach, not really a virtual pivot, but with
    all of the efficiency benefits but without the rearward axle path of the others that
    often leads to pedal feedback issues in tough terrain.
    I haven't ridden one, though.
    Yeah, I was thinking about the Equilink as well since it does offer some benefits similar to the VPP/DW designs.

  9. #9
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    Where do the specialized bike fall? I am basically trying to figure out between Giants maestro and specialized. Which do you guys think have a better sus design?

  10. #10
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    The Horst Link (found on Specialized, Norco, Ellsworth and a few others who are willing to pay for the use of the patent), is an efficient design, but doesn't share much with the virtual pivot designs I'm trying to get feedback on. The Horst is a simple design to understand with 4 pivot points and a chainstay rear pivot location to isolate pedal and braking forces.

    On the other hand, the DW, VPP, Maestro, etc. work very differently from the Specialized 4-bar/Horst. I'm just trying to get a handle on the subtle differences between all the virtual pivot designs out there.

  11. #11
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    so between specialized and maestro, can you sort of explain the key diff. Which do you think is better

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by avikoren1
    so between specialized and maestro, can you sort of explain the key diff. Which do you think is better
    It's hard to explain the key differences right now... But, I'll sum up some of my thoughts. Just keep in mind that the best way to decide which suspension designs you prefer, you've got to ride them on your local trails. Only then will you begin to notice brake jack or pedal feedback.

    Smart bike manufacturers can make a mind-blowing bike out of any suspension design. Take these, for example:

    Ellsworth Moment:
    Horst link enhanced with Ellsworth's ICT. This bike is the bomb... one of the best performing all-mountain long travel bikes I've ever ridden. The same could be said for my 2002 Turner RFX.

    2008 Yeti 575: Essentially a single pivot design with some modifications. This is my pick for trailbike of the year this year.

    Iron Horse 6Point6: A freaking awesome 6-inch trailbike. It climbs well and with the DW-link, the travel feels absolutely bottomless.

    Norco Fluid LT: Standard Horst link (just like Specialized) that performs well in all conditions. Doesn't quite have that bottomless feel of the Iron Horse, but it climbs well and is an all-around quality ride.

    Giant Reign: Maestro suspension (similar to DW Link). This is a great performing bike both up and down.

    Santa Cruz Nomad: VPP design... The first "virtual" suspension designs I've ridden extensively were VPP's. This is a pretty good climber (I think the DW bikes climb a bit better), but an awesome descender. Cushy and bottomless on the down.

    So, you ask a hard question... which is better?

    It's all subjective, but overall, I think I prefer the virtual link designs over the single or Horst link designs. However, the Ellsworth Moment with the ICT slapped on top of the Horst is an outstanding bike (but pricey).

    All that said, my personal bike is a 2008 Yeti 575, if that tells you anything. The Specialized Horst suspension design is the de-facto standard, but IMO, there are better performing suspension designs on the market, but it's up to you to decide which ones you prefer for your type of riding.

  13. #13
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    I own an Intense 5.5 with VPP & an Ellsworth Moment.
    I ride in CT & for me there is no comparison between VPP & Horse Link 4 bar design.
    While the VPP is very stiff & rigid feeling, the short links compared to the ICT are very harsh & tend to blow thru travel & lock up in stutters & rock gardens after consequative hits & this relates to brake jack. Seeing CT is a rock strewn roller coaster this happens often. The horse link is supple & just flows over stuff. Climbing, epecially if its techinical & steep, is incredible on the Moment. Its a billygoat. The horse link allows for the rider to seat the suspension & because of the longer bars the suspension still stays very active & yet you get no pedal bob or loss of power.
    I've ridden just about every suspension design - my dad owns a Spec w/ the brain - & the Horselink 4 bar on bikes such as Turner & Ellsworth is superior in my opinion, especially for technical riding.
    I do like VPP if its flat & smooth twisty single track. You can hammer on the bike & its stiff & solid feeling. Perhaps in many areas VPP works very well, for me in CT it takes a back seat to horselink.my 2 copper pieces
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  14. #14
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    I'll match that 2 cents!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mt.Biker E
    I own an Intense 5.5 with VPP & an Ellsworth Moment.
    I ride in CT & for me there is no comparison between VPP & Horse Link 4 bar design.
    While the VPP is very stiff & rigid feeling, the short links compared to the ICT are very harsh & tend to blow thru travel & lock up in stutters & rock gardens after consequative hits & this relates to brake jack. Seeing CT is a rock strewn roller coaster this happens often. The horse link is supple & just flows over stuff. Climbing, epecially if its techinical & steep, is incredible on the Moment. Its a billygoat. The horse link allows for the rider to seat the suspension & because of the longer bars the suspension still stays very active & yet you get no pedal bob or loss of power.
    I've ridden just about every suspension design - my dad owns a Spec w/ the brain - & the Horselink 4 bar on bikes such as Turner & Ellsworth is superior in my opinion, especially for technical riding.
    I do like VPP if its flat & smooth twisty single track. You can hammer on the bike & its stiff & solid feeling. Perhaps in many areas VPP works very well, for me in CT it takes a back seat to horselink.my 2 copper pieces
    I have to agree with everything you have to say. I had a GT LTS horst four bar a number of years ago. I lightened up with a Jeckyl single pivot after that and then beefed up with a Nomad after that. Now I'm back on a horst four bar EVO. It's a shame I ever left my GT , the Jeckyl and Nomad just weren't the way to go in MA. Terrain here is the same as CT...rocks and roots everywhere including the tech climbs. Horst four bar is the way to go for this type of riding!

  15. #15
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    I'll second Mt.Biker E's opinion. I haven't ridden Ellsworths, but others say they're
    very efficient while at the same time offering the benefits of the Horst link,
    such as suppleness in small bumps, traction, etc.
    For the record, I went from a VPP(blurXC) to a Horst linked Chumba XCL, I couldn't stand the pedal feedback while climbing on the blur. The dw-linked MKiii I rode
    last year was better but still had some pedal feedback. At least on the Mkiii this was mostly limited to when there were multiple sharp hits in the granny ring,
    but it was still too much for me as I ride a lot of terrain like that here in AZ.
    If you're concerned at all about pedal feedback, I would stay away from the
    Maestro suspension also, as it's very similar to the dw-link.

  16. #16
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    From nsmb.com, but I found it an interesting read about linkages and suspension.

    http://bb.nsmb.com/showthread.php?t=93773

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    my .02 on the specialized,

    how good can the spec design be, when the makers tout a shock system (brain etc) intended to counteract all the negative traits that the suspension setup isn't supposed to have?

    FWIW: I ride maestro bike, i run no platform in the shock and bob is only an issue when i get out of the saddle

  18. #18
    BMJ
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    I found another technical link within.

    Quote Originally Posted by GFWD
    From nsmb.com, but I found it an interesting read about linkages and suspension.

    http://bb.nsmb.com/showthread.php?t=93773
    Check this link out. http://www.mundobiker.es/content/category/3/67/185/
    It's very technical but informative. Scan through all the listed chapters and you'll get some interesting tid bits of info.

    The one thing I found interesting was the comfirmation of my thoughts on VPP. Twards the end of the literature the writer states that VPP systems function very simularly to "HIGH" single pivot point bikes. He states that if you like a firm riding bike under power and are not put out by chain growth induced pedal action...it's for you. If you like more active suspension under power and don't like chain induced pedal action...stay away.

    In defense of VPP and other designs, he states that there is someone for every design and the best way to decide is not to listen to opinions and marketing hype. He highly recomends test riding many types to decide.

    After riding "Low Single", "VPP" and "Horst" four bar...I choose "Horst" four bar for New England style riding.

  19. #19
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    i own 2 single pivots, a horst link, a parallel link and a horst link bike. Each bike has an application. Here is my take

    Parallel link(cortina, pdc, dw, canfield, giant) are best for dh. Their axle path is relatively rearward and vertical. Basically when you sag into the bike the chain stays extend providing great climbing/pedaling.

    Vpp(santa cruz, intense) This is another great design, the big issue i have felt is twoards the end of the travel the upper link kicks in and the rear end moves somewhat forward. For climbing it is great because same as parallel the bottom link extends the chainstays under sag.

    Horst link(S) whilst being a great bike design it has its positives and negatives. Braking is great depending on shock placement. The original demos had horrible squat.

    Single pivots well this is the hardest one to describe. The pivot completely dictates the rear axle path. High forward pivots create an extremely rear axle path but can cause brake interference. Close to bb pivots create standard arcs but have great braking.

    My preferences
    DH - parallel
    xc - horst
    4x/dj single pivot

  20. #20
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    I've ridden bunch of FS bikes over the past 15 years. Single Pivot, VPP, DW, All designs on the market offer great performance as long as it is set up for you correctly and maintained. And they all have some sort of trade off to showcase a particular benefit. I would put more emphasis on the shop/tech you work with and know at your LBS. A knowlegeable shop tech can really make a huge difference in your experience with mountainbiking. From initial set up, getting you dialed in, and your future endeavors.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by slidecontrol
    my .02 on the specialized,

    how good can the spec design be, when the makers tout a shock system (brain etc) intended to counteract all the negative traits that the suspension setup isn't supposed to have?

    FWIW: I ride maestro bike, i run no platform in the shock and bob is only an issue when i get out of the saddle
    That's for the racers, I suppose.
    I ride an HL bike (Chumba XCL) that comes with RP3, but I never use the P part.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by avikoren1
    so between specialized and maestro, can you sort of explain the key diff. Which do you think is better
    I have a Stumpy FSR and a Giant Reign X, and the biggest difference I notice is, suspension squat. The Stumpy has problems wacking pedals on rocks, and really lifts the front wheel on steep climbs, so I have to drop the fork way down. The Riegn X keeps the front wheel on the ground on steep climbs, even though it has a Van36 160mm fork, and it also seems to have decent pedal clearance considering the BB is fairly low.

    The FSR's strong point IMO is how active and smooth the suspension is, even though I have a Float Propedal shock on it now.

  23. #23
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    It's all about axle path and leverage ratio's. The VPP's are another way of making a 4-bar suspension where the rear axle is not directly connected to the front triangle. Axle paths can be tuned in different parts of the travel to exhibit different traits. The axle path also controls chain growth and shrinkage (distance from the rear axle and center of the bottom bracket) as it cycles through the travel, which affects pedaling charecteristics. A design with the least amount of chain growth is going to be more reactive to bumps but also react to weight shifts from the rider. Ther are many different 4 bars out there and they change every year. Ex. Santa Cruz just reduced the VPP "S" shaped axle path of the rear axle by 1/2 this year. Another twist is Knolly Bikes. 4x4 (two 4 bar linkages). One for axle path, and one for controlling shock rate. This setup isolates axle path from shock rate/leverage ratio's.

    I would look at axle path and chain growth and ignore the VPP,DW,HL,ETC stuff. Better yet, ride everything you can first. Everyone likes something different.

  24. #24
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    And besides, maestro, horst-links, ICTs, VPPs, DWs and so on.... they are all virtual-pivot point designs... none of them pivot the rear axle around a fixed pivot point on the frame. The only difference the ICT makes is TE got the patent office to give a patent on something already invented (horst link dropouts) by taking a publically known and well understood suspension principal on weight transfer and acceleration forces and adding it creatively to his description of the invention on the application. Lining the links up and then passing the chain forces thru the same point.... lol... drag racers understood that a half century ago.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by powderboy
    I'm trying to get a handle on the major differences between the DW-Link and VPP designs. To the untrained eye, they look very similar aside from the upper linkage pivot direction.

    I've ridden several VPP designs (Nomad, Blur LT, 6.6, VPX), the Giant Maestro (Reign) and some VPP knock-offs (Balfa 2-step, Marin Mount Vision, Niner RIP 9). I'm currently riding a couple of IronHorse DW's (6Point and MKIII).

    I like all of them and have found them to climb well and descend extremely well. In my comparison, I'm finding that the IronHorse 6Point seems to be slightly better overall than the other VPP-type bikes I've ridden. Though that's hard to say because the riding time between each of the bikes mentioned has spanned a few years. But, the 6Point seems pretty sweet.

    So, can someone explain to me the subtle differences between all of the above designs and how the DW-Link is so different?
    To give my $0.02 on the Horst Link vs. DW Link issue. I had an FSR design for several years and now have a DW link. The DW is a far superior design, IMO, though setup is more critical to get it to perform well. In terms of pedal feedback, I found that to be an issue until I ran enough sag. Then, as le_buzz described it, you feel what you think is about to be pedal kick-back, but it does not happen. So, yes, you can feel the bump through the pedal as you initially hit it (when pedaling), but it does not "kick back" as you go over it, even under high load, which is the real issue with what is known as pedal feedback. I find the DW link with 5" to be smoother than the FSR with 5.25" and about the same as the FSR with 6". On the other hand it climbs noticeably better because it does not squat into it's travel the way the FSR did on steep climbs.

  26. #26
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    My thoughts on proper sag.

    I'm not sure how different DW-link is from VPP in function, but I don't like the idea of having to find the magic sag point. I tried numerous sag points on my Nomad and never found one that worked for my type of riding and terrain.

    I tend to be all over the bike and the terrain is very rocky and twitchy in the climbs. No matter where I set the sag point, it always was a moot issue on the tech climbs because the terrain and body english would have the suspension cycling into various points of it's travel, never staying in that parking lot perfect sag point. The only way I could minimize this effect was to add lots of pro-pedal damping to try to hold the bike in the zone which made it harsh and loose traction.

    I like not having to find that sweet spot in the sag of the Horst four bar and single pivot designs. Other than how they react to your gear choice, they seem to react consitantly where ever you are in their travel. The chain torque on the system seems to be the same whether your fully extended or deep into travel. My Nomad was all over the place in this realm, probably due to the virtual pivot changing it's location in space radically through it's travel, axle's s-curve aside, it appears on the diagrams to start jus behind the BB and move up and far forward at the end of the stroke.

    It all comes down to terrain and riding style. I could see where a spacific sag point could be maintained out west where the hills are more flowy, but I find it much harder to see that happening in the North East and B.C. type of terrain.

    Just another 2 cents from me.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by BMJ
    I'm not sure how different DW-link is from VPP in function, but I don't like the idea of having to find the magic sag point. I tried numerous sag points on my Nomad and never found one that worked for my type of riding and terrain.

    I tend to be all over the bike and the terrain is very rocky and twitchy in the climbs. No matter where I set the sag point, it always was a moot issue on the tech climbs because the terrain and body english would have the suspension cycling into various points of it's travel, never staying in that parking lot perfect sag point. The only way I could minimize this effect was to add lots of pro-pedal damping to try to hold the bike in the zone which made it harsh and loose traction.

    I like not having to find that sweet spot in the sag of the Horst four bar and single pivot designs. Other than how they react to your gear choice, they seem to react consitantly where ever you are in their travel. The chain torque on the system seems to be the same whether your fully extended or deep into travel. My Nomad was all over the place in this realm, probably due to the virtual pivot changing it's location in space radically through it's travel, axle's s-curve aside, it appears on the diagrams to start jus behind the BB and move up and far forward at the end of the stroke.

    It all comes down to terrain and riding style. I could see where a spacific sag point could be maintained out west where the hills are more flowy, but I find it much harder to see that happening in the North East and B.C. type of terrain.

    Just another 2 cents from me.
    I have very little experience with VPP, but from everything I read from people who have spent time on both, it is a very different animal from the DW link.

    In my experience, the steep, rocky, and rooty terrain of the East Coast mountains is where the DW Link really outshines the Horst Link. One steep, techy climb and the difference was pretty clear to me. I've ridden several high forward pivots for years, a HL for several years, most of this time in the southern Appalachian Mtns, much like the north east (where I also spent a few years riding). I also lived in Tahoe for two years and have ridden all over the western states, so I know the difference in terrain you refer to.

    When I say you need to find that sweet sag point, I mean when you set the sag. You don't need to maintain that while you are riding (you are right when you say that you can't). Also, I'm not sure why it would be a bad thing for a suspension to behave differently at different points in the travel. That's the whole point. You want some anti squat before you hit a bump, and you want it to go away as you absorb the bump. The DW gives you the benefits of a high forward sp (anti squat) when that is most important, and the benefits of a HL (completely active travel) when that is more important. If you set the sag wrong you are not any worse off than if you were on one of the other designs. Too little and it feels like a high forward single pivot. Too deep (though I doubt anyone would run it this deep) and you would have a more active feel like a horst link, along with the accompanying squat.

    In terms of propedal, the DW needs practically nonel.

    I had much of the same skepticism as you in regards to the suspension needing to remain in a certain position to work right. All I can say is one needs to spend some time on it and get it dialed to really understand. It just works. It has all the benefits of a HL, without the squat on the climbs, and with much less need for a platform. And it absorbs bump better.

    The only place where I found a HL to outperform the DW is out of the saddle, high chain torque bursts on rough, relatively level terrain. The HL does stay more active then. I am guessing this is do to the suspension being too shallow in its travel, so this is an example of your concern being valid. But honestly, this is the only instance I can think of where it actually works out that the suspension is in the wrong part of its travel.

  28. #28
    BMJ
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    Outta tha saddle, yes.

    My riding style is to be out of the saddle and attack the climbs(I am usually all over the bike like a monkey). This is when I would find the VPP hanging up on everything.

    I've heard that the DW-link does function quite different from the VPP system but had to make a decision on one or the other monetarily. I bought into the VPP hype when it first came out and was quite disappointed. With the same hype surrounding the DW-link, I didn't want to risk bying into another VPP horror show. Knowing that I was happy with Horst in the past and put out with VPP at the time, I made my choice to go with what I knew I would like.

    Saddly, there isn't any shop within reach at the time that I could have tested the DW-link in a parking lot, let alone on a rocky trail. I may have liked it. Who knows.

    There's amost always something for everyone. If not, someone Dave Weigle (sorry if the spelling is off) will make it.
    Last edited by BMJ; 05-23-2008 at 01:33 PM.

  29. #29
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    The rearward axle path of the VPP bikes, (I have a VP Free), is great for absorbing initial sharp edged hits to the rear wheel. I love the bottomless travel of the VP Free to a point. I really didn't "need" 8.5" of travel, I just wanted a bike burley enough to be in one piece when I wreck. That said, All of the bikes mentioned have their shining points, but all depend greatly on a good properly tuned shock. I run a Cane Creek Double Barrel on my VP Free.
    "Why are you willing to take so much & leave others in need...just because you can?"

  30. #30
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    One thing that I find funny on people's proof... is the over statement on terrain. This is the way it works: This frame design is the best because the bike handles well where I live,____(insert place here)_____ . Don't you think that is the case only because it is a spurious relationship? Don't you think that equipment selection (tires, wheels, stem....), rider abilities, and many other factors have bearing on how a bike will ride?

    I like how people appeal to locale as the definitive answer to their legitimacy. And when they are loosing it... they say... "you don't know me.... if you did then you would know what I mean."

    CT, PNW, Whistler, Moab, SoCal.... mean nothing.

    Instead what really matters is... do you have the right equipment for the right application? Are you up to that application?
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  31. #31
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    Not too sure why, but I find my Maestro bike to be far more efficient than any SP, Horst, or VPP bike.

    When just coasting down bumpy logging roads I'm ALWAYS having to hit my brakes to keep back in the group. I ride with a lot of people on super high end bikes ranging from racer XC to FR. Any time we're just coasting along seated I'm gaining speed where as everyone esle remains at the same speed or has to pedal to go faster.

    I also notice when riding behind others on the DH, I'm usually not pedaling where as the person in front of me is, but not gaining any extra ground over me.

    One buddy just got a Maestro Trance X1 that replaced his Enduro. I noticed he pedals a lot less to keep the same speed up.

    I've tried different sags, different shocks, and many different tires at various pressures. In all cases my Maestro bike has still been faster in terms of efficiency.


    In the end it doesn't really matter I guess. I have fun riding regardless what bike I'm on.

  32. #32
    BMJ
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    Ditto!

    Quote Originally Posted by Foamzilla
    In the end it doesn't really matter I guess. I have fun riding regardless what bike I'm on.
    Sounds good to me!

  33. #33
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    I had the same experience with VPP, didn't like the climbing handling of the suspension under hard torque. I ended up going with a HL Chumba XCL.
    I did get a chance to do a real ride on DW (Mkiii), with the sag around 25 % initially,
    and a little higher toward the end of the ride during a very technical small ring climb.
    I did see some noticeable pedal feedback here, but it was not felt so much as a backward tug on the pedals like you would experience on a VPP, but more of just an
    irregular pedaling cadence during a certain point in your pedaling revolution.
    I've actually researched this quite to make sure it wasn't just me somehow having a less than ideal setup. It seems that this is caused by multiple sharp hits in the granny ring that cause it to cycle deep into its travel without the shock getting a chance to cycle back to near sag.

    But most of the time in more normal riding its only a slight stiffening you notice just below sag when you start to go into a bump and then it goes away as you pedal into the bump. Very nice overall feeling except for that one relatively rare situation, much different than VPP. I did that find I liked the feel of the XCL better on rocky technical climbs, though, it seemed like maintaining momentum was more smooth and easy, you didn't have to worry about any handling issues coming from the suspension, although it can seem a bit wallowy on more straightish, fire road type climbs.

  34. #34
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    For the dw-Link riders, I’m lately finding the sag isn’t so sensitive in position. It may be more about the quality of shock and change in compliance rate in reaction to sag.

    This winter I raised my head tube ĺ inch overall at full fork travel, with a taller front wheel, 650b with a Ĺ inch higher front axle and a ľ inch taller a2c fork, from Vanilla RLC 32/140 to Pike 454 u-turn 140.

    To raise the seat up some back to prior level and compensate without having to wind down the travel ĺ inch to regain the handling balance I was used to, and to gain more desired pedal clearance, I screwed in a couple more turns of preload on my coil Vanilla RC. And I do also lower the fork travel about 7 - 10mm for about the same handling feel on smoother trails, and I do like the taller full travel fork and wheel for steeper downhills and very rough trail.

    Raising the sag about 4% of travel (raising the weighed sagged seat about ľ inch) from about 28% to 24% sag but using the same coil spring rate kept bump compliance nearly unchanged (this can’t be done with air springs). There is a slightly firmer change but reducing compression damping in the shock a click relaxed that difference. Not such a large rate change in pedal and seat feedback hitting bumps as raising or lowering air spring shock pressure to adjust sag does to bump compliance. Coil’s linear mid travel support must be reducing or eliminating the difference in pedal feedback difference due to sag change compared to air.

    Both forks and rear coil were already optimized by PUSH to be the most compliant and plush ride I’ve ever ridden outside of a short spin on an M1 downhill race bike, including 6.6 VPP and 6Point travel air shocked bikes I’ve demoed.

    I’m just saying I’ve found the dw-link isn’t so sensitive to sag as I once felt on average and lower end stock shocks I’ve tried, it’s the shock tune matched to the sag that makes the noticeable difference in my experience now. With less compliant shocks I did notice that the quicker rate ramp up of shorter travel with deeper sag reduced pedal feedback noticeably. The commonly used stock RP23’s or lesser shocks on dw-links are all over damped for riders who are most sensitive to pedal and seat feedback

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    Interesting experimentation, derby. So what are you using, exactly, and what's your optimum
    setup on your coil based shock ?
    I can see how using a coil might work to mitigate some of the less desirable stuff while
    possibly giving it a firmer initial feel but less noticeable pedal feedback at the deeper end.
    On a lower compression system like the DW, that might be the ticket

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta
    To give my $0.02 on the Horst Link vs. DW Link issue. I had an FSR design for several years and now have a DW link. The DW is a far superior design, IMO, though setup is more critical to get it to perform well. In terms of pedal feedback, I found that to be an issue until I ran enough sag. Then, as le_buzz described it, you feel what you think is about to be pedal kick-back, but it does not happen. So, yes, you can feel the bump through the pedal as you initially hit it (when pedaling), but it does not "kick back" as you go over it, even under high load, which is the real issue with what is known as pedal feedback. I find the DW link with 5" to be smoother than the FSR with 5.25" and about the same as the FSR with 6". On the other hand it climbs noticeably better because it does not squat into it's travel the way the FSR did on steep climbs.
    to that. couldn't have said it better.

    I've also owned pretty much bikes with every single suspension linkages. the latest are dw, FSR, Maestro and VPP. Squatting characteristics are apparent on FSR's as you up the travel. I had an Enduro SL (and also have a Stumpjumper FSR) and its easier to notice/feel on the Enduro - although it's also there on the Stumpjumper. riding local familiar trails back to back with each bike really makes you realize how efficient dw/Maestro suspension is.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by derby
    For the dw-Link riders, Iím lately finding the sag isnít so sensitive in position. It may be more about the quality of shock and change in compliance rate in reaction to sag.

    This winter I raised my head tube ĺ inch overall at full fork travel, with a taller front wheel, 650b with a Ĺ inch higher front axle and a ľ inch taller a2c fork, from Vanilla RLC 32/140 to Pike 454 u-turn 140.

    To raise the seat up some back to prior level and compensate without having to wind down the travel ĺ inch to regain the handling balance I was used to, and to gain more desired pedal clearance, I screwed in a couple more turns of preload on my coil Vanilla RC. And I do also lower the fork travel about 7 - 10mm for about the same handling feel on smoother trails, and I do like the taller full travel fork and wheel for steeper downhills and very rough trail.

    Raising the sag about 4% of travel (raising the weighed sagged seat about ľ inch) from about 28% to 24% sag but using the same coil spring rate kept bump compliance nearly unchanged (this canít be done with air springs). There is a slightly firmer change but reducing compression damping in the shock a click relaxed that difference. Not such a large rate change in pedal and seat feedback hitting bumps as raising or lowering air spring shock pressure to adjust sag does to bump compliance. Coilís linear mid travel support must be reducing or eliminating the difference in pedal feedback difference due to sag change compared to air.

    Both forks and rear coil were already optimized by PUSH to be the most compliant and plush ride Iíve ever ridden outside of a short spin on an M1 downhill race bike, including 6.6 VPP and 6Point travel air shocked bikes Iíve demoed.

    Iím just saying Iíve found the dw-link isnít so sensitive to sag as I once felt on average and lower end stock shocks Iíve tried, itís the shock tune matched to the sag that makes the noticeable difference in my experience now. With less compliant shocks I did notice that the quicker rate ramp up of shorter travel with deeper sag reduced pedal feedback noticeably. The commonly used stock RP23ís or lesser shocks on dw-links are all over damped for riders who are most sensitive to pedal and seat feedback
    What is "seat feedback"?

    .

  38. #38
    TNC
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    Rearward axle path

    Quote Originally Posted by man w/ one hand
    The rearward axle path of the VPP bikes, (I have a VP Free), is great for absorbing initial sharp edged hits to the rear wheel. I love the bottomless travel of the VP Free to a point. I really didn't "need" 8.5" of travel, I just wanted a bike burley enough to be in one piece when I wreck. That said, All of the bikes mentioned have their shining points, but all depend greatly on a good properly tuned shock. I run a Cane Creek Double Barrel on my VP Free.
    This is an interesting concept that always gets my attention. An aggressive rearward axle path is a double-edged sword. The initial hit that it takes is pretty sweet, but as they say, "what goes up, must come down". On the rebound on such a system, that aggressive angle of the wheelpath is equally aggressive when the wheel extends into the face of rocks, ledges, and other obstactles on fast successive hits. This results in stalling, bogging, or just an annoyance...or whatever other description one would like to label it with. But when talking about aggressive rearward axle paths, I'm talking about high forward single pivots like the Bullit...not VPP bikes. I don't think I assess VPP design as being an aggressively rearward path. A lot of this may just be semantics. Frankly I think VPP when set up properly, has less hangup and stalling than many other designs. Lower dual link pivot designs like VPP, Maestro, DW, Maverick, etc. exhibit less of this negative "hangup" than many other designs...at least from my experience.

    And please understand that I approach suspension discussions with an inquisitive mind. If my opinion and experiences differ from yours, don't necessarily take that as a slam or a challenge to your situation. The variables of bike design, where one rides, how one rides, and what priorities we have as riders often blur the lines of performance perception. There is no "ONE" design. I believe that we have many options in available suspension designs because it reflects those differences I just noted. Enjoy the one you have...or get another one.

    Those that complain about VPP sag technology miss the boat on one of the strong points of VPP. This is a design that IMO provides "one" of the best non-obstrusive pedal platforms while still allowing excellent small bump compliance and big hit capability. Also many people who complain about it being difficult to find that proper sag point are either using the wrong shock...DHXA for example...or just don't spend enough time setting up their suspension. It's really not that difficult. Now...I'm not one of those who contends that VPP is "THE" best system around. I think the designs that reflect just about the best suspension action around are those models using some form of dual link main pivot. Done right, there's some magic going on in these designs that yield some of the best suspension action going IMO. That is not to say that everything else is junk. I still have a warm spot for Horst link 4-bar designs, as I think that it is an almost timeless design when done right. Heck...I still enjoy my two Bullits immensely, and they have probably one of the worst designs for pedal efficiency and hangup issues...but the term "worst" is relative and comparitive...not definitive.

    And please understand that I approach suspension design/performance discussions with an inquisitive mind. If my opinions and experience differ from yours, it's not necessarily a slam or challenge to your situation. There are lots of variables as far as bike design, where one rides, how one rides, and the priorities that each of us have for our riding. The myriad of different designs allow each of us to find the one that fits our needs or preferences. If you don't like the one you have...get another.
    Last edited by TNC; 05-24-2008 at 09:58 AM.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by le_buzz
    Interesting experimentation, derby. So what are you using, exactly, and what's your optimum
    setup on your coil based shock ?
    I can see how using a coil might work to mitigate some of the less desirable stuff while
    possibly giving it a firmer initial feel but less noticeable pedal feedback at the deeper end.
    On a lower compression system like the DW, that might be the ticket
    As everyone whoís ridden more than one suspension design says, there are trade-offs in suspensionís compression compliance to acceleration which must be minimal for rider energy output efficiency verses compression compliance for bumps which must be maximized to maintain momentum and comfortable conservation of rider energy. In my experience testing and owning many suspension designs, the dw-link blends, balances and ďhidesĒ those physical tradeoffs for the widest variety of riding conditions.

    le_buzz, I appreciate all the research you are doing and your ability to dig deeper and discuss further even with some misunderstandings of your perspectives including some in the past from me. I'm using a 2002 Vanilla RC tuned by PUSH for my interests using softer springs than most riders use for my weight. Darren at PUSH calculated I'd normally use a 500# spring for my 200lb weight on my dw-link suspension bike and I'm using a 450# with additional preload to set sag and still have very smooth small bump easy mid-travel compliance, no hard top-out, and the big soft PUSH bottom bumper gives a very smoth and progressive bottom out. And I've adjusted rebound damping at near 50% of the range with only a little wallow when compression damping is full soft. And 2 to 4 or 5 clicks in compression damping depending on trail conditions. With and earlier Vanilla R and later the RC stock before getting PUSH'ed I tried 600 and went down to 400# springs in 50# increments and have settled on a 450# and then got one of the eBay ti springs which feels a little more progressive in shallow travel than the steel of the same weight.

    Kapusta, also major props for your research and ability to dig deep and qualify your opinions. As I recall you are quite young not long out of high school if Iím not mistaken and show great patience and maturity no matter what your age, and also write very well. I wish I could write so clearly and concisely as you. "Seat feedback" would be the amount of firmness and kick or spike I feel from the seat while seated whether pedaling or not. Pedal feedback and any sensation of pedal kickback is in relation to seat feedback or kickback. When a suspension is firm, or platform damped with delay in compression, the seat feedback is greater than a softly compliant suspension. But with less or delayed platform suspension compliance there is less noticeable pedal kick back feeling than when the same suspension is more freely active and seat feedback is softer. I think le_buzz may have understood my hunch that the more linear rate of coil than air maintains a consistent level of feedback at the pedals and seat no matter the sag of a dw-link within normal use range, which makes pedal feedback less dependant on sag using coil compared to air. I noticed years ago when I still rode a simple non-platformed air shock Float-R on my Horst Link bike that less sag was actually softer and more bump compliant than much deeper sag, on that relatively short travel and higher leverage rate bike than my current bike. With deeper air spring sag the compression ramps up sooner below sag than with shallow sagís later rampup in compression resistance.

    My observations are of subtle differences that may only be recognized increasingly after longer years of suspension ride time experience. And Iím not finished researching the fine tuning, the research will never end for me. My bike noticeably responds to fine tuning changes in rider fit, sag balance front to rear, and PUSHís enhancement of usable damping range. I like it!


  40. #40
    BMJ
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNC

    And please understand that I approach suspension design/performance discussions with an inquisitive mind. If my opinions and experience differ from yours, it's not necessarily a slam or challenge to your situation. There are lots of variables as far as bike design, where one rides, how one rides, and the priorities that each of us have for our riding. The myriad of different designs allow each of us to find the one that fits our needs or preferences. If you don't like the one you have...get another.

    I like this statement.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by derby

    Kapusta, also major props for your research and ability to dig deep and qualify your opinions. As I recall you are quite young not long out of high school if Iím not mistaken and show great patience and maturity no matter what your age, and also write very well. I wish I could write so clearly and concisely as you. "Seat feedback" would be the amount of firmness and kick or spike I feel from the seat while seated whether pedaling or not. Pedal feedback and any sensation of pedal kickback is in relation to seat feedback or kickback. When a suspension is firm, or platform damped with delay in compression, the seat feedback is greater than a softly compliant suspension. But with less or delayed platform suspension compliance there is less noticeable pedal kick back feeling than when the same suspension is more freely active and seat feedback is softer. I think le_buzz may have understood my hunch that the more linear rate of coil than air maintains a consistent level of feedback at the pedals and seat no matter the sag of a dw-link within normal use range, which makes pedal feedback less dependant on sag using coil compared to air. I noticed years ago when I still rode a simple non-platformed air shock Float-R on my Horst Link bike that less sag was actually softer and more bump compliant than much deeper sag, on that relatively short travel and higher leverage rate bike than my current bike. With deeper air spring sag the compression ramps up sooner below sag than with shallow sagís later rampup in compression resistance.

    My observations are of subtle differences that may only be recognized increasingly after longer years of suspension ride time experience. And Iím not finished researching the fine tuning, the research will never end for me. My bike noticeably responds to fine tuning changes in rider fit, sag balance front to rear, and PUSHís enhancement of usable damping range. I like it!

    Well.......... I guess you could say I'm recently done with high school. I was teaching high school and middle school math and science up until 2 years ago (did it for 4 years). I'm 41 years old, but everyone thinks I'm 30. Being back in grad school full time does that. Nonetheless, thanks for the props

    I've actually followed a similar bike path as you: High forward SP (`00 Superlight and `03 Heckler), Horst Link (`04 Saber) and now DW (`07 MKIII). Yes, I do geek out on the suspension theory stuff, but there are a few aspects that I don't want to even try to touch, such as what the heck makes braking active or not.

    I'm not sure I'm using pedal feedback the way you are. As I use it, pedal feedback, or kickback, is due to the suspension wanting to extend under chain tension, so when you hit a bump, while pedaling hard, this works against the suspension absorbing bumps, and when you do absorb one, like when climbing over a root, a lot of your energy goes into extending the rear end as you climb over it. All I have to say is "small ring on Superlight", and you know what I'm talking about. This has nothing to do with how it feels over bumps without chain tension.

    I have a similar take on difference between coil and air in terms of coil keeping the bike at a more consistent sag. I noticed my Saber (Horst Link) squatted less on steep climbs with a coil, and I could run less sag than with air to get the same complience. I have considered a coil on the MKIII, and if a find a vanilla cheap I will try it, but am having a hard time seeing how it will work out. This has to do with the fact that running the sag any less than around 30-33% seems to put it in a place where the chain tension seems to be extending the suspension and the result is bobbing and the pedal feedback is noticable. 25% seems out of the question for me on this frame. It rode terrible like this. However, at 30-33%, it rides like magic. It is actually more efficient at the deeper sag, along with the pedal kickback being eliminated, and it is incredibly complient (though it is complient with less sag as well) This is different from a bike like the superlight where sag had little effect on the pedal feedback.

    Anyway, my hesitation is that if I run that much sag with a coil, I'm concerned about bottoming it out easily. As it is, the AVA at it's minimum volume uses all of it's stroke on a 2' drop. I actually reduced the volume a tad (with extra O-rings) to give me some more bottoming control. Now it feels great. I don't see how I could run that much sag with a coil and not bottom it out on a drop of any size. If I use a stiffer spring I'm afraid it will put me in the part of the sag that felt bad (inefficient, feedback). This is where I'm not convinced that the MKIII works the same as the Mojo. The Mojo, with it's extra travel may have it's sweet spot at a similar sag measurement (in mm), but therefore a lower sag percentage.

    On the other hand, this suspension has some magic I can't really explain, so I won't know until i try it. But for now, the PUSHed AVA feels so freakin' amazing I have no desire to buy a new shock.

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta
    Well.......... I guess you could say I'm recently done with high school. I was teaching high school and middle school math and science up until 2 years ago ...
    Somewhere in the past year or two or so I associated you as high school aged, maybe you were still teaching there. Please forgive me! You do write very well and I appreciate your reviews and observations having similar experience as me in owning bikes. I started counting my age backwards at age 30 and Iím now 3 years old again. And in the last few years Iíve noticed my already life long weak memory for names and dates is getting worse. My interest in comparing suspension qualities is fading too. The differences are smaller these days compared to 10 years ago when my interest in analyzing suspension differences began, and the dw-link and the near copies are much better at blending the best qualities of one type or another compared to the better horst links that Iíve lost most interest in discussing unless someone asks my opinion. You and le-buzz and the younger analysts seem well researched to carry on the arguments for advancing suspension design. Now I mostly just say go ride them and decide for yourself what satisfies you particular interests. For my interests I like one finely engineered bike that can work well in all the extreme conditions from very rough to much sustained climbing with no compromises, and find the dw-link satisfies much better than any other for me.

    I can see now that for rocky desert riders where there isnít much sustained climbing would like a medium travel low monopivot or milder horst link for soft pedaling and high traction with less climbing power efficiency compared to a higher monopivot, vpp, or even dw-link, and increasing the platform or lockouts for the occasional sustained climb is a compromise in performance not very noticeable when very rough and rocky or very smooth. The dw-link really outshines others when there is medium-rough climbing (and downhill) trails less extreme than the desert conditions where itís usually very rough rock or very smooth and sand based. The dw-link is the most versatile now blending the best for the extreme uses, and can be set up to bias in either direction for more or less climbing, with more or less sag (if pedal clearance allows deep sag), and thereís very minimal kickback feeling when set up with shallow sag compared to others having minimal climbing squat.

    Your optimized PUSH tuned AVA does sound great for your MKiii. If you do try an RC coil shock, the PUSH tune is a major improvement as you know with your AVA, and one big feature for the coil tune is the big soft progressive bottom bumper which smoothly cushions the deepest travel of the dw-linkíers designed for air shocks. And the coil shock offers quick trailside sag adjustment to bias quickly for long sustained climbs or very steep downhills, and the PUSHíd compression is very easy to adjust a click or two while riding for noticeable handling differences for varying trail conditions.

  43. #43
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    My bike uses a Lawwill style linkage, so I cannot really follow this discussion as I do not experience any of the side effects described

    From NSMB:http://bb.nsmb.com/showthread.php?t=93773
    "Lawwill (see yeti DH9 for an example, or schwinn straight 8)

    The concept of this design is the most advantageous of the basic four bar linkage designs in terms of axle path manipulation and brake isolation. Once again the axle is mounted on the second bar of the linkage; however that link is now much shorter and actuates the shock via a long seat stay mounted rocker. The problem with this design is that, in order to achieve the desired strength, the linkage inherently uses a lot of material to get the desired stiffness characteristics from the extended rocker, and so the weight increases dramatically to achieve this. I think this will potentially be the most popular design in the future if materials become lighter and stronger."

    There are two things that do happen with this system. One is imperceptible, the other needs a platform shock.

    1. Chain growth is extensive under suspension squat. I cannot notice it while riding, but it is easily observed if you compress the suspension while the bike is stationary

    2. Pedal bob under power. If you decide to climb with the bike (see the link in my sig for more info on where this bike goes), you will want a platform or lockout shock.

    The main benefit, besides the ones already mentioned, is an amazing ability to take square edge hits and erase them with the 8" of travel and slightly rearward axle path.

    V.

  44. #44
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    [/QUOTE=kapusta] I have a similar take on difference between coil and air in terms of coil keeping the bike at a more consistent sag. I noticed my Saber (Horst Link) squatted less on steep climbs with a coil, and I could run less sag than with air to get the same complience. I have considered a coil on the MKIII, and if a find a vanilla cheap I will try it, but am having a hard time seeing how it will work out. This has to do with the fact that running the sag any less than around 30-33% seems to put it in a place where the chain tension seems to be extending the suspension and the result is bobbing and the pedal feedback is noticable. 25% seems out of the question for me on this frame. It rode terrible like this. However, at 30-33%, it rides like magic. It is actually more efficient at the deeper sag, along with the pedal kickback being eliminated, and it is incredibly complient (though it is complient with less sag as well) This is different from a bike like the superlight where sag had little effect on the pedal feedback.

    Anyway, my hesitation is that if I run that much sag with a coil, I'm concerned about bottoming it out easily. As it is, the AVA at it's minimum volume uses all of it's stroke on a 2' drop. I actually reduced the volume a tad (with extra O-rings) to give me some more bottoming control. Now it feels great. I don't see how I could run that much sag with a coil and not bottom it out on a drop of any size. If I use a stiffer spring I'm afraid it will put me in the part of the sag that felt bad (inefficient, feedback). This is where I'm not convinced that the MKIII works the same as the Mojo. The Mojo, with it's extra travel may have it's sweet spot at a similar sag measurement (in mm), but therefore a lower sag percentage.

    On the other hand, this suspension has some magic I can't really explain, so I won't know until i try it. But for now, the PUSHed AVA feels so freakin' amazing I have no desire to buy a new shock.[/QUOTE]

    thanks 4 sharing ur shock/bike setup... i really found it interest n that u compared the possibility that similar sag/sweet spot of MK111 maybe the same as the mojo but different travel 2 sag ratios state n the advantages of an air shock 4 your setup... this indicates it is more likely that it is the linkage sweet spot they share in common being both DW-link design frames... and one adaptation of air is preferred over coil shock...
    Last edited by Tread Mark; 05-26-2008 at 07:48 PM.
    tread lightly...earth is our playground

  45. #45
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    Awesome thread, keep the info coming.

  46. #46
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    hey d1ce,

    it was fun while it last d...
    tread lightly...earth is our playground

  47. #47
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    I have had several Ellsworth Truth models since 1995. As good as the Truth is,
    the Ibis Mojo I ride now is a better climber, especially in the loose rocks and winter conditions.

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbmitch2
    I have had several Ellsworth Truth models since 1995. As good as the Truth is,
    the Ibis Mojo I ride now is a better climber, especially in the loose rocks and winter conditions.
    hey mitch,
    that is quite a few points go n 4 the mojo... r u air or coil sprung..?
    tread lightly...earth is our playground

  49. #49
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    running the dt rear shock. originally ran the rp23, the dt is much better.

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