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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

  17. #17
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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.
    I don't post to generate business for myself or make like I'm better than sliced bread

  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.

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