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  1. #1
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    horst vs dw-link vs vpp vs maestro vs single pivot vs.......

    what's the real world difference on the trail for the rider with all these different systems. i'm not looking for an engineering dissertation or regurgitated marketing splech, just a practical guide as what design is best applied to what use.

  2. #2
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    I can't speak for all of them, just for Horst and DW Link.

    For me it's all about climbing rigidity. The Horst is fine as long as it is complimented by a shock that can stiffen up or lock out by the flick of a switch.

    The DW Link is superior for climbing. It barely pivots/moves while I push hard in the saddle. Adding a shock with a climbing platform helps minimally because this design doesn't need any help.

    Both designs seem to offer a supple ride through their travel over the bumps and chatter.

    Both designs minimize pedal feedback as they move through their travel.
    Screw you guys, I'm going out for a ride now...

  3. #3
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    i also can comment on fsr and dw link. agree with what hawg says. however i do use propedal while on dw link simply because i like to run my shock softer than recommended. also to me another big advantage of dw link is how it tracks in tech climbs. also how easy it gets over square edge hits. fsr tends to hang and requires finer technique. i had been on fsr for 5 years and thought its great. this is my second year on dw link and its way way better imho. there is also difference how the same system is implemented to one bike and another.

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    Pick yer poison

    Look for certain phrases in ride reports and reviews;
    "Awesome, supple rear suspension", "Works best with a smooth pedal stroke", "Climbs best while seated", and "Flip the shock's Pro-Pedal lever for high-effort climbs", are tipoffs that, generally, the suspension compresses while peddling.
    These bikes work well in smooth, fast XC rides. The Specialized FSR-type designs.

    Comments like "Loves out-of-the-saddle climbs", "We noticed some pedal kick-back", and "No need to resort to the Pro-Pedal feature", are signaling that this design extends the suspension while peddling.
    These bikes climb with a bit more authority, especially for guys that like to hammer out-of-the-saddle. For the most part, these would be the 4-pivot type designs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptDan View Post
    Look for certain phrases in ride reports and reviews;
    "Awesome, supple rear suspension", "Works best with a smooth pedal stroke", "Climbs best while seated", and "Flip the shock's Pro-Pedal lever for high-effort climbs", are tipoffs that, generally, the suspension compresses while peddling.
    These bikes work well in smooth, fast XC rides. The Specialized FSR-type designs.

    Comments like "Loves out-of-the-saddle climbs", "We noticed some pedal kick-back", and "No need to resort to the Pro-Pedal feature", are signaling that this design extends the suspension while peddling.
    These bikes climb with a bit more authority, especially for guys that like to hammer out-of-the-saddle. For the most part, these would be the 4-pivot type designs.
    I think the captain hit it on the nail. The rest of what you are going to hear will be fanboi hype.

    In the end they are all refined and work very well. Its up to you to decide on your demo rides which one works best for YOU, not for us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by brankulo View Post
    also how easy it gets over square edge hits. fsr tends to hang and requires finer technique.
    Owned a couple of each(currently on a Pivot Mach5) and I find this to be the opposite of what I've experienced -- at least when referring to square edged hits on climbs. Probably the thing I like least about the bike.

  7. #7
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    Re: horst vs dw-link vs vpp vs maestro vs single pivot vs.......

    Excellent posts above... I have the most time on vpp2 and the benefit is that you do not need a pedaling platform built into the shock. The design resists pedal bob very well thus making the shock able to be more responsive to smaller inputs. The one downfall is the amount of sag needed is quite particular and can be a pain to dial in.
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    Nothing. A HL is not a bike, just a pivot point. Two bikes, both with a HL, can ride very, very differently. Just as two single pivot bikes. You can make almost any bike have the same anti-squat and pedaling performance as another. Check out the anti-squat numbers on Linkage Design. What you will notice is that the older bikes with a HL had much lower anti-squat numbers. Today, their numbers in most chain rings are almost exactly what you get with a dw link or a vpp link. And they can ride in a very similar way.

    But honestly nobody wants to hear that as it just does not sell...
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus View Post
    ...Check out the anti-squat numbers on Linkage Design...
    Brilliant website (I wish I could read Spanish!), but you are correct; hard numbers like those make it difficult for the BS merchants to apply their spin.

    The great thing about 4-pivot designs (DW-Link, VPP, Maestro, etc.) is the tremendous flexibility they offer in tuning the axle path, which affects just about everything else. Different makers have different philosophies and goals, so even if designs may look similar, they can ride differently. (Or for that matter, though they look different, they may still ride very similarly!)

    For a simple, robust & effective rear suspension, the Santa Cruz Lightweight shows that some Old-School designs are still relevant.

    Santa Cruz Superlight XC Full Suspension Reviews

    Great posts in this thread.


    P.S. Thanks Ratt!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus View Post
    Nothing. A HL is not a bike, just a pivot point. Two bikes, both with a HL, can ride very, very differently. Just as two single pivot bikes. You can make almost any bike have the same anti-squat and pedaling performance as another. Check out the anti-squat numbers on Linkage Design. What you will notice is that the older bikes with a HL had much lower anti-squat numbers. Today, their numbers in most chain rings are almost exactly what you get with a dw link or a vpp link. And they can ride in a very similar way.

    But honestly nobody wants to hear that as it just does not sell...
    Great post that speaks the truth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus View Post
    Nothing. A HL is not a bike, just a pivot point. Two bikes, both with a HL, can ride very, very differently. Just as two single pivot bikes. You can make almost any bike have the same anti-squat and pedaling performance as another. Check out the anti-squat numbers on Linkage Design. What you will notice is that the older bikes with a HL had much lower anti-squat numbers. Today, their numbers in most chain rings are almost exactly what you get with a dw link or a vpp link. And they can ride in a very similar way.

    But honestly nobody wants to hear that as it just does not sell...
    I smell more _dw lawsuits!
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  12. #12
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    You'll also find that designers are bringing down the anti squat in later designs so they are closer to the lower anti squat of the HL. Acceptance of latest shock tech now gives them freedom to lower anti squat and associated pedal feedback. Climbing ability is now linked to technical climbs rather than smooth climbs.

  13. #13
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    I'm interested to see what happens when Yeti's patent expires on the switch technology. My SB66 climbs more efficiently than my hardtail! By far the best pedalling platform I have ever ridden.

  14. #14
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    yeah i was referring to climbs. not sure why you are experiencing the opposite. i am on mojo HD, it just rolls over edges really easy. tech climb is where this bike excels. besides downhill of course.

  15. #15
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    DW band-aids the fox float the best. HL might band-aid the fox float the worst. A high SP can band-aid the float pretty well, but at the expense of some harshness while pedaling.

    When you lose the float, you lose the need for the band-aid and the entire conversation about suspension starts over from scratch. I like 4bar/sp bikes with a really good shock. They're not so fun with a float though.

  16. #16
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    Yes, RP poopee should be used on URT's

  17. #17
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    horst vs dw-link vs vpp vs maestro vs single pivot vs.......

    I will agree completely that each design has its strengths and that each system can be implemented very differently. I went from a Horst link bike to a vpp years ago, it pedaled much better and was a noticeable improvement in many ways. I would have told you at the time i would never go back to a non vpp or dw link bike. Now I'm back on a Horst link bike that outperforms my last vpp bike in every category, including climbing and hammering out of the saddle. All in how it's tuned and the tweaks they make to it.

  18. #18
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    Refinement

    The Horst link was a fix designed to cure bad habits on some early bicycle rear-suspensions. Since then (with help from the notoriety of it's patent) the Horst link appears to have come to identify a broad spectrum of suspension layouts.

    Subsequently, being called a "Horst link bike" does not doom (or bless) all of these bikes with a certain riding characteristic, any more than saying all DW link-type bikes all ride the same; mtnbiker831's observations prove that.

    Some bikes have been refined in the actual geometry of the suspension, others through shock linkage & valving/gadgetry.

    One Pivot makes a good point in his post; a shock absorber's idiosyncrasies should not highlight or mask a suspension's basic characteristics.
    Ideally, the suspension's design & geometry alone should be the basis of a great platform.

  19. #19
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    When you say, "The one downfall is the amount of sag needed is quite particular and can be a pain to dial in." Can you expand on that? And what % of sag do you run and why?

  20. #20
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    VPP and other chain growth designs ride really well climbing. If you are looking for flat-out downhill and neutral handling bikes, I would go with a HL (Specialized, in this case) bike every time.

    Just like I HATE the Brain feature, I LOVE the feeling of the FSR bikes. I don't want the anti-squat, chain growth, weird chainstay length changing stuff going on underneath me. I'm not that good of a rider to deal with it. I just want active up, active down, active standing, active braking. If I want to hammer a climb, I just reach down. I don't want my bike to ride like crap just so I can stand and hammer without the bother of reaching down. That's just me.

    The Brain sucks for me because I don't want the fork or shock deciding how to react to stuff. When I preload for a manual or for a jump or even getting over a log, I don't want to think 'Hey, there's rocks before that log, my suspension will be active' or 'This really smooth section before that jump means that I will be way up in the travel and my bike will ride like a hardtail until I hit that one root then it will get all active for .7 seconds then it will be a hardtail again'. I've had 4 Brain-equipped bikes and love the geo on every one but hated the Brain. Now that I've got a Monarch Plus on my FSR, it rolls just like I like it. Active all the time with some low speed compression, just like my fork. Imagine that.

    I've ridden URT, faux-bar, walking bar, single pivot, VPP, VPP2, DW link, I Drive... I spent time on every full suspension design since 1993 (yes, the beginning!) and have settled on FSR, quite happily.

    I think it has everything to do with the type of rider you are. I ride park, dh, dj, pump track, 100-milers, endurance, xc, backcountry, big mountain, river valley... and I do it all on a stump fsr and a slopestyle bike. It's taken me a long time to get here but it's good.

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    And yes, I've ridden the Softride beam bike (Sh!tbike) with Girvin Flex Stem off road and lived.

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  22. #22
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    horst vs dw-link vs vpp vs maestro vs single pivot vs.......

    Quote Originally Posted by trailbildr View Post
    VPP and other chain growth designs ride really well climbing. If you are looking for flat-out downhill and neutral handling bikes, I would go with a HL (Specialized, in this case) bike every time.

    Just like I HATE the Brain feature, I LOVE the feeling of the FSR bikes. I don't want the anti-squat, chain growth, weird chainstay length changing stuff going on underneath me. I'm not that good of a rider to deal with it. I just want active up, active down, active standing, active braking. If I want to hammer a climb, I just reach down. I don't want my bike to ride like crap just so I can stand and hammer without the bother of reaching down. That's just me.

    The Brain sucks for me because I don't want the fork or shock deciding how to react to stuff. When I preload for a manual or for a jump or even getting over a log, I don't want to think 'Hey, there's rocks before that log, my suspension will be active' or 'This really smooth section before that jump means that I will be way up in the travel and my bike will ride like a hardtail until I hit that one root then it will get all active for .7 seconds then it will be a hardtail again'. I've had 4 Brain-equipped bikes and love the geo on every one but hated the Brain. Now that I've got a Monarch Plus on my FSR, it rolls just like I like it. Active all the time with some low speed compression, just like my fork. Imagine that.

    I've ridden URT, faux-bar, walking bar, single pivot, VPP, VPP2, DW link, I Drive... I spent time on every full suspension design since 1993 (yes, the beginning!) and have settled on FSR, quite happily.

    I think it has everything to do with the type of rider you are. I ride park, dh, dj, pump track, 100-milers, endurance, xc, backcountry, big mountain, river valley... and I do it all on a stump fsr and a slopestyle bike. It's taken me a long time to get here but it's good.

    mk
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailbildr View Post
    And yes, I've ridden the Softride beam bike (Sh!tbike) with Girvin Flex Stem off road and lived.

    mk

    Hey I rode the softride bike as well! It is amazing to think that people (like Bob Roll!) actually raced that thing.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailbildr View Post
    If you are looking for flat-out downhill and neutral handling bikes, I would go with a HL (Specialized, in this case) bike every time.

    mk
    Gunna disagree with that one. Due to the very low pivot on most FSR type bikes, I find they do pretty poorly on sharp-edged hits at speed. They tend to bounce a lot more and not absorb the hit as a higher-pivot type bike would.

    This doesn't mean you can't screw up a higher pivot. Very high pivots need a chain-roller or something to raise the chainline. Other ones use linkages to make a virtual pivot and a wheelpath that doesn't arc forward so much. This is a balance obviously, but you can usually get better downhill suspension performance without much or any real pedal interference. Obviously there have been plenty of bikes that DID have lots of pedal interference, earlier VPPs, simple high pivots, etc, but that's not really where we are at anymore, and even though I ride an FSR and I've owned something like 4 or 5 now, that low pivot is it's Achilles heel as far as bump absorption. Digs in great for traction at low speeds, but bucks you a lot more in sharp-edged terrain. A high end shock tune helps, but it doesn't fix it.

    I was blown away how a DW bike with a run-of-the-mill air-shock was so much better at absorbing these bumps, in addition to the wheelpath/arc, it also uses much less compression damping, something that has to be jacked up quite a bit on the FSR to make it pedal better in many situations.

    My best bump-absorbing bike was a single-pivot with a moto-linkage, the pivot was fairly high and forward, but it intersected the chainline (on the big 42-44t rings we used to use back then). That means I didn't really get any pedal interference, but it reacted better to square edged bumps. The parallel-linkage bikes like the DWs, but others too, are even better.
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  25. #25
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    Can't generalize about suspension designs really, as simplifications will come across misunderstood and inaccurate in some perspectives, not to mention that there are plenty of exceptions.

    Currently, single pivot designs aren't really any worse in terms of suspension performance to other designs, thanks to how advanced rear shocks have become. An inline shock like the Fox CTD is super lightweight and has performance the rivals much heavier shocks, combined with a lightweight single pivot design, can make for an inexpensive yet lightweight trail bike. Split Pivot and ABP address one of the single pivot's design concerns, with how much braking influences suspension performance, which is something that the FSR design had over single pivot designs. One thing is for certain, their performance is highly dependent on the shock.

    Dual short links allow for a fully triangulated rear swingarm. This increases rear end stiffness quite a bit. If you push it hard and want a bike that takes a bit more lateral and torsional force before you start feeling the bike twist up and behave in a way that can be unexpected unless you get used it, this might be plus. They are 4-bar designs like the FSR (FSR is like a dual link, with a long lower link), but they each have their own design philosophies that differentiate themselves. Their suspension performance can't be considered generally better, but they seem to be more novice friendly and can impress those that jump on for short rides. I'd say, if you rent or are a novice, or are looking for an used bike made in the mid-2000s, a bike with this design will feel better than a single pivot design as is, but I'd say if you do buy an used bike, the single pivot probably would be a better overall performer once you buy a new current shock for it, especially a custom tuned one made for you, the bike, your terrain, and riding style. Certain dual-short link bikes like DW-Link require peculiar non-standard shock tunes to perform well, while certain others were intended to improve suspension performance with the poorer quality of shocks back then. No real comment about Ellsworth 4-bar (you can prob call it a dual long link or parallelogram), but it can be safe to say its design doesn't make it any more superior/inferior to anything else in a significant manner.

    I'm crossed between Switch, FSR/other horst link, and ABP/Split Pivot for personal favorite. I believe Yeti's Switch has the best overall suspension performance, but seriously, with how good shocks are these days, bump performance isn't an issue, it's the overall feel of the bike that becomes the issue.

    Current iterations of Switch seem too heavy (or too expensive for carbon versions) and a bit too avante garde for my tastes, made for riding harder than many trails I ride seem to support. It has the most impressive pure performance, when setup with about 25% sag; never before has 5-6" of travel felt like overkill for trails before. It's not like my skills are good or bad, it's that the bike does all the work for me so I need to go even harder for my skill level to make a difference. That and only a downtube waterbottle mount kind of is a bummer. Susp feels a bit linear in stock form, and putting in more air seems to take away from its performance, but thankfully Fox has volume spacers you can simply add to make it more progressive. The Yeti SB-95c is probably the ultimate novice bike; people will not believe you are a novice if you are on one riding in their group, it makes you ride that much better.

    "Downgrading" a bit for a bit of challenge (and fun) back into riding the local trails, I'd choose to buy FSR and ABP/Split pivot bikes. How they feel tends to depend on frame design, and parts spec. With how far rear shocks have come along over the years, simple bikes like this can be as every bit of well riding as any of the over-hyped short dual link bikes. Not as confident feeling and generally not as stable feeling, but fun nonetheless, with thrills stemming from getting sketchy and almost wiping out. They're much lighter than an SB bike which helps it fly up the climbs, without needing to spend 3k on a carbon SB frame. That's cool for my local trails that I know so well, but when traveling, I think I'd find something more stable and capable like the Yeti SB bikes to be a wiser choice, as some super agile bike like a Spec SJ FSR Evo 26" that is great fun for thrills, makes it far more prone to crashing; also, riding carefully can makes things even harder than if you just let go and went as fast as the trail makes you go naturally.
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  26. #26
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    I have actually changed my tune a bit and have come to a wacky conclusion. That is, for us bigger folks (6'1", 200 lbs) dw linked bikes just don't work so well. The requirement for a very lightly damped shock, and relatively high leverage ratio (talking Turner 5-Spot here) gives no mid-stroke support and an overall poorer ride than a HL or SP bike with a more heavily damped shock. Increasing the compression dampening on said bike just makes everything worse. For light folks, things may be perfect but for bigger people, it is a step back. Not saying it is bad but if you want to nit-pick, the suspension action from a HL/SP bike with a higher damped shock is better both up and down, than on a dw linked bike. And this from a guy that currently rides a 2011 5-Spot with a Pushed RP23.
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    All of these articles and kinematics comparisons really don't get at the issue: people ride bikes.

    You have to be ON the bike to love it or hate it. You can't read or study or engineer your way into a bike that you love. Your riding style dictates so much that you have to talk about specific people, specific bikes for specific areas. You have in include their desired uses as well as their current limitations.

    While fun, these academic discussions will do little but steer you to your local bike shop to take advantage of test-rides and demo days so you can figure it all out for yourself. If people asked me, everyone would be riding stumpjumper and not everyone would be happy. Each bike has a different personality, thankfully. All of these choices are confusing, to be sure, but in this silly sport we have all come to love so much, we decide to spend the time and considerable amounts of coin to figure it out.

    Rest assured, whatever you end up getting, you'll want to try something else, you'll want a shorter travel, longer travel, lighter, heavier, smaller-wheeled, larger-wheeled bike at some point in the near future and maybe multiple times during a given ride!

    Enjoy the ride. I'm going to get out and enjoy the cool, east coast roots and rocks today under sunny, blue skies with a good buddy. And I don't think I'll spend two seconds caring about my bike as we Star Wars speeder through the trees.

    Rubber = down...

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  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus View Post
    I have actually changed my tune a bit and have come to a wacky conclusion. That is, for us bigger folks (6'1", 200 lbs) dw linked bikes just don't work so well. The requirement for a very lightly damped shock, and relatively high leverage ratio (talking Turner 5-Spot here) gives no mid-stroke support and an overall poorer ride than a HL or SP bike with a more heavily damped shock. Increasing the compression dampening on said bike just makes everything worse. For light folks, things may be perfect but for bigger people, it is a step back. Not saying it is bad but if you want to nit-pick, the suspension action from a HL/SP bike with a higher damped shock is better both up and down, than on a dw linked bike. And this from a guy that currently rides a 2011 5-Spot with a Pushed RP23.
    I'm 195 lbs. and slightly taller. For whatever reasons (subjectivity alert ), a large '09 Sultan (DW w/ stock RP-23 setup) works superbly for me. I've ridden a 5-spot and HL Sultan as well (in addition to Pivot Mach 429, Ibis HD and other FS designs).

    To each their own and as others have said, the best way to evaluate is ride 'em and see what works.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by edubfromktown View Post
    I'm 195 lbs. and slightly taller. For whatever reasons (subjectivity alert ), a large '09 Sultan (DW w/ stock RP-23 setup) works superbly for me. I've ridden a 5-spot and HL Sultan as well (in addition to Pivot Mach 429, Ibis HD and other FS designs).

    To each their own and as others have said, the best way to evaluate is ride 'em and see what works.
    The more I think about it, it is the bike and not necessarily the system. The 5-spot uses a 50.8mm shock to get its 143mm of travel. The Sultan uses the same 50.8 mm shock to get 125 mm of travel. That bike may have been much better suited for me. ):
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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus View Post
    I have actually changed my tune a bit and have come to a wacky conclusion. That is, for us bigger folks (6'1", 200 lbs) dw linked bikes just don't work so well. The requirement for a very lightly damped shock, and relatively high leverage ratio (talking Turner 5-Spot here) gives no mid-stroke support and an overall poorer ride than a HL or SP bike with a more heavily damped shock. Increasing the compression dampening on said bike just makes everything worse. For light folks, things may be perfect but for bigger people, it is a step back. Not saying it is bad but if you want to nit-pick, the suspension action from a HL/SP bike with a higher damped shock is better both up and down, than on a dw linked bike. And this from a guy that currently rides a 2011 5-Spot with a Pushed RP23.
    I don't think it's a matter of weight, it all personal preference. Think about the VPP of Santa Cruz. Those bikes have very little support in the mid stroke and a lot of people love them. So you have a Fox PR23, a crappy shock. You send it to Push and it gets better, but you still don't like it... Maybe it's time to move on: get a coil shock, even a cheap one and give it a try. You are probably going to like it a lot, then you can upgrade to something better with a Ti Sping.

    DW-Link neds very little damping and that's a bit difficult to setup. If you go to low it's easy to loose support in the mid stroke and it's easy to bottom out. Yo can fix the Bottom Out reducing volume, but a coil shock is probably going to be even better.

    Tony.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus View Post
    I have actually changed my tune a bit and have come to a wacky conclusion. That is, for us bigger folks (6'1", 200 lbs) dw linked bikes just don't work so well. The requirement for a very lightly damped shock, and relatively high leverage ratio (talking Turner 5-Spot here) gives no mid-stroke support and an overall poorer ride than a HL or SP bike with a more heavily damped shock. Increasing the compression dampening on said bike just makes everything worse. For light folks, things may be perfect but for bigger people, it is a step back. Not saying it is bad but if you want to nit-pick, the suspension action from a HL/SP bike with a higher damped shock is better both up and down, than on a dw linked bike. And this from a guy that currently rides a 2011 5-Spot with a Pushed RP23.
    DW varies greatly between Ibis and Turner. You mean a design which purposely uses a high intial anti squat , progressive leverage ratio and low compression tune shock.
    On paper my Metas, with their single pivot, have very simialr anti squat and leverage ratio curves to the 5 spot.. Only difference is anti squat and pedal feed back drop off on the 5 spot. There in lies the difference betwen a single pivot and a virtual bike. if your not a confident biike handler and drag your rear brake all the time then get a Vp bike. If your confident and can delay your braking or have ample rear suspension to compensate then a single pivot is fine. Most can't tell the difference anyway and 1mm pivot posn difference would be more important than any copyrighted vp suspension style.

  32. #32
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    Cool-blue Rhythm If it's sold by a competent manufacturer today, you're good...

    I'm going to invoke the MTBR version of Godwin's Law and just say "Horst!" instead of "Hitler!"

    There are SO many good designs and shocks are SO good, that it's really an embarrassment of riches when it comes to suspension design. Yes, things keep getting better, but as has been stated, even the relatively simple single pivot designs ride incredibly well with today's shocks.

    I'd be hard pressed to say anything currently sold by up to date manufacturers "sucks".

    It's ALL GOOD. Really.

    But some are better then others, it's just a matter of finding the right combo of feel, cost and application. A newer rider who rides buff singletrack will enjoy some designs in a different way then someone who rides the chunk at higher speeds etc.

    Like many, I've spent a ton of time on Spesh product, SC VPP/VPP2 and DW Link (Ibis, Pivot, Turner) and the truth is, I've had great rides on ALL of them. A good bike, good trail and the time to enjoy it...

    I ride DW Link (Ibis HDR650b) and love it. It matches my riding and it's got the feel I love, but even with something I thought I knew well, it's stunning to me how much a good tune on a fork or shock can improve things. Today's stock shocks are really good, but they can be made even better by those who know what they're doing (PUSH, BikeCo etc)
    - -benja- -

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailbildr View Post
    All of these articles and kinematics comparisons really don't get at the issue: people ride bikes.

    You have to be ON the bike to love it or hate it. You can't read or study or engineer your way into a bike that you love. Your riding style dictates so much that you have to talk about specific people, specific bikes for specific areas. You have in include their desired uses as well as their current limitations.

    While fun, these academic discussions will do little but steer you to your local bike shop to take advantage of test-rides and demo days so you can figure it all out for yourself. If people asked me, everyone would be riding stumpjumper and not everyone would be happy. Each bike has a different personality, thankfully. All of these choices are confusing, to be sure, but in this silly sport we have all come to love so much, we decide to spend the time and considerable amounts of coin to figure it out.

    Rest assured, whatever you end up getting, you'll want to try something else, you'll want a shorter travel, longer travel, lighter, heavier, smaller-wheeled, larger-wheeled bike at some point in the near future and maybe multiple times during a given ride!

    Enjoy the ride. I'm going to get out and enjoy the cool, east coast roots and rocks today under sunny, blue skies with a good buddy. And I don't think I'll spend two seconds caring about my bike as we Star Wars speeder through the trees.

    Rubber = down...

    mk
    I AGREE! Just enjoy the ride whatever it is you are pedaling!

  34. #34
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    All this agreement is pissing me off. Will somebody start a fight or something?

    Your bike sucks!

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  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailbildr View Post
    All this agreement is pissing me off. Will somebody start a fight or something?

    Your bike sucks!

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    Yes it does. It sucks very much

  36. #36
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    Aw, I was just kidding. Your bike is rad.

    See? I can't do it...

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  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus View Post
    I have actually changed my tune a bit and have come to a wacky conclusion. That is, for us bigger folks (6'1", 200 lbs) dw linked bikes just don't work so well. The requirement for a very lightly damped shock, and relatively high leverage ratio (talking Turner 5-Spot here) gives no mid-stroke support and an overall poorer ride than a HL or SP bike with a more heavily damped shock. Increasing the compression dampening on said bike just makes everything worse. For light folks, things may be perfect but for bigger people, it is a step back. Not saying it is bad but if you want to nit-pick, the suspension action from a HL/SP bike with a higher damped shock is better both up and down, than on a dw linked bike. And this from a guy that currently rides a 2011 5-Spot with a Pushed RP23.
    I wouldn't give up on the 5 spot.Getting the right shock or tune sweet spot should be all it takes.
    Probably telling you to suck eggs.
    Any of these changes could help at the risk of making it too choppy on the rough stuff.
    Monarch Rt3, even in L comp tune are more linear and supportive than the more active boost valve or CTD Rp23.
    It's counter intuitive but raising the air volume and then adding pressure adds mid range support on most set ups.
    Try using the Trail/ propedal lever offset with lower air pressure or higher air volume. Many are adverse to using it,but many designers have built in the use of CTD trail or boost valve propedal levers in to their shock tunes. The idea being to increase the envelope of the suspension. It's no longer a sign of poor suspension design . Even those frames with good anti squat can benefit from it. People didn't get the lower tune and propedal function when Fox retuned the Rp23 with boost valve so they had to reinvent it as CTD adjust. Many still don't get it.

  38. #38
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    Many people are certain that there's nothing better now than there was back in 1999...
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Many people are certain that there's nothing better now than there was back in 1999...
    When talking about suspension design, there isn't. Shocks are better, frames are lighter and stiffer. Wheels are lighter and stronger and tires are dramatically better. Bikes on the whole are world better.

    But we know, the dw fanboys will never stop pushing their system ...

  40. #40
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    You can rationalize it all you want, I've ridden these bikes and they are a dramatic improvement. Low pivots like FSRs still bounce off sharp-edged impacts and pedal poorly up hills, high pivots way above the chainline are rare, but still cause loss of traction in rough stuff and interference with pedaling. Modern designs balance out these traits, without having to make the compromises, like poor sharp-edge impact performance, or poor suspension sensitivity/activeness.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trajan View Post
    When talking about suspension design, there isn't. Shocks are better, frames are lighter and stiffer. Wheels are lighter and stronger and tires are dramatically better. Bikes on the whole are world better.

    But we know, the dw fanboys will never stop pushing their system ...
    Actually, designs have improved. They improved by changing to better cater to the demands of riders today. IMO, the biggest improvement in suspension design over the past few years isn't linkage design, but rather tighter tolerances and alignment in all the connected and moving parts.

    Santa Cruz VPP on their Solo and Bronson has become very well tuned with carefully designed anti-squat and anti-rise (brake squat) curves, and much less pedal kickback that they were notorious for years ago. Santa Cruz's VPP leverage curve is still regressive-progressive-regressive which is a love-hate thing (position sensitive, getting proper sag is important). Yeti also went a similar route, with their new 575 displaying "new school" suspension philosophy that rivals Santa Cruz's, but their leverage ratio curve is a bit more shock tune friendly, but it lacks the fully triangulated rear swingarm. It used to be more shock dependent, but I guess there's more people who prefer not to deal with flicking a pro-pedal lever or people who expect a lock-out and hate the squish feeling, despite that bit of give providing optimal traction and comfort. Intense has tried to tune their anti-squat curve, but it's still a bit immature/rough/inconsistent across models and the curves change when you change travel modes, and they still have the pedal kickback that VPP was infamous for. The anti-squat curve is actually a bit more aggressive on some models, allowing them to be hammered without any "squishy" sensation at all (ex. Spider 29 Comp, fun bike). That's probably due to having different designers working on different models, and not sticking to any set suspension policy/philosophy.

    There are still brands that follow the suspension design philosophy in trying to create a neutral pedaling bike that has the chain torque not want to pull the swingarm one way other the other (chainstay along average chain torque line). Thankfully, they're not bad due to shock tech with adjustable platform that fights the bob, but still has enough give to allow optimal traction (unlike a true lockout).

    DW fanboys... don't get me started on them. DW Link has evolved, but it's a love-hate thing still. DW is sticking to his higher anti-squat values and suspension design philosophy. In one of the last interviews I saw of him, he said he'd go with one of his Split Pivot designs for a personal bike (BH Lynx, I think), if he had to choose one, which is a single pivot design with his high anti-squat curve (high pivot).

    Honestly, I don't even look at the smaller brands anymore. When comparing the big names, the difference mainly is in frame weight, stiffness, and maintenance upkeep. Hard to beat the simpler designs in weight and lower upkeep, but stiffness is worth it to some who like to go big and want that confidence. I think Yeti is on top of the game for overall suspension performance, but their avante garde beefy and/or long travel trail bike designs don't fit everyone (beefy for a light person, but oddly not strong enough to be recommended to a heavy 250+ lbs rider). Santa Cruz has nice balance of weight, stiffness, and "reliability" (lifetime bearing replacement), with bold yet sleek looks and smart super high performance parts specs, but that leverage ratio/shock rate curve isn't for everyone. Not sure why they keep the full lower external headset cup either, when they can go zero stack or integrated for lower total stack height. Plenty of bikes to choose from with FSR/Horst Link, with Norco, Cube, Rocky Mtn, Spec, being fine choices, with Spec and Rocky being more shock dependent and Norco and Cube not so much with similar anti-squat as the new Santa Cruz and Yetis. Most single pivots are fine too, many being shock dependent like Treks, but some like Morewood/Pygmy and Split Pivot bikes not so much. It's a personal preference thing, with people who demand max pedaling efficiency (as long as they properly use the CTD/platform function) and max suspension sensitivity (even when pedaling) opting for the lower anti-squat shock dependent bikes (Spec, Trek, Cannondale, Lapierre etc), and those just wanting a balance between suspension efficiency and pedal efficiency, wanting to avoid the hassle of hit switches, going for the higher anti-squat tuned bikes (SC, Yeti, Norco, Giant, Split Pivot, etc.). I suppose the higher anti-squat bikes expect riders to coast through bumps for good bump compliance, while Trek/Spec are expecting riders to want to pedal through the bumps to make up time, seeing it from a racing perspective that the FS allows one to pedal through rough spots that a HT can't.

    Summed up, a lot of it is personal preference. Can't please everyone with one design. It's just like trail preference, some like to do long miles and climb high elevations, and would climb fireroads to do it, while others would prefer to shuttle or only ride park, while others prefer to ride low land flow trails. Some enjoy a trail where they can go fast and not have to touch the brakes once, while some prefer a trail where they can go fast, and must use the brakes else fly off the side of the mountain. Helps if people knew themselves first, before trying to figure out what they want in something else.
    Last edited by Varaxis; 10-31-2013 at 08:13 AM.
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  42. #42
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    Super-geeky post. Well done.

    Most people have no idea how most of these design traits manifest themselves on the bike. When I ride, it's a pure expression of 'getting away from it all'. I don't try to think at all and just party in the dirt. When the bike takes me out of that frame of mind, it is significant. That's my primary frame of reference.

    I rode the Intense Spider 29 in a 100 miler after not riding it at all and it rode really well. I was impressed. There wasn't too much tight stuff but the bike really pulled me down the trail. It's not a bike I would keep in the stable because it is so purpose-specific for me. I would ONLY ride it on certain trails. That's my limitation and and my limitations bug me...

    In '92-'93 when I was buying my first 'nice' bike, the sweetest, most exciting stuff was from the little guys. Amp, Ross's Salsa, EWR, Catamount, Slingshot and others I don't remember. After dealing with countless parts issues over 20 years in the bike industry, I'm almost ashamed that I go so quickly to the big ones. I would buy an Intense, mostly because of the geo and 275. Other than that, it's Trek, Rocky, Norco, Giant and Spec'd bikes that I look at. So odd...

    It's true that the longer your perspective, the more it's easy to find rad stuff. There was so much relative crap back in the day and today's baseline fit/finish/design is so much nicer. Very few full-squish bikes at Handbuilt...

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    I recently made the switch from dw-link to split pivot (Pivot Firebird -> Devinci Dixon Carbon). I really notice the difference in designs in corners. I can pedal through on the Dixon, and am on the gas at the apex and out. This is something that never felt right on the Firebird, even with a custom tune yadda.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Low pivots like FSRs still bounce off sharp-edged impacts and pedal poorly up hills, high pivots way above the chainline are rare, but still cause loss of traction in rough stuff and interference with pedaling.
    Is this not highly shock dependent? For example, no matter what you do to a Fox BV shock, short of switching to a higher flow piston, it does a really, really poor job of absorbing square-edge.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by half_man_half_scab View Post
    I recently made the switch from dw-link to split pivot (Pivot Firebird -> Devinci Dixon Carbon). I really notice the difference in designs in corners. I can pedal through on the Dixon, and am on the gas at the apex and out. This is something that never felt right on the Firebird, even with a custom tune yadda.
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  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Varaxis View Post
    Actually, designs have improved. They improved by changing to better cater to the demands of riders today. IMO, the biggest improvement in suspension design over the past few years isn't linkage design, but rather tighter tolerances and alignment in all the connected and moving parts.

    Santa Cruz VPP on their Solo and Bronson has become very well tuned with carefully designed anti-squat and anti-rise (brake squat) curves, and much less pedal kickback that they were notorious for years ago. Santa Cruz's VPP leverage curve is still regressive-progressive-regressive which is a love-hate thing (position sensitive, getting proper sag is important). Yeti also went a similar route, with their new 575 displaying "new school" suspension philosophy that rivals Santa Cruz's, but their leverage ratio curve is a bit more shock tune friendly, but it lacks the fully triangulated rear swingarm. It used to be more shock dependent, but I guess there's more people who prefer not to deal with flicking a pro-pedal lever or people who expect a lock-out and hate the squish feeling, despite that bit of give providing optimal traction and comfort. Intense has tried to tune their anti-squat curve, but it's still a bit immature/rough/inconsistent across models and the curves change when you change travel modes, and they still have the pedal kickback that VPP was infamous for. The anti-squat curve is actually a bit more aggressive on some models, allowing them to be hammered without any "squishy" sensation at all (ex. Spider 29 Comp, fun bike). That's probably due to having different designers working on different models, and not sticking to any set suspension policy/philosophy.

    There are still brands that follow the suspension design philosophy in trying to create a neutral pedaling bike that has the chain torque not want to pull the swingarm one way other the other (chainstay along average chain torque line). Thankfully, they're not bad due to shock tech with adjustable platform that fights the bob, but still has enough give to allow optimal traction (unlike a true lockout).

    DW fanboys... don't get me started on them. DW Link has evolved, but it's a love-hate thing still. DW is sticking to his higher anti-squat values and suspension design philosophy. In one of the last interviews I saw of him, he said he'd go with one of his Split Pivot designs for a personal bike (BH Lynx, I think), if he had to choose one, which is a single pivot design with his high anti-squat curve (high pivot).

    Honestly, I don't even look at the smaller brands anymore. When comparing the big names, the difference mainly is in frame weight, stiffness, and maintenance upkeep. Hard to beat the simpler designs in weight and lower upkeep, but stiffness is worth it to some who like to go big and want that confidence. I think Yeti is on top of the game for overall suspension performance, but their avante garde beefy and/or long travel trail bike designs don't fit everyone (beefy for a light person, but oddly not strong enough to be recommended to a heavy 250+ lbs rider). Santa Cruz has nice balance of weight, stiffness, and "reliability" (lifetime bearing replacement), with bold yet sleek looks and smart super high performance parts specs, but that leverage ratio/shock rate curve isn't for everyone. Not sure why they keep the full lower external headset cup either, when they can go zero stack or integrated for lower total stack height. Plenty of bikes to choose from with FSR/Horst Link, with Norco, Cube, Rocky Mtn, Spec, being fine choices, with Spec and Rocky being more shock dependent and Norco and Cube not so much with similar anti-squat as the new Santa Cruz and Yetis. Most single pivots are fine too, many being shock dependent like Treks, but some like Morewood/Pygmy and Split Pivot bikes not so much. It's a personal preference thing, with people who demand max pedaling efficiency (as long as they properly use the CTD/platform function) and max suspension sensitivity (even when pedaling) opting for the lower anti-squat shock dependent bikes (Spec, Trek, Cannondale, Lapierre etc), and those just wanting a balance between suspension efficiency and pedal efficiency, wanting to avoid the hassle of hit switches, going for the higher anti-squat tuned bikes (SC, Yeti, Norco, Giant, Split Pivot, etc.). I suppose the higher anti-squat bikes expect riders to coast through bumps for good bump compliance, while Trek/Spec are expecting riders to want to pedal through the bumps to make up time, seeing it from a racing perspective that the FS allows one to pedal through rough spots that a HT can't.

    Summed up, a lot of it is personal preference. Can't please everyone with one design. It's just like trail preference, some like to do long miles and climb high elevations, and would climb fireroads to do it, while others would prefer to shuttle or only ride park, while others prefer to ride low land flow trails. Some enjoy a trail where they can go fast and not have to touch the brakes once, while some prefer a trail where they can go fast, and must use the brakes else fly off the side of the mountain. Helps if people knew themselves first, before trying to figure out what they want in something else.
    Yes, but how do you compare things like this? In 1999, you had "trail" bikes that had 3-4" of travel at the most. HL and SP bike are very similar today as they were in 1999. VPP was there and there were other mini-link bikes . All that has changed is the amount of travel. Shocks and settings are different and substantially better but I would say not much else has changed. I agree with the other guy. The specific action is different because what we want is different. The system have not changed.
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  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ishartbicycles View Post
    The MX Tune is definitely more of a DH type shock and the CCDB has been really nice for trail riding. I'm not sure you could have that kind of versatility with multi-link designs and still maintain optimal performance.
    Why would you say that? I had an avalanche Chubie, which has virtually the same internals as the push MX tune (push actually used avalanche's internals for a while in it). I found the ability to tune the low-speed compression on the MX to be firm whilst having the high speed gobble up sharp edged bumps to be a godsend. It allowed for better acceleration, climbing and stability at all times, while absorbing those squared edged bumps, the faster you pushed it in rough terrain, the better it got, but I fail to see how it's a "downhill" shock. Unfortunately most shock manufacturers do not give you the ability to adjust these parameters on air-shocks, but again, it's useful for all IME.

    I'm not sure what you mean by "multi-link designs" not being able to maintain "versatility", your bike is a multi-link design after all (a virtual pivot none the less).

    I found the TNT turners to pedal better uphill than the horst link ones, the slightly reduced traction was more than made up for by the reduction in gross-squat that would really affect you when you tried to pedal uphill in a large gear. I had both, so I got to experience this quite a bit. Braking was a bit better too, because the TNT version would not stinkbug like the horst link (when on the brakes the rear end extends a bit on the horst link, steepening the headtube angle, not good down steep stuff). Although it wouldn't be "fully active" during braking, there were definitely times when the traits of the TNT were preferred in this area.

    Otherwise, these bikes rode nearly the same, these differences were very small looking at the big picture. The TNT setup didn't appreciably move the pivot point, so it didn't radically change the characteristics, most of the stuff that specialized had been advertising over the years was total BS, if anything the TNT setup has a few advantages to it over the horst link, but the main advantage with the horst is likely how it remains active in the granny gear, despite more anti-squat, vs. more anti-squat and less active on the TNT, best I could tell. The disadvantage is that it's not enough anti-squat to come close to countering pedaling forces on the horst-link, so it's a bit like pedaling on a wet mattress. That's where shocks like the push MX tune came in, not totally "fixing" this by any means, but definitely improving it. What I didn't want was a shock with a bunch of propedal that essentially turned the bike into a hardtail, making it bounce off every uphill bump and rock. That's the absolute worst for traction and the big difference between effective high and low speed compression circuits that actually work, vs. lever-adjust "propedal" or "climb" settings that seem to ruin the feel completely and only really help on extremely smooth trails/pavement. Many of the newer suspension designs allow you to "have your cake and eat it too" in this regard. These higher end shocks do the same, but to a lesser degree, they are not able to completely "fix" a poor suspension trait. On the other hand, we sometimes deal with these traits for other reasons that override them, like better geometry or handling on a certain bike, or weight, or ability to run certain parts, etc. It's all about whether it's worth it to us or not.
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  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by ktm520 View Post
    Is this not highly shock dependent? For example, no matter what you do to a Fox BV shock, short of switching to a higher flow piston, it does a really, really poor job of absorbing square-edge.
    No, shocks can not fix this. They can make it better, but never as good as a better design will. It's like when the industry proclaimed that SPV was going to fix every single pivot, when in actuality it caused an extremely rough ride, position sensitive damping meant it would disregard the speed of the impacts, and generally it just felt like crap. I've used shocks several times to attempt to fix certain traits of bikes, in some cases they improved it, but they never fixed it.

    I bought two fox DHX5s when they first came out, one for my foes and another for my iron horse. These fixed the absolutely god-awefull bump absorption to some extent, but they couldn't flow enough oil at high speed nor did they have really good low-speed that could blow off. The foes was a single pivot with essentially no linkage (linkage only served to stiffen bike, not adjust rate), so the quality of travel was still poor overall. Much better than with the curnut, but just not great. Damping on the iron horse (horst link) was wacky due to the inability to deal well with high speed stuff.

    Eventually many bikes later I got myself on an avalanche chubie, by far the best shock I've had to date, but it didn't totally fix the problems of the horst-link bike it went on, it just helped to mask them a little better. It had a much higher-flow piston as you mention, so it helped to absorb those square edged impacts much better, and the low-speed support was fantastic, so I was able to have my "cake and eat it too", but then a ride on a good DW link showed that you can absorb those huge square hits just as effectively with an air shock and still pedal up the hill like a rocket, without the huge weight of the avalanche shock.

    Like I said, I've experienced quite a range of this, and I'm not going to go into super detail about ALL the ones I've used. One of the more relevant experiences though concerns the bionicon ironwood, their "DH" bike that can supposedly be climbed like a regular bike, at something like 36lbs with 8" of travel via air-sprung dual crown and rear shocks. The problem was this simple high-single pivot felt like it had less travel than my 6" turner, or at the least it didn't use it's travel anywhere near as effectively and the suspension performance just wasn't up to par, this was back when I was running a DHX on the turner too. Problem with that bike was two-fold, poor suspension design without any linkage control, and then the sub-par air shocks on it that lacked the proper circuits of more complex coil shocks. The bike felt exactly like that too.

    So the suspension design and the shock are important, but I've never felt there's a situation where the (good) shock completely overcomes a poor design or one that inherently has a bunch of disadvantages. Usually the best you've tried is the best you know. I was able to make a bunch of bikes better with better shocks (foes, iron horse, K2, 3 turners, and more) and I was able to make bikes worse with worse shocks. I don't think shocks can overcome the inherent disadvantages of a particular design, they can minimize them, but put said shock on a better bike and you get that much better performance, which is usually worth it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus View Post
    Yes, but how do you compare things like this? In 1999, you had "trail" bikes that had 3-4" of travel at the most. HL and SP bike are very similar today as they were in 1999. VPP was there and there were other mini-link bikes . All that has changed is the amount of travel. Shocks and settings are different and substantially better but I would say not much else has changed. I agree with the other guy. The specific action is different because what we want is different. The system have not changed.
    Besides a few additional variations, the bulk of the designs haven't changed. But they have been optimizing them more for descents . So I can think of a few subtle things that have changed.

    Suspension designers are building in less anti squat in to those systems which had that advantage. SP have been refining their pivot positions and linkages. HL designers are building in more anti squat. Systems are less progressive than they used to be. So in effect all systems are closer in performance than they used to be. Add a bit of shock tune and you can get most systems feeling similar enough to level the playing field when using triple or double ring drive trains.

    Another big change which has a huge influence on suspension performance, is the trend towards single ring drive trains. This is once again troublesome for most HL and low pivot designs on climbs.
    Last edited by gvs_nz; 11-01-2013 at 04:35 PM.

  50. #50
    Come on, dare me!
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    Nobody talked about Giant's Maestro system, which is one of the best of the bunch. I've been riding FSR (Horst Link) suspended bikes since 1999 and also tried a few other designs -- I currently own a 2008 Pitch and can compare with My Trance X (both are equipped with the same RP23 shock (high volume for the Trance, though)). I feel that the FSR, while competent everywhere, is not on par with the Maestro, which "magically" stiffens uphill and disappears downhill. At first, I even had to check to be sure it was moving... The linkage system on the newer Giant performs everywhere and is readily and affordably available. So, to the original poster, if you're not looking for something exotic, my advice would be Giant.

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