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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.

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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.

  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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  8. #8
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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!

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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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    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.

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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.

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    Yes, RP poopee should be used on URT's

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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.

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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?

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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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    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.

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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.

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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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    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 ...

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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 07:13 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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    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 03:35 PM.

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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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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerome View Post
    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.
    Maestro is a copy of the DW systems. DW approached giant years ago with his suspension idea for licensing (eventually licensed to turner, ibis, pivot, iron horse, others), and evidently a deal was made, but later on Giant decided not to pay for it and used the design anyways. DW had to get "on his feet" so to speak, because at the time he didn't have the resources to defend himself against Giant, but now he's gone back and sued them, because evidently there was a contract they did not honor.

    In the scheme of things and giant as a company, I don't know if this is the biggest deal, hopefully it gets worked out and I think that giant makes decent bikes and does a pretty good job overall. Evidently DW feels that the giant bikes should be tweaked a little differently as they've evolved, so I don't know how close the kinematics are on the current bikes. I agree with you though, Giant makes great bikes, they work well, are good values, etc.
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    Uhmm. . .you all have an incredible amount of technical knowledge and historical perspective — no sarcasm, really — but other than ultimately saying it's all subjective, no one has addressed the OPs question. I know it's open ended and is indeed subjective, especially without the details of how and where someone rides and their particular body type. But still, I can't feel let alone describe many of the nuances you guys expound on. I don't listen to my wife, my body, my bike. . .

    So, as an experienced but thoroughly non-technically minded rider, here's a bunch of info about me, how and where I ride, what bikes I've ridden, etc. Maybe someone can illuminate me a little on what direction I might consider as I get ready to dive back into the FS world.

    I'm 5'11" 185 lbs. I currently ride a Salsa Mariachi 1x10 with an 80mm Reba Race fork and my previous ride was a KHS 304 XC bike with some terrible suspension (a coil shock, think it was Rock Shox, but not some bomber DH thing — more like a Costco special.) On those bikes I've ridden pretty much everything around Mt. Hood, Oregon (15 mile, Knebal Springs, Gunsight, Post Canyon, Syncline, Mt. St. Helens trails, Sandy Ridge, Siuxon Creek, etc.) I'm very average both up and down. I can ride most everything, just not super fast. Not super slow either, usually. I don't do huge jumps or drops, but will jib off this and that.
    Now I live in Fairfax, CA and ride Tamarancho, Anadel, Downieville, etc — all on the hardtail.

    My rides are usually in the two hour range nowadays, but I have designs on getting back to more all day rides, at least occasionally.

    FWIW I love my Salsa. It does everything I want it to and holds up pretty well even when I'm pushing it a little beyond where I think it was designed for. But my lower back is not. And I'd like to go a little faster with a little more comfort and control than it allows. While I know no bike is going to instantly make me a faster/better rider, I know a bike with a little more forgiving geometry and suspension will encourage me to step outside my comfort zone a bit and that's exactly what I'm looking for.

    I demoed a Norco Fluid (horst link?) a few years back and loved everything about that bike. And recently demoed a Cannondale Trigger and thought it was alright, nothing special.

    I'm definitely a fan of 29ers, definitely think the positives outweigh the negatives. Prob be similarly inclined towards 27.5 too. Sidebar: how much if at all do you think wheel size affects different suspension designs?

    So, with the above info, who wants to recommend some suspension designs or specific bikes? I plan on demoing a Rocky Instinct and Lapierre Zesty in the near future. Also probably try and Ibis Ripley and Giant Trance and even Anthem.

    Thanks.

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    You are on the right track and those are some good bikes to try. 29er helps quite a bit with traction and at the lower travel settings (~4") the suspension doesn't matter all that much IMO, it's taking the edge off but the difference systems aren't dramatically different at that travel amount. When you start going past that much you start to notice significant differences in the efficiency, bump absorption, traction, etc, due to the different suspension systems/brands. Of course they can always find a way to screw it up with a bad shock tune or a shock that just isn't suited to the bike. There are more reasons than just the suspension to get a certain bike, like the weight, the geometry, etc. These all have to be considered for the "total package" IMO.

    Anyways, those are some good bikes to demo.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    My best bump-absorbing bike was a single-pivot....
    All hail the High Single Pivot!!! Especially with 650b's!!! Yeah, gotta throw the platform on if I really want to get after a climb, but turn it off for the bomb on down and this thing flat out hooks up! Been on a bunch of bikes but at 25lbs this old outdated Dale just seems to do the job better than anything else I've thrown at a mountain!

    horst vs dw-link vs vpp vs maestro vs single pivot vs.......-img_4305w.jpg
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    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.
    Yes! I think you nailed it! I just bought an Enduro 29 and I was trying to put my finger on how the suspension felt during my initial ride yesterday.

    I spent the last several years on single pivots from Yeti and Transition and had become accustomed to a more direct power transfer. I don't think the Enduro is losing much power transfer it just feels a bit..."softer".

    However, on the single pivots, I had also become accustomed to timing my pedaling through rough terrain to minimize the pedal kick back (read anti squat in today's terminology) when hitting a big bump. With the Enduro it looks like I can pedal through these bumps with much reduced feedback through the pedals. I see this as a good thing.

    So...trade offs with both designs.

    Interesting observations in this thread. I love it when mountain bikers speak "geek"!

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaGoat View Post
    All hail the High Single Pivot!!!
    But I was referring to one with a linkage. A non-linkage single pivot is significantly worse IMO and they've always felt like less travel than advertised or compared to a linkage-driven SP bike to me. Having the rate adjusted via a linkage is critical IMO.
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    Interesting take on lower travel sort of flattening the playing field on different suspension designs. I'd guess the different designs technically handle shorter travel differently, though. Or not? Or is it moot since getting from point A to point B over such a short distance makes the variation so minor? Now you guys have got me into this techie sort of thinking and I didn't want to go there. But now I'm curious. . .

    Do you think that still holds true somewhat at 130-150 mm? With a couple of exceptions, I'm looking in more of the ~5" range.

    I agree with you on the total package approach — and I would include price and serviceability too. But ultimately it is mostly about the fit and feel.

  58. #58
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    Agree with a lot of what has been posted. It's a trade-off when you have to pedal to the goods..

    and I still get a little jealous when I see that style RFX like that blue one^^ (never got to demo)
    ...

  59. #59
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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.
    I agreed with everything he said except the suspension design part. In the end, a good suspension designer needs to look at the complete bike design in a holistic perspective. He summed it up as frames and wheels being stiffer and lighter, but that's selling it short to those who do not know more precisely how they were improved. All the little things add up: bearings (IGUS, journal bearings, angular contact bearings, etc.), forged one piece rockers instead of 2 plates bolted together, rear thru axles, elimination of pivots through engineered material flex, frame tubing manipulation, improved shock tech, more consistent manufacturing processes that allow tight tolerances and alignment, tire refinement and tubeless tire tech, pivot hardware (collet, thru axle, sealing, etc.), and even ownership experience changes like Santa Cruz's bearing replacement program. It used to be that running FS added a maintenance burden, but such maintenance is now much more manageable.

    The biggest changes I forgot to mention were: new FD solutions allowing more room for pivot placement and geo tweaks, kinked/curved seat tubes becoming more acceptable (perhaps due to dropper ports), and new wheel sizes.

    In general, designers have been trying to find ways to more thoughtfully improve suspension, with many more things taken into consideration in their designs. Even a suspension linkage analyst like vrock, who posted in this thread earlier, didn't really critically look at anti-rise (brake squat) curves until recently, but now that he has, he has a better overall understanding. If you are trying to decide between something like suspension designs, it doesn't really help to make decisions any easier regarding what to buy if you remain ignorant; why deceive yourself into believing that old designs are no worse? It's pretty clear that bikes have progressed to become more capable without getting any heavier, considering how comfortable newer bikes are on rough terrain, with courses/tracks evolving along with that tech to refresh the challenge, and to deny any credit to suspension design...

  60. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by bandaroo View Post
    I loved my Jekyll! I ended up selling it due to the fact that I cold not get another shock to fit inside the wishbone. Man, I loved that bike but the geometry was a little antiquated at the time as well. I did not necessarily like having to use pro-pedal either. Even in PP mode, it would bob and squat something crazy in higher gear ratios. I have to say that converting from the Turner TNT to Horst Link on my RFX is about as close as I've ever come to perfecting all round performance for my riding preferences.

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    EDIT: Also running 27.5 up front has helped in some unusual ways. Not what I expected....
    A HL bike with a coil shock is a thing of beauty. With a coil shock, I found HL bikes to squat less, climb better and bomb the downhills way better than any air shock.
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    Quote Originally Posted by vqdriver View Post
    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.
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    Just some observations;

    I test-rode a Specialized Epic Comp and was very impressed until I tried to pop a wheelie - you know, crank on the pedals and tug back on the bars.
    Aside from moving forward, the bike barely reacted. The front wheel kinda hopped about an inch (strictly from the pull on the bars), but virtually none of the crank input to the rear wheel helped loft the front end. It was like stomping on a sponge; very weird (and embarrassing!).

    Getting the front wheel up on my Intense Spider 29 (VPP rear suspension) is almost no different from our hardtail Origin8 Scout - shove on a pedal, tug on the bars, and you're on the back wheel.

    Has anyone else experienced this?
    Last edited by CaptDan; 11-15-2013 at 04:06 PM. Reason: Spelling

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    longer chain stays on the Epic effect the manualbility

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    Yeah, considered that, but I generally try to hit it hard and just keep a finger on the rear brake as a safety measure. This was different, like the sudden kick activated the Brain which allowed the rear suspension to soften up.
    Instead of the bike pivoting up onto the rear wheel, the rear end just sagged. Yuck, IMHO.

  65. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptDan View Post
    Just some observations;

    I test-rode a Specialized Epic Comp and was very impressed until I tried to pop a wheelie - you know, crank on the pedals and tug back on the bars.
    Aside from moving forward, the bike barely reacted. The front wheel kinda hopped about an inch (strictly from the pull on the bars), but virtually none of the crank input to the rear wheel helped loft the front end. It was like stomping on a sponge; very weird (and embarrassing!).

    Getting the front wheel up on my Intense Spider 29 (VVP rear suspension) is almost no different from our hardtail Origin8 Scout - shove on a pedal, tug on the bars, and you're on the back wheel.

    Has anyone else experienced this?
    Not only is the chainstay issue present, but it also has a steep headtube angle, so it's harder to get off the ground than something that is slack IME. I have the enduro 29er and it pops up super-easy. The epic is an XC race machine, the spider is at least "trail", so that's kind of partly responsible...
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptDan View Post
    Yeah, considered that, but I generally try to hit it hard and just keep a finger on the rear brake as a safety measure. This was different, like the sudden kick activated the Brain which allowed the rear suspension to soften up.
    Instead of the bike pivoting up onto the rear wheel, the rear end just sagged. Yuck, IMHO.
    I'm not sure if it's just my riding style, but I found the same thing on a DW link firebird, it really didn't like manualing and keeping the front up and pedalling through rhythms sections. The slightest bit of pressure on the pedals would immediately pull the front down. Great bike and the rear suspension overall was excellent, but wasn't particularly because of this trait.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Uphill=sad View Post
    I'm not sure if it's just my riding style, but I found the same thing on a DW link firebird, it really didn't like manualing and keeping the front up and pedalling through rhythms sections. The slightest bit of pressure on the pedals would immediately pull the front down. Great bike and the rear suspension overall was excellent, but wasn't particularly because of this trait.
    Too much anti-squat, they all do it, non-technical riders don't seem to mind.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mrwhlr View Post
    Too much anti-squat, they all do it, non-technical riders don't seem to mind.
    That's exactly the concern I had about buying a VPP bike; that pedaling inputs would constantly make the balance point shift, and make manualing extremely tricky.
    Surprisingly (and happily), the Spider does not seem to do this. Most likely it is simply the way I have the shock adjusted or some other setting. *shrug*
    Last edited by CaptDan; 11-15-2013 at 04:07 PM. Reason: It's VPP, not VVP!

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    You are all a bunch of silly noobs. Obviously quad link is the best:
    horst vs dw-link vs vpp vs maestro vs single pivot vs.......-main_image_quadlink.jpg

    Thank you Mr Whyte.

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    Quote Originally Posted by moefosho View Post
    You are all a bunch of silly noobs. Obviously quad link is the best:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Thank you Mr Whyte.
    Huh. With out a doubt my least favorite full suspension frame (by a long shot) was my 2010 Mt Vision.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  71. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post
    Huh. With out a doubt my least favorite full suspension frame (by a long shot) was my 2010 Mt Vision.
    Funny, I actually demoed a 2007 mount vision and was really surprised at how plush it was. The problem was when they went to the long stay design, which just increased flex but did little else.
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  72. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus View Post
    Funny, I actually demoed a 2007 mount vision and was really surprised at how plush it was. The problem was when they went to the long stay design, which just increased flex but did little else.
    The 2010 was actually pretty stiff laterally. My issue with it (suspension-wise) was that it was so extremely progressive in it's spring rate. Even with an extra volume air can, it still felt like it used half of it's travel at sag, and it would never use all of it's travel. It felt great on big drops, and also on smooth berms and rollers, but never very good on general rough stuff. Anything but plush, IMO. And the rear was very sensitive to weight distribution, so it seemed very prone to diving in technical situations (maybe diving is the wrong word, but the rear lifting). I would have liked to have run a coil, but I had trouble finding one that would fit. I tried every conceivable combo of air volume and pressure, nothing felt right to me.

    Then there was the fact that the bearings were pretty much shot right out of the box. Marin was no help whatsoever is helping me resolve that. But that is a manufacturing / CS issue not a suspension design issue.

    But, like the DW-Link, Quad Link probably varies a lot from bike to bike.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  73. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post

    But, like the DW-Link, Quad Link probably varies a lot from bike to bike.
    I think DW learned a lot from his experience with Iron Horse, seems that these days the DW link is limited to higher end bikes and companies that will put the required design and development into frames, to avoid ridiculous design issues like on early Iron Horse bikes or other multi-link types.
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  74. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by titusquasi View Post
    I spent the last several years on single pivots from Yeti and Transition and had become accustomed to a more direct power transfer. I don't think the Enduro is losing much power transfer it just feels a bit..."softer".

    However, on the single pivots, I had also become accustomed to timing my pedaling through rough terrain to minimize the pedal kick back (read anti squat in today's terminology) when hitting a big bump. With the Enduro it looks like I can pedal through these bumps with much reduced feedback through the pedals. I see this as a good thing.

    So...trade offs with both designs.

    Interesting observations in this thread. I love it when mountain bikers speak "geek"!
    Yes indeed!!! I've got Horst Link Racer-X's (B6'er and 29'er) and a HSP Cannondale Rush 650b conversion, and I actually like the HSP for technical climbing. That "Anti-Squat" you refer to I actually percieve as a "digging in" of the rear wheel. I like it when I can lay into a climb and have the rear wheel actually hook up and drive/claw up a section.

    Granted on really rough sections the HL will float a little better through the rough and tumble, but I still prefer the feel of my HSP because of the "Increasing Spring Rate" design of the suspension.

    I know, call me weird that I don't like a wallowy (some say plush) beginning of stroke (sag, whatever), but HSP just seems to work for me!!! The only thing I'm going to do is have PUSH flatten (reduce the spring rate) towards the end of stroke to stiffen the bottom out just a bit.
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  75. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    I think DW learned a lot from his experience with Iron Horse, seems that these days the DW link is limited to higher end bikes and companies that will put the required design and development into frames, to avoid ridiculous design issues like on early Iron Horse bikes or other multi-link types.
    Interestingly, the arrangement of the links and rear swingarm is very similar on the 5-Spot and MKIII. Difference is that the MKIII had way more flex and was highly prone to cracking

    However, in terms of suspension performance, they feel a bit different, and I preferred the MKIII in this regard. It remained more active climbing over the rough stuff (it had a little less anti-squat, I feel like the 5-Spot has just a little too much). It also felt just as smooth as the 5-Spot on the DH, even though it had less travel. Despite this, I find the 5-Spot to be a much better frame overall, which just goes to show that suspension nuances are not everything.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    But I was referring to one with a linkage. A non-linkage single pivot is significantly worse IMO and they've always felt like less travel than advertised or compared to a linkage-driven SP bike to me. Having the rate adjusted via a linkage is critical IMO.
    Also for stiffness. I had 2 hecklers ('04-'05 flavor) before I went to a blur ltc and the difference in bottom bracket sway is just huge. My guess is that most of the improvement comes from having the second rigid attachment between the swing a and the front triangle. The vpp bike climbs better, and does seem to "hang" on taller stuff less but that's not super relevant once you point them downhill.

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    ^rate and stiffness are the primary weak points of single pivot and leave me perplexed as to why APP and Mountain Cycles use of the switch went away.horst vs dw-link vs vpp vs maestro vs single pivot vs.......-img_20130630_130251_230.jpg

  78. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Richard View Post
    ^rate and stiffness are the primary weak points of single pivot and leave me perplexed as to why APP and Mountain Cycles use of the switch went away.Click image for larger version. 

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    In the case of Santa Cruz's APP, I think the problem was that the price point of the Nickle and Butcher were too high relative to the rest of their line. For a couple hundred bucks more you could have a VPP bike. Had the price been more in line with the Heckler / Superlight, I think they would have done well.

    I spent a day on a Nickle and really liked it, super fun bike, seemed like a short travel AM bike. I was looking for a new frame at the time, but I think they were going for close to $1500. Just seemed like there were better options out there for just slightly more money. I finally settled on the 5-Spot frame (got it for under $1500), but had the Nickle been going for $1000 or less I would have gotten one. Just a couple months after getting the 5-Spot, the Nickle started showing up on sale for $800
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  79. #79
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    The majority of my experience with full suspension has been on my Trek Fuel EX 9. It's the first full suspension bike I've owned, sadly for a decent amount of its life, the rear shock had been "not at optimal performance". No fault of the bike's setup, more to do with the CTD switch failing on me and consequently the damper losing a lot of its tune, didn't make the bike unrideable, but it was one of those things like an overdue oil change; you don't realise how bad it feels until you fix it and feel the PROPER performance.

    horst vs dw-link vs vpp vs maestro vs single pivot vs.......-ebwe.jpg

    Anyway, I switched the shock out from a DRCV Float RP23 to a 2014 Float CTD Boostvalve XV, and how much this livened up the suspension was night and day. I set my suspension up in a "fire and forget" manner, most of my riding is done in Central Australia, and the ground is skatey with sharp shaly rocks everywhere, and it switches between singletrack and technical sections very quickly. The terrain is relatively flat as well, it undulates a lot, without any SUPER high mountain ranges, so climbs are short, sharp and technical. Constantly going up and down, there aren't many climbs out here which give you an opportunity to reach down and flick the CTD over to climb and take full advantage of it for very long.

    horst vs dw-link vs vpp vs maestro vs single pivot vs.......-6dpj.jpg

    The large chamber with the Boostvalve was a perfect match for the bike and the suspension does everything you want it to do in a firm trail setting and 25% sag. The top stroke feels supportive through pedalling, and in my experience the full floater doesn't bob as much in out of the saddle climbing as it does in the saddle; this may be more of a perception thing though. Either way the bike doesn't bob into its stroke anymore like it used to with the faulty DRCV. On less technical climbs the rear O-ring won't push more than 5mm out of sag.
    Mid stroke is everything you'd expect it to be, smooth, active and doesn't wallow about at all. The rear wheel tracks beautifully and, especially coming off a lot of hours on my hardtail while the Fuel EX has been out of action waiting for parts, it is amazing how little "skipping" I hear from the back.
    The main complaint that I seemed to have heard about the Boostvalve equipped Float's is that the ramp up can be really harsh, but I've yet to notice it. I think this is where the large chambered shock was the right choice, as it allows me to run lower pressures and let the damping do its work a bit more. I've done a a few decent sized drops; one that's about a 1.2m drop to flat and a fair few other ones that either drop you into a high speed G out through a creek bed, or flick you off the lip a little further down onto the ramp than expected. Each time, the rear end has had that bottomless feel, it doesn't at any point feel like it's reaching the end of the travel, but the O-ring, gladly, is showing that it is being used.

    I have hopped on a few other bikes on these trails (Rumblefish, Superfly, Merida 120 and a GT 29er of some description) and noticed a big difference in suspension performance, but I haven't had the same sort of saddle time on that I have on my own bike. The only one I didn't like was the GT, as it just felt like it bobbed around everywhere it went, the other Trek's were running larger wheels, which also changed how the suspension feels, so really the best comparison was against the Merida. The main thing that I noticed was how the rear wheel tracked on bumpy terrain, that "skipping" feeling as the rear wheel bounced over bumps, rather than tracking over them.

  80. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Richard View Post
    ^rate and stiffness are the primary weak points of single pivot and leave me perplexed as to why APP and Mountain Cycles use of the switch went away.Click image for larger version. 

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    RIP Tomac too.

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    Not sure about the Tomac but I understand how the Nickel and Butcher weren't cheap and effectively put Santa Cruz in a position of competing with themselves having the Heckler and Super light as well as Mountain Cycle's demise with the poor aesthetics of the San Andreas 2.0. What I don't get is why this suspension design didn't garner more interest. I guess the Foes Shaver is still an option.

    I said it before, if the single pivot/intermediate link driven shock design hit the scene 15 years ago it would have enjoyed the same if not more popularity and staying power as Horst Link.

    DW and VPP are awesome, but most do not ride at the competitive level. While not all designs are implemented equally single pivot bikes are generally renowned for their fun factor and what I can say about my Mountain Cycle is the best compliment one can apply to a bike suspension: It never even crosses my mind when I'm riding, I enjoy my ride without ever having to be mindful of what the back end is doing. I couldn't say that about my El Guapo and that was an epic bike in it's own right.

  82. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus View Post
    A HL bike with a coil shock is a thing of beauty. With a coil shock, I found HL bikes to squat less, climb better and bomb the downhills way better than any air shock.
    Which is why 15 years on I'm still riding coil sprung horst-link bikes. My current one was built in 2001. My shocks have no platform, but I do revalve for my weight and riding style.

    The horst link bikes are very subtle, most of them have absolutely no bad habits. Climbing/acceleration varies from bike to bike but generally slight squat (far less squat than faux bars, but more than the high single pivots).
    Braking is the most neutral of any bike suspension type. Slight brake squat which generally doesn't completely offset the weight shift, but lets the suspension move with the brakes on.
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    Re: horst vs dw-link vs vpp vs maestro vs single pivot vs.......

    Quote Originally Posted by 2xRFX View Post
    I'm gonna try these back to back for a good honest comparison. I was on the TNT (faux bar) for some time before I went with the Horst Link. I think climbing was slightly better on the TNT, which I basically relate to less squat/bob. Both are outfitted with "tuned" shocks, and are essentially the same build with a few exceptions like a 27.5" Subrosa front wheel. The Horst (with less travel) is a super fun platform, definitely seems more lively than the TNT as far as I can tell. I'll know more later in the week.
    If all other geometry is the same, a faux bar has more squat under climbing and braking than a horst link.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dougal View Post
    If all other geometry is the same, a faux bar has more squat under climbing and braking than a horst link.
    Simple math proves this to be incorrect. Antisquat is a derivative of chain growth.

    No chain growth, no antisquat.

    If all other geometry is the same (pivot points, angles etc) a horst link bike can very easily have less chain growth than a single pivot or "faux bar."

    This is because the HL causes the rear axle to rotate slightly forward, during suspension compression.

    Forward rotation axle = less chain growth = less antisquat.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post
    Simple math proves this to be incorrect. Antisquat is a derivative of chain growth.

    No chain growth, no antisquat.

    If all other geometry is the same (pivot points, angles etc) a horst link bike can very easily have less chain growth than a single pivot or "faux bar."

    This is because the HL causes the rear axle to rotate slightly forward, during suspension compression.

    Forward rotation axle = less chain growth = less antisquat.
    Braking and pedaling are different inputs. Study Trek's ABP system and figure out why it works- and it does. For the same reason an HL does. And a faux bar will squat.

    I have yet to see any simple math regarding rear suspension systems. It's minefield of overlapping factors that rarely vary linearly. Beware all perfectionists who enter the cave of disappointment.

  86. #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post
    Simple math proves this to be incorrect. Antisquat is a derivative of chain growth.

    No chain growth, no antisquat.

    If all other geometry is the same (pivot points, angles etc) a horst link bike can very easily have less chain growth than a single pivot or "faux bar."

    This is because the HL causes the rear axle to rotate slightly forward, during suspension compression.

    Forward rotation axle = less chain growth = less antisquat.
    Bulerias has already said "it's not that simple", but he stopped short of saying "you have it completely wrong".

    Suspension squat is not simply chain-growth (a term I find completely useless). But even if it were, under that criteria alone a horst link bike will squat less from chain tension than a faux bar with the main pivot in the same place.
    The actual squat reaction is dominated by acceleration effects, with chain tension being a minor player. Because it is dominated by acceleration effects the fore/aft position and height of the rear axle centre of curvature (what I have called the Effective Pivot) is the #1 determinant of squat. On horst link bikes this is further rearward than the main pivot, which gives a stronger anti-squat effect to oppose the suspension squatting under acceleration.

    In extreme cases (Giant NRS) the overall effect is so strong that the bike suspension tries to extend with each pedal stroke.

    To understand the differences between a four-bar horst link and a faux bar or swingarm bike, you can start right here in the MTBR archives for this exact sub-forum 15 years ago. 1998.
    There you will find in depth discussions from myself, OlaH, PeterE and Steve from JH on exactly how, what and why.
    The problem was approached through three different angles, OlaH mathematically mapping out the influence of each pivot, Steve from JH using established motorcycle suspension theory and myself using physical geometry and motion.

    And we hit agreement. All three methods when applied correctly were getting the same overall squat prediction.

    Here is a diagram produced by PeterE way back then showing the effective pivot of a horst link rear end:


    Here is the NRS mapped out in exactly the same way:


    You will find it embedded in the "pedalling effects" section on my website Dougal.co.nz with a lot more worked examples.
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    Quote Originally Posted by brankulo View Post
    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.
    Which dw link bike did you go with? I just demod a ripley for an hour. It does everything better like you say than a my camber carbon. I found no need for the greatest platform setting on the rp23 when riding the ripley.

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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.
    Okay so first off I don't want to muck up the awesome vibe of what is the best thread ever (now that I've discovered it), so I'm not saying this to mean any disrespect whatsoever or just to be contradictory. You made a lot of good points. But when you are talking about the the small guys not being very good that just doesn't add up. There are good reasons to go with the big guys like convenience and support etc., but in terms of innovation, in any industry it's almost always the little guys that produce the biggest leaps forward since they have to beat the big guys and since they are less invested in whatever the status quo is. The hard part is that the little guys are little, and often have zero $ for marketing. For example we don't hear about it much in the US, but Bionicon is doing some really cool stuff right now with on the fly adjustable travel/geometry. Specialized and Scott tried for a while too I think (I still happily ride and Enduro with Itch Switch and Horst-link for what it's worth). In the general tune of this thread, I agree that all bikes are pretty much awesome right now and personal preference is key, but that said I wouldn't mind seeing some bigger step changes in design/idealogy instead of these relatively tiny iterations of linkages and damping. What if your enduro bike was also your xc bike and also your hardtail (slap on some diff tires/wheels and you've got a cross/road bike)? I'd like to see more bike makers go after the adjustable travel/full lockout designs rather than hype up the latest linkages or damping as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Might sell fewer bikes though

  89. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by tmabiker View Post
    What if your enduro bike was also your xc bike and also your hardtail (slap on some diff tires/wheels and you've got a cross/road bike)? I'd like to see more bike makers go after the adjustable travel/full lockout designs rather than hype up the latest linkages or damping as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Might sell fewer bikes though
    Your problem is compromise. Take a DH bike, 2.3-2.5 dual sticky rubber, 200mm of travel and weighing near 40lb.
    XC bike weighing nearer 20lb, 100mm of travel, 1.9-2.2 rubber. Both excel at what they do, but if you want to do both, say my bike Specialized Enduro with 160mm of travel and about 28lb, I won't win an XC race on it, or a DH race, but I can ride both.

    Which is fine for me. However if you are adding adjustable travel into the mix I am certain you'll compromise the quality of your suspension. I'm finding it hard enough dialing in my Pike and Monarch, all it does is make me lust after coil. That's without going into frame geometry, linkages and pivots.

  90. #90
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    Quote Originally Posted by tmabiker View Post
    Okay so first off I don't want to muck up the awesome vibe of what is the best thread ever (now that I've discovered it), so I'm not saying this to mean any disrespect whatsoever or just to be contradictory. You made a lot of good points. But when you are talking about the the small guys not being very good that just doesn't add up. There are good reasons to go with the big guys like convenience and support etc., but in terms of innovation, in any industry it's almost always the little guys that produce the biggest leaps forward since they have to beat the big guys and since they are less invested in whatever the status quo is. The hard part is that the little guys are little, and often have zero $ for marketing. For example we don't hear about it much in the US, but Bionicon is doing some really cool stuff right now with on the fly adjustable travel/geometry. Specialized and Scott tried for a while too I think (I still happily ride and Enduro with Itch Switch and Horst-link for what it's worth). In the general tune of this thread, I agree that all bikes are pretty much awesome right now and personal preference is key, but that said I wouldn't mind seeing some bigger step changes in design/idealogy instead of these relatively tiny iterations of linkages and damping. What if your enduro bike was also your xc bike and also your hardtail (slap on some diff tires/wheels and you've got a cross/road bike)? I'd like to see more bike makers go after the adjustable travel/full lockout designs rather than hype up the latest linkages or damping as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Might sell fewer bikes though
    I've ridden the bionicon bikes, I hope they get a lot better than they were the last time I rode them. One of the big problems are the shocks, propriety and without the more complex valving you can get with something like a Float X, Vivid Air, BOS Void air, etc. Same thing with the fork, poor damping quality. If it's going to be used for DH and all around riding, it needs damping capable of supporting it, not to mention when the travel and rate change, the damping will need to change. The bionicon thing is a nice try, but I don't think it will ever catch on. Besides, there's more to geometry than just letting the fork and shock compress a bit.
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    If bionicon was going to take off, it would have by now. They've been in business for 16 years.
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    While we're reviving old threads, I am surprised that no one told Captain that his inability to wheelie on the Specialized Epic was because it's an XC race bike with geometry built to carry a lot of weight on the front end.

    If you put a 35mm stem on it, you could wheelie a lot easier because your weight would be farther behind the front axle. It was not due to the suspension, unless the sag was set completely wrong. At the recommended 15% sag - it's not squishy at all. It's only hard to wheelie because you can't lift the front as easily as a typical trail/AM bike.

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    Yeah I agree, it's gonna be a long time before we see a 20lb that can also be DH bike. But a trail/xc bike seems pretty doable, although maybe not 20lb yet. Regarding the quality compromise, I'm not quite sure what you mean, I guess maybe it's always a personal preference getting things dialed in. One of my bikes goes from 100-130mm it's pretty straightforward and I really like it, just wish it was more like a 0-130 interval and anything between.

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    Well high end full suspension mountain bikes are a pretty niche market so I wouldn't ever expect them to be in every house, but for what it's worth it took Apple about 25 years before they really "took off", so years in business isn't really a good indicator of success. Moreover I wasn't saying that Bionicon is going to be the Apple of the bike world or something, I've never even ridden one, but I do think the concept of on the fly geometry changes is pretty cool and potentially useful, a lot more-so than the latest linkage or damping design.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    I've ridden the bionicon bikes, I hope they get a lot better than they were the last time I rode them. One of the big problems are the shocks, propriety and without the more complex valving you can get with something like a Float X, Vivid Air, BOS Void air, etc. Same thing with the fork, poor damping quality. If it's going to be used for DH and all around riding, it needs damping capable of supporting it, not to mention when the travel and rate change, the damping will need to change. The bionicon thing is a nice try, but I don't think it will ever catch on. Besides, there's more to geometry than just letting the fork and shock compress a bit.
    Wish they were still in the US, I'd like to try their newer ones.

  96. #96
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    Quote Originally Posted by tmabiker View Post
    Well high end full suspension mountain bikes are a pretty niche market so I wouldn't ever expect them to be in every house, but for what it's worth it took Apple about 25 years before they really "took off", so years in business isn't really a good indicator of success. Moreover I wasn't saying that Bionicon is going to be the Apple of the bike world or something, I've never even ridden one, but I do think the concept of on the fly geometry changes is pretty cool and potentially useful, a lot more-so than the latest linkage or damping design.
    Intense, Turner, Foes all entered the market between 1992 and 1994. Each of them pushing their own particular ideas and designs. by 1998-1999 each had proven themselves in the market and taken off. For these companies, it took 5-7 years to gain a solid foothold and reputation.

    Bionicon entered the market in 1999 - and has been pushing the same concept for 16 years. The market has spoken.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColinL View Post
    While we're reviving old threads, I am surprised that no one told Captain that his inability to wheelie on the Specialized Epic was because it's an XC race bike with geometry built to carry a lot of weight on the front end. If you put a 35mm stem on it, you could wheelie a lot easier because your weight would be farther behind the front axle. It was not due to the suspension, unless the sag was set completely wrong. At the recommended 15% sag - it's not squishy at all. It's only hard to wheelie because you can't lift the front as easily as a typical trail/AM bike.
    My thought was that the Brain on the Spec. is set to react on sudden, sharp vertical inputs, so when I kicked the pedals, slammed down on the seat, and jerked back on the bars the Brain did its job and let the rear suspension compress. Instead of the front end coming up, the back end went down, and I felt monumentally silly instead of daring & dashing -- which is the only reason I do wheelies in the first place.

    But to your point, yes, setup and geometry play big roles in the ability to leverage a bike around. The hardtail and VPP bikes I ride are XC-oriented (as was the Spec.), so my test ride was pretty close to Apples-to-Apples.

    I know the Specialized FSR is a very capable bike, especially in the hands of smooth, high-cadence, experienced riders (read; Roadies or ex-Roadies), but I lack all those qualities. My VPP Spider doesn't hold that against me, but rather coddles my clumsy low-RPM mashings and reactive bike control.

    Which brings us back to rider style as a factor in evaluating a rear suspension design philosophy.

    Great thread, with lots of excellent input and observations. Bravo!

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    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post
    Intense, Turner, Foes all entered the market between 1992 and 1994. Each of them pushing their own particular ideas and designs. by 1998-1999 each had proven themselves in the market and taken off. For these companies, it took 5-7 years to gain a solid foothold and reputation.

    Bionicon entered the market in 1999 - and has been pushing the same concept for 16 years. The market has spoken.
    Yeah the market doesn't seem to be that impressed right now, but could be at some point in the future? Cell phones started in the early 70's, tablets in the early 90's and the market didn't approve for many years. And from what I know of Bionicon (which is not much) they have strong foothold especially in Europe, just not a particularly big one. Or look at electric cars with Tesla, until a couple years ago you could have said that the market had spoken and it was impossible to build a good electric car, now they have the best car on the road and gas engines are starting to look old-fashioned and they're building the largest battery factory in the world.

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