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

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

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

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

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

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

    Both designs minimize pedal feedback as they move through their travel.
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  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.

  6. #6
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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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    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus View Post
    ...Check out the anti-squat numbers on Linkage Design...
    Brilliant website (I wish I could read Spanish!), but you are correct; hard numbers like those make it difficult for the BS merchants to apply their spin.

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

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

    Santa Cruz Superlight XC Full Suspension Reviews

    Great posts in this thread.


    P.S. Thanks Ratt!

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

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

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus View Post
    Nothing. A HL is not a bike, just a pivot point. Two bikes, both with a HL, can ride very, very differently. Just as two single pivot bikes. You can make almost any bike have the same anti-squat and pedaling performance as another. Check out the anti-squat numbers on Linkage Design. What you will notice is that the older bikes with a HL had much lower anti-squat numbers. Today, their numbers in most chain rings are almost exactly what you get with a dw link or a vpp link. And they can ride in a very similar way.

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

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

  14. #14
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    yeah i was referring to climbs. not sure why you are experiencing the opposite. i am on mojo HD, it just rolls over edges really easy. tech climb is where this bike excels. besides downhill of course.
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  15. #15
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    DW band-aids the fox float the best. HL might band-aid the fox float the worst. A high SP can band-aid the float pretty well, but at the expense of some harshness while pedaling.

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

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    Yes, RP poopee should be used on URT's

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

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

  18. #18
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    Refinement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  21. #21
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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
    Great post! Agreed
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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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