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  1. #1
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    Swinger X3 Report and a Rack Failure

    I had a chance over the Thanksgiving holiday to put the new Swinger X3 (the '07 replacement for the old 3-Way) through its paces. Manitou provided this shock as a warranty replacement for a 2 year old stuck down 3-Way that came stock on my friend's Burner. Good CS from Manitou. For those who don't want the gory details, the verdict is that Manitou has improved the shock noticeably from the old 3-Way, but the overall ride is still far below the performance of the Pushed RP3 I use as my main shock. (Big surprise there)

    The new shock adds an SPV lever similar to the Fox RP3 only with four detent settings instead of three, and eliminates the schraeder valve for the SPV chamber. The SPV setting is now set stock from the factory. This makes setting up the shock much easier, which was a common complaint on the old 3-Way. . There was no manual with the shock, so I set it using a 25-30% sag based on O-ring travel. For my ride weight (@180lbs) I ended up with about 125 PSI in the chamber, much less air than the RP3 set up. I rode the Burner on about 50 miles of various terrain from basic flat land "bike path" riding on the Highline Canal trail to very rugged trail riding on the Dakota Hogback and the Mathews Winter trail.

    I noticed that while riding, the shock seemed to drop into its stroke quite a bit more than the sag I set. This was on flat trails with no obstacles at all. I'd look down at the shock to see if there was any cycling bob, and it seemed like I was half way through the stroke. I rechecked the sag from a static stance, and it was still running about 25-30%, but once in motion, it seems the shock compresses more. Weird. There is a distinct difference in feel between the wide open setting and the full SPV setting. The shock really firms up on max SPV. In hard out of the saddle climbing on relatively smooth terrain, the back end would break free of the SPV with a very noticable "snap" feeling. It felt like piston stiction, not audible but you could feel it. Seating climbing was very smooth. The "snap" sensation seemed to go away after a few miles of rough descents, so maybe it was a break in thing.

    The shock felt plusher than the old 3-Way in the wide open setting and firmer in the max SPV setting. Not locked out, but a pretty heavy platform. It was difficult to honestly feel any real difference between the middle two settings. Once the climbing was over, the Hogback trail got rough pretty quickly, this is where the shock's bad manners became apparent. I initially set the rebound and SPV at wide open. Rebound was really fast, so I gradually cranked it in. The rebound knob has close to 45 detent settings (I'm not kidding). Going in 25 turns calmed the action down, but added a lot of damping that hurt the shock's compression. I tweaked the hell out of it, but couldn't find that sweet spot where the shock is active but not trying to throw you out of the saddle. I eventually settled on the second SPV setting with about 15-18 clicks of rebound as a compromise. The shock behaved better, but wasn't as smooth and plush as the Fox, However, it also wasn't as harsh as the old 3-Way. Maybe with another few rides you could find that perfect combination, but I don't have the desire to spend that much time on it. Overall, the shock resembles the old 3-Way in being a great climbing firm platform shock. Where it suffers is on the rebound and wide open setting. The shock uses its entire stroke, (I never bottomed it), but I couldn't get the full benefit of the plushest setting without having to dampen the rebound so much that the compression suffered. Overall, it was a decent ride but not great. It will reside in my back up box.

    On another note - ever wonder what makes Selle Italia gel saddles so comfy? Well, I found out the hard way - heading down Highway 6 at 55mph, the velcro strap on my wife's hitch mount rack decided it was time to fail. The Burner's rear wheel hit the pavement, then flipped the bike upside down and landed it on the saddle. Amazingly, only the rear wheel and saddle were damaged, both saddle rails pressed into the underside of the seat and the cover peeled like a banana. The stem was pushed over to one side and the brake levers got a little scuffed, but other than that, the bike was fine. Until I could get the rear wheel repaired, I picked up a used set of XTR wheels. I'm not fond of low spoke count wheels, but these things were great. They came set up with tubeless tires which I set at 35 PSI. 4 miles into the ride, I remembered why tubeless sucks, the front tire burped heavily on a mildly technical rock slope then peeled all the way off about 20 yards later. Luckily I had a tube.
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    Last edited by cutthroat; 11-27-2006 at 10:57 AM.
    When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. ~H.G. Wells

  2. #2
    rr
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    Nice review, sucks about the bike coming off the rack, glad it made it thru OK. Tubeless is awesome, the problem is some tire/rim combo's suck, mainly tires. I've had zero issues with my Mavic UST but had a few problems early on with crappy tires, if your in a flat prone area and run 2.1-2.2 tires, UST is the way to go, I mount the tire, put some Stans in it and ride the tire till it's bald, can't even remember the last issue I had.

  3. #3
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    I agree that UST is great for areas where goatheads and flats are a real problem, but I can't justify them for my riding. This was the first flat I've had all season. The other real plus was the claimed ability to run really low pressures. I started this ride at my usual 38-40PSI. For kicks I dropped the pressure down to around 30 -32PSI - the traction was great and the ride was plush as hell, but then I peeled the tire off the bead. Maybe the Shimano rims aren't optimum, but this was the same issue I had with my old Mavics too - run them low and they got pretty squirmy and burped alot. The tires were Ritchey Z-Max 2.1s, and they felt good otherwise. The XTR wheels are keepers for the Burner. She's under 27lbs now.
    When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. ~H.G. Wells

  4. #4
    rr
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    I can see another lame UST discussion coming, sorry for the sidetrack

    In general, the low psi claims are not one of the benefits, actually you can run higher psi like 35-40 and still get better traction than 30psi in a tubed tire, plus the pinch flat protection, I would pinch immediately if I ran 35psi in a 2.1 tubed tire.
    Last edited by rr; 11-27-2006 at 01:17 PM.

  5. #5
    FM
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    Quote Originally Posted by cutthroat
    The other real plus was the claimed ability to run really low pressures. I started this ride at my usual 38-40PSI. For kicks I dropped the pressure down to around 30 -32PSI - the traction was great and the ride was plush as hell, but then I peeled the tire off the bead. Maybe the Shimano rims aren't optimum, but this was the same issue I had with my old Mavics too - run them low and they got pretty squirmy and burped alot. The tires were Ritchey Z-Max 2.1s, and they felt good otherwise. The XTR wheels are keepers for the Burner. She's under 27lbs now.
    Low pressures and low maintenance are the real benefits to UST, but you have to choose your tires carefully.... Ritchey tires have always been near the bottom of my list, UST or not.

    I really do like Maxxis and Michelin UST tires....Glad your bike survived the "incident". If you do go tubeless, you can use your old inntertubes to tie your bike down! Your know, UST is a lot like velcro... works great for some people, not so great for others....

  6. #6
    My cup runneth over
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    Hey CT - I recognize that rock! Every now and then someone adds a few rocks in front of it tempting me to try and ride it . The snow must be pushing you back down the mountains!

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