What should I expect from 120mm travel?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    What should I expect from 120mm travel?

    Hi everyone!

    Iíve been grappling trying to tune in my rear suspension and itís got me asking the question what should I expect out of 120mm rear travel?

    Iíve been searching for something that feels plush on small bumps but then doesnít bottom out for me. And after playing with pressures for ages Iím not sure Iíll be able to get what I want out of 120mm travel, and keen to hear others experience?

    A bit about my setup, I weigh in at around 100kg/220lbs, and ride a Scott Spark 900. I mostly ride XC style trails. Nothing too crazy, some small jumps and drops, but largely just riding for fitness. The rear shock already has a volume spacer in it, but Iím pondering if I should add another one (they are hard to source for the fox nude shock).

    Am I expecting too much out of 120mm travel?

    Thanks 🙂

  2. #2
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    Its not the amount of travel, its how its controlled by the shock. Sounds like you need to adjust damping settings. What are you running at the moment, and what can be adjusted?

    Maybe rent a shockwiz for a weekend

  3. #3
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    You can try a better shock.
    https://hayesbicycle.com/collections...ducts/mara-pro
    https://forums.mtbr.com/shocks-suspe...o-1126919.html

    This new model may be adequate.
    https://hayesbicycle.com/collections...34530359017517
    https://forums.mtbr.com/shocks-suspe...d-1142139.html

    Your bike will also take 2.5" tires on 40mm rims at lower pressures for some compliance.

  4. #4
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    I'm sure you'll get a lot of replies with good suggestions on how to improve your setup but I'm going to cut right to the chase with my opinion after spending over a year attempting to do the same with my 116mm rear travel bike that had a Fox Factory DPS Evol.

    It sounds like we ride similar type of trails and as mentioned I spent well over a year trying pretty much every combo of air pressure, rebound and compression damping. I even went as far as to send the rear shock off to Avalanche to have their SSD/HSB mod installed. Even after all that I wasn't satisfied with the way it performed.

    It wasn't until I bit the bullet and spent the $$ to replace the rear shock with a Manitou Mcleod that I was happy with the way the bike rode and performed. That change finally allowed the bike to come alive.

    edit: Ha! Looks like it took me too long to type that up and eb1888 beat me to it by a few minutes.

  5. #5
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    I have a Giant with 115mm of rear travel. My friend has a Tallboy with 120mm of rear travel. We both agree the Giant feels more plush.
    But, I'm 160 lbs, as is my friend, so at 220 lbs your experience could differ.

    Also, I'm running a DPX2 and he's running a DPS.

  6. #6
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    PUSH ElevenSix is now available for 120mm travel (ie Evil The Following).
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  7. #7
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    So taking a step back form my post above jumping right to replacing your current shock with a Mcleod and attempting to answer you question...

    This is how I see it and some may not agree with this opinion but that's okay. I like to divide my travel up into segments. Example, the first 30% is used for sag and the last 15% is used for when you do hit a jump or drop and/or reserved for those "oh $hit moments" and balance of the % in the middle is for use during your typical JRA. So on a 120mm bike that takes 36mm for sag, 18mm for the jumps and drop which leaves you the 66mm in the middle for JRA.

    Now to finally get around to answering your question about what you should expect. With 66mm of travel to play with my expectation is I should be able to ride over a 2"(50mm) diameter or half buried 4" diameter root or rock and essentially not even feel it. And if your frame and shock are progressive enough that last 18mm should be enough to keep you out of trouble should you encounter something larger than expected. Some may think not even feeling the 2" root is asking too much but I don't think it is. I can't tell you how many people told me I needed to temper my expectations, so many I had just about given in to the fact that maybe they were correct.

    But right about then is when I decided to give the Mcleod a try. The first ride after installing that shock on my bike was literally an "ah ha, where have you been all my life" moment. As it turned out there was no reason for me to adjust my expectations, I just needed to find the right equipment. It allows the bike to do everything I expected and more.

  8. #8
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    The question is how much can you absorb with any given system, which includes travel, suspension design, tire volume and pressure, trail surface, and of course skill and rider strength.

    120mm is what it is, too much for some situations and not enough for others.

    I lean toward more is better, but the downside is a longer travel bike can be less efficient and may increase bike weight.

    Considering jump bikes and trials bikes often have no suspension or just front suspension, clearly you can go big with less; skills play a big part.

    That said, a Scott Spark 900 is a full on XC race bike, not at all intended for rowdy trail riding, but very adept at going fast on mellow trails. Isn't that bike 100mm travel?

    Anyway, if you really want a bike that absorbs rougher terrain, you need a different bike, no amount of lipstick is gonna make your Spark into a "downcountry bike".

    So yeah, get a second bike.

    Take a look at bikes that have a little more heft, a more new school geometry, with enough suspension for the majority of your riding. A 130-140/120-130 bike would do it. I ride a GG Pistol/Pistola, it's a bike I'd take on anything even a DH course, the geo is what makes that possible, and a durable build that can take a beating.

    Quote Originally Posted by SideSwip View Post
    Hi everyone!

    Iíve been grappling trying to tune in my rear suspension and itís got me asking the question what should I expect out of 120mm rear travel?

    Iíve been searching for something that feels plush on small bumps but then doesnít bottom out for me. And after playing with pressures for ages Iím not sure Iíll be able to get what I want out of 120mm travel, and keen to hear others experience?

    A bit about my setup, I weigh in at around 100kg/220lbs, and ride a Scott Spark 900. I mostly ride XC style trails. Nothing too crazy, some small jumps and drops, but largely just riding for fitness. The rear shock already has a volume spacer in it, but Iím pondering if I should add another one (they are hard to source for the fox nude shock).

    Am I expecting too much out of 120mm travel?

    Thanks 
    GG Megatrail 27.5 (Braaap!)
    GG Trail Pistola 27+/29 (speedy)
    Pivot Shuttle 27.5 (wife's)

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    The question is how much can you absorb with any given system, which includes travel, suspension design, tire volume and pressure, trail surface, and of course skill and rider strength.

    120mm is what it is, too much for some situations and not enough for others.

    I lean toward more is better, but the downside is a longer travel bike can be less efficient and may increase bike weight.

    Considering jump bikes and trials bikes often have no suspension or just front suspension, clearly you can go big with less; skills play a big part.

    That said, a Scott Spark 900 is a full on XC race bike, not at all intended for rowdy trail riding, but very adept at going fast on mellow trails. Isn't that bike 100mm travel?

    Anyway, if you really want a bike that absorbs rougher terrain, you need a different bike, no amount of lipstick is gonna make your Spark into a "downcountry bike".

    So yeah, get a second bike.

    Take a look at bikes that have a little more heft, a more new school geometry, with enough suspension for the majority of your riding. A 130-140/120-130 bike would do it. I ride a GG Pistol/Pistola, it's a bike I'd take on anything even a DH course, the geo is what makes that possible, and a durable build that can take a beating.
    RC is the 100mm model.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMac47 View Post
    RC is the 100mm model.
    That's what I figured, but still, not enough bike.

    I had a Fezzari Signal Peak, it was more of an all around type XC bike, but even that bike set up 140/120 was bounced all over the place on rough terrain. Compared to my Pistola, the Signal Peak is a waif.

    Downcountry, I can't even believe I wrote that
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  11. #11
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    For some the Spark is adequate.-
    depends on your skills.


  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by yangpei View Post
    PUSH ElevenSix is now available for 120mm travel (ie Evil The Following).
    I'm sure the OP appreciates the news on the 11-6 for the Following. I have to ask, how does that help the own of a Spark 900?
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    That's what I figured, but still, not enough bike.

    I had a Fezzari Signal Peak, it was more of an all around type XC bike, but even that bike set up 140/120 was bounced all over the place on rough terrain. Compared to my Pistola, the Signal Peak is a waif.

    Downcountry, I can't even believe I wrote that
    How do you know it's not enough bike? I've taken 100mm TBc to a small bike park here in VA.
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  14. #14
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    I struggled for about 1.5 years with the same issues on my Ibis Ripley v4 fitted with a Fox Factory DPS. In the end, I decided to spend the money on a new rear shock. Since I was able to the find suspension performance that worked for my preferences and terrain in a DVO Topaz on a pervious Canfield Riot, I decided to buy another Topaz for the Ripley. The new rear shock addressed my concerns,. The Ripley fitted with a Topaz still feels like a 120 mm bike but it has much better small bump compliance, is MUCH more composed in chunky terrain with repeated hits, and is much more composed when hitting square edge bumps. There are several good shock options besides the DVO that might enable your bike to perform the way that you want. At least for my preferences and terrain, the DPS was a huge disappointment. On a related note, I wasn't too thrilled with the 130 mm Fox 34 Performance either and replaced it with a 140 mm DVO Sapphire. That upgrade was implemented within a few months of buying the bike. I don't know why I gave the DPS such a long chance. In any case, I couldn't be happier with the suspension upgrades.

  15. #15
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    I went from a Specilized Fuse hardtail plus bike, to a 130mm Trek Fuel EX8, to a 140mm Stumpjumper, then back down to a 120mm Pivot Trail 429. Although the Pivot was fast, I instantly missed the plush feel of the Stumpy. I'm now one ride in on a 2020 Scott Genius 930 at 150mm. The plushness has returned, I'm instantly more satisfied, and I don't think I would go back to less than 140mm. I ride in Ohio, so nothing too crazy here, but I came to realize I do prefer longer travel bikes. I ride for fun factor, so my lap times might increase but my smile will be bigger for my favorite sections. Small bump compliance from the Nude T felt great on the Genius and I didn't bottom out in my 10 mile technical lap. Unfortunately with Scott you are limited on shock options

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hox013 View Post
    I went from a Specilized Fuse hardtail plus bike, to a 130mm Trek Fuel EX8, to a 140mm Stumpjumper, then back down to a 120mm Pivot Trail 429. Although the Pivot was fast, I instantly missed the plush feel of the Stumpy. I'm now one ride in on a 2020 Scott Genius 930 at 150mm. The plushness has returned, I'm instantly more satisfied, and I don't think I would go back to less than 140mm. I ride in Ohio, so nothing too crazy here, but I came to realize I do prefer longer travel bikes. I ride for fun factor, so my lap times might increase but my smile will be bigger for my favorite sections. Small bump compliance from the Nude T felt great on the Genius and I didn't bottom out in my 10 mile technical lap. Unfortunately with Scott you are limited on shock options
    It might not have been the travel, your issue could have been as simple as suspension traits. What you you liked about the Horst link is what I hated. What you didn't like about the DW link is exactly what I like about.
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  17. #17
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    reading about the twinloc system it seems a if the geometry and damping is controlled via a handlebar mounted remote with lock out, trail, and descend settings. The damper settings are probably for someone 150lbs. If the internals of the nude are the same as the dps you should be able to swap the one in there now for a larger one. This will allow you to use less psi for preload but might make the rebound top out.

    Im 200lbs and have to have adjustable compression...

  18. #18
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    Just remember your arms and legs are always availble. I consider 120 plenty. With long travel you need expert trails for fun all other get boring.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoTone View Post
    How do you know it's not enough bike? I've taken 100mm TBc to a small bike park here in VA.
    So why is it that when someone asks a legitimate question about whether they are underbiked, is there always a ground swell of riders who challenge the idea that more bike is the answer?

    How does any expert, experienced, long time rider know anything? Duh!

    So yeah, this isn't about you, this is in response to a guy who has legitimate concerns about being undergunned.

    He wouldn't be asking if he didn't recognize a problem, so I think it's disingenuous to try and talk the guy through some suspension tuning/changing which will cost him $$, do nothing much, and get him further away from his goal.

    I ride off road unicycles, the ultimate undergunned wheel system of all time. I also ride a 180/155 enduro bike, both have their uses, lots of space in between ... which is where the OP finds himself.

    My thoughts are spot on.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    So why is it that when someone asks a legitimate question about whether they are underbiked, is there always a ground swell of riders who challenge the idea that more bike is the answer?

    How does any expert, experienced, long time rider know anything? Duh!

    So yeah, this isn't about you, this is in response to a guy who has legitimate concerns about being undergunned.

    He wouldn't be asking if he didn't recognize a problem, so I think it's disingenuous to try and talk the guy through some suspension tuning/changing which will cost him $$, do nothing much, and get him further away from his goal.

    I ride off road unicycles, the ultimate undergunned wheel system of all time. I also ride a 180/155 enduro bike, both have their uses, lots of space in between ... which is where the OP finds himself.

    My thoughts are spot on.
    I'll bow out to your expertise in the area. I never realized "I mostly ride XC style trails. Nothing too crazy, some small jumps and drops, but largely just riding for fitness." pointed people towards enduro rigs.

    But I'll leave with your own advise, it's not about you. Just because you need 150mm plus travel to ride XC trails doesn't mean the OP does.

    Good luck OP.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 33red View Post
    Just remember your arms and legs are always availble. I consider 120 plenty. With long travel you need expert trails for fun all other get boring.
    My interpretation was he OP's question was not about the quantity of his travel, it is about the quality of his travel.

  22. #22
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    Seems adequate to this shredder:

    https://youtu.be/3YXXdWtUw2Q
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  23. #23
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    What should I expect from 120mm travel?

    Quote Originally Posted by JMac47 View Post
    Seems adequate to this shredder:

    https://youtu.be/3YXXdWtUw2Q
    Or just substitute any Nino Schurter video.

    The fact of the matter is that some people need 150mm to pick their way down a trail, going half the speed another guy on 120mm goes. But, neither one is wrong. They are both out there riding. Thatís what weíre all her for, right?

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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    Or just substitute any Nino Schurter video.

    The fact of the matter is that some people need 150mm to pick their way down a trail, going half the speed another guy on 120mm goes. But, neither one is wrong. They are both out there riding. Thatís what weíre all her for, right?

    Bikes are not ďcapableĒ; riders are.


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  25. #25
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    120 should be plenty for the type of riding you described. An extra token or two may be all you need. For me personally this is my go-to video for setting up my suspension (https://youtu.be/ylkTWArNX04). Also something that a lot of people miss after replacing chains or upgrading their drivetrains is having a chain too short for the full range of travel. Rather than adding the extra links measuring on the largest front an rear cogs/ring and hoping it's right, it's best to just let all the air out of your shock and make sure you can be in any gear without the chain tension completely straightening out your rear derailleur. Also with dual chamber Fox shocks, you have to let the air equilized carefully while adding air back. Hope this helps.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoTone View Post
    It might not have been the travel, your issue could have been as simple as suspension traits. What you you liked about the Horst link is what I hated. What you didn't like about the DW link is exactly what I like about.
    This is true, DW has a much different feel. I rode my buddy's Stumpjunoer ST last week though while I was waiting on my bike, set it up for me and everything. More plush off the top than DW, more spongey when standing and punching it. However I still noticed the reduced travel, and still enjoy the longer travel bikes for fun. 150mm is for sure, no doubt about it, more bike than most trails here call for. But its what I prefer 🤷*♂️ to each their own I say.

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    Quote Originally Posted by radred View Post
    120 should be plenty for the type of riding you described. An extra token or two may be all you need. For me personally this is my go-to video for setting up my suspension (https://youtu.be/ylkTWArNX04). Also something that a lot of people miss after replacing chains or upgrading their drivetrains is having a chain too short for the full range of travel. Rather than adding the extra links measuring on the largest front an rear cogs/ring and hoping it's right, it's best to just let all the air out of your shock and make sure you can be in any gear without the chain tension completely straightening out your rear derailleur. Also with dual chamber Fox shocks, you have to let the air equilized carefully while adding air back. Hope this helps.
    I prefer to just size it for the smallest cog. Make it as long as it can be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SideSwip View Post
    Hi everyone!

    Iíve been grappling trying to tune in my rear suspension and itís got me asking the question what should I expect out of 120mm rear travel?

    Iíve been searching for something that feels plush on small bumps but then doesnít bottom out for me. And after playing with pressures for ages Iím not sure Iíll be able to get what I want out of 120mm travel, and keen to hear others experience?

    A bit about my setup, I weigh in at around 100kg/220lbs, and ride a Scott Spark 900. I mostly ride XC style trails. Nothing too crazy, some small jumps and drops, but largely just riding for fitness. The rear shock already has a volume spacer in it, but Iím pondering if I should add another one (they are hard to source for the fox nude shock).

    Am I expecting too much out of 120mm travel?

    Thanks 
    Some shocks are just not easy to tune for heavier riders. The unrealistic expectation may be having the perfect shock at the same weight of a Float SC. I'm the same weight and have the same problem with bottoming out on every ride. My solution for front and rear is more air and just suck it up on the plushness. Have a 120 Float that responds fairly well at the max rated pressure, and a 120 Recon that just gets jittery and still bottoms out. Best I've found so far is a Marzocchi Bomber (at least a pound heavier), not quite as plush as the Float, but never jittery and rarely bottoms out. Maybe a coil spring on rear?

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    Quote Originally Posted by sapva View Post
    Some shocks are just not easy to tune for heavier riders. The unrealistic expectation may be having the perfect shock at the same weight of a Float SC. I'm the same weight and have the same problem with bottoming out on every ride. My solution for front and rear is more air and just suck it up on the plushness. Have a 120 Float that responds fairly well at the max rated pressure, and a 120 Recon that just gets jittery and still bottoms out. Best I've found so far is a Marzocchi Bomber (at least a pound heavier), not quite as plush as the Float, but never jittery and rarely bottoms out. Maybe a coil spring on rear?
    Have you tried adding tokens?

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    Quote Originally Posted by GT87 View Post
    Have you tried adding tokens?
    In my case, with this particular bike, having a positive lock out was the only acceptable solution for pedaling efficiency, plushness was never on the table. If I rode something with better anti squat, I'd probably take the extra weight and go coil.

  32. #32
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    Looks like the OP forgot about creating the thread..

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    Awesome discussion! Thanks everyone for the suggestions 🙂

    Quote Originally Posted by Hox013 View Post
    Unfortunately with Scott you are limited on shock options
    Yeah, I get that feeling. I found some other comments in the Scott sub-forum where heavier riders were complaining about the nude shocks too. I donít believe you can adjust the compression due to how the travel adjustment works.

    I think Iíll drop a bit more pressure in it and give it a few more rides before doing anything too drastic. Maybe try to source another spacer, but I donít think they are easy to come by.

    Itís comforting to hear everyoneís thoughts about the travel, and it gives me confidence that itís either the shock or the tune rather than just looking for a bigger bike, which Iím worried about regretting for 80% of my riding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sapva View Post
    In my case, with this particular bike, having a positive lock out was the only acceptable solution for pedaling efficiency, plushness was never on the table. If I rode something with better anti squat, I'd probably take the extra weight and go coil.
    So.... you didn't try adding tokens? Because if you're having to sacrifice plushness by adding more pressure in order to prevent excessive bottoming, that's what tokens are for.

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  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by GT87 View Post
    So.... you didn't try adding tokens? Because if you're having to sacrifice plushness by adding more pressure in order to prevent excessive bottoming, that's what tokens are for.

    Sent from my moto g(7) power using Tapatalk
    I had my mechanic pull apart the shock and service it. There was already one token in it, but because it is a Scott specific Fox shock (i.e. Nude), the tokens are different and standard Fox Float tokens don't work. Tracking down more tokens in my part of the world isn't easy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SideSwip View Post
    I had my mechanic pull apart the shock and service it. There was already one token in it, but because it is a Scott specific Fox shock (i.e. Nude), the tokens are different and standard Fox Float tokens don't work. Tracking down more tokens in my part of the world isn't easy.
    Ahh, gotcha. But, volume spacers aren't rocket science. It's easy enough to fabricate something on your own. All it needs to do is be the right dimensions and not disintegrate over time. I once made a volume spacer for an rp23 on an sb95 (had a really linear rate and would wallow deep into the travel during weight shifts for manuals, etc) from ~1mm thick material from the wall of a larger peanut butter jar. Worked perfectly.

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  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by GT87 View Post
    I once made a volume spacer for an rp23 on an sb95 (had a really linear rate and would wallow deep into the travel during weight shifts for manuals, etc) from ~1mm thick material from the wall of a larger peanut butter jar. Worked perfectly.
    That is so good!

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