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  1. #1
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    Am I searching for a Unicorn?

    Ok MTBRers,

    I know I'm not alone in this, but I'm looking for some feedback. I live and ride in southern Arizona and never ride park or DH. Most of our trails are a mix of XC/Trail with the occasional rock garden thrown in. An average ride will net approximately 100 feet of climbing per mile.

    I'm not close enough to any major city to do a bunch of demos, but have ridden a small variety of bikes (Trance 27.5, Trek Fuel EX, Specialized Stumpy 27.5, Trance X 29er, Anthem, etc). I currently own an Evil Following V1, which I love for its playful nature and its decent climbing prowess, but it tends to get bogged down through sustained rock gardens at speed. I recently sold a Canyon Spectral, which was fantastic for sustained rock gardens at speed, but not quite as playful as the Following. It was also a decent climber. So here's the question:

    Is there a bike out there that is playful and "jumpy" (like my Following), but is also composed and smooth through sustained rock gardens at speed (like the Spectral)? Most of the bikes I have ridden seem to be one or the other, but not both.

  2. #2
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    IME, most OEM suspension is lacking, either due to the shock speced, or the shock tune. Sometimes the shocks don't really match the leverage curve of the bike (and despite this the manufacturers spec them) and sometimes the damping simply can't keep up with the intended action. These days, I plan on an Avy upgrade for most stuff or something similar, as a few other companies are getting into it. Unfortunately, the shock manufacturers leave out the real adjustable stuff for every discipline except usually full DH or much more aggressive riding, where a few (not many) products actually have useful and correctly designed high and low speed circuits that can be adjusted independently. A large amount of the time, even when the suspension has these features, they are either ineffective or just make the situation worse, it's a fairly narrow-cross section where they are truly helpful. Otherwise, most suspension is a compromise for huge variations in rider weight that will utilize the intended product, which makes it mediocre for most situations, but a significant amount of performance increase is often possible with most stuff by either getting a tune or a much better shock, but the 2nd option is much more dicey, as many OEM products are only marginally better, even when they cost a significant amount more and have a bunch more bells and whistles, again, they are often held back by their tune.

    In other words, I don't judge the suspension too harshly (no pun intended!), but try to understand the kinematics and what is going on and whether there could be improvement. I rode some of the first DW frames that were very nice on sharp edged chunk, but they seemed to blow through the travel and didn't have much stability. This would be characterized as "playful" by many, but I like stability more for going faster and the suspension to not compress like crazy with every g-out or front-end loading. This design philosophy was due to the fact that these bikes didn't need much low speed compression to help with pedaling, they pedaled great, accelerated awesome, but IMO that left out the chassis stability issue that is independent of the suspension efficiency, so by going to a tuned shock, I can bring back the stability and essentially "have my cake and eat it too". This was a very early DW link, so things are a bit different now, but another good example would be one of my old horst-links, where they just didn't do very well in high speed chunk due to the very low main pivot and axle path that wasn't as well suited for moving out of the way of such impacts. Again, with a custom tuned shock, the high speed damping was able to be lightened significantly and the bike was able to be ridden in the chunk much easier due to this, similar to the action I mentioned above on the old stock DW link, but with much more stability, vs. the original horst-link shock combination which kind of hung-up on a lot of rocks and situations, a combination of the stock shocks restrictive high speed circuit and the wheelpath.
    "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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  3. #3
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    Maybe the Pivot 5.5?
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by CUP-TON View Post
    Maybe the Pivot 5.5?
    That bike wasn't even on my radar. I'll have to take a look.

  5. #5
    since 4/10/2009
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    I'll definitely second that you should really investigate suspension tuning and setup.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    I'll definitely second that you should really investigate suspension tuning and setup.
    A custom tune keeps coming up. I have both the Monarch and the Fox DPS Evol (currently running the Fox), so I'll have to check with Avalanche to see which would make the most sense to tune.

  7. #7
    since 4/10/2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by singletrack990 View Post
    A custom tune keeps coming up. I have both the Monarch and the Fox DPS Evol (currently running the Fox), so I'll have to check with Avalanche to see which would make the most sense to tune.
    IME, the more travel your bike has, and the harder you push your suspension, the more worthwhile it becomes to investigate professional setup help and/or custom tuning options.

    Sent from my VS995 using Tapatalk

  8. #8
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    Scout?

  9. #9
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    Quote Originally Posted by singletrack990 View Post
    A custom tune keeps coming up. I have both the Monarch and the Fox DPS Evol (currently running the Fox), so I'll have to check with Avalanche to see which would make the most sense to tune.
    The other thing is that on any new bike, it really takes me about a week to tune the OEM suspension to get the most of it, to ride it in enough varying conditions, and so on, and that's riding it just about every day.
    "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

    You're turning black metallic.

  10. #10
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    Hmm, lots of things to think about here. One, how much travel are you wanting? Two, wheel size always plays a big part, too. And three, linkage. I've been able to make almost every 27.5 wheel jump out of its skin, but getting the same reaction out of 29ers has been much harder for me (I'm not a large person though). Mid travel smaller wheels...VPP (Santa Cruz) and DW bikes are always poppy, though VPP stays planted through fast chunk better and stays a bit higher in its travel. I haven't ridden a longer travel 29er DW platform yet so can't comment on that. In theory the Ibis Ripmo would fit that bill but haven't had a demo come in yet that was my size I've heard great things though. DW playfulness with 29er stability. Maybe swing a leg over one of those if you can? Yeti's Switch Infinity system rides amazingly well too. Very playful and absorbs chunk super well, though won't feel *quite* as grounded as VPP. And I'll echo what others have said about stock suspension not matching frame leverage curves. Otherwise on the shorter/mid travel end of the spectrum I'd try a SC 5010, Ibis Ripley or Mojo3, Yeti SB100..

    Personally when I rebuild customers' suspension, I can't help but notice how many of them have made some really questionable adjustments to settings. I'm not doubting your ability to adjust suspension at ALL, but I do think for most people forks and shocks have almost too much adjustability these days and a lot of people end up not getting the most out of their setup. The majority of people don't really care, they just want to head out and not tinker with anything but if you know how you want a bike to ride, I would definitely do a custom tune as well!
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  11. #11
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    If you are bogging down through sustained rocky sections that points to the rebound being to slow. Before you buy another bike spend time tweaking the suspension.

    It is very common for rebound to be set up too slow.

  12. #12
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    I ended up checking the rebound settings compared to Fox's recommendations and it looks like one of my kids must have messed with the rebound because it was set way slower than I normally have it. I now have it set per Fox's recommendation and will get a ride in tomorrow and see if that takes care of the problem. Thanks for all the input!

  13. #13
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    Fox recommendation is a starting point. Typically for me its still too slow. Keep clicking off rebound until you feel it the rear kick back then click one or two clicks of rebound on. Select some bits of track you can use as a datum and do repeat runs to see what the change is.

    Essentially rebound should be as fast as possible without kickback.

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