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  1. #1
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    VL120 setup ??

    Hi All,
    I'm hoping for some advice on setting up my new VL120. I built it up over the winter and I've had just three serious rides on it. I have some questions in regard to suspension setup for Jill or anyone else who would like to chime in. The first is specific to the VL120 and the latter is more general. I haven't been that enamored with the ride - quite respectable but tends to delve into its rear travel more than I would like.

    The bike, rider and terrain
    18" VL120 frame, Minute 3 (100 mm) up front, stock Radium on the rear.
    I'm 202 lbs (215 with full kit), 5'11", 34.5" inseam. I have set the seat hieght to 28.7" from the center of the spindle (0.833 of my inseam).
    I live in Wisconsin so the terrian is a mix of things, plenty of tight single track, rock gardens, sand, some climbing, some modest downhill - nothing too death defying.
    I prefer the bike to be somewhat taught so I keep the fork pumped to about 180 psi and the rear shock is currently about the same. The sag on the rear is about 6-7 mm and it still feels to compress too easily.

    I've read all of the setup information regarding the 10mm of sag recommended for this design. Since this is so critical I thought it best to ask, how best to measure that. Should you climb on and off the bike as carefully as possible and check the O-ring displacement, or should I sit down hard and let it cycle to rest, slide the O-ring to meet the shock body then climb of carefully to measure ?

    My second question relates to rebound. As it is, the bike seems to bump steer in the front and pogo in the rear - a genuine problem in very tight single track. Is this simply a result of having my rebound set too fast ? Will all my problems evaporate with a slower rebound setting - what if anything is recommended by Haro ? Of course I can and will test this myself - but what is the conventional wisdom here ?

    Many thanks in advance

  2. #2
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    I have found the best way to set the sag is take it out and ride it in kit. Put some good hard pedal strokes into the cranks (acceleration drives it into its travel.) slide the o-ring back up and look for something on the slightly short side of 10 mm. I am also a heavier rider- 190 lbs stripped and have a radium. I will upgrade to rp23 shortly. that is what most people who reply here are riding (Jill and emptybeer). I should be on a 20 as should you (I am also 5'11" but shorter inseam). I got a smoking deal on the 18" frame and couldn't pass it up; and I didn't take into account the seat tube angle. I wonder if our extra weight is too far over the rear shock.

    FWIW- i'm running 120 in the radium w/ rebound set exactly in the middle. don't notice any pogo. Even Cunningham (MBA) has backed off the 2 clicks from full fast.

    Curious to hear haro's reply. the sag dependence on the design is an issue (as is the seat tube angle) altho no one should shy away from the bike if you are considering it-no bike is perfect. when it is in it's sweet spot, I worship the bike. but if I grab some beer on the way home and throw it in my backpack, the bike sinks too far into the travel and rides likes a slug.

    bottom line- carry your shock pump. add more air if it is not riding well. setting the preload is tricky, but once you get- I think you'll love the ride.

    Has anyone had a rp23 Pushed for this design? I also don't like how the shock dives into its travel on g-out type hits when you are seated. very reminiscent of old URT designs.

  3. #3
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    I don't have any advice to offer but it sounds like some of your issues are similar to my VL120. I have a stock Black up front and the Radium in the back. I've done about 10 rides so far and one thing I'm having trouble with is the squirrelly front tire when I'm climbing. I'm not sure if this is what Cracker69 meant when he said the front tends to "bump steer" , if it is I'd like advice too on how to get this dialed in. I don't mess with my rebound much and usually have it tightened all they way down. I've also found that the Sonix's low speed tight turning ability is weak. When I try to make either tight downhill or uphill switchbacks the bike just wants to topple over for lack of a more technical term.

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    Thanks, 'good to hear from a rider with such a close match to my parameters. Sounds like you got the same deal I did - 300 bucks for the frame. Upon first glance I though the seat tube angle would be an advantage in opening up the bike for my torso, I didn't think about the clydesdale weight being so far behind the pivot.

    Your right it's most noticable in g-outs where it feels like you've compressed through all the travel for no good reason. I'm betting that I can compensate with pressure, but this negates some of the advantages of the design. I was curious as to why Haro didn't offer a 19" option, that is my ideal size and 18"-20" is quite a step (the lower being generally good for >5'6" and the upper for >6' - so the spread caters to the edges of the height bell curve). I made the assumption that the design must inherently accomodate a broader range than most, otherwise what was the point.

    I'll reserve judgement for for a bit, at least until I've exhausted all of my tweaking options. For example I might be able to get away with lowering the seat a touch.

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    Hey Furry,
    I'm not having that problem, the front wheel is actually quite well planted most of the time, it just deflects of small or large bumps, particularly when I'm seated and spent - I can't yet rely on the bike to take care of the terrain for me but it doesn't feel vague or too light. Feed it into a smooth corner and it feels pretty good. What stem length do you have ?, I have a 90 mm stem on maybe this is the issue - I'll bet the Black and the Minute have identical axle to crown heights. I'll be riding again this afternoon so I'll play with the rebound and report back.

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    In addition furrydogs......I got thinking about the toppling sensation you'd noticed in tight turns. I don't know anything for a fact but I've come to the tentative conclusion that those sorts of effects are a result of fore/aft balance and being centered in the bike. For me, low speed stuff requires a pretty delicate placement of the rider afterall my center of gravty is higher than some other riders - teetering effects are more pronounced. I guess you could look at stem again and possibly whether to use a setback or straight seat post - I went with straight due to the seat angle on the VL120. The worst thing about all of this experimenting is that each test is a minimum of 40 dollars. Best of luck.

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    Thanks for the info cracker. I think the main problem is that I just switched from a hardtail so I think I just need to get used to the new geometry and like you said the correct stance on the bike. I'm not much of a gearhead so I am pretty clueless when it comes to figuring out where my seat should be, what my stem length is, etc. By the way, you mentioned stem length...how do I measure that? Also, let me know what you recommend for the rear shock rebound. I'm too lazy to keep adjusting it on the trail. I just want and good setting and let it go if that's possible.

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    Furry and Cracker, IMHO, I would suggest that all of your problems are coming down to geometry and your position on the bike. Is there any way you could have someone take pictures of you sitting on your bikes and post them here? I could start to suggest some things, but pictures would really help.
    "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings."

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    Quote Originally Posted by emptybeer
    Furry and Cracker, IMHO, I would suggest that all of your problems are coming down to geometry and your position on the bike. Is there any way you could have someone take pictures of you sitting on your bikes and post them here? I could start to suggest some things, but pictures would really help.
    Thanks for the offer. I'll see if I can get some photos posted.

  10. #10
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    More VL120 fumblings

    OK, I'm back from my experimentation and a brief holiday with the missus and kids in Door County.
    So they say it is always wise to change one thing at a time so that you can assess the changed properly. Rather than doing that I put our collective speculation to work and did it all in one go, i.e. I move my seat forward about 3/4" and lowered it buy about 1/2", put a 20 mm longer stem on (now 90 mm) and cranked the fork rebound to max, and added about 5 clicks (out of what must be 20) of rebound to the Radium. The result was a dramatic improvement. Not yet perfect but much better. I made no changes to the pressure in either the fork or the shock and the bike no longer squats over sharp edged step-like bumps and uses much less of its rear travel most of the time. I wasn't any faster - but I think that is still me and my level of fitness and the fact that the bike is still quite new and i don't trust it like I did my old steed yet.

    Anyway thanks for all of the help - I think altogether we might have got down to the cause of the seemingly strange behaviour of the 18" VL120 with taller/heavier riders. I'll keep tweeking and see what happens - one at a time from this point though.

    PS. - stem length is (was) measured center of steerer to center of the handle bar tube

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cracker69
    PS. - stem length is (was) measured center of steerer to center of the handle bar tube
    Thanks for the info. I did 3 rides this weekend in Breckenridge and I spent a lot of the time trying to dial in the VL120 also. I also did about 5-7 clicks on the Radium and the overall ride felt a lot better. I also kept that same setting on the climbs and it felt pretty good. I really don't want to be fumbling with the rear shock between climbing and descending so I think I have the best setting at this point. Now I have to dial in the front shock which shouldn't be too difficult as it only has one adjustment.
    By the way, do your disc brakes squeal? I clean mine with alcohol after every ride and I still get that annoying squeal.

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    Hey Haro

    Furry- Discs always make noise. that is the price paid for the awesome stopping power. as long as it is not considerable drag on my wheel, i don't worry about it. they may actually be less high pitched if you stop the alcohol clean after each ride. only worry about it if you get any kind of oil on the rotor (to include the oil on your fingers).

    I am still waiting for a reply from haro or some of the engineer types (merky, professor) on this forum. I have no problem w/ the response from the bike to squared edge bumps. I don't like how it squats in a g-out type hit when seated especially w/ a heavier rider. again- same problem as old URT designs. I feel that if haro worked w/ Push on this, I would love the bike even more. I will be contacting them soon on my own. Our shop doesn't have a fox account, so I am stuck paying retail anyway. Maybe a stock rp23 would be enough, but I feel that the extra weight so far behind the pivot and the "urt nature" may need extra attention.

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    Quote Originally Posted by b.ray
    Furry- Discs always make noise. that is the price paid for the awesome stopping power. as long as it is not considerable drag on my wheel, i don't worry about it. they may actually be less high pitched if you stop the alcohol clean after each ride. only worry about it if you get any kind of oil on the rotor (to include the oil on your fingers).
    I'll have to listen to my riding buddies' bikes. I swear I've never heard that kind of racket from their disc brakes, but then again, maybe I was never listening before....

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    I really think that you'll get better results from less maintenance. ironic. do your buds also clean their rotors that often? your pads may be contaminated also. is the drag considerable? are you running avid juicys? 6" inch rotors, right?

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    Wow, the kids in Haroland have been busy! Sorry for the late response guys...I was on vacation last week.

    OK, where to start...

    Sag. On the Sonix, setting the sag at 10mm is critical. Unlike other platforms where you can run a little more sag for a more plush ride, you can't do that on this bike. You can err a bit on the hard side, but then you are sort of cheating yourself. Just make sure it's at 10mm and no more. Here's how I set up sag on these bikes for people:

    -If your shock has a "gate" or similar switch where you can shut off the compression damping, shut it off. In other words, you want your compression open.
    -Hop on the bike somewhere where you can grab onto a stationary object to steady yourself (bike stand, truck bed, wall, friend's shoulder).
    -Give the seat/suspension a couple of good "bumps" (AKA "bounce") to break the initial stiction air shocks get in the first little bit of their stroke.
    -Stop bouncing...just let your weight settle onto the saddle. Without bouncing or stepping off the bike, reach down and move the shock's o-ring flush up against the shock body (seal area).
    -Gently step off the bike without bouncing on the saddle!
    -Measure the distance between the shock body/seal and where the rubber o-ring is. If it's 10mm, you're good to go. If it's more than 10mm, add air. Less than 10mm, let air out. Repeat the above steps until you reach 10mm.
    -Turn compression switch back on (if applicable) before you ride.

    I know this sounds difficult, but it really isn't. Luckily, you don't need to do this before every ride, but do check your air pressure every few weeks. Like tires, shocks lose air over time. You might want to write down your air pressure once you achieve the right amount of sag; it will save you time down the line.

    Shock rebound tends to be more of a personal thing and depends on the terrain you ride. Most people I know (myself included) tend to ride with theirs a bit on the fast side. If you run your rebound too slow, your suspension will "pack up" meaning it hasn't had time to rebound sufficiently before the next "hit" which sometimes leads to that inchworming feeling.

    Regarding the squirrly front end, if you are closer to 6' like you say you are, you really should be on the 20"size. If you ride a size too small, the result is you have too much seatpost showing because you've had to raise your seat so high. When you do this, you increase your effective top tube length and it puts you too far over the rear wheel, making the front end a little light. Try a shorter stem and/or a zero offset seatpost; that should help you.

    OK, did I miss anything? If so, let me know.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by b.ray

    I am still waiting for a reply from haro or some of the engineer types (merky, professor) on this forum. I have no problem w/ the response from the bike to squared edge bumps. I don't like how it squats in a g-out type hit when seated especially w/ a heavier rider. again- same problem as old URT designs. I feel that if haro worked w/ Push on this, I would love the bike even more. I will be contacting them soon on my own. Our shop doesn't have a fox account, so I am stuck paying retail anyway. Maybe a stock rp23 would be enough, but I feel that the extra weight so far behind the pivot and the "urt nature" may need extra attention.
    I run a stock RP23 on my Sonix and love it. Keep in mind what the Radium is...it's a mid-level rear shock. It works great, but you won't have near the adjustments that you'll have on an RP23 or a RockShox MC3.3.

    A better shock with a good compression platform should help this g-out issue you speak of. Heavier riders can also experiment with a little more air pressure.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by b.ray
    I really think that you'll get better results from less maintenance. ironic. do your buds also clean their rotors that often? your pads may be contaminated also. is the drag considerable? are you running avid juicys? 6" inch rotors, right?
    I've got the Avid BB5's. Ok, I'll chill out on cleaning the brakes. I was going on somebody's advice but maybe cleaning after every ride was overkill.

    I see Downhill Jill is back. I'm glad she mentioned the sag again. I was riding this whole last weekend thinking that my sag was set properly when the O ring didn't move when I sat on the bike. I'm gonna head out to the garage right now and get the sag set so I don't forget to do it before my ride on Thursday night.

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    Understand about the radium. have an rp3 on a horst link (circa '99) and it revolutionized the bike.

    I am getting it from push anyways. I'll have them tune it for me.

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    Oh yeah- that sag setting method doesn't work for me. I have to drive it down into its travel by pedaling hard and pushing the o-ring back up. i can bounce as hard as possible off of seat- the bike will be too soft.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Furrydogs
    I've got the Avid BB5's. Ok, I'll chill out on cleaning the brakes. I was going on somebody's advice but maybe cleaning after every ride was overkill.

    I see Downhill Jill is back. I'm glad she mentioned the sag again. I was riding this whole last weekend thinking that my sag was set properly when the O ring didn't move when I sat on the bike. I'm gonna head out to the garage right now and get the sag set so I don't forget to do it before my ride on Thursday night.
    My 2 on the brake cleaning: Have you cleaned your pads w/ the rubbing alcohol? Both rotors and pads need to be cleaned to eliminate any squeal. I have BB7s and they are silent.
    "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings."

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by emptybeer
    My 2 on the brake cleaning: Have you cleaned your pads w/ the rubbing alcohol? Both rotors and pads need to be cleaned to eliminate any squeal. I have BB7s and they are silent.
    Nope, I just cleaned the pads. Looks like I have something to do tonight.

  22. #22
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    Hi all,
    I think I have it sorted, which I'm quite pleased about it 'cause I didn't want to go the expense of switching out the frame, afterall I'm hardly a boehemoth. I think the key issue was shifting some weight to the front of the bike, ie slightly lowering the seat, moving the seat forward and compensating with the longer stem so that the length of the cockpit doesn't change (the length from the back of my seat to the handlebar is currently 31.5 inches - which is the same as my other mangle). The g-out, square step suspension squat that b.ray and I had grumbled about is at least 80% better. I no longer have the sensation of wollowing over these obstacles (that sinking sensation just saps your will). I'm far enough forward now that I can just detect the sensation of a little bit of rear wheel slippage on loose climbs - I figure this is the compromise point and I now fit the machine.

    As for brake squealing, here is an interesting observation. I switched my very basic but super reliable Hayes MX2 brakes frome my fantom, where they squealed like a @#$^&%, to the Sonix and they became whisper quiet. This was without cleaning anything. My conclusion is that, in the absence of dust, squealing comes from a vibrational harmonic that relates to the fork, frame and brakes and there is nothing to but try different pads, or fresh locking compound on the bolts or different rotors.....I sympathize though, I just hate noise coming from any part of the bike.

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