Suspension Upgrade?

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Suspension Upgrade?

Postby bikerector » May 16th, 2013, 9:16 am

After having my full-suspension for a while, it seems like the setup is good but I'm always wondering if it could be better. I have a norco revolver 1 http://www.norco.com/bikes/mountain/marathon/revolver/ which has a pretty solid setup for suspension but it seems like I'm always using all of the travel, even when I'm not jumping off of stuff. I've added more air to increase the spring rate but then the ride becomes harsh and even chattery.

So, I'm wondering if a suspension upgrade would fix this or if 100mm of travel is just that easy to go through. I have it set to where it's great for going fast on most xc style terrain and controllable, but when I feel like screwing around and hopping off of stuff instead of just taking it like a drop it's very easy to bottom out.

Am I just looking at he limitations of the short travel F/S and that just the way it works or would a different suspension help?

Reading more about the fox CTD suspension suggest they have a very flat spring rate curve vs a progressive curve, seems like something progressive would help fix the problem, all in theory though. Is there realistically anything to upgrade to in terms of performance (seems like fox is pretty solid stuff with possibly only marginal gains elsewhere?)? I would appreciate those more experience in suspension setup than I to let me know if there's much that can be done to optimize the setup or if I'm stuck with what I experience with this bike. Maybe I just wanted it to be too much of a do-everything mtb and it's just not what it's for.

The primary purpose of the bike is for xc racing including endurance events. So is it possible to have a racing F/S with near all-mountain/trail "playing" capabilities without adjusting everything away from the race setup? Do people have "race" and "play" adjustments or just optimize it for their primary style?

Yes, I'm a noob to F/S. Yes, I'm a dirt roadie (can go fast and crash fast too). Hit me with some knowledge, thanks.
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Re: Suspension Upgrade?

Postby iamkickstand » May 16th, 2013, 10:08 am

Do you have seperate compression adjustments or just air pressure, rebound, ctd?

100mm is about how much travel I usually use on most trail rides, my fork is a 130mm and the rear of my bike is 120mm, if I go much softer around here I feel like I am pedaling a wet spong, but when I go to places that have faster descents and bigger bumps I end up using all of my travel.

It sounds like if you have the ability to do so that you could use a little compression dampening. would help to stiffen up the bottom out a little.

you're also asking a bit much of your bike, you want it to be cush and comfy as an XC endurance rig, but then without changing settings you're asking it to also be able to take bunny hops and jumps with which it's not designed to do as much as an all mountain/enduro type bike is designed to do. That's not saying it can't do it, but you would probably need to add some air pressure.

Also a general rule of thumb is when you take out spring rate (or air) speed up your rebound (or take out the dampening effect), when you add spring/air slow your rebound down (or increase the dampening effect).

You can't just add air and expect it to feel the same, you'll have to adjust your other settings as well.

I am no guru, but hopefully that at least helps a little.
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Re: Suspension Upgrade?

Postby bikerector » May 16th, 2013, 10:33 am

It has rebound and compression damping, the CTD controlling the compression. Air pressure controlling the spring rate and sag. The shock has the trail compression fine tune so I have more adjust-ability in the rear, the front only has the three CTD settings

"Also a general rule of thumb is when you take out spring rate (or air) speed up your rebound (or take out the dampening effect), when you add spring/air slow your rebound down (or increase the dampening effect). "

This is good to know, had no idea. Fox's instructions seem more about getting ballpark but there's little about fine tuning. Their FAQ page has been great for getting one good setting but trying to get that multiple use down... well I've crashed a few times getting the suspension right for fast riding so I'm tentative about looking for other settings for other riding styles at the moment, but eventually I want to expand the horizons of where I take this thing. Copper Harbor is on the list and it seems like I should better know how to set the suspension it looks much more aggressive than the typical xc trails in West Michigan.

About using the 100mm of travel, my concern is that it's really easy to use it all and I wonder if that's due to the flat spring rate instead of progressive nature that many others have, seems like coil and air springs are pretty good at being progressive. Just for clarification on that part of my cornucopia of questions.

Thanks, BTW.
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Re: Suspension Upgrade?

Postby iamkickstand » May 16th, 2013, 10:45 am

For your fork with air suspension it should be somewhat progressive, as you compress the fork/air it should get slightly stiffer.

The rear can be a bit more complicated due to how your suspension is designed and what kind of leverage rates your shock/spring(air) sees as the bike cycles through the suspension.

I always get my compressions confused. But as an example on my Fox 40 fork adding a little bit of compresion will help with bottom out resistance, I can never remember if low speed compression is for small bump compliance and high speed compression is for large hits, or vice versa, but it is something for you to look into. Though on most xc oriented bikes compression is typically used to dial out suspension bob due to pedaling (ctd is a good example of this, open for riding dh, partially closed for mixed riding climbing, and fully closed for really climbing hard).

I don;t know a ton about XC shocks, mine isn't fancy, it just allows for air and rebound or the lockout (which is essentially like adding a ton of compression damping).

On my DH shocks they have a coil spring, pre load, rebound, and then hi-low compression setings, as well as an acutal "bottom out" which is a small canister filled with air that takes the edge off large bumps/jumps to prevent a harsh bottom out.

300hp knows a lot about suspension tuning, though we don't always agree 100% on how to set up your suspension, he knows the technical ins and outs of what kind of adjustments are supposed to do what.

I on the other hand know vaguely what is going on and I adjust my bike so that it feels good underneath me. Regardless of if I break some of the suspension adjustment rules.
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Re: Suspension Upgrade?

Postby bikerector » May 16th, 2013, 11:37 am

Hmm... hi speed and lo speed compression are two things I've heard of but know exactly nothing of what the difference is. Per Fox's website, CTD controls the low-speed damping. It does not look like I have control of high speed damping adjustment; unless that's covered by the CTD selector or air pressure is the high-speed adjustment for air shocks?

Here's a description I found on a downhill forum (I think) searching the terms in google.

http://www.ridemonkey.com/forums/f19/ho ... on-182140/

Thinking more about where O-rings have been after rides, I think it's usually the fork that's using tons of the travel. The rear, which has a more adjust-ability, seems pretty good. Maybe I should look into a CTD fork with adjustable trail setting. There is a massive difference between the 3 available compression settings. I do use a lot more arms than legs for bunny hopping, climbing , pulling the front end up over things, maybe there's some technique improvements to be made as well, like landing with more weigh on the rear? Something to look into anyway as a possible upgrade.

I think the boost valve in the rear shock could be a big contributor to why the rear handles the bigger hits better, based on the description from fox's website. I had an issue at Fort Custer when I discovered I had made too many adjustments at once and not at race speeds so I wasn't testing the system appropriately. 20 extra psi in the rear shock, tubeless tires run at low pressure (same pressures as training tires, but a 2.0 instead of 2.2 width), and increased the compression damping. Result, 3 crashes, slippery, unstable rear end (too much shock, too little tire air pressure). All part of my tuning process I guess, ride it to the limits and adjust if necessary. Went back to the old setting with some minor adjustments and it was much better than race day, I just learned how to ride it better (get your lazy A off the saddle and let the bike do it's thing, like at the bottom of a short slope that quickly goes back up or bottoms out into a turn squishing the suspension. Side by side riding with the full-rigid and full-sus help correct that idiocy.

http://www.ridefox.com/technology.php?m ... =lnav_tech

Seems like I've been focusing too much on tuning the rear and maybe not getting the front quite right; plus some improvements in technique/balance that could help. Some reason, I've been focusing on the shock much more than the fork, maybe because it has been the rear sliding around and it has more knobs to fiddle with.

Tuning a rigid suspension is so much easier.
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Re: Suspension Upgrade?

Postby bikerector » May 16th, 2013, 12:12 pm

And yet another question, is it "ideal" to utilize all of the travel?

Some reading on fox's help website (linked on a different forum) suggested you should be using most of the travel as long as you're not bottoming out (excessively bottoming out may have been the term used). I think I am bottoming out slightly but nothing comparable to hitting like on a rigid fork which I've used over the same obstacles with much less comfort. So much interpretation based on "feelings."
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Re: Suspension Upgrade?

Postby Roy » May 16th, 2013, 7:29 pm

I think you are stuck with what you have, a race bike. 100 mm of travel is more like 75 0r 85mm after you subtract for sag.
You might switch to a zero sag shock. (The Manitou Radium R with Platform Plus Damping is a no sag shock)
Once you adjust the all the knobs for summer or winter temperatures there is not much point of messing with them.
If you can, remove most of rebound damping to avoid stacking. Stacking occurs when the suspension does not fully rebound before you hit the next bump.
Increase the compression damping to where it is to harsh. The energy the shock absorbs is force times distance. The force can be spring force or hydraulic force.

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Re: Suspension Upgrade?

Postby b_b » May 16th, 2013, 9:24 pm

Nothing wrong with occasionally using all of your suspension.
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Re: Suspension Upgrade?

Postby bikerector » May 17th, 2013, 5:22 am

Thanks fellas, I'll stick with my suspension since it looks like besides one extra adjustment ability for the front there's not much more room for improvement it seems.

I'll take some of the suggestions to continue to fine tune it and just expect that I'll use all of the suspension for larger hits. More mtb'ing this weekend so I'll have a chance to mess around with it before going full roadie for a few months in June and July.

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Re: Suspension Upgrade?

Postby iamkickstand » May 17th, 2013, 7:10 am

bikerector wrote:Hmm... hi speed and lo speed compression are two things I've heard of but know exactly nothing of what the difference is. Per Fox's website, CTD controls the low-speed damping. It does not look like I have control of high speed damping adjustment; unless that's covered by the CTD selector or air pressure is the high-speed adjustment for air shocks?

Here's a description I found on a downhill forum (I think) searching the terms in google.

http://www.ridemonkey.com/forums/f19/ho ... on-182140/

Thinking more about where O-rings have been after rides, I think it's usually the fork that's using tons of the travel. The rear, which has a more adjust-ability, seems pretty good. Maybe I should look into a CTD fork with adjustable trail setting. There is a massive difference between the 3 available compression settings. I do use a lot more arms than legs for bunny hopping, climbing , pulling the front end up over things, maybe there's some technique improvements to be made as well, like landing with more weigh on the rear? Something to look into anyway as a possible upgrade.

I think the boost valve in the rear shock could be a big contributor to why the rear handles the bigger hits better, based on the description from fox's website. I had an issue at Fort Custer when I discovered I had made too many adjustments at once and not at race speeds so I wasn't testing the system appropriately. 20 extra psi in the rear shock, tubeless tires run at low pressure (same pressures as training tires, but a 2.0 instead of 2.2 width), and increased the compression damping. Result, 3 crashes, slippery, unstable rear end (too much shock, too little tire air pressure). All part of my tuning process I guess, ride it to the limits and adjust if necessary. Went back to the old setting with some minor adjustments and it was much better than race day, I just learned how to ride it better (get your lazy A off the saddle and let the bike do it's thing, like at the bottom of a short slope that quickly goes back up or bottoms out into a turn squishing the suspension. Side by side riding with the full-rigid and full-sus help correct that idiocy.

http://www.ridefox.com/technology.php?m ... =lnav_tech

Seems like I've been focusing too much on tuning the rear and maybe not getting the front quite right; plus some improvements in technique/balance that could help. Some reason, I've been focusing on the shock much more than the fork, maybe because it has been the rear sliding around and it has more knobs to fiddle with.

Tuning a rigid suspension is so much easier.

Don't make too many adjustments at once. One thing I think I would say is try to find a slightly better balance (if you use 75% of travel on rear, aim to match your fork to 75% if possible) the bike should feel nicely balanced that way.

Ridemonkey has some incredibly smart dudes when it comes to suspension tuning, and I think the DH guys in general are bigger "tinkerers" when it comes to suspension than the XC guys are. Let's face it, XC races are won with fitness, you can put the best bike handler in the world with the best tuned suspension in the world on a bike and the guy in shape on a huffy is going to beat him every time.
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Re: Suspension Upgrade?

Postby iamkickstand » May 17th, 2013, 7:15 am

bikerector wrote:And yet another question, is it "ideal" to utilize all of the travel?

Some reading on fox's help website (linked on a different forum) suggested you should be using most of the travel as long as you're not bottoming out (excessively bottoming out may have been the term used). I think I am bottoming out slightly but nothing comparable to hitting like on a rigid fork which I've used over the same obstacles with much less comfort. So much interpretation based on "feelings."



That depends.

When I go to a DH race we run the race course all day on saturday. I try to do a few things, get my tire pressure perfect for conditions, get my suspension perfect for the conditions, learn my lines. That being said I want to use all of my suspension except for a few mm (say 5-10%) on the one biggest hit on the race course. I want as much suppleness and bump sensitivity as possible so that I can ride as fast and as comfortable as possible, but I don't ever want to "feel" my bike bottom out, that means I am set up too soft. I like to have that extra 5-10% left over for when I make a mistake, or find that extra ounce of speed I didn't have in practice during a race run.

My XC bike I rarely use more than 75ish% of my travel, I don't want the bike to feel soft or mushy when I am climbing or pedaling hard or need to maintain some momentum somewhere. Usually I want that margin of error built into my suspension for the time I make a mistake, I still have that 15% to prevent a crash or an OTB or something.
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Re: Suspension Upgrade?

Postby bikerector » May 17th, 2013, 8:38 am

Don't make too many adjustments at once. One thing I think I would say is try to find a slightly better balance (if you use 75% of travel on rear, aim to match your fork to 75% if possible) the bike should feel nicely balanced that way.


For sure, learned that the hard way. Ran into a time crunch as I had 2 days to get it figured out before a race and 1 day ended early when I potato shipped a front wheel under normal riding. A friend who is much more accustomed to full-suspension xc riding pointed out that I was an idiot for making so many changes, I can't help but agree based on the race results.

I feel like downhillers have a lot more to gain from suspension tuning which is probably why they tinker more. When I was much more into crotch rockets and riding the race track the same thing was applicable. Dragging pedals in corners is no fun and scares the crap out of you the first few times of the day that you do it. Some of the guys at track days that work on their own stuff are severe suspension guru's, and a lot of them rode mountain bikes ironically. It's how I got into cycling.

My XC bike I rarely use more than 75ish% of my travel, I don't want the bike to feel soft or mushy when I am climbing or pedaling hard or need to maintain some momentum somewhere. Usually I want that margin of error built into my suspension for the time I make a mistake, I still have that 15% to prevent a crash or an OTB or something.


I think I'm close to this for most of the regular riding. It's when I bunny-hop off the drop instead of just taking it like normal I feel like I'm blowing through the travel, it's just so much fun to act like a kid in the woods and not a racer. Same reason I like to run over random stuff (local trail just got thinned out so there's small down trees all over the place) that's not the ideal line sometimes, just because I can (can't make that a habit for racing though). I'll have to look at playing with adding some air pressure and lowering compression and vice versa to see what that does. Raising both has had less than desirable results for me, though I could just be a sketchy rider still as I continue to learn to ride more technical stuff at higher speeds.

If the F/S does anything, it hides the fact that I'm going considerably faster on it than I am on my rigid. Complete different transmission of the terrain.

Again, appreciate the knowledge.
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Re: Suspension Upgrade?

Postby iamkickstand » May 17th, 2013, 8:49 am

bikerector wrote:[I feel like downhillers have a lot more to gain from suspension tuning which is probably why they tinker more. When I was much more into crotch rockets and riding the race track the same thing was applicable. Dragging pedals in corners is no fun and scares the crap out of you the first few times of the day that you do it. Some of the guys at track days that work on their own stuff are severe suspension guru's, and a lot of them rode mountain bikes ironically. It's how I got into cycling. .


Agree. I don't want to start the debate too much (XC Vs DH), but winning a DH race comes down to about 30% lack of fear (maybe this number should be higher), 30% skill, 30% fitness, and 10% the ability to color match your racing kit to your anodized bike parts to your helmet and of course whether you can do sweet whips off the jumps. But we also have 200 MM travel forks and 7-10" of rear travel depending on the bike. Plus more knobs to play with. Where as XC you may only have a 80 mm fork, or at biggest usually 100mm of F/S travel. And I think you win a race in XC with 70-80% fitness and 20-30% skill.....you spend a lot more time climbing and riding hard on the flats, and a lot less time out "technical riding" someone. The 10 seconds you may make up on a technical descent or series of tight corners is quickly lost during a pedally section (I've watched you guys blow by me millions of times after being "stuck" behind someone on a tricky section, only to never see you guys again)

bikerector wrote:[I think I'm close to this for most of the regular riding. It's when I bunny-hop off the drop instead of just taking it like normal I feel like I'm blowing through the travel, it's just so much fun to act like a kid in the woods and not a racer. Same reason I like to run over random stuff (local trail just got thinned out so there's small down trees all over the place) that's not the ideal line sometimes, just because I can (can't make that a habit for racing though). I'll have to look at playing with adding some air pressure and lowering compression and vice versa to see what that does. Raising both has had less than desirable results for me, though I could just be a sketchy rider still as I continue to learn to ride more technical stuff at higher speeds.

If the F/S does anything, it hides the fact that I'm going considerably faster on it than I am on my rigid. Complete different transmission of the terrain.

Again, appreciate the knowledge.

This is how i like to ride every time out :mrgreen:

write your settings down, find the settings that feel like optimal race settings for you. Then go out on a "play ride" and write those settings down. Now you own two different bikes for the price of one and you can go out and ride and have fun, and train like a madman.
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Re: Suspension Upgrade?

Postby 300hp » May 17th, 2013, 9:26 am

The Fox CTD shocks have very little compression dampening

Arguably the biggest factor to "blowing thru the travel" is the effect that the leverage ratio has on suspension. A bike with a progressive ratio will get harder to compress the further it gets into the travel to resist bottom out. A bike with a regressive ratio will get easier to compress the further it gets into its travel range. Some companies use this to give bikes a feel of overall "plushness" and so riders use all the available travel. The regressive rate is also used as a counter measure to combat the ramp-up effect that air shocks have. The more you compress the air in your cannister, the harder it gets to compress, so a regressive suspension ratio exerts more force on the shock at the end of the stroke to try and even out this effect.

Generally, on a bike like yours, you should set sag for weight, and tune compression for rider ability. With the shock full open (rebound all the way out, CTD in "D") set sag to 15-20% of the length of the stanchion.

If your bike still blows thru the travel, and you have a high volume air shock, consider this very cheap, highly effective mod (you can do the same thing for free if you have a high volume shock by shimming the high volume can....search MTBR for that). http://www.pinkbike.com/news/tech-tuesd ... -2011.html

this will give you more progressivity at the end of the stroke without increasing your static sag, and help combat "wallow".

The reason some of these "link" suspension designs like VPP and DW are gaining such popularity is they allow the suspension curve to go from regressive (easier to compress per inch) in the beginning third of the travel for small bump compliance and travel, to progressive in the second two thirds of the travel to combat bottom out and give a stable pedaling platform.

H.

Oh, kickstart...what don't we agree on?
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Re: Suspension Upgrade?

Postby iamkickstand » May 17th, 2013, 9:29 am

300hp wrote:Oh, kickstart...what don't we agree on?

we mildly disagree on everything, thats why I like the hugs you give me.

I don't recall exactly. I think it boils down to me tuning by feel and you tuning with knowledge. :mrgreen:
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