February 16, 2018 at 11:29 am #818727
Coils are popular again. I think any of us that grew up riding a coil fork and shock always loved the feel of a coil. Air has become king over the past few decades however. Bikes are designed around them now and the spring curve is all but perfected. But like in Moto, many riders are making the move back to coil.
Rear coil shocks never really went away but we’re now seeing lots of new drop-in coil options for Fox and Rockshox forks.
The pinnacle of such systems at the moment is this ASC3 Kit from Push https://www.pushindustries.com/pages/acs3-kit . Particularly that it offers an adjustable air chamber to control bottom out. Only caveat is that once you run this kit, you’ll require a new CSU if you want to go back to air.
While an air spring is still more tuneable in many ways, the small bump sensitivity and constant performance of a coil is tempting. I suspect a tune on the damper side to match the coil would go a long way as well.February 16, 2018 at 5:20 pm #818729
I thought about this a little bit awhile back and the thing that had me decide “I prefer air” was that the spring really defines a lot of your tune and it doesn’t seem as though it would transfer from one style of riding to another as quickly and easily as air. I really don’t have a leg to stand on as “Trail” is my aspiration, but jumping from cutting it up in the Don to a race at Albion I’m pretty happy to adjust my air volume, rebound and compression quick and dirty instead of stripping my fork down to drop another spring in to achieve the rate I’m looking for in a given scenario seems like a pretty good platform for promoting air.
Given the opportunity to have a dedicated gravity rig I’d be on the coil train immediately if nothing else than fro the experience with it.February 16, 2018 at 6:18 pm #818730
I’m so happy with the performance of current high-end suspension that I’m not very tempted to try this new coil stuff out. I’d be interested in demo’ing one of those coil-adapted forks to see for myself, but I wouldn’t drop the cash based on online reviews.
As for a coil shock, adding a pound of weight to my trail bike doesn’t sound like a great plan to me. I also don’t want a bike that hugs the ground, which is what people say about coil shocks. I’d rather skip around, pop, and jump. I like to feel the bike moving under me.
And if you want my real grumpy old bachelor thoughts…
1. People want coils cuz they look cool. (No argument from me. They look cool as. I want one for that reason too).
2. The vast majority of mountain bikers don’t ride hard enough for it to make any difference.
The only upside I see is reduced maintenance/increased durability, which does count for something.February 18, 2018 at 9:53 pm #818737
I’ve always used coil suspension. My Elka rear suspension on the DH bike is great. But when ever I’m considering buying an all mountain/xc style bike I always thought the lightness of air suspension would win me over regardless of feel. I don’t want to pedal any weight I don’t need to up hill.February 20, 2018 at 12:47 pm #818748
All good points guys.
I think most concerns are around the fork, for me anyway, If I want to run a coil out back on any given track, that’s an easy swap in the parking lot. While a fork isn’t that much harder to swap out, running separate fork options isn’t really cost effective. I know a rear shock isn’t cheap these days either but it’s more realistic that someone would have two shock options.
As far as tune-ability on a fork, I don’t mess with air pressure much in terms of one trail to the next. That’s mostly a low speed compression and rebound adjustment, depending on conditions. Tuning the spring side with a coil, the Push options anyway, is perhaps more simple. To address end stroke or progressiveness on a modern air sprung fork, you need to add or remove volume spacers, that can be achieved with air pressure on the ACS3. As I said, I don’t really mess with sag and stick to a baseline unless the terrain really changes, like going out west or racing a steep track. I do run that MRP ramp control however, so that can now be adjusted on the fly. Even then, it’s still greatly LSC and LSR that I adjust from one trail network to the next, if at all. I adjust ride height and shaft speed more than sag. My all-mountain bikes have both LSC and HSC further reducing the odds of my touching the air spring. So while you could adjust sag with an air spring more easily, should you want to, adding or removing a preload spacer in the ACS3 isn’t really that hard at all. Complete spring swaps, while just as simple, are a pretty big bump in spring rate and I don’t think that’s going to be necessary. As with a rear shock, I was always running the same coil with more or less preload. Only swapping out in extreme situations. A 1/4 turn here and there can go a long way when you’re looking for that grip or pop your missing.
I complexity agree that air springs are as refined as they can be at the moment. I don’t think there is much point in going to coil for everyday trail riding in Ontario. It’s debatable whether you even need suspension for most of it. But there are some wet days in Quebec where it makes all the difference. I plan to do several road trips that way and south of the border and for this it makes sense. Our fall trip to Kingdom and Bromont last year was pretty epic. You could easily do a day of climbing 2000m to get your descents on the backside or go full send riding the lift on the frontside. You can even combine both, same with East Burke, Thats a pretty vast array of terrain to contend with. Next day your cranking out 40-70km of trail in Kingdom. One bike with two shocks can go a long way.
Air springs require seals with tight tolerances which inherently causes friction. I think i’ll definitely have a coil shock option for the Nomad but still not sure about the fork. If there was a clean solution to swap back and forth, i’d have done it already but we’re not there yet. To everyones point, a coil isn’t always the best so not sure running one full time makes sense.
I’ve been super happy with the MRP Ramp Control (thread on here somewhere) Being able to adjust progressiveness is nice but even more clutch is the ability to adjust positive and negative air pressure separately. The small bump compliance is still mediocre with air and this really helps with the breakaway force and stiction. But when it comes time to track and react across a field of wet roots, coil is still king. Air can’t touch it.
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