Push Industries' owner, Darren Murphy, stands in the shock assembly room.
Push Industries' story begins in a small warehouse in the early 2000s, when Darren Murphy decided to open up his own custom suspension tuning business, with the goal of providing consumers tuning options that were typically reserved for professional racers. His plan worked, and it wasn't long before the phrase, “getting your shock Pushed,” became common parlance as more and more riders began to take advantage of the company's services. By 2006 Push had moved from California to Colorado, and began CNC machining their own parts - to this day all of the engineering and production takes place in house.
Most recently, it was Push's ElevenSix
that put the company on the radar of mountain bikers looking for a high end, US-made coil shock. Manufactured entirely from domestic materials, the ElevenSix was Push's first foray into creating an entire suspension component, rather than installing their parts into another company's body. Curious as to what it takes to turns blocks and rods of raw aluminum into a shock, I recently paid a visit to Push's headquarters in Loveland, Colorado.
Push's headquarters are split into three sections. Manufacturing takes place on one side of the building, in a spacious room full of very expensive machines that can turn metal and plastic into nearly any shape imaginable. The other side of the building is where the assembly takes place, along with the all of the shock tuning and testing. A conference room and a few offices are located just inside the main entrance, but it's the production, assembly, and servicing that dominate the facility.
Push may have shifted some of their focus onto the development and production of the ElevenSix, but suspension tuning is still a crucial part of the business.
Whether it's a simple rebuild, or a full custom tune, complete with a revalving, Push's technicians are intimately familiar with the inner-workings of Fox's suspension products.
Your local bike shop probably buys suspension oil by the quart, but Push is operating on a different scale - the Maxima oil they use comes in 55-gallon drums.
Coffee and computers are what it takes for an idea to become a reality. Using SolidWorks and Autodesk software, Push's engineers create a product virtually before turning on the machines to bring it to life. Everything from polymer reducers to shock shafts are manufactured in house.
One of Push's very first machines, this Grizzly G4016 lathe is still used daily.
Whether it's a shock reducer or a piston head, Push has the capability to quickly turn a concept into reality.
As the demand for Push's tuning services grew, they began to look into manufacturing the necessary parts themselves. Their in-house manufacturing kicked off with the production of the shock bridge used as part of their MX-Tune for Fox shocks, where the stock bridge (the part that connects the main body of the shock to the external reservoir containing the IFP) was replaced by Push's version, which added the ability to adjust low- and high-speed compression.
The success of the MX-Tune made Darren Murphy realize that is was entirely possible for Push to manufacture complex parts without any need for outsourcing. More CNC machines were ordered, and Push's employees began learning and exploring the options that the new manufacturing tools opened up.
The ability to rapidly create a prototype part, whether that was a shock piston or something as basic as mounting hardware, sped up Push's testing and development process, and it wasn't long before they realized that they were making almost all of the parts necessary to build a rear shock.
The DMG Mori NLX 2000 can quickly and easily turn a solid rod of aluminum into a polished, threaded tube. The bit that does the work is hollow, allowing coolant to spray out the center as it is removing material.
This tub of ceramic beads is used to deburr and polish the aluminum parts before they receive a final hand polishing.
A batch of bridges for the ElevenSix are lined up in preparation for the laser etching process.
Etching complete, the finished parts are ready to head over to the main assembly room.
Push's manufacturing and assembling areas are incredibly clean and organized, free from any distracting clutter.
It was the creation of the Dual Overhead Valve that provided the final impetus for Push to enter the market with a shock of their own, largely due to the fact that they didn't want to put the technology they'd developed on another company's product. The Dual Overhead Valve has two separate compression circuits, each with their own externally adjustable high- and low-speed compression adjustments that can be selected with the flip of a lever.
Two mules of the ElevenSix were built, one that was intended to be a more affordable, pricepoint oriented model, and the other a no-holds-barred version, with all of the adjustment's Push's employees were looking for. A tube sock was pulled over the shock when it was in use in order to keep the prototype hidden from the curious eyes of the scores of mountain bikers that ride the trails near Push's headquarters, earning it its 'Sock Shock' nickname.
All of the parts required to assemble the ElevenSix are neatly arranged and labeled in boxes and bins.
Stacking shims. Every shock is custom tuned based on a rider's weight, riding style, and the frame that it will be mounted on.
The HyperCo springs used on the ElevenSix are available in 25-lb increments, which means there needs to be a wide range on hand at all times.
After the assembly is complete, the shock run through a series of tests on the dyno. The results are printed out and provided to the customer with their shock. Push add the settings into their database for reference - it need be, they can re-simulate exactly how a shock was initially set up.
In addition to the dyno used on the assembly line, Push also have this Electromagnetic Actuator (EMA) Roehrig system for further testing. The device can be programmed to exactly replicate a certain track, allowing Push's engineers to simulate everything from the gnarliest World Cup track imaginable to an endless series of braking bumps.
Tools of the trade. A vacuum bleeder and a tank of nitrogen are used to get the ElevenSix full of oil and ready to rally.
Give me a lever and I'll.... bottom out a shock with ease. This device is used to cycle a shock through its full travel to make sure it feels consistent through the entire stroke.
The final result - the most recent iteration of the ElevenSix, which has been updated with a new coating on the body and shaft, a revised piston valve shape, and a larger reservoir body. Now that the ElevenSix has been in existence for almost two years, what's next? Let's just say that it's not another shock.... Stay tuned.