"I'll have an "E" please Bob", was a famous quip on Blockbusters quiz show that ran for ages here in the U.K. Basically the challenge was two contestants pitted against one, was two heads better than one
? Maybe... Our question today is are two shocks better than one?
2Stage Bikes of New Zealand is asking that question today...Photos
: Ryan Corbynwww.ryancorbyn.com Location
: Kinver EdgeWords
: Si Paton
New Zealander and design engineer Roland is the brains behind this design and the 2Stage twin air shock technology. Word is in the middle of the night he awoke, jumped out of bed and started fiddling with his sons Lego Technics set. Three years later and plenty of track side research and development and numerous trips back to the drawing board to create an active stable platform technology where the threshold was delivered by the rider input, rather than the course you were descending down.
Turning on a dime!
A full and further five whole years later from that first prototype and the 2Stage team have two bikes in full production. The Elite 9 as featured here for Downhill and the Zed 8 for "Free Ride". All Mountaineers don't fret, there is a bike currently in development for you.
Handling the steep and technical UK style.
Were any of you riding around Europe in 2007? You might of bumped into their top New Zealand Pro Glenn Haden at the Megavalanche winning the Sprint DH race? Or did you see him win the Italian National Championship Series? Race proven? The facts are there, he is also current 2008 New Zealand Downhill National Champion.Glenn Haden 2Stage Bikes in Action:
Primarily you are looking for a frame-set that has all the right angles and dimensions for riding and racing Downhill on. Many a bike company can tick that box, I mean all you need is a set square, protractor and half an "O" Level in welding don't you?
Double Top Tube, think Torker, Quadangle, Turner and Q Bikes
Suspension set-up, that's the key isn't it to making sure, 100% your back tyre sticks to the floor like sh1t sticks to a blanket. More traction time means faster acceleration when you are stomping on those flat pedals, better handling in corners and smoothing out the lumps and bumps we encounter over those three minutes, 22 seconds.
Nice and clean rear dropouts.
Axle paths? The first axle path is almost vert, following small bumps. The second axle path moves rearward following the trajectory of those big square rocks you keep hitting.
There are plenty of great shock companies out there that for years have been delivering the above, Fox, RockShox, Marzocchi, Manitou, Millyard etc. Then if you are really fussy then getting them tuned up by a professional is your next advancement up the ladder.
More Air Time than Richard Branson.
All the above happened with single pivot bikes, was the next step linkages? Yes linkages! Lawhill worked and felt so nice, I loved my Schwinn Straight 8, then it was all about pedaling as well, VPP, DW Link and some others.
Bumper Cars. These screw nicely in to stop your upper fork legs and frame denting.
What is next? Well anybody remember Scott dabbling with two shocks on their bikes a decade ago? I am not even going to mention that huge 8ft long seat that bolted onto the top tube. I think they got that idea from Skyway's BMX bolt on Freestyle Platform. Heath Robinson to say the least.
See it doesn't always rain or snow here
Well let's go down this two shocks road, surely there is some mileage down there. Especially now we are all talking about Air Shocks and their coming of age. Can I just say now my 1996 Foes DH Mono came with a Fox Air Shock, OK it lasted about two minutes but Airs have been about for a long, long time.
Many still condemn air forks and shocks that deliver more than 6 inches of travel. Will that be different here
Count them, one, two
As the 2Stage system shares its 9inches of travel between both shocks, the first stage (top shock) uses five inches of travel. The second stage (bottom shock) uses four inches of travel. Therefore sharing the work load nicely and keeping all you air shock doubters more than happy.
On a 2Stage the first shock works at low pressure which takes care of all the small fast bumps. The second shock kicks in at the end of the first shock's stroke and is set at a higher pressure – this takes care of the big stuff.
Floating Brake Arm, recommended with. Though it is easily taken off if you wish to use the regular mounting set up.
Floating brake arms in simple terms that I can understand: This uncouples the braking from the suspension, in many bikes this locks the suspension out and it feels like your riding down steps. You can now brake later, even in those braking bumps and save those fractions of seconds whilst keeping hold of your false teeth.
Glenn Haden confirms this suspension system works and I agree with him. The 2Stage story is not over yet though, more tricks up their sleeve! They have got the suspension dialed but what about your pedaling, you don't want this to behave like a pedalo on Benidorm beach do you? Let me introduce the "Idle Cog", not a new invention but certainly tried and tested as seen on the likes of Canfields, Balfa, Appalache and even Trek. What benefits does this Idle Cog give you then? This routes the chain between the two pivot points keeping the suspension active on small hits with zero pedal feedback. It also cleverly locks out the second stage shock during accelerating. Chain tension here provides that lockout function and limits the travel of the bike by half. The first stage shock is still active whilst you pedal, in fact the harder you pedal the firmer the pedaling platform is.
Did the chain stay on? Yes it did!
Pivot Points? With suspension bikes your pivots are usually the problem come maintenance time. How many pivots here? There are two main pivot points so not as complicated as it looks. The lower pivot is for those small hits and delivers a short chain stay, good for those tight spots such as Inners, Bringewood and Caersws. The top pivot point is for those big wallops, that happen deeper in the stroke meaning a longer wheelbase for stability at high speeds, Fort William, Sun Peaks and Praloup etc.
To wrap this up I've ridden and raced plenty of the top bikes out there, all with single shocks that worked brilliantly. This two shock system performed just as well as any of my previous test rigs and in many cases pedaled even better. My answer for Bob (Blockbusters) is two better than one? Yes, coupled with an idler cog, frame design, linkages, pedal factor and reliability I know 2Stage are onto a winner.
There will be a lot of doubters out there as I'm sure we will see in the posts below. That's what it's there for so go fill your boots and comment to your hearts content. It will be really interesting to see what you guys think.
In the UK, Team Fenwicks are a four man strong team and signed up to race the 2Stage Bikes under the direction of John Smith in 2009 so keep em peeled! 2Stage also run a team of young guns who race for them in their “2Stage Academy” at UK National level. 2009 will be a big year for 2Stage as they have registered as a trade team to race in UCI World Cups. “2Stage Factory” will be making an announcement about their 2009 team in the coming weeks. UK Dealers
With an increasing list of accredited dealers around the UK it’s pretty easy to find a 2Stage bike to demo. A list of 2Stage dealers is up on the 2Stage website. www.2stagebikes.com
Point and click, every trip, the 2Stage puts you in control.
Track side and Online.