Eric Carter and Suntour Suspension - Interview and Video

Nov 11, 2013 at 0:05
Nov 11, 2013
by Mike Levy  
 
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Eric Carter might be most associated with Hyper as of late, but the Californian has a racing history that spans thirty years and includes World Cup downhills, four-cross and dual slalom, as well as plenty of time spent winning behind the bars of a BMX race bike. Over the years he earned a reputation as one of the guys most in-tune with not only exactly how his bike was performing under him, but also how to alter and develop it to best suit his style and the course, a skill that he will now be putting to use at Suntour as the brand once known for their entry level offerings looks to expand into the high performance market. Suntour's work with Carter certainly makes sense given the recent release of their 200mm travel RUX downhill fork and the 160mm travel Auron, two products that Carter is helping to get the most out of. We caught up with him between test sessions to talk suspension, development work, and the future.


Eric Carter Rides the Suntour Auron

Views: 9,260    Faves: 38    Comments: 2
Filmed and edited by Suspended-Productions.


  The official announcement that you'll be doing development for Suntour has just been released, but you've been on their suspension for awhile now, correct?

Yes, that is true. I have been doing development work and overall testing with Suntour for some time now. I started out on Marzocchi last year, but after the meltdown over there I contacted Suntour and asked about being a part of the family. Darren Salsbury at Suntour and I worked together at Mongoose on a number of projects in the past, so it was a no brainer for myself and just a matter of them having room for me.



  You were known for providing very detailed feedback on the equipment that you were using during your racing career, often helping to develop bikes for the both the race team and consumers. Is it fair to say that this likely played a role in your signing at Suntour?

I imagine so. I call it my curse, haha! When I started getting good support back in the GT days when Steve Peat was on the team, I was always trying to get my setup 100% perfect instead of getting really close and then getting used to it. This approach worked out sometimes, but it also sometimes backfired when it came time to the race run. But like I said, I worked on a number of projects with Darren in the past, so he knows my sensitivity to what a bike is doing and my ability to communicate that, and I know that was part of the value that I bring to Suntour. After all, there are many factors to testing, but if you can’t communicate what you are feeling it is really difficult for the engineers to make changes.

Hyper prototype

Carter's prototype 650B wheeled Hyper fitted with the new Auron fork.



  It must be a very cool feeling to see your feedback used to advance the products that you're working on. Is there any specific development work that you're especially proud of?

Well, there have been a number of products that I have been involved with. I used to work on some of the BlackBox stuff, and we tested the air-sprung BoXXer back in 1999, a number of years before it hit the market. They also had a really trick four-way adjustable shock, as well as the Flood Gate stuff that had U-turn travel adjustment on it. I always used the U-turn function to dial in my steering via the head angle with the suspension so that my bike would always turn neutral - just one radius per turn instead of multiple corrections. Those were good times, and those guys really taught me how to test and how to provide feedback. Through all that test time I developed my own system that helps me isolate specific things that the bike is doing on various parts of a trail. The Kenda tires, which are part of my Legends series, has been very fulfilling, done really well, and been well received by consumers. And now, with Hyper actually developing bicycles from the ground up... Honestly, this was the deep end for me, but the learning curve has been vertical. I had no idea there was so much behind the scenes that happens before a rider ever gets to touch a piece of equipment. I am really looking forward to taking all of this knowledge and applying it to the Suntour product line to help them become a player on the performance side.



  We've been impressed with the Suntour products that we've spent time on, including the new 160mm travel Auron, but do you think that they can bring the heat to FOX and RockShox when it comes to high-end suspension?

I think whatever Suntour focuses on, they can do it. Suntour is the largest producer of suspension forks in the world, and while a lot of those are lower-end models, that adds up to is a lot of financial horsepower. So if Suntour really wanted to jump in and take a market share at the World Cup level, I think they could. But the truth is that Suntour is a very conservative company when it comes to development, so I don’t see them purchasing big rigs team trucks on every continent and trying to take over that part of the suspension world.

Photo by Dan Severson

bigquotesI think Suntour is looking to develop high performing, quality products that are both extremely user friendly to work on and easy to understand how to setup properly, all at a price point that actually makes sense in today's economy. So far everything I have seen and ridden is right on target. - Eric Carter



  As far as testing goes, will you be spending most of your time on mid and long-travel products like the Auron and RUX downhill fork?

I will ride anything that Suntour wants tested. But yes, as far as products that the public already knows about, I will be focused on the RUX for downhill and the new Auron 650B fork. The Hyper bikes will utilize 650B wheels, so it's a perfect fit for our bikes and the product line that Suntour is developing.



  While not widely known, Suntour's performance forks feature serviceable cartridges that use a proven piston and shim arrangement. When testing, will you be trying different damper setups? What are some of the things that you're looking for?

This goes back to the goals of Suntour to provide user friendly products, with their Quick Service Product (QSP) philosophy being a perfect example of this - the QSP cartridge system is very serviceable, as well as being designed to be easily swapped out if there is an issue. First, I will be working to get the suspension to feel how I like it to feel for me personally, as well as endurance testing the system during that process. Yes, I can have a number of shim setups to easily swap out and compare, as well as the usual altering of oil heights and viscosity to see how performance is affected. If needed I can work on overall tunes that have the suspension coming out of the box to the consumer with descent performance in the middle of the clicker ranges, thereby giving consumers room to work with the suspension to optimize a personalized feeling.

Photo by Dan Severson


  You signed with Hyper in 2011, and we were able to see new prototypes at this year's Sea Otter that you helped develop. Will we see you racing on this bike, complete with Suntour suspension?

I have already been racing Hyper's 150mm travel, 650B all-mountain "fun bike" at the enduro series that I promote in Southern California. It's been fitted with the Auron fork and the Durolux shock, and I've also done a fair bit of riding on the RUX and Durolux forks. I also plan to race some Oregon enduro stuff, and when we get the new Hyper DH bike I will do some downhill races on that with the RUX, maybe even some of those Red Bull 12 Hour DH races. And then a couple trips up to Whistler to shake things out, of course.



  A lot of riders are happy to see that Suntour's RUX downhill fork is now heading into production. What do you think it can offer over other options on the market?

It hits all of Suntour's targets when it comes to offering high performance, being user friendly in terms of tuning and service, and won't break the bank to do it all. The sooner that people get over the "Suntour makes cheap forks" idea, the sooner they will open themselves up to getting a fork that performs at a high level and can be serviced for sometimes hundreds less than what people are used it. The product is solid and feels good when you're riding, and you don’t have to be a member of the Mensa Society to set it up.


The all new Auron and RUX are now available in the aftermarket through SR Suntour North America at 1-855.205.BIKE (2453)
Suntour's Auron fork
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47 Comments

  • + 48
 easy to root for Suntour... they want to make things easy, fun, great, and affordable... all things i agree with....
  • + 19
 Fox wants to make things Gooold!
  • + 6
 Yeah I'm pretty sure my next fork will be a Suntour. I'm 100% behind a company keeping their designs simple and serviceable (and cheap!). Plus it would be fun to try something new!
  • + 15
 Kind of related, but the first time I tried XFusion suspension front and back it was by far better than anything I had ridden before. Plus it was way cheaper. It reminded me of moto suspension. It seem Suntour is on the same page. I've always applauded companies who can make their products work well while being less expensive and have the end user be able to service them. This is the direction that the industry should be taking. Enough with the gimmicks that just add dollars to the final price.
  • + 6
 Yeah I really like the xfusions too, I guess I just didn't realize they were that cheap. I'll give em a look!
  • + 7
 I wonder... What does the Fox say about what Suntour is doing?
  • + 1
 I really hope this fork will be as serviceable as stated. They would have my money quickly if I could get an affordable, high quality fork that I can maintain instead of ship to California every year.. When is the release!
  • + 2
 I put a Suntour Durolux on a park bike for my wife. It feels pretty darn good, especially for the money and is simple and reliable. I would recommend it and look forward to more products from them.
  • + 7
 @tlilly rockshox forks are pretty simple to service too. As of 2 months ago I had never opened up a fork in my life, but I completely rebuilt/replaced my internals and lowers after an unfortunate encounter with a parking garage... Servicing RS was no big deal at all, and the internals weren't too expensive.
  • + 2
 @bkm That's good to hear. What fork was it? I've heard great things about the new Pike and like to hear that they're easily serviceable.
  • + 2
 Tlilly - most forks apart from Fox Talas series are easy to service. However it is good to talk to a mechanic who's done it before you service them yourself
  • + 3
 @Tlilly it was a Rock Shox SID, but the spring and damper internals aren't too radically different between that and the other forks like the Pike. As WAKI says though, it's good to either talk to a mechanic or just read the service manual, part compatibility lists, etc front to back a few times before you start taking things apart. But if you do your reading and have the right tools (or close approximations, in some cases) you shouldn't have any problems.
  • + 2
 All the Rockshox I've ever serviced were a breeze. Make sure your confident in yourself to take it apart CORRECTLY, and have a good understanding of how things work (read the manual or ask a mechanic like bkm said). Take pictures if necessary. This stuff isn't rocket science you just have to take your time, be careful and make sure you do things properly. And once you understand how things work, you can even start doing basic tuning like tweaking oil weights ect. Done Totem Coils and Airs, Argyles and Boxxers so far. Coil rear shocks and certain air models on the other hand aren't so easy.
  • + 2
 Yes, if you understand a little about how suspension works and what you want it to do, then its pretty easy. If you have no idea, then step away from the tools Smile
  • + 11
 Stoked to have Eric Carter on the SRSuntour team!! Great guy, legendary rider in many disciplines for a long time, and knows his stuff!! Go EC!!!
  • + 3
 YEAH TIP!…. Should be a real good time testing and filming…. Hook'n up with you for a couple of rides is going to be a lot of fun.
  • + 9
 That's great news! SR Suntour has the right chassis (Durolux) but needs further development of damping system and hopefully with Eric's help that's going to happen very soon Smile Thumbs up for SR Suntour!
  • + 3
 Yes, for me the Durolux ticks all the boxes - 26", 20mm through axle, adjustable travel 140-180mm, lighter than the Talas 36 equivalent. - I would love to try one!
  • + 4
 Give it a try! I did and love it!
  • + 1
 It's got another advantage I found out about recently: you can swap the newer cartridges into pretty much any durolux back to at least 2009. I think they were about $200 when I called up and asked. Biggest thing missing I've found is seal availability: only way I found replacements was from Suntour USA directly, and they were $40 a pop.
  • + 3
 Yes, I agree SrSuntour needs to set up a better online site or shops to start supporting them. Here in Japan, no problem at all. It might take time but just 2 weeks or so to get replacement parts. The only problem I have had with my forks is the main air seal which is sold in a set. Once replaced the fork is good as new. I just ordered the rear shock, Im really hoping the durolux shock will hold up to the beautiful ride of the fork. Yes, the coolest thing is all the forks legs and threads are the same so you can order a new cartridge to upgrade an older fork with the newest RC2 damper if wanted! I have noticed a huge difference in overall ride quality with the high speed compressions addition! Big hits are smooth and fluid! RideOn!
  • + 1
 I would actually prefer to see seals from enduro seals or some such: my biggest problem with the seals isn't really that I have to order them from suntour directly, but that they're $40 bucks and not very good, while I can replace the seals in almost any other fork on the market with high quality aftermarket seals for about $25.
  • + 1
 Yes, that would be great!
But, when I said seal I meant the air springs seal not the dust wipers.

However, yes it would be great to see another company provide better seals all around.
Does Enduro seals make internal seals for suspension too?
Or just the dust wiper seals?
  • + 1
 they make all sorts of kits, but nothing for suntour. I've been comparing a set of lyrik uppers that I have, and it's possible that those seals would work.
  • + 2
 Its just horrible to buy them and they didn't work. The stanchions are the same size so the ID will fit but if the OD is different it wont fit the fork. Tough call!
  • + 4
 I'm a bit of a brand sucker, so I'd have a hard time being excited about riding a Suntour. Plus, my level of self-awereness around all the cool dudes on cool bikes (I like to think of myself as being one of them f... yes I am) would be at risk. I'd feel vulnerable, and that might lead to lower self esteem, which might increase the risk of me falling, and I don't want to fall and hurt myself and look stupid just because I was going to be the guy who makes riding a Suntour fork cool. It's too risky. (Does sarcasm translate? Not well). Well at least they are trying and it will be interesting. Let's ride.
  • + 4
 For me it amazing how all the brands of forks now work so well. Budget / middle / top end all work so well. I remember my first pair of suspension forks( manitou with elastometers ) going solid in the winter when they froze up. We are def spoilt now.
  • + 4
 The only reason I haven't previously been very excited about Suntour's forks is that I had the impression that they would be hard to service or the availability of replacement parts would be scarce. Based on this article, I think that it might not be the case and if suntour can make a better performance per price equation than its competitors (at least with Fox it shouldn't be too hard) then I'm definitely going to give it a try.
But then again, I'm fairly new to the sport so I don't have any grudge with suntour's (alleged) bad quality forks from the past.
  • + 4
 Sounds good to me. Hopefully they will have the whole BoM available so you can purchase only the parts you need, and for the fucking love of god PUBLISH O-RING SIZES SO WE CAN USE STANDARD PARTS.
  • + 1
 As far as I concerned most of o-ring in suntours are metric and easy to buy.
  • + 2
 I wonder what's really happening at the Marzocchi HQ. Their engineers run from them to DVO and Suntour and yet they've got promising 380 and 350 forks. I really hope for them to comeback to the WC level suspension market.
  • + 0
 I was thinking exactly the same thing. I was debating whether to go for a Durolux when I was building my bike but the LBS gave me a good price on the Marz 55 so that's what I got. I like Marz and Suntour - good performance for decently priced equipment.
  • + 3
 That 55 is an incredibly good fork.
  • + 1
 For $1800 the 380 better perform at WC level.
  • + 1
 1800 isnt too bad when a 40 retails for 2200.
  • + 1
 Where can you get these in North America? I wanted to get a Durolux fork in early 2012 for my newest bike, but couldn't find any online. I ended up buying a Marzocchi 44 RLO and ultimately ending up on a 55 Micro Ti. That's a long drawn out story. I LOVE the 55, zero issues in 18 months, works great, adjustable, etc... But looking for a replacement for my other bike (replacing a Fox) I can't find the new Marz 55CR or the Suntour. I don't want to spend $1000 on a fork, the Fox 36rl is just not worth $850, imo. Hard to have an option if you can't even find one... Not sure about Marz now. Sounds like there is a total mess is going on there... Just want a 140-160mm fork with 35mm stanchions and a 20mm thru axle that works, that won't break the bank (or the wife!!)
  • + 1
 @oldschool43 Give them a call and find out how to get your hands on one: www.srsuntour-cycling.com/contact/sr-suntour-north-america
  • + 1
 I've been looking at the 55cr too, but the 2013 model has sold out everywhere. I heard that shops didn't buy many of the 2013 models because marz said the 2014 would be much better. And the 2014 forks are out on the 22nd. Now I just have to decide whether to get the 55cr or a suntour durolux.
  • + 1
 I wanted to hear some info on the rear shock the Durolux! I have been riding the Durolux fork for 3 years now and love it! Its easy to adjust and set up but feels great with a plush ride that can be as firm as you like. So, Im very interested in the rear shock. I was hoping this article had a light on the durolux rear as its on the bike he is riding. However with good concerns my way, beings he is riding the shock it must mean its up to standards! Cool! RideOn!
  • + 1
 EC knows his shit... His feedback on these forks as well as any other product is legit, he's been in the game for a long time....
  • + 1
 Someone ought to spellcheck before releasing this video to the public. 1:06
  • + 1
 They should put out a 140/150 ish 34 stanchioned 27.5 and 29 fork but with a 20mm axle. Just to see what would happen....
  • + 1
 great to see Carter and Darren back together again. they will do some incredible things together once again.
  • + 1
 will be interesting to see if they make any dh shocks to go with the rux
  • + 1
 he was at the black mountain enduro
  • + 1
 Ajustable
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