Air vs Coil: Jesse Melamed and Remi Gauvin's Shock Options - Crankworx Whistler 2017

Aug 16, 2017
by Mike Kazimer  
Jesse Melamed and his Rocky Mountain Altitude setup for the Whistler EWS.
Jesse Melamed
Remi Gauvin and his Rocky Mountain Altitude setup for the Whistler EWS.
Remi Gauvin

Rocky Mountain's Jesse Melamed and Remi Gauvin both had strong results at the Whistler EWS race, with Jesse taking home the win and Remi finishing the day in fifth place. Both riders were on Rocky's new Altitude, but Remi chose to ride a coil shock and Jesse went with an air shock. How do they chose what to run for each race? We caught up with both of them to find out more about the logic behind their decisions.

Remi Gauvin s Mountain Altitude setup for the Whistler EWS.

Remi's Rocky Mountain Altitude

Weighing in at 180 pounds, Remi prefers to run an air shock for the more trail oriented races like Ireland, Rotorua, and Tasmania, and install the coil option for races with rougher stages, like Madeira and Whistler. The Fox DHX2 coil that Remi's been running is a longer length than than air option, which increases the bike's travel above its stock 150mm setup. By taking advantage of the Altitude's adjustable geometry, and by using offset eyelet bushings, Remi's able to preserve the bike's geometry no matter which length shock he chooses.

Remi Gauvin chose the coil shock for it s longer travel and ability to be setup a bit stiffer without compromising grip and sensitivity.

The coil shock is set up with a little less sag than the air-sprung Float X2, due to the more linear nature of a coil spring. Even though there's not as much sag, the initial suppleness helps provide enough grip and small bump compliance.


Jesse Melamed s Rocky Mountain Altitude setup for the Whistler EWS.

Jesse's Rocky Mountain Altitude

Jesse's winning bike was equipped with an air sprung Fox Float X2, but it wasn't just any X2 - the shock was custom tuned specifically for Jesse based on his feedback. Now, not every rider is able to articulate exactly what they're looking for out of their suspension, but keep in mind that Jesse has an engineering degree – he's familiar with taking an analytic look at challenges and figuring out solutions, skills that can be applied to both racing and bike setup.

Jesse was testing a new airsick from FOX that was custom built for his Altitude. It is longer than the stock shock to give the bike a bit travel and tuning options. Jesse chose to run it softer and with more sag than his usual setup and had the shock tuned specifically to take advantage of the progressive ending stroke of an air spring.

Like Remi's coil shock, Jesse's X2 is longer than the stock option, giving him a little more travel for plowing through the countless roots and rocks that racers encountered out on the course. He ran a little more sag than usual, knowing that his weight would often be over the front of the bike due to the steep nature of the terrain. That extra sag would also counteract the geometry chances that occur when running a longer shock.


A new longer air shock option was run by Jesse in Whistler. running the spring rate a bit softer than normal he would have almost the complete opposite setup t his teammate.

Why Not Just Use a Slayer?

A longer travel Altitude seems like it would begin to get close to the territory currently held by the Slayer, Rocky's 165mm machine, but both riders say they chose the Altitude because it was the bike they're most comfortable with. Jessie already had a bunch of miles in on the Altitude by the time the Slayer was launched, so he decided to stick with what he knew. There's also the fact that the Slayer has significantly more anti-squat than the Altitude - it's possible that the riders prefer the feel of the Altitude's rear suspension over the Slayer, although that's purely speculation. It's obviously working for both riders, so it's likely we'll see them both on Altitudes as the last race of the season in Finale Ligure, Italy.


94 Comments

  • 96 5
 Dear fox, Can you please make the kashima on the x2 be the same as the kashima on the fork and dropper. Thank you, mountain bikers every where
  • 28 2
 Can kashima even be kashima if it doesn't look like kashima?
  • 17 4
 apparently the kashima comes naturally in different colours, plus i prefer the darker colour...
  • 15 1
 @larsmeier: it does. It depends on the base alloy and the batch.

Just like how two different batches of annodized colour can be slightly different.

Not sure why the downvotes
  • 4 3
 It's not kashima on the dhx2
  • 17 2
 @jaame: Yes it is. All factory has kashima. Its the only reason Factory is Factory.
  • 17 1
 They used the Marzocchi espresso on this one.
  • 6 0
 @YouHadMeAtDrugs: Nope. DHX2 uses Ti-Nitride.
  • 1 0
 Don't worry about Kashima, just worry about how good that mud guard on Jesse's bike is! Stuff the marsh guard, I want THAT
  • 4 0
 Does anyone actually care.
  • 3 0
 If the colour is darker, than it is simply a harder version or thicker.. and that would be logically as the shock has the most wear of them all... same like with Nikasil which used on some forks still...

Nikasil is still the better option as it is harder... but not as fancy coloured I guess... and more expensive maybe... the black stansions nowadays are sold as fashion but are cheaper to produce, and not as hard layer... Wink

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikasil
  • 1 0
 @Trailstunter: my understanding of the surface coatings is that they don't want the hardest, smoothest surface possible because those surfaces do not hold lubricants well. I think the purpose of kashima, technically speaking, is to hold on to oil molecules in its slightly porous surface, thereby extending the useful lifespan of said oil molecules as a lubricant.

I could be wrong though.
  • 1 0
 @jaame: They use Nikasil for cylinders of almost anything and those applications have to be lubricated very well cause it is iron agains iron otherwise...
For shocks they use even chrome for a long time too, and still sometimes to make fork surface from ... Bomber did it as I remember well... and also in motorcycle world. Chrome is really hard and I don't think much oil will get into it...
Also you don't wanna lose much oil for lubricating the shock cause there is not much of it in the shock....

But maybe some Fox Mechanic or Engineer can help us out..
  • 1 0
 @Trailstunter: I don't know mate, it's just what I read. Shock shafts are a lot smaller diameter so already low friction. Cylinders and pistons are usually aluminium these days, and they will wear out a lot quicker than a fork with that heat and pressure cycling at several hundred times a second. That might explain it. I don't know, but I don't think there are many similarities between a reciprocating piston engine and a mountain bike suspension fork.

Any tips, @foxshox?
  • 9 0
 @jaame: Kashima is essentially self lubricating, as the surface is essentially type 3 (hard) anodized aluminum impregnated with molybdenum disulfide, which provides lubrication as it wears.

Kashima coating color will be affected by thickness of anodizing layer, and the substrate (base material). This is not avoidable and since it's a performance coating, the aesthetic appearance should not negate it's use, regardless of how groms want everything to match (don't ever look at race cars, space ships, airplanes, etc, nothing 'matches' perfectly).

The shaft on the coil shock is Steel, and as such Kashima is not a coating that will work on this material. The shaft is more than likely TiN coated, which is Titanium deposited in a PVD/CVD vacuum chamber with Nitrogen. Adding aluminum makes TiAlN which is significantly better at wear and CoF, but it's purple/grey/black and as such wouldn't be approved by the market (who needs everything to be 'gold'). This process is done via cathodic arc and is a much higher performing coating than Kashima, which is just Type3 anodizing with molybdenum disulfide. There are many, many PVD coatings and many of them are proprietary to different PVD outfits or companies.

Nickle-Silicone-Carbide is a different beast, it's used for things like cylinder wall liners (sprayed on, then ground. easier to do than a sleeve. A proprietary version sans carbide is found on shimano chains iirc). Nowadays there are variations of this coating and method used in automotive. Not sure how great it would be for a flexing fork leg, however.

With regards to oil, seals, etc. Smooth surfaces do not negatively affect performance, or need oil on them. The entire purpose of PVD coatings is wear resistance and lower CoF, which performs similar to oil on the shaft running through the seals (which increases chances of FOD on sealing surfaces).
  • 1 0
 @atrokz: thanks man! Very informative. Are you in working these materials?
The material used on a Bos Deville looks a lot like Nikasil btw.. also color... it might not be?
  • 4 0
 @Trailstunter: No probs. I am a aerospace manufacturing engineer and have extensive experience with coatings and coating systems used in aerospace, naval, and defense. Used to be a tool and die maker, so we used a lot of PVD coatings on dies/tooling.

The BOS forks I've seen were type3 anodized. but the new stuff looks black, so possible it's type3 over a polished tube, or possibly DLC but this would be marketed as DLC is expensive and a high end PVD coating. If you look through my pics you can see my side biz and I use a lot of DLC coatings for my work.
  • 2 0
 @atrokz: very interesting!
The Deville I have looks totally different than most coating I have seen on f/e fox performance. I have experience with Nikasil from racing with motorcycles. That is why I thought it is.

What is what RS is using on their forks and shocks?

Great work and job man...... I have a recruitment agency in engineers .. mostly machinery... Am educated in Automotive Engineering and Industry...
  • 1 0
 @atrokz: beautifull knives man+! You sell those?
  • 1 1
 @Trailstunter: Thank you. yes sir I do.

I believe all the new RS stuff is Type3 anodizing. they tried (and failed) to do TiN on aluminum but because disposition temperature was too low the coating flaked off very fast.

And interesting. How is the industry out that way?
  • 1 0
 Can't wait to see the factory coil in kashima
  • 2 0
 @atrokz: excellent post. Thanks!
  • 2 0
 @atrokz: DLC I've heard good things about that process, first time I'd heard about it was as a treatment for 2t Motocross engines.
  • 32 3
 sometimes i get the impression that about half of the competitive mtn bikers and half of the pinkbike commentators have engineering degrees. and how do you know they are engineers? they tell you.
  • 68 5
 Engineers- the vegans of mountain biking.
  • 31 1
 @ninjatarian & @jamesbrant : am engineer, can confirm Smile
  • 13 3
 @ninjatarian:
Actually I never see or hear of these annoying Vegans. But I hear people complaining about them all the damn time.
  • 3 0
 It's true but with one caveat though - they are software engineers Wink
  • 25 0
 @colincolin: That's because Germany is the wurst place for vegans.
  • 16 0
 I'm not a gynaecologist but I'll take a look.
  • 4 0
 my job is quality engineer most of my work time time is spent in my office on pinkbike, facebook or asleep..........
  • 2 0
 @ninjatarian: the cross-fit of MTB
  • 2 0
 @Boardlife69: go to south america, they don't even know the word vegeterian Big Grin
  • 14 1
 Is it just me or is the Slayer being forgotten!? Jesse was on the old altitude when the new Slayer came out last year and he stayed on the old Altitude until the new one came out this year...I believe I saw Remi on the Slayer at a few races last year but the Altitude has dominated their choices. The only Rocky sponsored rider I have seen riding the Slayer consistently is Gully.
  • 9 0
 Florian Nicolai
  • 6 0
 And ALN
  • 6 0
 Besides Nicolai, Sébastien Claquin and Andréane Lanthier Nadeau (who took a 5th in the Women's Division) also ran the Slayer at Whistler. Jesse and Remi are the only ones on the team that used the Altitude. I don't think you could go wrong with either of these two bikes, but I would guess that the Slayer would be the faster of the two for us mere mortals.
  • 5 0
 Slayer is pretty popular in BC, see them all over the place. Super capable bike that climbs really well for it's stats (cliche but true in this case). Haven't tried the new Altitude but I would recommend a Slayer and almost bought one myself.
  • 1 0
 Slayer has very good numbers to work with... I don't understand it either...

www.youtube.com/watch?v=_N98kRUJpDk

Butttt these numbers of the Altitude are great too... Same guy makes analysis...

www.vitalmtb.com/product/guide/Bikes,3/Rocky-Mountain/Altitude-Carbon-70,18884#product-reviews/2785
  • 3 0
 I've just always liked the Altitude and am very happy with it. Florian races both, Seb prefers the Slayer and ALN races both. So the Slayer is definitely still used and liked by the team.
  • 3 0
 @JesseMelamed: Right on dude. Congrats on the win and best of luck in Finale.
  • 17 3
 Jesse has an engineering degree and uses it to help him win races? That's so badass!
  • 4 0
 so they didn't really say why Jesse chose air over coil, seems that coil would make more sense on the really long rough Whistler tracks... maybe weight conscious? Anyone know what size frames they're riding and how tall they are?
  • 4 0
 Could just be personal preference as well
  • 1 0
 Jesse is not a very big guy @dalday
  • 1 0
 I took his preference of the air shock to come from his logic of running more sag on the rear than usual, to compensate for the steep trails shifting his weight forward. The air shock would be better suited to this, being more progressive so its not going to bottom out as readily as a coil at the same sag numbers. More sag on the air shock will also help regain some of the sensitivity lost when compared to coil. To maintain a similar bottom out resistance, a coil needs a firmer spring, which decreases sag, and would compromise the goal of trying to re-balance the bike on the steep terrain. Neither are wrong. just different ways of achieving different things based on rider preference.
  • 1 0
 It was the added progression of the X2 that he liked over a purely linear coil spring setup.
  • 5 0
 @frojoe: This is the reason. From the man himself!

@Dalday: I really like the suppleness of the coil but enduro has a lot of undulating terrain and I feel I can gain more speed with the air shock. It will always be a compromise whatever you choose.
  • 1 0
 @JesseMelamed: thanks for the reply and congrats on a well deserved win! This is very interesting & informative, I wonder if this is Gwinn's thought process too as he claimed preseason that he liked the coil more but ended up racing air all year?
  • 2 0
 @Dalday: It could be. I would think coil would be more beneficial for DH as speed is easier to gain so it's more about keeping control and shutting down speed which is where coil is great.
  • 5 0
 Why Arch vs. Flow, anyone? Seems like Whistler would be the place to run a wide setup, if anywhere.
  • 1 0
 ^ Same question.
  • 1 0
 maybe still comes down to personal preference, maybe 26mm iw rims is just about right for their riding style. or they don't need crazy low pressure for their riding coz they are racing not just trail riding. lol.
  • 1 0
 and he used to ride the arch ex way back 2015, but that is narrower than the arch mk3. now i'm puzzled. if he is sponsored by stan's, maybe stan's wanted him to use the arch instead of the flow.
  • 1 0
 just what i was gonna say, although not so much about Arch internal width but strength. Shirley Flows for Whistler?
  • 3 0
 @enduronuke: Nothing to do with what sponsors want - It's about tyre profile. They are both running tyres at 2.5 or less. For that width tyre the Arch is the better option. Over and above 2.5 the flow would be the correct rim to choose.

The Mk3 arches and the rest of the rims for that matter are much stronger and stiffer than the the old EX design. If you look at the majority of Stans sponsored Enduro riders they have opted for the Arch to give them a better tyre profile.
  • 5 0
 With the foam inserts we can get away with a lighter rim. Running a lighter rim also helps offset some of the weight of the insert.
  • 4 0
 How much travel on the forks? I know Jessie had a 170mm fork on his old Altitude.
  • 4 0
 Same 170mm fork on this one
  • 4 0
 I thought the new altitude was redesigned so isn't it newer than the slayer?
  • 1 0
 I think you're right.
  • 1 0
 i'm about to order a pair of 2.3 non WT maxxis dhf for my 25mm internal rims, but since he's using a 2.5wt dhf upfront on his arch mk3 which i believed has an internal width of 26mm, i think I'm gonna be fine with a 2.5wt. lol.
  • 3 0
 I just installed a set of Minion DHF 2.5 WT on my 29mm iD rims, and they are only 2mm wider than my Minion 2.3 on the same rim. (I measured with a caliper) I put the two different tires mounted on the same wheels end to end, and could barely tell the difference. You can see a difference in the knobs themselves though, a little bigger, and spaced better.
  • 2 0
 I recently bought a 2.5 Minion DHF and am running it on a 25mm Dt Swiss rim. Working just fine, you should be good to go.
  • 1 0
 @JustYourAverageJoey: same, 2.5's on 25mm rims and to complaints
  • 3 0
 Removing comment coz I is dumbass
  • 1 0
 @JustYourAverageJoey: Im confused at why you would want to install a set of front tires on your bike shouldnt you have a dhf and a dhr?
  • 1 0
 @JustYourAverageJoey: sorry dude not for you, that was supposed to be directed to @SlinkySammy
  • 1 0
 @mhoshal: as I understand it, the F in DHF once stood for Freeride, and the R in DHR stood for Race. If you look at the DHF on Maxxis' site they describe it as being front or rear. The DHRII sort of confused things because it was marketed to mate well with a DHF front, but the DHRII is also great front or rear, with better braking traction, tougher knobs, and more rolling resistance than the DHF.
  • 5 0
 You'll be fine with the 2.5wt DHF! It's the greatest tire ever!
  • 4 1
 Yay for engineering degrees . Yay analytic looks at stuff and finding solutions. Not everyone can do that, you know. It's about skills. Go engineers.
  • 4 1
 Still don't get why they put so much AS on the slayer...
Is this a marketing or an engineering motivated decision ?
  • 7 0
 It pedals really well apparently
  • 7 0
 "I like big butts and I cannot lie...."
Oh!
More AS...
Sorry.
  • 1 0
 Like the High Tower, a bike that can be made to accept a longer travel shock for park days seems a great idea to me. I don't know why they don't market this more...
  • 2 0
 I want to know the standard shock lenth and the incresed pro length of shock.
  • 2 0
 Sexy A$$ bikes Big Grin
  • 1 0
 Do they ride stick 160 fork or they ride a 170?
  • 1 1
 Push.
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