So you've got yourself some fancy new suspension for your two wheeler, but have no idea what the dials on it do? Well that is a common situation for a lot of riders out there, so last weekend I had the opportunity to do some testing to see how different set ups can effect the ride of my bike. Feel is one thing, but I also wanted to know how the set ups would effect my time on a set course so I met up with Tyler Morland, Kenny Smith and Adam Billinghurst for some freelap testing.
Here are the results and my impressions from the various set ups we tried that day-enjoy the video too
!Since I knew a few days ahead of time that we'd be doing some freelap testing, I decided to keep my stock/go to settings on the Vivid 5.1 and Domain 318 as is so that the initial riding would be on a familiar feeling bike even if the track would be unfamiliar to me. My go to settings are to begin with all my compression and rebound settings at full open and then slow down the rebound so that it isn't topping or bucking me on take offs. With the bike set this way I rode the Whistler Bike park for a full day to get used to the new bike. For those of you looking to set up your new Vivid rear shock or Domain fork, here are some links to SRAM's site where there is a great helpful quick start guide for your shock and fork set ups:Vivid Quick Start GuideDomain Quick Start Guide
I also found this handy little guide on the SRAM site called 'VIVID Trailside Tuning Guide
'. Check it out and print it off for yourself-it totally helps!www.sram.com/en/rockshox/rearsuspension
Here are some details about the bike and suspension set up I'm running for this test:Intense SS Frame:
-165mm of rear travel
-1.5" steerer tube
-22.5" top tube
-16" seat tube
-66.5 degree head tube angle
-74 degree seat tube angle
RockShox Domain 318:
-stainless steel stanctions
-aluminum steerer tube
-1 1/8" steerer tube
RockShox Vivid 5.1:
-400 pound spring weight
-beginning stroke rebound adjustment
-end stroke rebound adjustment
-low speed compression adjustment
Once we all met up and the course was decided it was time to get to business. The course was 25-40 seconds in length and covered a wide spectrum of riding features-pedal sections, lots of rocks, roots all over the place and lots of varied corners(90 degree, off camber, rising crest etc.) too. The start was on a flat so that you had to get cranking right out of the gate and then into a mellow downhill pitch, right hander into a rock shelf/step down, a few good corners into a technical root strewn descent, quick left to right followed by more roots and rocks into a fast left hander and on the pedals to the straight away, little gapper over more roots into a chicane for the finish. Here's how it all went down.Freelap testing results on BLABS test track
Everyone's initial run was on their stock/regular set ups, with the idea being to get a feel for the course and find a line. From this point I'd stick with the exact same lines for testing the suspension feel differences, while everyone else kept trying to find the best line and get the fastest times. I was trying to get faster, but by only altering my suspension settings.
Adam- 41.20 (no pedaling)
Maine- 39.30 (compression fully open and rebound fully open to the point of no topping out on all settings=familiar set up)
Kenny- 31.74 ("I can do better)
Morland- 28.58Run #2
Adam (aka Darryl Strawberry) decides to be our head filmer for a while. Kenny and Morland are on a mission to find the fastest line. I am riding with my compression fully open and all rebound closed. The result is a bike that packs up after multiple hits and feels really bad on sections of downhill where it can't rebound due to the bumps. It slowly "stood" back up on the pedally sections, but would get packed down again after repeated hits. Clean run through my line though.
Adam- I'll film now instead-Thanks man!
Maine- 35.73 (All rebound closed and all compression open)
Kenny- 30.94 (skipped rock step down)
Morland- 29.00Run #3
Adam is still filming for us (thanks). Kenny wants to break 30 seconds, while Tyler sessions a corner to find the happy line. I am running the beginning stroke rebound fully open, the end stroke closed (only cause we forgot to open it too) and compression closed. Well this made my bike feel like a BMX or a rigid XC bike with too much air pressure in the tires. I pedaled hard but I got bounced all over the place on this run and struck a few pedals in the corners trying to get down the course-not how I'd ever suggest setting up a bike.
Maine- 36.78 (Initial rebound open, End Rebound Closed, Compression Closed)
Morland- 27.15Run #4
While Adam/Darryl has disappeared for a bit, Tyler is now setting up Kenny and I's bikes with what he calls a "race setting". The idea behind this is to have a faster end rebound stroke and a slower initial rebound stroke and set the compression fairly soft to take the hits. Slower initial stroke rebound lets the bike sit taller in it's travel for good pedal performance. This set up was so drastically different from the last 3 runs that it through me for a loop as it stuck to the ground so much better than previous set ups, but I instantly knew that I needed more compression in the fork.
Maine- 36.29 (Morland race setting-through me off at first as it feels pretty good, but a little soft)
Kenny- 29.74 ("I'm pretty beat and I've broke 30 seconds!")Run #5
Kenny is on a mission to get under 29 seconds now and I'm adding(turning clock wise) two clicks of compression to my fork to get it to stand taller and take the hits a little better on this course. The whole run felt great-getting tired of sprinting, but learning lots.
Maine- 35.79 (Race setting plus 2 clicks compression on fork)
Kenny- 29.24 (Morland race settings)Run #6
I made this my last run as I'm having trouble pushing it as best I can. The fork compression is 4 clicks more to the clockwise direction and it feels really good on this little course we're riding. From this point I can easily adjust my fork's compression to suit certain trails and the rear shock is feeling great.
Maine- 37.54 (Race setting plus 4 clicks compression on fork)
At the end of the afternoon it was time for an energy drink and to relax a bit before driving home. I learned a lot about general tuning and how the bike feels relates to what you can get out of it and yourself. There are reasons why these guys are some of the best around and it's because they love riding and they set up their rides to suit their riding style and the given courses set in front of them. Thanks for the great day,
-Tyler "Brule" Maine
Please visit www.sram.com
to learn more about the other RockShox suspension products that they offer.