Back in 1972, when the sports of motocross and enduro were emerging in Italy, a small company by the name of AIM was founded. This firm lasted fifteen years making off-road motorcycles using proprietary two-stroke engines from the likes of Sachs, Minarelli and Franco Morini.
Fast forward to the end of the eighties and a new sport, mountain biking, was emerging. Imagined by the same minds behind the AIM brand, a new company came to life - Formula. Formula continue to make brakes and suspension for the motorcycle world, but most of us might know them from their pioneering in the disc brake world and their latest range of suspension forks.
• Coil shock absorber
• CTS adjustability
• Standard eyelet - 210 x 55 & 230 x 65
• Trunnion mount - 185 x 55 & 205 x 65
• 670g (210 x 55 with 300lb coil spring)
• £643 / €699 / $829 USD
• Available for pre order now, shipping starting 2nd November
With the new Mod shock, they now cater to the rear end of suspension bikes. This isn't their first rodeo into dampers either - they have experience in designing and manufacturing them for motorbikes since as far back as 1993.
Function, Details & Features
The Mod is a coil spring shock that uses a monotube design. That mono, or single, tube being the one we see on the outside with the threaded spring collar on. On the end of the shock shaft is the main piston that moves back and forth inside the outer tube, which is full of oil, flowing through it to control the compression and rebound of the damper.
That monotube design means that the vast majority of the damping force is generated from the main piston and valving on it, and also why Formula will sell the shock tuned for the bike that it will be going onto.
There's a 30mm diameter piston on the inside that Formula claims allows them, along with an increased number of oil passages, to increase the oil flow inside the shock for better heat management and consistency in performance.
Compression and low-speed rebound are externally adjustable with the red rebound knob on the shock eyelet and the compression knob on the end of the reservoir. There is also a lockout lever to up the overall firmness of the shock for climbing.
Inside the reservoir is an expandable bladder that separates the oil from the air inside the reservoir volume, since as the shock compresses some compensation for the volume of shock shaft needs to happen. Formula say that the bladder design offers less friction than a standard IFP, or internal floating piston, design due to the reduction in moving parts.
Situated on the end of the shock shaft is the bottom out bumper, which has been carefully designed in shape and material to assist in managing the energy in the last portion of travel. Often overlooked, the bottom out bumper is pretty damn important for your shock's performance and not just to stop metal on metal contact. Formula stated that while they could have gone for a less visible bottom out bumper color, the engineers said that if they wanted the right performance, the sandy color, and its associated material, was the only option to get it.
As the oil moves from the main shock body to the reservoir during use the valving assembly on the neck also generates damping, and is the place where we find one of Formula's unique selling points - Compression Tuning System (CTS). First seen on their forks, it's an interchangeable assembly that can change the feel of the shock.
Perhaps this is a system inspired by true twin tube damper designs, where all the damping was generated by these externally accessible valves, giving the riders or engineers ability to adjust the vehicle performance quickly and easily in a racing situation. But the essence is the same with the CTS system and allows the rider or mechanic to swap out the small assembly for one of three options.
Gold is the softest setting and is for light riders or those searching for a softer than usual suspension setup. Orange is for more aggressive riders looking for more support, and green is for heavier riders or riders with a very aggressive riding style wanting increased support all the way through the travel.
While the thought of opening your shock to swap the CTS might be daunting, we had some hands-on experience of the procedure
, and one of the best product presentations of recent memory to boot, at the Bike Connection Agency event in Tuscany back in February. Simply put, it's a doddle to do for anyone with a basic mechanical idea of bikes, and it's even surprisingly simply for people who aren't as confident in the workshop. That ability for the user to change the whole feel of their shock, and fork too with the Formula forks, can offer quite the advantage over the competition if you like to chin scratch and experiment, or even for the shop mechanics who could offer the service to Formula equipped customers.
Options, Price & Availability
The Mod is available in 210 x 55mm and 230 x 65mm standard eyelet lengths and 185 x 55mm and 205 x 65mm Trunnion mount lengths.
Springs are available from 300 to 600 in 50lbs increments in ultraviolet and titanium colours.
Hardware for the Mod is available in 8mm diameter with 20, 22, 25, 30, 35 and 40mm widths and 10mm diameter in 22, 25 and 30mm widths.
It retails for €699, £643 or $829 which includes the Mod shock absorber, three CTS valves and a shock pump.
It's available immediately for pre-order with shipping starting from 2nd November.
Back in February at the winter edition of the Bike Connection Agency event we got to ride the Mod shock on the wonderful Tuscan trails around Massa Maritima. On our full Formula equipped Geometron the performance of the Mod felt very promising. The trails were a good mix of dirt and small embedded rocks interspersed with bigger compressions and even some larger rock rolls.
Over the high frequency hits of the small rocks the Mod felt like it fluttered along nicely, absorbing all the harshness of the hits while still transmitting just the right amount of information to let you know what was going on at the contact patch. That sensitivity then transitioned into some really nice control when hitting the larger compressions, holes and hits at speed without kicking your feet. It made the bike feel very controlled during both bump absorption and rider input.
In between runs we had the luxury of talking to the chief suspension engineer Luca Rossi
, who would then take our feelings and adjust the bike to suit. From the first run the comfort and control of the suspension and whole bike were already at a high level, and while we didn't adjust the CTS in the shock, we did on the fork to try and achieve a bit more balance front to rear. The simple and quick procedure did just that, and led to the afternoon's testing leaving me with a healthy interest in the Mod, and Formula suspension as a whole. I'm keen to get it back home on the home trails of Champéry and Morgins.
Often when a bike or component begins to disappear below you, allowing you to just focus on riding, it's a good sign and that began to be the case with the Mod over only a limited afternoon of runs. In Tuscany we settled on the orange CTS assembly in the Mod shock and a 400lb spring, combined with the orange CTS in their Selva C fork.
Hopefully in the coming months we'll be able to not only give some more long term impressions on the Mod, but also give a behind the scenes look at how a brand like Formula goes about setting up a base tune for a new bike.