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Review: EXT Aria Air Shock

Apr 30, 2024 at 14:19
by Matt Beer  
EXT Aria

Jockeying for top spot in the air shock markets means brands need to bring something innovative to the table. Modern expectations such as plush operation, reliability, and high and low-speed compression adjusters are expected at the least.

The Italian suspension manufacturing, EXT, aimed to do exactly that with their air sprung damper, the Aria. Translating simply to "air" in Italian, the Aria sets EXT apart from the usual suspension brands with new features that haven’t been seen before in an air shock.

Taking a similar approached from their Era fork, the Aria shock uses two adjustable air springs: the main self-equalizing positive/negative spring and a ramp up chamber to change the progression. In other words, the mid-stroke support and progression can be tuned more independently, without having major effects on the initial breakaway force. The Aria is one of the few air shocks on the market that features a hydraulic bottom out control as well, but it's not slim in shape or inexpensive.
Aria Details
• Metric sizes: 210x50-55, 230x57.5-65, 250x67.5-75 mm
• Trunnion sizes: 185x50-55, 205x57.5-65, 225x67.5-75mm
• Independently tuneable main and ramp up air chambers
• Hydraulic bottom-out control (HBC)
• 5 damper adjustments: high and low speed compression, rebound, HBC, lock-out (Lok 2.0)
• Weight: 659 grams (205x65mm) w/o hardware
• MSRP: €1,060 EUR / $1,150 USD (includes high pressure shock pump)
extremeshox.com

EXT Aria Shock

How the Dual Air Chamber System Works

EXT calls their dual positive air chamber AS3 technology. This unique patented design uses two dynamic seals to separate three different chambers. The main air chamber indicated by the “+” symbol on the black air valve features a self-equalizing negative air chamber while the nickel coloured “++” valve controls the progression.

Unusually high resting pressures are required for the Aria’s ++ chamber to operate compared to standard air shocks. The ++ chamber can be pumped up to 600 PSI for maximum progression, or as low as the main air spring pressure for less ramp up. Due to those high pressures, a proprietary analog pump is needed and included with the Aria.

The major benefit of the system combines two individually tuneable air springs to give a much more linear leverage curve versus a traditional air shock which can fall from the beginning to middle of the stroke, often referred to as “wallowing”.

photo
photo
photo

By allowing for independent changes in the air chambers, you can see on the how white line of the AS3 spring produces a straighter line versus the red dashed line of a typical air spring. Increasing the + pressure equates to a more linear change affecting the mid stroke while increasing the ++ pressure has a more noticeable effect on the end stroke progression. This leads to fewer compromises versus a traditional air shock that uses volume spacers to increase the progression, such as a high stored spring force.

Furthermore, the Aria requires a strict and tedious set up procedure. The instructions are clear but there's a lot of numbers floating around. An air pressure chart shows the recommended starting + and ++ pressures, as well as the equivalent coil spring weights. It’s critical to follow these steps closely and give yourself time to allow for the initial set up.




EXT Aria Shock

Damper Adjustments

The Aria uses the same damper design as EXT’s heavy-duty E-Storia coil shock, however, slight modifications have been made to account for the dynamics of the different spring types.

Externally, there are five adjustments on the Aria: a single rebound dial, the hydraulic bottom out control (HBC), high and low-speed compression, plus a Lok 2.0 climb switch lever.

The high and low-speed compression adjusters have 14 clicks of adjustment, while the rebound has 16. On the HBC, there are 12 clicks. The Lok 2.0 switch can be set anywhere in its range, but firms up quickly once it nears the closed position after 90 degrees of rotation.

Those compression circuits are said to be independent of one another, as is the rebound control. Each click or two does have a noticeable change on the operation of the shock, although that could vary depending on the bike’s kinematics.

To change the low-speed compression and HBC, a 4mm allen key is needed. For the high-speed compression adjuster you’ll have to reach for a 12mm socket or spanner. Only the rebound dial can be turned by hand, but 3D-printed caps that snap onto the high-speed adjuster are out there.

The position sensitive adjustable HBC slows the compressive force towards the end of the stroke. This can be more desirable than increasing the ++ pressure since the air spring return force remains unchanged.




photo

Price and Weight

Made in Italy, EXT’s Aria offers adjustments like no other air shock on the market. Unsurprisingly, that makes it the most expensive shock on the market too. At 1060,00€ / $1,150.00 USD, it’s nearly double the price of the $699 Rockshox Vivid Ultimate, which also features hydraulic bottom-out resistance.

Weighing 659g, the Aria is 79g lighter than the Vivid (738g). Ironically, that’s as much as EXT’s Storia LOK V3 coil-sprung damper, with a 475# coil.




EXT Aria Shock

Setup

EXT Aria Shock
Nukeproof Giga 297 Test Bike Details
Rear travel: 180 mm
Shock stroke: 65 mm
Average leverage ratio: 2.87
Overall progression: 25.5%
Fork: EXT Era 170
Rider weight: 78 kg
Main air spring pressure: 250 psi (24% sag)
Ramp chamber pressure: 400 psi
Rebound: (from closed): -8
High Speed Compression: -12
Low Speed Compression: -10
Hydraulic Bottom Out: -10

EXT provided a few Aria dampers over the course of this drawn out review. The first was tuned to the progressive nature of a Nukeproof Giga. Further down the road, I also installed another Aria on the Ibis HD6 with a specific tune as well. Neither of those starting points are special treatment though - EXT has a catalog of tunes to match your bike’s kinematics.

Unboxing the Aria reveals the proprietary, high-pressure pump, mounting hardware and a detailed setup guide. The guide lays out the inflation procedure, suggested damper settings, and a chart that correlates the air spring pressures with the equal coil spring rates, however, that is only helpful if you know which one you would use on said bike. Otherwise, you’ll need to make a guess-timate, check the amount of sag, and fine tune from there.

To begin the inflation procedure, high-pressure ++ (nickel) air valve is first inflated to the prescribed pressure. Next, the + (black) valve is pumped up in 50 psi increments. It’s important to note that these increments are counted after cycling the shock and the pressure has been equalized each time.

Installing and inflating the shock took about 20 minutes - much longer than a standard air shock. In order to reach the 250 psi in the + chamber, the equivalent to the 500# coil spring on the Nukeproof Giga, this procedure required eight cycles of installing the pump and equalizing the shock.

Once inflated though, the dual air chambers mean that altering the progression doesn’t require removing the air can or extra parts, like all other air shocks.

In the case of the Giga, EXT’s guide correlates a 500# coil spring to recommended pressures of 250 and 480 psi in the + and ++ chambers. That provided roughly 24% sag - less than the coil spring achieved (30%). I’d go on to drop the ++ pressure down to 450 psi to decrease the progression though.

EXT’s damper setup guide includes a baseline of clicker adjustments. For the given spring rate on the Giga, I toggled between 7 and 8 clicks from closed on the rebound, 10 and 12 out on the low and high-speed compression. Due to the combo of an air spring and the Giga’s progressive leverage rate, I rarely found the bottom of the travel, even with the HBO open, so that stayed 10 clicks out from closed.

Bikes with less progression are where the advantages of the Aria’s ramp chamber and HBO make the most sense. With that said, I was able to dial back the ++ chamber from the recommended 480 psi to 400. That toned down a firm ramp up to make the second half of the travel closer to the Storia coil shock that it replaced, but brought along the benefit of support early on in the stroke too.

The HD6 was spec'd with a Fox Float X2 and the pressure hovered close to 180 psi , depending on the type of riding I'd plan to tackle. Not knowing the equivalent coil spring rate, I choose 200 and 390 psi to sit at 30% sag, the equivalent of a 400# coil spring. At those numbers, the HD6 felt choppy and reluctant to break into the stroke, so I dropped the + pressure down to 185 psi and that’s when the Aria’s dual air springs started to work their magic.




EXT Aria Shock

Performance

The Aria isn’t your average air shock and that’s evident after navigating the first few features on the trail, however, it brought a few surprises along the way. While there were good days aboard the Aria, there were also some let downs, but let’s start on a positive note.

Set to the pressures listed above, the Aria provided an unmatched level of mid-stroke support that no other air shock attained on the Giga. The damper performance is equal to EXT’s coil versions, which both provide exceptional control with slightly heavier hydraulic sense, even when the compression adjusters are wide open. This was most apparent on the HD6 and for the majority of the time I ran the Aria’s high and low-speed compression adjusters close to fully open (HSC -12, LSC -10) on that bike.

With the dual air chambers, the Aria has the capability to be tuned more linearly than other air shocks - an attempt to have a consistent “coil-like” feel throughout the stroke, and while that’s true on the trail, the sensitivity isn’t all that I hoped it would be. As for the noise level of that damper action, the Aria is louder than a Vivid or Float X2.

Throughout the test, I tried multiple Aria dampers, some with re-designed seal layouts. The production version uses three “notches” in which the chambers equalize. One shock in particular had what I’d describe as a “stepped” feel. Near 30% travel on both shocks, a bump could be felt as air moved in its internally intricate ways, most noticeable on low-speed compressions. Each shock broke into the travel smoothly though.

On three occasions, the Aria developed a top-out problem, eventually leading to the main positive air chamber failing and the shock would become stuck at full travel. Discussions with EXT confirmed the inflation procedure was performed correctly and after three attempts to resolve the issue (with new shocks), we arrived at the same result. It’s unclear if the trunnion mount-style shock of the Giga caused that issue, but I never ran into those problems with any other shock on that bike either.

Fast forward a few months and onto a new test bike, the Ibis HD6. During the Aria's time on the HD6, it worked impeccably and showed no signs of air pressure changes, top out dilemmas, or inconsistencies. That leaves me with mixed feelings about the reliability of the Aria.

I do have to tip my hat to EXT for designing that clever dual-air design. The dual air chambers and HBC offer the advantage of balancing mid-stroke support, progression and bottom-out control without a harsh ramp up or springy kickback of too many volume spacers. However, there are proven competitors out there that are more dependable for a lower cost.

EXT Aria Shock
EXT Aria
Prime Thunderflash - photos Tom Richards
Ohlins TTX2 Air





How Does It Compare?

We would have loved to include the Aria in our Shock Week group test last year, but at the time the air valves didn’t clear the shock tunnel on our baseline bike, a Santa Cruz Nomad. EXT has solved the clearance issues, although it does requires a unique air can for Santa Cruz bikes.

Given the various shocks I’ve installed on the Nukeproof Giga, I would rank the Aria as one of the best-performing dampers out there. The TTX2 is smoother throughout the travel but finding additional mid-stroke support comes with a compromise in which the initial stroke firmed up.

For adjustments, the Ohlins TTX2 Air houses rebound, high and low-speed adjusters, but with fewer clicks, potentially letting the user arrive at a sweet spot sooner. Progression is first chosen by way of two different size air cans, depending on the bike’s leverage rate, and then adjusted internally using volume spacers. There’s no hydraulic bottom-out control either.

Again, the Aria’s most impressive feature, the dual air chambers were able to be tuned in a way to provide support in the middle of the stroke without firming up the start of the travel- something that other air shocks can’t deliver in the same fashion. When switching back and forth between the two, it was clear how the mid-stroke of the Aria allowed for more mid-stroke support - the ability to push into the bike to make dynamic movements without diving deeper into the travel - compared to the TTX.

EXT Aria Shock



Pros

+ Dual positive air chambers can be tuned individually to work with frames of all leverage types
+ One of a few air shocks on the market with hydraulic bottom out control
+ Mid-stroke support is unrivalled by any other air shock


Cons

- Tedious setup procedure the requires proprietary high pressure pump (incl.)
- Inconsistencies and failures in some air springs
- High price point




Pinkbike's Take

bigquotesIn the past, I've always appreciated the performance and reliability of EXT's coil shocks. Unfortunately, that wasn't totally true in the case of the Aria. Initially, the Aria didn't meet our expectations of being buttery smooth. On multiple occasions, the air spring began to top out. It then proceeded to fail, resulting in the shock becoming stuck at full travel.

Further down the road, EXT sent another Aria damper, which was fitted to a different test bike. That specific shock didn't let us down after that. When the Aria was functioning normally, it provided brilliant mid-stroke support and bottom out control that can't be matched by other air shocks.

I can live with the lengthy setup procedure and proprietary pump given how well this shock can perform but for the price, reliability shouldn't be on your mind.
Matt Beer







Author Info:
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Member since Mar 16, 2001
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149 Comments
  • 124 3
 Just get a coil shock.
  • 59 2
 Coil Pros:
1/4 the price, cheaper to maintain
Fewer service intervals
Best-in-class mid-stroke support
Consistent performance, heat doesn't affect shock (as much)
"set and forget"

Coil Cons:
1lb heavier
Can't pump it up to 280psi for that one week of Rampage features in Virgin, UT.
  • 34 9
 @mrbrighteyes:
Coils Cons:
Not as easily or fast adjustable if you want to change the spring rate.

And the biggest Con most people seem to ignore:
Coil shocks are usually not as progressive, which simply does not fit a lot of frames.
  • 21 6
 @fred-frod: Sprindex on both accounts!
  • 11 0
 @mrbrighteyes: You can just put on an 800lb spring for that one week in Virgin!
  • 12 5
 I used to be a diehard coil guy, but now air shocks are so good I never use them except for DH bike. I feel a coil often sits further in the travel for impacts (especially small/medium impacts) than air shocks because of the linear nature and I don't like that characteristic for trail riding (also absorbs more rider input).
  • 8 2
 @fred-frod: Yet the biggest feature of Aria is being linear, nor progressive. You do not need 3 chambers to be progressive...
  • 11 0
 @fred-frod: Most frames these days are set up progressive to handle both, at least in the AM/Enduro or DH segment.
  • 12 2
 It's not even close how good coil shocks feel compared to air.
  • 9 0
 @Bro-tato Agreed...except when they do not fit on certain frames.

I love seeing creative/unique design, but I am exponentially more impressed with products that deliver performance as well as simplicity and durability. I got to hand it to Rock Shox and their latest Super Deluxe Ultimate air as it can be had with hydraulic bottom out adjustment for a less than half the cost of this. It is additionally small, has simple adjustments and is a piece of cake to set up.
  • 5 0
 I go back and forth on coil and air... I've pretty much swapped annually for about 4 to 5 years now.

While I love the coil's combination of small bump abilities, grip, effortless feel, consistency and lack of maintenance... but I also like how much more poppy, pumpy and jumpy my bike feels when I swap to an air shock. To get that from a coil I've always needed to be oversprung/too stiff.

I also like the air's ease of adjustability (air pressure/spacers). And, as Enduro bikes are pretty heavy these days, while I don't mind some heft... with heavy tires, burly wheels, and big brakes... I do like that I can keep weight under control with an air shock.

But again... air just can't match the coil's feel for ultimate chunder eating abilities and grip.

Re-sale tends to be a little easier with an air shock because a potential buyer doesn't have to worry about getting a different spring rate just to ride the bike.
  • 3 0
 FWIW, I've had an Aria on my bike for 8 months and it's been flawless. Should probably service it soon.
  • 3 0
 getting a progressive coil for my cane creek coil IL ruined air shocks forever for me. so poppy + all the benefits of coil
  • 4 1
 @noodlewitnosteeze: Honestly I think that this is a marketing lie. Either the frame is progressive, which makes it good for a coil shock, or it is linear, which makes a better fit for an air shock, generally said, disregarding some special shocks.
And I think the manufacturers are happy to throw good suspension characteristics overboard if they can sell more bikes because it now has a trendy coil shock. Good examples for this would be the last gen Megatower or the Specialized Enduro, where in my mind coil does not make sense.
  • 1 0
 @lkubica: I agree, my statement was more general about coil and air shocks. Any Bike that will work well with the Aria, will probably also work well with a coil shock.
  • 3 0
 @fred-frod: This is disregarding that the Aria CAN be very linear but also very progressive while not sacrificing early and mid-stroke characteristics like token systems do. Want more progression> add more air to ++ chamber, Want less> take some out. Add to that the adjustable hydraulic bottom out and you have a shock where you can tune the end stroke characteristic of playful/poppyness unlike anything else out there.
  • 2 4
 @mrbrighteyes: seals and oil age the same in coil or air. 100-200hrs is time for a rebuild.
  • 1 4
 @notsosikmik: don't think so, when you put air to the ++ chamber you basically rise the curve, the moment the pressure in + becomes equal to ++ you get a bigger chamber thus less progression.
  • 4 0
 @somebody-else: most air shocks need an air can service every 50 hours (like an air fork) and then a full damper rebuild every 100 to 200 hours. Coil shocks only need the damper rebuilt every 100 to 200 hours
  • 1 0
 @mrbrighteyes: Brilliant!
  • 5 0
 @fred-frod: that “coil won’t fit on my bike” statement is becoming less and less true over the years with the introduction of HBO.
  • 1 0
 @fred-frod: You could agree though that less new bikes are being built linear though, no?
  • 2 0
 @alienator064: I once had the opportunity to ride a bike with a progressive frame, a Cascade Link and a progressive coil installed. Hilarious.
  • 6 0
 @mrbrighteyes: The EXT Storia coil is touch over 700g (with a spring) -- RS Vivid Air is 650g...just FYI
  • 1 0
 @draggingbrake: it depends on the coil weight.
  • 3 0
 @notsosikmik: w/ 350lbs spring= 679g .. w/ 375lbs = 706g .. w/ 525lbs (my fat ass runs) 732g
  • 1 1
 @LocoDeerSlayer420:
Agree. I have a coil on my long travel bike because it suits it better... But wouldn't opt for one on my trail bikes.
  • 2 0
 @draggingbrake: My EXT e-Storia w/475 ext coil (C60-475) 840g
  • 1 0
 @fred-frod: Agreed.

It's useful for figuring out which frames to buy and which ones belong in the trash.

"Oh this frame was optimized for maximum performance? That's cool, I like that!"

"Oh this frame was optimized because it's easier for bike companies to sell bikes with air shocks so they made big sacrifices in suspension performance? I know just what I'm going to do about that: not buy it."

Like I like air shocks. They're genuinely useful. For rental fleets they're tremendous, you can switch the pressure on a per rider basis and it takes 3-4 minutes instead of 10-15 with more tuning to do afterwards. Dialing in a coil is more time consuming and costly - and anybody that tells you they're cheaper is misleading you, because chances are you'll end up wanting to test a few different spring rates and the price of that adds up quickly. If it's a loaner bike you can't beat air. There's good reason for air shocks to be around.

But not good reason for the end user to buy one for their personal bike if they care about top of the line performance.
  • 1 0
 @garrettstories: Sounds like it holds up better than the E-Storia!
  • 1 3
 @islandforlife: air can service takes 10 minutes, not really a big deal.
  • 3 0
 @somebody-else: Still something that needs to be done periodically that you don't need to do with a coil. But ya for sure, it's not something that would turn me off using an air shock... as per my comment, I go back and forth for many reasons. But it is one of the things that add up against an air shock. Especially is you're like me and the home mechanic for family's stable of bikes. Servicing 4 air cans and 4 air forks takes time. Throw a couple coils into that mix and it reduces the amount of service I need to perform over a year significantly.
  • 34 2
 Can you imagine spending $1100 usd on one of this shock and having these problems?
  • 16 0
 It seems that the most expensive suspension is often the most unreliable, as if we're buying some racing prototypes
  • 20 0
 @kanioni: but it includes a high pressure pump
  • 1 0
 @kanioni: Small companies are more nimble, so they can go from prototype to product faster than a large company BUT they don't have the budget to have comparably robust testing regimens. So yeah, you pay to be a guinea pig (or beta tester, in industry parlance). That should be a paid position....
  • 3 0
 @Grady-Harris: I think you pay the $1100 for the pump and they throw in the shock for free, it's like the cannabis speakeasys...
  • 8 0
 @Grady-Harris: that's not mine, baby. I swear!
  • 8 0
 @wyorider: you mean like Rockshox with the first few (!) iterations of the Reverb, or Fox with the before-fix X2?
  • 2 0
 At that price I expect some version of perfection.
  • 6 3
 @kanioni: your not paying for racing prototypes, but you ARE paying for racing suspension, which comes with racing maintenance.

Mountain bikes are the equivalent of a wrc car, and with it comes the equivalent running costs.
  • 3 0
 @Thegrumpymechanic: I completely agree with what you’re saying except…this thing sh*t the bed being ridden around for a review. So there’s that.
  • 1 0
 Or several generations of SRAM brakes, or any number of other products with known issues from bigger companies. For the most part though, big companies don’t put products on the market until they’re thoroughly tested. Small companies can’t/don’t test as rigorously-they’re going from prototype to production too quickly.
  • 4 0
 @slovenian6474: That very much is your bag, baby
  • 1 0
 I don't know, reviewer said that after receiving a new unit everything was fine. I would be OK for a 1.0 version to maybe expose some problems; on the other hand I have purchased products from well established manufacturers that did suck out of the box without any fix or workaround.

Maybe I am biased because the EXT Storia I run has been the best I have ever felt on a rear shock.
  • 2 0
 @Fiuz: See our comment with statement from EXT Technical Director, Franco Fratton below. The problem has been identified and solved. Also important to note that the fix can be performed on any shocks currently owned by customers that are experiencing the issue and will be done so under warranty.
  • 1 0
 @EXT-USA: Read it, I was saying I would understand if this was the case with me. Glad you sorted it out!
  • 29 2
 Why didn’t you compare it to the new Vivid, the only other air shock with HBO and aimed at the same segment?
  • 2 0
 Maybe Matt hasn't properly tested it? I dunno
  • 17 3
 @Nobble We hoped to line up an Aria for Shock Week but EXT didn't have one available to fit the Nomad at that time, as I pointed out in the first paragraph of the comparison section.

There's also only so much time we can spend on each bike or component. I'm sure others will want to know how it compares to a coil and using EXT's coil damper seemed appropriate.
  • 3 0
 Super Delux' air also come with HBO (non adjustable afaik)
  • 1 0
 @mattbeer: one question. Does it sound like you are polishing off a slurpee going down the trail like the EXT coil shocks?
  • 2 0
 @dgwww: that's why it's super deluxe, and not just regular deluxe. Maybe Matt could only afford the regular deluxe.
  • 2 0
 @dgwww: the sdu with hbo damper body pretty good but the vivid is better.
  • 1 0
 @Struggleteam: slurpee free riding on my Aria.
  • 1 0
 @Struggleteam: I have a storia (EXT Coil) and its silent.
  • 1 0
 @preston67: gotcha. I’ve had 3 of them and they slurped really loud and the little washer on the shaft made a lot of noise as well. They worked really well though.
  • 4 2
 Prolly cuz the new vivid would blow it out of the water in every category lol. Reliability, bottom out control, suppleness, top stroke support, quietness lmao. Could go on
  • 3 0
 @c0linmetz: I'm surprised I don't hear more people rave about the new vivid. Amazing shock so far.
  • 3 0
 @Bman7649: I have a feeling as soon as EDR starts up and people start to see all of the athletes running it there's gonna be a lot more discussion about it. But yeah it's a phenomenal shock haha
  • 2 0
 @c0linmetz: If anyone notices the EDR is happening, that is.
I've heard great things about the new Vivid via one of the big teams though.
Would love to try one.
  • 1 0
 @chakaping: Lol yeah, but no if you get the chance to try one I would 110% recommend it
  • 19 0
 $1150 including the proprietary shock pump!!! I suppose that’s inflation for you
  • 3 1
 This hasn’t had anything like enough praise as a reply! Salute this.
  • 2 0
 @JHMatlock: no need to inflate sewer-rat’s ego…
  • 1 1
 Get. Out.
  • 17 0
 you mention 600 PSI proprietary pump and you do now show it!!!!! I want to see 600 psi pump!!!!!
  • 17 0
 I can't imagine that it is anywhere as exciting as you seem to be anticipating.
  • 14 0
 I heard it glows in the dark above 550psi and it's legally considered a lethal weapon in 14 US states
  • 2 0
 Probably the same product as sram/rockshox 600psi pump.
  • 1 0
 @wolfowner: this. I would expect the same. And wanted to point out that other 600psi pumps are out there....
  • 1 0
 Rockshox has produced a high pressure shock pump for many years. It is just a bit longer. The EXT one looks almost identical except it is silver and shiny (you can see it on their site).
  • 10 0
 I've got a bone to pick with engineers/marketing. Why the heck is every chart/plot/graph with size 10 font? What are these, for ants?! It's like they're trying to hide something
  • 5 0
 Marketing team:"You're overthinking it. Look at this pretty chart with the pretty lines, it looks sciencey and proves our product is better!"

To be fair, the smaller brands usually provide more useful info than the major ones.
  • 9 0
 Hi all, Franco asked us to post the fallowing message for him:


I want to thank Matt Beer and PB for being honest and transparent about the experience they had on the ARIA. Hopefully, this reinforces that all the great reviews we had on our previous products can be trusted by similar thorough and honest testing!

“the stuck down shock”
This was a frustrating issue for us as we tested this damper for two years without ever encountering this issue. It wasn't until our first production batch of 1000 pcs reports surfaced with this issue. We immediately dove into the shock, and since then identified the culprit: a default in the Air Valve cores housing and seal system. Promptly production was stalled as we introduced the new revised valve design and seal system into all future production.

“the step feeling”
Additionally, within this redesigning phase we have been able to eliminate the step feeling that Matt and some customers have experienced. This was done by changing the layout of the main piston seal and backup rings. With the new layout system this experience has been eliminated.

EXT has worked hard to understand and solve these random inconsistencies, and can confidently assure the public that they have been resolved in the available Aria productions. With the reliability issues solved, we are happy to celebrate PB, Vital, Blister, NMBR and MTB mag reporting the Aria as offering both the best performance and control when compared to all other air spring dampers on the market.


I want to take this occasion to sincerely apologize for any inconvenience our riders experienced with these frustrating issues before we able to solve them. EXT deeply cares about the quality of our products and the experience of our customers. We have amended these issues quickly and thoroughly, and want to assure you that our customer service network is present and will continue to promptly provide support to our riders that support us so well!

Franco
Technical director EXT
  • 11 1
 Coil suspension is the superior option for nearly all off road applications. If you like going fast downhill a properly set up coil shock will feel better 99% of the time
  • 7 18
flag Brdjanin (May 7, 2024 at 10:26) (Below Threshold)
 And of you want to go UP and DOWN, than air is better...
  • 6 0
 @Brdjanin: I ride my bike with coil suspension up the hills all the time and I see many others doing the same. I don't think there is much of a disadvantage for coil suspension when climbing from the tests I've done
  • 2 1
 @Brdjanin: I dunno, All my coil Shocks have locked out considerably harder than comparable air shocks.
  • 12 1
 Expensive tedious setup and some failures perfect
  • 8 0
 Everything good about mtb.
  • 1 0
 Compared to the first Reverb, that was somewhat expensive, somewhat complicated setup (installation) and all the failures. It went on to become a major sales success, so they must be onto something.
  • 1 2
 @Mac1987: Headset routing has been a major sucess, despite no-one wanting it on a mountain bike. I wonder why?
  • 9 1
 Absolutely love my EXT rear coil...the Era fork on the other hand was the worst fork I've ran. Top out was so bad, so loud.
  • 4 1
 But how are other people going to hear you spent top dollar, without it?
  • 2 0
 Don't know what's with yours but mine perform flawlessly
  • 2 0
 Man, mine is the same… the top out is horrendously loud which is whatever. But what bothers me the most is how felt the top out is
  • 1 0
 Which generation did you have the problem on? My V1 had a loud top-out that was improved with a rolling update, and V2 is even better.
  • 1 0
 @Jake-Whitehouse: Both 2.0 and 2.1 - - Had problems from day one with the 2.0. Credit where its due EXT people were beyond helpful, went above and beyond upgrading to the 2.1 - Same issue with both forks
  • 1 0
 @draggingbrake: same here
2.1 on mine
EXT USA was very helpful, explained what they did to try to help.. but the issue still remains unfortunately. Hope it can get sorted someday
  • 3 0
 @stormracing: maybe try chatting to the guys at Mojo Suspension? They might be able to advise better than the US reps since they're involved in the development too. I'm on 2.1 now too and there's no top out at all.
  • 1 0
 @Jake-Whitehouse: I’ll give that a go
Appreciate the recommendation!
  • 1 0
 Same. Loved the traction from my EXT Storia so much I started improving my times on home trails.
  • 4 0
 I’ve owned the storia v3, ohlins ttx2 air, and new RS vivid. The ohlins and RS vivid can come close to storia v3 plush with advantages of air. This shock, while cool, seems to be overly complex in an attempt to achieve performance that is already available from other brands for nearly half the price with greater serviceability.
  • 4 1
 My EXT experience, spend double the money then other brands, have to send it back because it's defective, then had to send it back 2 more times to get the tune originally requested, then still was not tuned right so sent it back for refund. Won't do that again.
  • 4 0
 Looks beautiful.

It's expensive, tedious to set up, difficult to tune and appears to be unreliable.

You'd have to really want to be different / stand out to pick this over so many other options.
  • 3 0
 I've been looking for an air option to replace the kitsuma coil in running now and thought this might be the one now I'm wondering if it would be worth the money and fuss. Maybe I just buy a kitsuma air...
  • 3 0
 Just stick with coil. I switched a tuned RS coil to Kitsuma AIR and while it works very good it tracks nowhere near a coil damper, there is visibly less grip in the rear. Coil + HBO is the ticket. Honesty, buying this EXT only to be few hundred grams lighter and to be able to use any pressure does not make huge sense. Take a good coil shock, put a Sprindex on it to finetune spring force and ride.
  • 5 0
 @lkubica: The new Tigon is a good option too.
  • 1 0
 have you had any issues with your kitsuma coil? mine broke after literally 10 minutes of use and it got returned for warranty in january, cane creek still havent approved me a new one, sad face
  • 1 0
 @MartyMcfly2810: I have had my Kitsuma coil for over 3 yrs with no issues whatsoever. 100% reliable.

You may just have been unlucky but that's no excuse having to wait months for a replacement. Refund not an option?
  • 1 0
 @The-Reverend: i will bring it up with the shop next time i call them, sort of hoping they can just exchange it for something else. usually theyd of just swapped with one they had in stock but it was the last one unfortunately ad havent had anymore stock yet
  • 2 0
 I love mine, no issues so far. Indeed the setup might be a little bit difficult but the performance is on top. It’s not cheap and when you spend so much money on a shock you are expecting the best performance that you can have. If you’re interested in buying something from EXT make sure that the dealer can help you with the initial setup. Compared with Ohlins/RS/Fox the prices are a little bit higher but keep in mind that if you go for Arma/Storia you get two coils and those are light similar to SLS but much more precise.
  • 5 0
 NSMB had air spring failures during their review period too, so it's not a one-off either.
  • 2 0
 "much longer than a standard air shock. ...this procedure required eight cycles of installing the pump and equalizing the shock."

This isn't surprising. Any shock with a good sized negative chamber is going to require 6 or 7 cycles of 50 psi to get to 250 psi: 250/50 = 5 cycles, plus a extra or two to account for equalizing, and another for pump attachment losses if you for some reason follow that silly procedure. Why do you need to remove the pump, anyway?
  • 4 0
 Wouldn’t be worth it if the high pressure shock pump didn’t come with it
  • 1 0
 "reveals the proprietary, high-pressure pump"

"proprietary" or simply "custom"? Do they have some kind of patent on the valve head or the ability to do high-pressure? If not, then it's not proprietary, and any pump that can manage the pressures would work. It doesn't matter that theirs might be the only one, it's still not "proprietary" unless they're legally the only ones that can make one that works with the shock.
  • 3 1
 Lost me at expensive AND failure prone, Hopefully both can be addressed in successive iterations of this shock. For now, it's blingy Dangerholm-grade silliness.
  • 3 0
 I've had three Arias too and all of them hat that stuck down problem. It only happened when it was pretty cold.
  • 2 0
 Has anyone felt the pressure change in relation to the temperature? I got more than 5 psi change in my X2 shock just moving my bike outside under the summer sun.
  • 7 0
 P*V=n*R*T (to be expected). Your shock also heats up quite a bit during use.

My coil shock doesn't abide by this rule Smile
  • 3 0
 @TurboDonuts: I'm leaning closer to put a coil in my fork as well, already have 3 chambers to check and I want none of it
  • 2 0
 @knightmarerider: watch out! The rear coils on my Toyota Matrix started sagging after 230k miles. So if you put 230k miles on your fork those springs could wear out too.
  • 2 0
 @TEAM-ROBOT: And that’s spring sag with the normal payload on them (it’s sitting still most of its life). Imagine having to sit on your bike for that long!
  • 3 0
 Welcome to the mid-stroke support group - a group for mountainbikers who need extra midstroke support.
  • 4 0
 meanwhile Push is successfully selling a $1600 shock.
  • 2 0
 As someone who's 105kg I have never been able to get an air shock to feel right. Would love to see some PB reviews where the rider is a heavier set individual.
  • 2 3
 "Installing and inflating the shock took about 20 minutes - much longer than a standard air shock. In order to reach the 250 psi in the + chamber, the equivalent to the 500# coil spring on the Nukeproof Giga, this procedure required eight cycles of installing the pump and equalizing the shock."

Huh? Why? There's no reason inflating this shock should be any different to any other, except for the very minor addition of having to inflate the ++ chamber first (an extra 20 seconds max)

"EXT calls their dual positive air chamber AS3 technology. This unique patented design..."
It's not that unique. Manitou and Ohlins both use pretty much identical tech in their forks.
  • 1 1
 Even though the principle of the AS3 is similar to the ones used in forks by other manufacturers, the structure is very different. Just think about the space constraints alone.
  • 1 1
 @jukka4130: Sure. Its a triple chamber air spring designed to fit in a different package. It's still just a triple chamber air spring.
  • 2 1
 "Only the rebound dial can be turned by hand"

So the only one that shouldn't really be regularly changed is the easiest one to change? Weird.
  • 1 1
 Had two Storias and dealt with EXT USA at least three times. I'd never go near anything they make again, shockingly low tolerance, bad out of the box, and dishonest incompetent service.
  • 3 1
 "Modern expectations such as plush operation, reliability"

This X2
  • 7 0
 X2 has left the chat.
  • 4 4
 Save $250 and get a Cane Creek Tigon... best shock on the market with none of these issues with all the performance of Coil and Air-like midstroke.
  • 1 0
 v1 doing v1 things. I’m sure they will refine this one. But yeah go for the storia anyways.
  • 1 3
 Forks I can get excited about, shocks is kinda like discussing what the next family SUV you should get. It's a big enough pain finding spare parts for Fox and RS stuff 10yrs down the road, I can't imagine having to service or repair these smaller brands when the time comes for a major service.
  • 2 0
 Smaller brands also don’t overhaul and change everything every single year
  • 1 0
 There are way more boutique aftermarket options in shocks than forks - and Mojo provide the best customer service in the biz for EXT products here in the UK. Not that I'd buy this shock, but their service on the EXT Storia is awesome - they really want you to love it as much as they do.
  • 1 0
 @stormracing: I had a Storia come with a frame that was appoximately 5 years old, the damper needed a replacement and EXT no longer supports the shock, so no metal parts are available for it. Pretty lame, and the opposite of what you'd think for a small brand.
  • 1 0
 @MorganBH: dang, that really sucks
Sorry to hear that!
Just wish there was some company that you could trust to support you down the road in a handful of years
  • 2 0
 Tech aside: It looks like a beer can with integrated tap Smile
  • 1 0
 I think you are on to something!
  • 1 3
 Coming soon to a parking lot near you! Likely owned by a pudgy middle aged man who would be better served by a few laps of a BMX track than an extra 5 PSI of ++ or whatever.

(I am semi kidding, the few EXT shocks I have seen in the wild were under the hands of riders who did not fit that description at all)
  • 3 1
 when you make an air shock too complex..
  • 2 0
 Love me a ‘strict and tedious set up procedure’.
  • 2 1
 I'm not convinced that circa 400 psi & MTB suspension belong together....
  • 1 1
 in that case I suggest you dont look up the ifp pressures for fox ctd/dps or rockshox monarch rls...
  • 1 0
 @gabiusmaximus: Yup, I know. And sometimes those high pressure IFP's have issues with leakage, before a service might be expected or due. I've still got an Avalanche coil on one of my bikes, runs a relatively low (can't recall exactly what right now) IFP PSI, never given me an issue. A sample size of one, I know, but just a random example.
I wasn't really thinking IFP pressure though; I was more thinking of the Scott Equalizer shock or Fox Dyad (which used to run circa 350-400 psi in the air chamber, and weren't renown for durability.)
  • 1 0
 @Corinthian: Not really. Ctds are some of the most reliable shocks out there. Shame theyre a bit crap performance wise.
  • 1 0
 Great shocks all around but be ready for $300 a year in maintenance.
  • 3 0
 $300 is a Bomber CR every year, why not just buy one of those, run it for a year, sell it on eBay on a 0.99 auction and buy another new one? Less effort and less downtime.
  • 1 0
 This shock does not fit newer Santa Cruz bikes..
  • 2 0
 A new version was made that will be available in the next few weeks that does fit.
  • 1 0
 This looks too goofy even for me and I ride Manitou.
  • 3 1
 Sprindex ftw
  • 2 3
 Just go for a hardtail .. your legs already have hsc lsc and plenty of rebound setup ..
  • 8 0
 Legs

Pros: They look pretty good. Free.

Cons: Knees are a horrible design flaw and I don't know how the manufacturer hasn't been forced into a recall already. Servicing is very expensive and never quite works. They get noisy eventually.
  • 2 0
 @boozed: That knees comment hit home Frown I regularly go rock climbing with a few mates, all three of us recently hit 40 and the three of us are all now suddenly wearing knee supports for day to day life.







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