Development Story - Cane Creek's New Helm Fork

Feb 17, 2017 at 19:37
by Mike Levy  



It's taken five long years, but Cane Creek's first suspension fork is finally here. The appropriately named 'Helm' is targeted at the trail, all-mountain, and enduro crowd, and the 27.5'' chassis (a 29er version will be available in the future) can be adjusted between 170mm and 100mm of travel, thereby making it one of the more versatile forks on the market. It's also air-sprung, which is to be expected, but I'll admit to being surprised when I discovered that it doesn't feature a twin-tube damper, the very system that Cane Creek has become synonymous with.

There's a story behind that unexpected chunk of info, which you can read below, along with how and why Cane Creek's long awaited fork came to be. Want to see more of the production fork and read about how it performs?
Cane Creek Helm Details

• Intended use: trail / all-mountain / enduro
• Travel: 100 - 170mm (internally adj. in 10mm increments)
• Wheel size: 27.5''
• Spring: air
• Manual negative spring
• Air volume adjustment for ramp-up
• Mono-tube damper
• Damper adjustments: low-speed compression, high-speed compression, low-speed rebound
• Stanchions: 35mm
• Steerer: tapered only
• 7'' post mount
• Axle: 'D-Loc' 15mm QR Boost thru-axle
• Colors: black, blue (limited release option)
• Weight: 2,010 grams / 4.43lbs (w/ axle, 205mm steerer)
• MSRP: $1,100 USD
www.canecreek.com


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Design Engineer Brandon Blakely holds an early Helm prototype. Brice Shirbach photo


Why a Fork, And Why Now?

The news that Cane Creek is entering the high-end fork business hitherto occupied by the likes of Fox, RockShox, Manitou, and Öhlins, all brands with a long history of front suspension behind them, only underlines the mettle that the relatively small North Carolina company possesses. I mean, let's be honest here; when you're thinking about a new fork, there's a pretty good chance that you are only considering suspension from two, maybe three, brands, despite there being a handful of decent options out there. But then again, now that their catalog of Double Barrel shocks covers nearly every type of use, moving to the opposite end of the bike is probably the next logical thing for a suspension company to do, right?

Of course it is, but the rational behind Cane Creek's decision can be easily countered by the obvious observation that the current crop of mid-travel forks don't exactly feel like they've left a ton of room for improvement. That's great for us riders, sure, but it's much more difficult to jump into a mature market for the first time than it is to step into one with room left for leaps and bounds of performance gains. That wasn't the case back in 2012, however, when Cane Creek first started their fork project, but it sure is these days.


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Graphic Designer Evan Voss (left) and Brandon Blakely with his dog.


So, how exactly is Cane Creek going to set themselves, and their new Helm fork, apart from their formidable competition? ''I believe in the value of diversity in life, of having variety. I think that while the Pike and 36 are great forks, there are people out there that want something different,'' Cane Creek President Brent Graves explained to me when I asked him that exact question during my visit last summer to see the Helm being developed. ''There are definitely discerning riders that want something different, even if they can't put their finger on it right now. With Double Barrel, it wasn't like people were beating on RockShox's door going, 'Hey, make a shock like this!' But the Double Barrel came out and people were like, 'Wow, now I can do this. I can tune it this way.' That is, I think, what we're going to bring to market; some unique solutions.''

bigquotesMost importantly, we're just going to have a different take on it. Particularly with our experience on damper tuning and what you can do with it and so forth. I just come back to how we're going to do something that is different, and that's the Cane Creek way. - Brent Graves, Cane Creek President, on what's going to set the Helm apart


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Sometimes a disguise is called for. Cane Creek was able to keep the Helm largely under wraps during its development.


Five years in the pipe is a long time, unique or not, and Graves puts that long gestation period partly down to Cane Creek's 'at ease' pace that, he says, stemmed from the company's rather lucrative Aheadset patent that expired back in 2010. ''Knowing that you had the royalty checks coming in, it tempered the capitalism entrepreneurial spirit,'' says Graves. ''The sense of urgency is not there to say, 'Oh, we've got to get this done on time.' Or, 'Hey, we've got to look into adding some other products, look what the market's doing,' and so forth. We got comfortable. We just can't think, 'Oh yeah, when it's done, it's done,' and so forth. That is, to some degree, what's happened with the fork.''

2017 is also the right time, it seems, for Cane Creek to jump into the front suspension business, regardless of what their competition is doing. Their lineup of shocks consists of eight different models that cover everything besides pure cross-country use, and they've gotten on top of the reliability issues that plagued certain models over the previous few years. The time, resources, and staff are now more available, too, with Jim Morrison, Director of Engineering, and Design Engineers Brandon Blakely, Mike Bookhout, Jim Rathbun, and Ashton Hall all working on the Helm's design and development.

And, speaking of development, the Helm has not been designed around a twin-tube damper like every single Double Barrel shock has employed since the DBcoil debuted back in 2005. I know, I was just as surprised to hear that as you probably are right now.
Cane Creek Factory Tour
Jim Morrison, Cane Creek's Director of Engineering





Why Not a Twin-Tube Damper?

I would have bet money that Cane Creek's new fork would feature a twin-tube damper and, as it turns out, I would have lost all that money. Instead, it makes use of a mono-tube system that's similar in layout to what's found inside of high-end forks from Fox, RockShox, and everyone else other than, interestingly enough, Öhlins. Even Cane Creek was expecting to use a twin-tube system, and it took a full year and a handful of functioning, albeit rough, prototypes for them to realize they'd have to break away from the damper design that they've become well known for.


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Morrison and his team decided that a mono-tube damper makes the most sense in the Helm, but only after a year of testing a twin-tube system.


''Between initial concepts to working prototypes to play with, we probably spent about a year on a four-way adjustable, twin-tube damper,'' Director of Engineering Jim Morrison said of the process that eventually saw them abandon the idea. ''What we ended up prototyping was not a production-level anything, but it was to prove that a twin-tube damper like that would be the route we wanted to go down,'' although it ended up proving the exact opposite. ''We had several prototypes worth of parts, got those put together, started playing with them, and just immediately ran into roadblocks.''

One of the biggest challenges, Morrison explained, was just how complex a twin-tube damper is and how it all needed to be squeezed down into a fork leg. Assembly issues, like being able to have seals and all of the small parts fit inside of each other as intended, proved to be difficult in Cane Creek's own workshop, let alone a service center or even someone's garage.


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An early prototype of the Helm's damper opened up.


This had Morrison questioning the feasibility of a production line being able to put out something reliable, especially when multiple part vendors would be involved: ''You could absolutely make it. It would just be challenging. In a production setting, it would present liabilities. It would not be easy to make, but it would be expensive. It would be a complex, expensive part.'' In other words, more money and less reliability for the consumer, which sounds like great reasons to choose a different way to get it done.

Assembly hurdles aside, the functioning twin-tube, four-way adjustable fork dampers that Morrison and Blakely manufactured didn't perform as well as they hoped: ''Because of the constraints, it has to fit inside the leg, and you've got to have an inner and outer tube, and you have to have a piston in there; everything just ended up getting small. With a reasonable shaft size, a reasonable piston size, we just needed more flow to get low enough compression forces. We also had some hysteresis issues with an uncharged damper so, largely because of flow, we didn't have enough return flow area, and we had a restriction on oil returning from the reservoir into the main damping chamber. We solved that by charging it with nitrogen, just like you would shocks.'' Issue sorted, it seemed, but at the price of added complication.

If you're wondering why Öhlins makes a twin-tube damper layout work in their RXF forks but Cane Creek chose not to, you're probably not alone. In order to package everything, the Öhlins design uses the stanchion as the damper's outer tube, which seems like the obvious solution that made for an equally obvious question for Morrison. ''We could've gone that route, and it actually may have made a lot of things easier, except for the issue of serviceability,'' he replied. ''If you have a shock and you need to give it service, you unbolt it from your bike and put it in a little box and ship it off. Servicing a fork is a little more difficult; it's just a lot bigger. Shipping it around the world is a lot more difficult, so when it comes to serviceability, it's a whole lot easier if you can take the whole damper out as a unit. If you use the stanchion as your outer tube, you can't do that anymore.'' Fair enough, and likely music to the ears of those who aren't shy about getting their hands oily in their garage.
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Yes, that's a piggyback from a Double Barrel shock attached to the crown of a Fox 36. The earliest proof of concept prototypes were twin-tube dampers installed into existing forks.

So, after investing a year and probably a hefty amount of R&D costs, Morrison and his team made the call to wipe the slate clean and move to a more traditional mono-tube damper. ''Solutions we were coming up with and what we were seeing, what we wanted, like what do you want in a damper, and everything kept pointing us to 'Well, we could do this. We could do that.' It just kind of eroded the twin-tube feature; it took away from the positives of it,'' he described of what was probably a difficult decision.

''If you go back to the initial decision to do the twin-tube damper, why do that? Well, that's because that's what we do. Well, we also make shocks. We haven't made forks, yet. Forks are a new thing for us, so is the twin-tube damper even something you want in a fork? What are the advantages of the twin-tube?''


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From the bottom up: a twin-tube damper using the piggyback from a Double Barrel shock; a prototype twin-tube damper made to fit into a fork; a prototype mono-tube damper.


bigquotesEverything gets a lot simpler, as far as construction and assembly, so it makes for a robust product. A lot less stuff to fail, both in use and in assembly. We found that the system just gave us a really 'Marketing be damned' kind of thing. It gave us what we wanted. - Jim Morrison, Director of Engineering, on choosing a mono-tube damper instead of a twin-tube system for the Helm
After all that time and effort, what Cane Creek ended up with is a mono-tube damper that uses an expanding bladder as a compensator. Sound familiar? Yup, that's the same basic architecture that Fox uses for their FIT4 damper, and also that of RockShox's Charger damper. This is not a coincidence. ''I would say that things are converging on that point, and I think they're converging for a reason. It works, and you can make a lightweight and very functional system,'' Morrison said of why most suspension companies are coming to the same conclusion. ''You can make it more complicated, but we haven't found a reason why.''

That said, Morrison certainly did look at a few possible ways to refine what is now a traditional and proven damper layout.


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The damper's expanding bladder compensates for fluid discplacement, just like you'll see with most other mono-tube systems.


The most interesting of these was to charge the sealed area outside of the expanding bladder with nitrogen, much like how a rear shock's internal floating piston has a charge behind it to provide back-pressure. A few prototypes were built, but the idea was abandoned, again for it simply not being needed, especially because the mono-tube layout doesn't require the same type of back-pressure that Morrison's early twin-tube prototype dampers called for.

''We sat around talking about it, and we couldn't theorize a reason why it would be positive, and our testing has proved out that it essentially didn't do anything except add an additional spring rate,'' something that Morrison obviously didn't see being beneficial for any reason. ''As much as we would love to set our damper apart with them, 'Yeah, we're nitrogen charged and blah blah blah.' If there's no functional reason to do it, why add the cost and the additional complexity? With our damper, our goal is to something that we hope will set us apart because of how we've tuned it. The tune is what we really hope to talk about on the damper side.''


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Spot the air valve on the left of the top cap? It was to allow the backside of the bladder to be pressurized with nitrogen, a trick that turned out to not be required.

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You're looking at the production fork's damper.


So while the big news, besides the fork itself, is that Cane Creek has gone with a traditional mono-tube damper, they're emphasizing that it's what they've done with the shims, ports, piston, and oil that is going to set the Helm apart; Or, in other words, the fork's tune. And that tune is the result of countless hours of testing by riders of all skill levels, from intermediate to those who race downhill in the pro class such as Design Engineer Brandon Blakely. A Roehrig dyno was also put on the task - you can see it in action below replicating a run of Blakely's in the Cane Creek workshop.


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The Helm's Air Spring

Doublair Spring - The Helm is air-sprung, as you'd expect it to be, and Cane Creek's clever Doublair volume adjustment system allows riders to reposition a sealed piston to tune how the fork ramps up through its travel. A schrader valve at the top cap is used to set the spring rate, with an aluminum shaft running down into the positive air chamber. All standard stuff, really, but on that shaft is an air piston that's held in place with an aluminum wing nut; undoing the nut with your fingers lets you slide the piston up and down the shaft and then clamp it into one of eight different positions. Because you're effectively adjusting the air volume of the chamber, you're accomplishing the same thing as adding or removing volume spacers but without the plastic bits.


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An early prototype of the adjustable volume Doublair system (left), and the aborted Triplair spring (right).


Cane Creek had been working on a second air spring system, called Triplair, that they decided against pursuing due to the added complication and setup woes that it might have caused. It was going to be offered as an aftermarket option, and it consisted of a floating air piston rather than the fixed version of Doublair, as well as a second air valve on the top cap that would have let riders pressurize the area behind it. The idea was to be able to run a lower spring rate but achieve the same sag, and it was designed to provide more support in the middle of the stroke. Setup was far more complicated, however, requiring riders to pressurize the Triplair chamber highly to fully extend the floating piston before going through the positive and negative air spring balancing procedure, and then going back to the Triplair valve (that needed an air adapter due to space constraints on the top cap) to pressurise it to be about thirty-percent higher than the positive chamber.

I rode the Triplair system at North Carolina's Beech Mountain Resort, and while it was neat to fiddle with, I had a hard time picturing many riders taking advantage of it. Factor in the positive and negative manual air equalizing (details on that below) and it all seemed a bit much to me. It looks like it did to Cane Creek, too, as they decided to focus on the simpler Doublair spring design that the Helm comes with from the factory.


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The production fork's Doublair volume adjustment system - unthread the black wing nut to slide the piston up or down the air rod to adjust ramp-up, then thread the nut back down to lock it in place.


Manual Negative Air Spring - At the opposite end of the Helm's air-side fork leg is the manually adjustable negative spring. This doesn't require a shock pump, however, but rather just the push of a button. After pressurizing the positive chamber, you unscrew the aluminum cap that protects the button, and then you back out a small threaded collar that allows you to depress the valve, thereby instantly equalizing the positive and negative air chambers. You can stop at that and go for a ride, or, Morrison says, you can bleed a few PSI out of the positive air chamber to have the negative pressure be higher, which then creates an extremely low breakaway force. DVO uses their OTT (Off The Top) dial to adjust the force of their fork's negative spring for similar reasons, which is to be able to tune how the stroke feels at the top of its travel and match that feel to the spring rate that the rider requires.

You can also use the Helm's negative air spring bleed button to adjust axle-to-crown length slightly by holding it down and then compressing the fork, sort of like the trick that you could do with a Manitou fork, although Cane Creek was very clear about not recommending this as a tuning option. You can, however, use it to lower the fork if you need to squeeze the bike into the back of your vehicle or travel box.


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Prototype air assemblies being assembled, and an early example of the Helm's negative air spring balance button.


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The production fork's negative air spring balance button - unthread the gold collar, depress the button to equalize the positive and negative air springs, and then thread the gold collar back down.


The manual negative air spring provides additional tuning, for sure, but it's obviously more complicated and requires an extra step during setup compared to the self-adjusting negative air springs that most of Cane Creek's competitors use. So why do it? Adding tuning options aside, Morrison wanted to avoid having to use the bypass port that a self-adjusting system requires because that calls for an air seal needing to slide over a non-continuous surface, which he feels is only asking for trouble in the long-run.

Also, a bypass port means that different air legs are required for forks of different due to where the port is located, whereas going with the manual negative air spring allows Cane Creek to use the same air legs for any travel Helm, thereby making both manufacturing and purchasing easier while letting the consumer adjust their Helm anywhere between 100mm and 170mm of travel in 10mm increments via clip-on spacers. So the slightly more complicated manually adjustable negative spring does, in the end, make for a simpler product in a way.


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Installing or removing 10mm spacers onto the air rod lets the fork's travel be set between 170mm and 100mm.





Downtime and Deadlines

With a full year and plenty of time and money invested in a twin-tube damper that eventually proved to be a dead-end of sorts, and an effective but tricky three-part air spring that was left behind in favor of a simpler system, it's fair to say that the Helm's birth wasn't a walk in the park for Cane Creek. And nor should it be; it is their first suspension fork, after all. But the most challenging times for Morrison's team wasn't saying goodbye to the twin-tube system or the Triplair spring, but rather the time spent in between designing, manufacturing, and what has to be most exciting: testing what you've created.


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The Helm's chassis going through some destructive testing.

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The 15mm D-Loc axle is square, and the anodized black lock on the right fork leg latches it in place. Tension is adjusted via a nut under the QR lever on the opposite side.


''You get the design and you can sit there and stare at it on the computer for as long as you want, but you just need to try it. You've got to go do it, and some of the parts are pretty easy to make here; we can turn them around in a few days or a week. But some of the parts are just really challenging to make, so they take maybe ninety days before you actually get to try that thing,'' Morrison described of the evidently frustrating process.

''And, inevitably, you put it together for the first time and you immediately find something that you can make better. So then you modify it, or you have to make new parts; but, generally, you end up modifying stuff, so you end up in this nether realm where you're not where you were with the design. You're somewhere better, but all the parts are modified by hand, so you have to make another leap and say 'Okay, we're going to make all-new parts,' and you have to wait.''


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Crown and steerer units cut apart during testing, and rapid prototyped compression adjustment dials.


bigquotesIt's challenging because the downtime is killer. You're just sitting there like, 'Argh, I want to do this,' while you're waiting for parts to come in. - Jim Morrison, Director of Engineering, on what he felt was most difficult during the Helm's development


Engineers are known for their ability to solve technical challenges, not their marketing and business skills - that's a whole other department - which sees a guy like Jim focused more on making the best possible product than meeting a looming deadline. ''It could always be better, but there's a day when you have to say, 'This is right for right now.' We're going to have to get that last two-percent next month and proceed with this right now. Right now, I think our big challenge is that we've been ninety-percent there for maybe a few months, and in the last two weeks we've gotten ninety-eight-percent there. And every time we turn around it's like, 'We just got this, and now let's do this to make it a little bit better, or let's go test this.' We're just running up against deadlines.''

Those were some of Morrison's last words to me before I left their prototyping shop during my visit to Cane Creek last spring, and those deadlines that he spoke of have long since passed. Eight months on from my visit and the Helm has been on the production line for at least a few weeks now, with the new fork already being shipped out to distributors for aftermarket sales, Cane Creek's main target at this early stage of their first fork's life.


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I joined Cane Creek for a Helm test session at the Beech Mountain Resort Bike Park where we focused on air spring setup.


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Cane Creek also sent me two Helms a month ago for testing and early ride impressions, which, as you can probably imagine, has been pretty interesting. One of the forks is in the dark blue special release color and the other in the black of the standard production fork, with the former left at its full 170mm of travel and tested on the front of Rocky Mountain's Slayer, while the other is set to 160mm and bolted onto Ellsworth's new Rouge.

And what do I think? Find out what I make of the Helm here. If you have questions about the new fork, post them in the comment section below and Cane Creek will get an answer for you.





145 Comments

  • + 51
 Even though is seems I'm overlooking a lot of other really great features.... That axle lock/release is possibly my favorite. It's the more simple things sometimes.
  • + 9
 looks a fair bit similar to SR suntours Q-loc, and Naild's 12-3-9 thru axle, nothing really new, but still neat nonetheless.
  • + 4
 No threads to strip is a good thing!
  • + 13
 There are things known and things unknown and in between are the doors. - Jim Morrison
  • + 2
 @endlessblockades: Ha ha ha I was going to quote Jimmy boy when I saw his name in the article too!
  • + 3
 gotta respect Jim Morrison!!
  • + 1
 @Yarlezy: there's a nut in the end of it...
  • + 36
 Is that a pike sticker on the Helm to keep it in disguise?
  • + 12
 yup, pretty good way of hiding it!
  • + 9
 Handy that Rockshox seem to be advertising their fork stickers for sale everywhere I look (bike related) at the moment!
  • + 2
 Was it just me or does the graphic design for the Helm look a lot like the current Rockshox graphics??
  • + 1
 @Callum-H: very perceptive. Good job.
  • + 17
 Most important question: what colors are available. The blue looks great but it's gonna be a hard match for most of my bikes.
  • + 27
 Black is the standard production color. The blue is for the limited edition release forks.
  • + 1
 There's a black one as well.
  • + 5
 It will come in a "standard" all black option with black and white decals. The blue fork is a limited edition for the launch. This fork is definitely going to be a player. It's smooth and highly adjustable from compression to air spring.
  • + 2
 Black. And Blue also.
  • + 18
 They come in Rihanna colors, black and blue
  • + 0
 @mikelevy: oh, so blue is pre-production...
  • + 1
 @dynamatt: Ooooh...too soon? Naaah, up vote the man!
  • + 14
 Made from recycled DBInline shocks.
  • + 11
 Spring design is almost identical to what manitou uses in the mattoc and magnum. Only difference is manitou needs a pump attached to equalize. Even tried copying IRT
  • + 5
 I've aN AWK spring in my pike similar to IRT and it is great I must say! IRT is a good innovation.
  • + 2
 yeah, I mean manitou may feel differently but i wish CC went ahead with the Triplair system. I do wonder if it was patents that prevented it. Maybe they will offer it aftermarket.
  • + 10
 How do you get a fork to balance for a photo? Get a guy with long arms and a stick into the steerer tube (note the shadow, haha)
  • + 7
 The air chambers and the way of adjusting the negative air spring resemble a Manitou Mattoc with all options.

Problem with every negative air spring is (as I found out) that the quadring of the piston allows air passing by when not properly lubed or when the lube and rubber get stiff due to cold (below freezing).

The Pike solves this with the bypass, as soon as it fully expands. But when hammering down a trail the Pike may pack and shorten its travel to unrideable, when it has no opportunity to fully expand! Bad.
Happens only when really really cold.

The Mattoc has no bypass and the same kind of valve as the Canecreek. A valvecap that can be used in the same way as the valve of the Canecreek is availabale from aftermarket suppliers.
BUT it has the same bug as the Pike and it won´t go back to full travel once it goes down its travel (when it´s cold below freezing). This can be very annoying, because it may happen after half a minute down the trail.

@mikelevy : how does the Canecreek fork work when cold - does it eat up its travel? How is the quadring of the airpiston lubed?
  • + 1
 My Mattoc did this in not so cold conditions! A friend's fork is still doing it. Pretty frustrating, good fork nonetheless.
  • + 6
 First gen mattocs had a problem with the air piston letting oil by and getting stuck down. Manitou made a new piston and sends them out for free. Contact them and they will set you up with a distributor(since you are not in the usa.
  • + 1
 @mullen119: have that new piston already, nonetheless...
  • + 1
 @mullen119: Thanks sir!
  • + 8
 Great article Mike … and having CC to share some of the potential design-innovations that were put to test, and the reasons why they never found their way onto the commercial version, adds valuable insights.
  • + 10
 A dropper post can't be far behind either.
  • + 24
 They do have that dropper remote already...
  • + 25
 No way, they already make the Thudbuster
  • + 6
 Holy smokes I had to laugh at the poison ivy cream below the computer screen in one of the photos. Riding in the mountains of North Carolina is awesome... until you start itching 12 hours later.
  • + 3
 Cold showers and technu/dish soap FTW.
  • + 2
 @westeast: +1 on the dish soap, espescially dawn! My most successful remedy has been Castrol Superclean degreaser within the first couple hours of contact. I have been in major contact with the ivy, and cleaning the bod and all gear with this stuff, and then a thorough rinse, has basically eliminated rash breakout.
  • + 1
 the absolute best way to go is to cover exposed skin with antiperspirant (not deodorant, but anti-perspirant) which creates a protective barrier. Then afterwards wash with a jewel weed soap. If you do get a rash, make a jewel weed tea and apply it topically to the rash and drink some of the tea. The rash should disappear in a couple of hours. It's pretty miraculous, really.
  • + 1
 @kjjohnson: Yay! Thx for the pro tip! Def gonna stock up on the jewel weed stuff... Now just have to worry about the copperheads Wink Seriously, though... Riding NC is awesome. Rode there in the 90s while working for SRAM, and returned last year with my 15yo son to rip some of the new (and old) trails. Rip rolling fun.
  • + 5
 I see nothng here to get me to switch from my beloved Fox 36's. I have no problem with the axle on my 36's as I only remove it for servicing typically. I also have the 20mm option and Kashima coat . On my next bike it will be 36's again.
  • + 2
 Pfft. Kashima. Marketing and little more.
  • + 8
 Seems like all they've done is spend a lot of time and money demonstrating that it's pretty hard to improve on the Pike.
  • + 3
 So interesting to follow through the steps and see how this and that changed from one prototype to another and then there's the final product. I have also experimented with a piggyback design once and put in my old 888 but haven't thought about putting such thing into a single crow fork. But that pic of that 36 gave me a great idea, seems like that will be a nice summer project.
  • + 6
 @hamncheez: yes... kind of
see for yourself www.pinkbike.com/photo/12884153
  • + 5
 Cane creek helm double barrel air? Wouldn't that be sick? With the damper hanging on the back!
  • + 5
 10/10 would buy a piggyback fork
  • + 5
 finally!!!I saw one of these like 9 months ago at the bike park and they look tits!!!cant wait to get them.
  • + 4
 Looks great! I might try one if I ever get off of 26" wheels. No cashola and all that. And i didn't know that ellsworth made a red bike.
  • + 1
 That's a Ghost. PB did longer term testing on an Ellsworth and a Rocky Mountain Slayer featured in another article.
  • + 3
 Just chuck a 26 wheel in there. All it'll do is slacken out the front end a bit!
  • + 3
 @mlahaie79: I know. It was a subtle dig at the spelling of Rogue as Rouge. (Red) :p
  • + 2
 @energetik: ha....coffee hasn't kicked it. I'm as dull as a butter knife right now
  • + 1
 I think of my 4x4 1995 ZJ, with 1.5" lift, 30" tires and KYB Monomax shocks. The below might help with some explanation between twin-tube and mono-tube shocks... Quoted from a 4x4 enthusiast site.

"-Twin-tube Low Pressure Gas-
A shock absorber or strut can be a low pressure gas, twin tube design. This basic design has not changed too much since the 60's, but there have been some refinements over the years. This design has some characteristics, such as a soft valving, and usually costs less to manufacture than a Monotube or Adjustable type shock absorber. They are usually pressurized with some Nitrogen gas, usually 100 psi or less. In this design the hydraulic oil and gas are mixed together in the same chamber, which, while dampening, causes some aeration/foaming. Monroe Auto Equipment, Bilstein, and KYB GR2 still make units like these."

"-Mono-tube High Pressure Gas-
A shock absorber or strut can be a high pressure, mono tube design. These are a more modern type design, and have characteristics of their own. The monotube design allows them to operate cooler. Monotubes are under high pressure, from around 200 psi, to as high as 360 psi. The hydraulic oil and Nitrogen gas are in separate chambers, separated by a floating piston. This allows the shock/strut to function without any aeration or foaming. Monotube shocks usually have a stiff valving, and traditionally cost more to manufacture. They are also able to withstand more punishment, and offer higher dampening ability. (for instance, most racing shocks, from Nascar to Formula One, are of a monotube design). Great care and engineering is taken into consideration when manufacturing a monotube, and many have a very specific valving. This is years of racing technology adapted for street and off-road use. Some of the companies that make monotube shocks are Bilstein , Edelbrock, and KYB."

Hope this helps some people understand the differences!
  • + 3
 Vorsprung Suspension did a Tuesday Tune video explaining the difference, and they posted it here on Pinkbike. Those designs are pretty different from what you're describing in the automotive world. Just for starters the twin tube shock you describe is emulsion-style, meaning oil and gas mixed, whereas most mountain bike shocks separate oil and gas with an IFP or bladder assembly. The foaming of oil doesn't really happen for mountain bike shocks. Also those descriptions don't even explain the design difference.
  • + 1
 @WaterBear: "might help with some explanation"

Thanks for pointing that out. Is there anything you would like to add that would set apart the two designs?

All monotube and twintube shocks separate oil and gas with a piston. The two are not mixed.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy dang you and Wayne had these right in front of our eyes the other month. I was more distracted by the fact you were testing an ellsworth and the fanfare that would receive here. Next time I will be scouring what you are riding a whole lot more. Stop in next time you guys are in RL.
  • + 1
 Let's see - here you have a company with a reputation for very tunable (perhaps too tunable for anyone outside a small segment of the market) shocks that perform beautifully when tuned right, but have a history of reliability issues. So they get into the fork business, with the express rationale to provide something different for the discerning rider. And promptly find that the thing they're most known for, the double barrel damper, is too complex to make a reliable and reasonably serviceable fork, so they simplify. Which then makes you wonder, just how much are those discerning riders gaining over the very well established competition? If you really want to get fancy with your fork, why wouldn't you just go Oehlins? And further, what does that mean for the DB - are they going to take this approach of slightly simpler engineering and revamp that lineup? I get that there are a lot of tradeoffs in engineering. But I can't decide whether them so openly saying they couldn't see a reasonable way to make the twin tube damper work is a refreshing bit of honesty, or an indictment of what they're doing on the shock side of the house (and perhaps indicative of major changes coming there?).

The adjustable volume thing seems like a neat idea. It's also one more thing to tune and fiddle with - volume spacers are pretty set and forget, you find what works for you, and you rarely mess with it. Would you, if you could do so without tools other than a shock pump? Maybe - but if you have to pull out tools anyway to get into the fork, how is this any better than just using volume spacers? Sure, you can fine-tune (spacers are adding/subtracting discrete chunks of volume), but I don't hear a lot of people bemoaning that the spacer increments on their Pikes are too large...
  • + 5
 Volume spacing - the audience this fork is aimed at is perhaps inclined to adjust volume more often than the average set and forget rider - not having to carry around spacer tokens, and have a bit more volume settings would be a benefit.

Mono vs Twin tube - sounds like the commentary is specific to forks. I wouldn't expect them to be doing anything radical to their shock line where it appears there are significant benefits from a twin tube design, and where they have been (mostly) successful in implementing the system. They are simply saying "Yes, you would have expected us to go twin tube in our fork.... and we tried it out, but as far as we can tell it just isn't worth putting in a fork."
  • + 2
 The biggest reason I can see to follow through with bringing this fork to market is that you can offer an OEM suspension package from a single source. That would be the incentive for adding a dropper post as well.
  • + 1
 This Fork seems like a great fix for the current 27.5 plus/29er bikes out there. Once they release the 29er version. On bikes like the Santa Cruz Hightower changing the travel from 140mm 29er to 150mm 27.5 plus. Cane Creeks travel adjust seems to be the easiest to do on the market.
  • + 4
 If this fork is anything like their shocks it will probably top a 36 and the pike
  • + 2
 Agreed - curious as to how this will play out. Not sure another mono tube design is going to be a significant improvement over anything available now, but it is super cool to have another company in the game!
  • + 2
 @nicolai12: agreed, at the point where the fox or rockshox or manitou isn't working for you, you probably need to get into shimstack tuning anyways
  • + 1
 @bvwilliams: There seems to be some momentum for custom valving in the mtb industry... or a full cartridge upgrade....I'm considering a avalanche cartridge. But it would be worth sending a 36 out to Push instead of doing a service and praying that will help.
  • + 1
 @nicolai12: the avalanche cartridge is really tempting but maybe a little too rich for me. I think my next bike will come with a Pike RC and that should be a good platform for maybe some piston grinding and shim tuning.
  • + 1
 @bvwilliams: I would by a used fork that has a solid chassis...even a blown damper and throw in a Avy...it is expensive but not that bad if you take that route. Might not be a ton of boost chassis hanging around though...
  • + 1
 Three points:

They could have just lied to us all and said it was twin tube; no one would know the better.

Remember when the Big S tried to make a fork (e160) that had a 'factory set' negative air spring?

They could have copied the old white bros inverted forks that had a piggyback stick out of the bottom!
  • + 6
 Now that you mention it, some Ohlins motorcycle forks do have a piggyback sticking out of them as well.

Looking at the prototype with the DB coming off the top I kinda wondered, 'why not'?
  • + 4
 That dog doesn't give a fork.
  • + 4
 Loving these development stories, thanks PB!
  • + 4
 Wow, Jim Morrisson closed The Doors to twintube tech!
  • + 2
 Glad to see them break on through to the fork market
  • + 1
 How can they make a rear shock look so damn beautiful, but a front fork with decals that make it look like it should be a castle in the backdrop of a unicorn coloring book. Gross!
  • + 3
 It's a limited launch edition, and only ~300 will be sold to the public. The black version will be the standard color.
  • + 3
 What happened to good forks?(coil)
  • + 1
 No longer fashionable and too heavy (supposedly).

Plus air is easier for OEM's too because you don't need to muck about with different springs.
  • - 1
 a company thats known for reliability issues and poor customer service if at all, produces ANOTHER new product?? you can keep your fork, your shocks, and your terrible headset bearings. i cant sell my used cane creek shocks no one wants em, even the ones that are like new, you wont answer my email about the shock that imploded itself taking out the linkset on my bike, so done with cane creek.
  • + 2
 I hope servicing it is better than their shocks where they dont sell service parts and make you send it to them.
  • + 2
 That fox with the piggybacl made me remember something......https://ep3.pinkbike.org/p3pb1806977/p3pb1806977.jpg
  • + 2
 @mikelevy Isn't the piggyback FOX a 34(dropouts, axle)? Not trying to be a smartass,just curious...
  • + 2
 Looks great but could you answer my email please. I've been waiting since 19 February.
  • + 2
 try calling them bro
  • + 1
 Yup, just call them. I live in Asheville, and have just stopped in the factory many times for questions. They've always been happy to help.
  • + 1
 ''We could've gone that route, and it actually may have made a lot of things easier, except for the issue of serviceability,''

+1 Cane Creek, now we are talking.
  • + 2
 I think that the blue looks good... How much of the production is done in house?
  • + 0
 CaneCreek: making rider's life complicated since they released the double barrell. I don't want to be in the need of using an App everytime I ride to understand how to tune my suspension!
  • + 2
 PUSH introduces their fork in 3.. 2..1..
  • + 2
 I think they are going to head towards a cartridge to they don't have to deal with sourcing QA/QC issues...rumors are abound and I'm stocking up some cash. Not entirely sure their Factory Service is worth it for a 36...get a few shims in the revalve, a HV piston and some cleaning and that's it.
  • + 0
 As someone who enjoys hacked together odd ball stuff I needs that 36 with piggy back cane creek goodness. With a ti coil spring..
  • + 1
 So nice to see a way to equalize positive and negative pressures. That is the bane of the current fox 36.
  • + 5
 Actually the positive and negative chambers equalize in the first 15mm of travel on the Fox 36.
  • + 1
 @peterguns: but you have to do it every 4 rides or so.
  • + 1
 @owlie: Ahh, it transfers in the first 15mm of travel. Therefore anytime you are compressing your fork it is equalizing. It does it AUTOMATICALLY every time you compress your fork. Unless you don't compress your fork at least 10mm? If your sag is set correctly, when you sit on your bike, it goes past the transfer and equalizes. Again, if sag is set correctly.
  • + 1
 @owlie Are you thinking of pressure build up behind the fork seals?
  • + 1
 @WaterBear: Its the only other thing that makes sense, except this fork doesn't alleviate that either. Neither does any other fork in this segment of the market.
  • + 1
 I don't want to offend anyone, but I would literally ride over bumps with that. 100%
  • + 1
 The blue lowers, black stanchion are really amazing together if I was picking colours.
  • + 2
 29" Version please? Love my Pike but I am a sucker for anything blue.
  • + 0
 Production models are black.
  • - 1
 29 inch is coming later on. they are starting with the 27.5 since most people have 27.5 trail bikes
  • + 2
 @speedy38racer:
Ah i see. As a slow adapter from 26". Once you go 29" you don't go back. Never thought I would ever say that.
  • + 3
 The other article says a 29" version is in the works and will be happening "soon."
  • + 1
 No one else is wondering why the hell that fork is pictured on a dock. The company is local outside of Asheville, NC.
  • + 1
 that dyno rig sounds like an orange 224 at fort william
  • + 2
 New PIKE´s Color!
  • + 0
 Decent weight for a long travel fork at one end, but un-competitively heavy for a 100mm travel fork?
  • + 3
 Maybe for dj uses but I also wondered, who would use this fork in 120mm mode
  • + 3
 @daweil: Would be great on aggressive hardtails such as a BTR ranger. Or Kona Honzo when the 29" version comes out
  • + 1
 @daweil: Ive tried to figure this out all day. And does the axle to crown change with limiting the travel?
  • + 1
 @richsoffar: I'm sure limiting the travel lowers the A2C, as with every other fork out there.
  • + 1
 @Buggyr333: My lefty is limited using these similar clip on pieces and the axle to crown does not change on it. So from my experience "as with every other fork out there" is not true.
  • + 7
 @richsoffar: Lefties are for sure the outlier here. I guess I should say "As with every other fork except for a lefty"

But in my defense does a lefty even count as a fork?
  • + 1
 @Buggyr333: fair enough ha Ill let it stand at debatable.

But yeah seeing those clip on limiters just made me wonder since its what we use in my lefty
  • + 1
 @Buggyr333: Yeah true, fits with the "burly, low travel" bikes.. IMHO if you really need such a stiff fork tho you would want more travel, and if not then Revelation, 34 etc are maybe more fitting and lighter. Anyways its still very good to have all the options, and maybe the performance is so good and many people dont care about 200g
  • + 2
 Short travel doesn't mean cross country. My local trails are smooth enough you can ride 'em with a 120mm fork. Right next to those smooth trails are some pretty good sized jumps. You don't need a long fork to jump (in fact, shorter travel is better for that). Hence what I really need is a short travel fork that's stiff and durable.
  • + 1
 The sequel of 5 years into making will be on next. 2 years into fixing.
  • + 1
 Black and blue is sick,but those graphics look horrible
  • + 0
 "sittin' on the dock of the bay..." waiting for my new frame. Nice work on this CC.
  • + 1
 Where do I buy that fox with the piggyback?
  • + 1
 So you'd buy it just because it has a piggyback?
  • + 1
 @deadmeat25: Why not? You'd get all the adjustability of a twin tube design - H and L compression and rebound.
  • + 1
 THE GAME HAS CHANGED!!!
  • + 1
 Again.
  • + 2
 Not.
  • + 3
 How? Nothing innovative here and Cane Creek's legendary failure rates probably aren't about to change with a first generation product.
  • + 0
 @ericwroth: When I was younger I always thought Cane Creek was a high quality company I couldn't afford.
  • + 0
 How much for the piggyback fork?
  • + 0
 I like the air chamber but I'm disappointed its not a twin tube.
  • + 2
 First, they could have just lied to us all and said it was a twin tube. Also, if its so hard to do, how did x-fusion do it?
  • + 4
 @hamncheez: I think the inline shock struck to much fear into them to make it happen. They took a big loss when they released that inline to fast.
  • + 1
 @Pmrmusic26: I hope they learned a lesson from that. From what I read it sounded like the shock failed a lot at the seals, but then CC doesn't publish their service manuals so your only choice was to send it back and wait weeks for them to do it with a $50+ mark up...No thanks.
  • + 0
 Cane Creek is really at the Helm of new product development! Smile
  • - 3
 Foxenkenstein)))
  • - 2
 No 26, no thanks!
  • + 0
 26 is dead bro
  • + 2
 @Pmrmusic26: damn no.
  • + 2
 You'll fit a 26" wheel in there no problem...
  • - 1
 Fork with a story...
  • - 3
 Gonna wait for new version which can work more than a month like it was with inline
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