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Understanding MTB Suspension Controls

Comparing How Pressure on Air Suspension Is Applied

Understanding MTB Suspension Controls

Air Pressure, Volume Spacing, Rebound and Compression work in concert to fine tune you bike’s performance.  Watch the video and read through the blog to be a step closer to understanding MTB Suspension Controls!

Video: MTB Suspension for Beginners

Click through the tabs below to learn more about the specifics of Air Spring Pressure, Volume Spacing, Compression and Rebound tuning.

PSI / Spring Rate

MTB suspension must accommodate a wide range of rider weight. To achieve this nearly all forks and rear shocks use an adjustable air spring.

By varying air pressure riders set a desired sag, or percentage of travel that the bike “sits into” under neutral loading.

Modifying this sag percentage will change small bump compliance as well as bottom out characteristics.

Learning how to Pre-Charge your suspension pump will help you make finite adjustments to sag.

Typically 15% sag is for a firm setup and 20% sag is considered plush.

Fine Tuning Control: Volume Spacing.
Air springs ramp rate, sometimes called Spring Rate, is based on how air compresses in the containment cylinder. As the air is compressed the PSI increases according to the decreasing volume of the containment. This is done via non-compressible volume spacers in the air chamber.

Opposing Control: Rebound.
Higher spring rate will drive the suspension back to neutral with more force than a lower spring rate. To keep the bike from skipping across trail rebound damping is utilized.

“Helping” Control: Compression.
Compression controls provide hydraulic damping to slow the fork through its travel.

Volume Tuning

As suspension compresses (travel reduces) a piston moves closer to the end of a sealed container. By decreasing the volume of the container the PSI pushing back on the piston is increased.

By adding or removing non-compressible volume spacers riders modify the air spring’s ramp rate which directly changes the amount of support and bottom out feel of the fork or shock.

By removing volume spacers a rider increases the available volume in the suspension. The larger volume compresses less per mm of travel resulting in a lower PSI per mm of travel. This creates less support and is utilizes more travel.

Adding volume spacers decreases the available volume. With less air volume the PSI per mm of travel increases providing more support and greater resistance to bottom out.

Opposing Control: Rebound.
Rebound may need to be adjusted for volume tuning depending on how drastic of a PSI change is being tuned in or out of the suspension.

“Helping” Control: Compression.
Compression provides additional support and bottom out resistance.

Compression

Compression controls provide damping to slow suspension travel as a load is applied and the suspension is compressed. (easy one right?)

When riders have found sag and volume spacing preferences compression controls provide minute adjustments to dial in performance. Adding compression provides more support allowing the suspension to ride taller in its travel which is important when dialing in a bike’s personality in corners, etc.

With too little compression a bike will sit deep in the travel. This compromises cornering and braking force resistance. Headtube angle, bottom bracket height, front to rear weight bias, etc are modified as a bike goes through its travel. Maintaining control of the use of travel is paramount for good performance.

Since compression hydraulically slows the suspension’s use of travel it therefor lowers the air spring’s PSI. Properly setting compression controls will help ease the load on the rebound system by controlling the air spring’s push back onto the rebound circuit.

Too much compression will cause a bike to feel harsh and not use appropriate amounts of travel.

Generally, compression settings are fine tuned after sag and volume spacing have riders “in the ballpark.”

Low speed compression controls mid-stroke as well as support in cornering and against brake dive.

High speed compression helps with bottom out and high shaft speed inputs.

3 positions switches are a type of compression circuit with Open the most plush, Mid providing some additional support and Firm for climbing. If you climb in firm remember to put it back to plush for the downhill or you’re in for a potentially rough ride.

Rebound

Rebound damping controls a suspension’s shaft speed returning to a neutral position. Or, how fast the air spring pushes back as the load changes.

More rebound damping slows the suspension by decreasing the amount of fluid allowed to pass through the hydraulic design.

Less rebound damping allows the suspension to return faster with less hydraulic restriction on the damper.

Rebound setting is based on weight, ground speed, terrain and aggression. Setting the rebound properly means finding the right frequency or feel for your riding.

If your rebound is too fast, or doesn’t have enough clicks of rebound, the bike will tend to skip and suffer poor small bump compliance.

When the rebound is too slow, or you have too many clicks of rebound, the suspension may “pack up” creating a harsh ride as each bump uses progressively more travel forcing the suspension deeper into the travel, which will have higher spring rates.

Opposing: Air Spring PSI / Spring Rate.

“Helping” Control: Low & High Speed Rebound.
Some suspension is designed with 2 rebound circuits. The High Speed Rebound circuit is designed to provide additional control resisting increased PSI late in suspension travel. Typically High Speed Rebound settings are used as the Low Speed Rebound controls edge towards closed. Example: you might not use any clicks of High Speed Rebound until you reach “X” clicks on the low speed.

More on Understanding MTB Suspension Controls

While illustrating what started as a real basic, kind of introduction to understanding mtb suspension controls there were some visualizations of “oh, I knew what that felt like, but when I ‘see’ it it makes even more sense”.

Getting a proper suspension setup involves balancing the available adjustments into windows where each characteristic functions. Quality suspension manufacturers tend to have their adjustments in a ballpark for about 140lb to close to 275lb riders.

What this means is that the 20 some clicks aren’t  all “for you” all the time. (which is one of the big benefits of our BikeCo Pro Tunes where we narrow the performance window for your riding style, goals, weight, ground speed etc meaning each click is controlling a smaller performance window giving you more options but more on that another time).

Your needs will dictate a smaller window of adjustment “works” for you. Then you have to find the sweet spot that all of the adjustments are in a functional state.

It’s kind of like a mixing board with a bunch of slider adjustments. There’s settings that produce a great sound – even, balanced. But if you get one of the dials way out of it’s sweet spot you’re going to have to try to use the other controls to compromise the sound (or bike performance in our case) but it’s never going to be that real true, great sound.

Understanding MTB Suspension Dial Comparison

If you want your suspension to work at it’s best you need to identify the “green” zones for your setup and work to keep Air Pressure, Volume Spacing, Compression and Rebound in high functioning areas.

Really the most influential animation in the video, for me at least, was the visualization of when rebound slows the air spring’s return to neutral creating a momentary impact until the forces trying to compress the suspension equalize and overtake the air pressure.

Let’s look at this a bit further.

Simplified Air Spring (eliminating heat) Equation

Pressure A / Volume A = Pressure B / Volume B

The smaller the volume the more the air compresses and pushes back on the walls and piston head.

It doesn’t matter if its your riding weight, an ACME anvil from a cartoon, a tie down strap or a hydraulic circuit that “keeps” the air spring compressed – when the suspension compresses and lowers the volume the PSI rises.

For the following example we’re going to look at too much rebound, or a setup where the rebound is too slow. Mind you this is happening in instants – but it is happening.

The suspension compresses and begins to return for the next feature.

Ideally the system resets with the air spring returning able in a range to support the next input as evenly as possible.

If there is too much rebound dialed in the suspension isn’t going to return to the ideal extension. This does a few things all kind of instantly.

It may change the roll over angle or approach on the next feature. It also may effect the bike’s geometry. This is particularly a bummer in square edge hits that might try to stop the bike while you go flying over the top.

Even in less consequential terrain you lose the suspension’s float momentarily. Since the air spring is being held compressed more than ideal its PSI is higher than ideal. This means when the suspension reengages it might as well be rigid until the forces applied over take the PSI on the piston and allow it to begin to compress.

As an extreme example imagine the difference between punching a padded wall or missing and putting your fist into the block wall behind it. The pad, or air spring, begins to absorb and dissipate that energy so there isn’t the “hard stop”.

This is also the reason you pump the trail when riding. Pushing the bike down and pulling it up give you a secondary, active, suspension system to minimize the shock loads.

Want the worst of all worlds? Set your bike to ride unbalanced on the air spring and then go ride it dead sailor! It’s going to rattle your teeth out, hurt your hands and skip of trail. Exactly the opposite of the balance we’re looking for when understanding MTB suspension controls!

Comparing How Pressure on Air Suspension Is Applied

In the image above we’ve illustrated what we’re using colors to represent loads (or weight, or pressure depending on what makes it easiest for you to understand).

On the left we show a setup with ideal rebound allowing the air spring to extend into a range equal to the next input load. The air spring will absorb the increasing forces from yellow into the orange range.

On the right we show a slow rebound setup. Slower rebound keeps the air spring compressed, lowering the air volume and thus raising the PSI / spring rate.

This means the energy from yellow to orange is forced back onto the rider until the darker orange of the air spring equals the load applied at which point the air spring will begin to carry the load.

This translates as a harsh feeling through the bars or pedals.

Similarly compression settings ideally work in a range with the air spring to allow a comfortable pickup during the suspension travel. If the compression setting is too aggressive the suspension will suddenly come “off” the air spring’s ramp rate and work only off the hydraulic damper.

This creates a harsh ride and sometimes will actually feel quite “notchy” as the suspension transitions from air to damper and back.

All of this circles back to a basic understanding of the ideal ranges of setup and performance and trying to find that sweet spot where the systems are truly working together and helping fine tune performance throughout the travel.

We thank you for the read and hope you took something away that will help you better understand how to dial in your MTB suspension.

We invite you to check out the other content and the best products in MTB here at BikeCo.com

BIkeCo clients have access to our team to help them fine tune stock or Pro Tune Suspension.

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Interactive Ramp Rate Comparison with Graph

Ramp Rate Graph Blog

Ramp Rate Graphing Example

To help our clients better understand volume spacing and ramp rate we built an interactive google sheet.

This google sheet may not work with all browsers and navigation – if you find issues please let us know and we can help you navigate as needed.

Ramp Rate Comparison: How It Works

In short, viewers are invited to modify Rider Weight as well as choose Sag and Volume Spacers (the white boxes) for up to three setups. This will produce both a chart of PSI at travel percentage as well as a comparative graph with the three series for review.

Now we don’t claim these numbers are “go-to” for your setup – rather they are a reasonably accurate comparison to help you visualize how you can modify your air suspension. This example allows you to visualize differences modifying Sag % (15, 18 or 20%) and Volume Spacing (0-5).

What you’ll notice is how relatively small variations can make a big difference. Particularly in the 60% to bottom out portion of travel.

We hope the additional understanding of how the air system is actually behaving will help riders better modify setup to hit their goals.

After working with the google sheet you can read more below to better understand what the graph shows and why as well as the formulas and reasoning we’ve used.


NOTE: Mobile Users – most mobile applications will require opening the sheet in Google’s App using the link below (but we suggest you check it out on your computer for full functionality)

Ramp Rate Comparative Graph Google Sheet

More About Ramp Rate Comparison

Did you see how the ramp rates vary depending on setup? Some changes and the series are very close to each other, while other changes make large swings.

That’s why its’ important to have some basic ideas, or access to a team to help you determine what your suspension is actually doing versus what you’d like it to be doing.

Each point on these graphs represents an “instant” as the air suspension is either rebounding to extension or continuing compression based on load. Understanding the ramp rate will help you fine tune suspension, particularly on components without compression controls.

Forks and shocks with compression controls offer another level of performance hydraulically damping (slowing) the shaft input adding resistance with the air spring. Understanding how to setup compression to balance small bump compliance, mid-stroke support and bottom out can make a big difference in the direction your setup takes.

What Does Ramp Rate Change

How much pressure your suspension produces effects support. Without enough support (too low of PSI) the suspension will sit too deep “eating” up more suspension travel then required by the terrain. Too much support tends to produce a harsh ride as the bike skips across trail.

Ramp Rate effects bottom out and total amount of travel used. With too little air pressure to resist the compression riders suffer hard bottom out, excessive dive, etc. Too much pressure will limit amount of available travel. Remember to mentally review your ride when you compare travel – just because you have the travel doesn’t mean you’re always going to use it. Riding in steep terrain or smooth lines often use less travel than say, slamming straight into a curb.

Using this graph you will have an idea of changes available to you with ramp rate. If the bike “is close” minor sag or volume spacing differences may help with the dial in along with using compression controls if available. If you need larger changes this graph can help you visualize directions that will make bigger impacts.

Other Factors on Setup

So you’ve got your sag, volume spacing and compression pretty good, or even really good in portions of the travel. But, you’re still struggling to really get that “dial in”?

There are other factors to consider, and frankly few “magic bullet” options. Let’s look at some of the common culprits.

Poor Small Bump Compliance

Too much air pressure for your ground speeds is a common cause of a bike skipping across the trail. Tip-toeing down trail tends to be hard on suspension as well. Sometimes, as counter intuitive as it may sound, a bit more speed will smooth out your ride.

Remember force is mass times acceleration – so to add some force to drive the suspension speed is your friend.

Other factors to consider include rim and wheel build spec based on your size and ground speeds. Some rims are very stiff and take pretty high forces to be compliant.

Are you a very light rider? Or medium weight and medium ground speed? Having your wheels built to accommodate you will dramatically help with small bump compliance and traction.

Air pressure comes into play on both poor small bump compliance as well as higher speed “shouldering” issues.

Un-Damped Air Springs

Your fork and rear shock have rebound and compression dampers. But, you know what doesn’t? Your tires.

Remember how hard it was to dial in suspension for Plus tire bikes? With such large masses of air the tires became very efficient secondary suspension but without the ability to really be tuned.

Wider rims and higher volume tires, although not the plus size the marketeers all said we’d be running by now – just sayin – sometimes the hype is just hype eh, but wider rims and higher volume tires made this secondary suspension more of a factor.

Luckily riders have access to different sidewalls which help to damp the tire’s air spring. Rubber is an effective vibration isolator and the additional sidewall technologies help control terrain inputs through the wheels and into the suspension.

Setup & Tune

One of the things we pride ourselves on is unmatched after sales service. Helping client’s take their setups from “decent” to “dialed in” is truly gratifying. Is bottom out, ramp rate, rebound, compression and how they interact confusing? No problem. When you purchase a bike, suspension or Pro Tune suspension our team is here to help you. We can walk you through what the concepts mean and help you articulate what’s working well and where adjustments may be needed.

Our Pro Tune Suspension is a popular option for riders of all levels. Taking the industry leading FOX suspension and narrowing the performance window for individual riders based on ground speed, aggression, riding setup, terrain, goals, etc means that every click of compression or rebound has a narrower adjustment window. Each click has more minute adjustment allowing a more precise dial in.

Questions? Call, chat or email our team today!


Formulas and Concepts for Ramp Rate Comparison

Some insight on the concepts and formulas we used to produce this graph.

Suspension setup has a couple quirks that muddy the water conceptually.

We work with PSI values at full extension during setup to achieve a specific sag. At the sag point, where the suspension settles based on weight, the air pressure has increased from the PSI at full extension (the value we read). Using the same air piston size to support a given weight requires a certain pressure is achieved no matter at what point in the sag.

For our example rather than working with the starting PSI (at full extension) we are using a calculation to determine approximate PSI at sag. This calculation is based on rider weight and starting PSI averages between FOX & Yeti’s FOX 38 170mm setup for 18% sag.

Once we have the PSI at 18% sag with 2 volume spacers we are able to extrapolate a variety of different setups using the support PSI in the proper configuration.

These setup numbers are calculated using volume changes as the fork is compressed in ratio with the defined PSI times Volume at defined Sag. This is done with Boyle’s Law of Pressure1 x Volume1 = Pressure2 x Volume2 which becomes Desired PSI = KnownPressure1 x KnownVolume1 / KnownVolume2

Now, these numbers in the real world would be effected by heat and a handful of other variants that aren’t critical to our reference graphs. Since this is a conceptual visualization for teaching a concept our numbers provide reasonable accuracy.

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Yeti SB130 Lunch Ride Custom: Enve, King, Magura

Yeti SB130 Lunch Ride Custom

Yeti SB130 Lunch Ride custom with Enve, King, Magura & More

Since it’s launch the Yeti SB130 has been a bike confident in all terrain. Trail rip after work? Fun bike. Big enduro adventure on the weekend? Ya, that’s what this bike lives for!

This Yeti SB130 Lunch Ride custom features bits from all the leading manufacturers. USA made parts are well represented with ENVE M730 rims and M7 stem as well as Chris King hubs and headset. Magura MT7 Raceline brakes provide great modulation and stopping power. Ergon saddle and Deity grips not only have the right accent colors but provide confident, comfortable options for a wide range of riders.

The SRAM AXS drivetrain provides crisp shifting and clean installation. XX1 10-52t rainbow cassette and chain bring a touch of bling to the black and teal build.

 

Yeti SB130 Custom SRAM AXS Drivetrain

 

Cane Creek eeWing cranks have been gaining momentum on bikes at this level. Designed as a titanium alternative to carbon fiber cranks Cane Creek advertises the eeWings as lighter and stiffer than carbon. The titanium fabrication adds a touch of elegance. Small welds remind riders of previous dream bikes when metal builds were more common.

The OneUp Bash and Guide is the perfect accent hue while helping keep the chainring off rocks or logs you’ll encounter ripping down trail.

 

Magura MT7 Raceline Lever detail

 

Magura’s HC3 lever provides riders the ultimate adjustability. Easily control reach as well as leverage. One of the best aspects to the adjustments of the HC3 lever is the delineation lines to help you fine tune setup. Magura offers riders the ability to continue to fine tune setup with a range of brake rotors and sizes as well as pad materials with different personalities. Questions on what Magura setup is right for you? Our team of experts is here to help you get the right brake for your riding.

 

Custom Yeti SB130 Lunch Ride

 

The lines on the modern Yeti Switch Infinity bikes look fast evening standing still. In a industry that can goes in and out of overly complex shapes Yeti’s straight, no-nonsense tubes – particularly the top tube and parallel seat stay just look so mean!

 

In the market for a new MTB? Well not only can BikeCo.com bring you the best bits on the market we bring unmatched attention to detail before, during and after build. Our after sales service is second to none. Staff devotes time and energy to ensure your new bike dial in is a quick and smooth as possible. Our team is also available to help you fine tune your setup as your riding progresses. From cockpit setup, suspension settings, tire pressures and choices – there are a lot of factors that go into making your MTB work. BikeCo.com has all of those factors covered.

Chat with us about a custom, semi-custom, factory build with upgrades or a stock build today!

 

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Yeti SB140 Mullet: AXS, Hope, Onyx

Yeti SB140 Mullet

Custom Yeti SB140 Mullet with AXS, Hope, Onyx and more

This Yeti SB140 Mullet has slightly less travel than Yeti’s mullet geometry. With a lower 29″ front end the SB140’s on trail performance is much closer to the balance expected in the 27.5″ configuration.

Attention to detail, and a bit of Covid availability compromise are seen tip to tail on this bike.

Yeti SB140 Ron Burgundy Top Tube

 

The Yeti SB140 Ron (Burgundy) frame really comes alive in natural UV light. With such an original and bold color this build uses shades of gray, black and silver tones for contrast.

 

Custom color Hope Tech3 V4 Brakes by BikeCo

 

Whether you’re looking for small subtly or bold colors our Custom Hope Brake Builder allows just the right accents to your build. Hope brakes offer excellent modulation and power.  Adjustable reach and bite point controls are shown here.  This build features Hope to SRAM 1 piece clamps for a clean cockpit setup. SRAM AXS drivetrain provides crisp, reliable shifting without a cable further cleaning the cockpit look.

Somewhat off topic: The pyramid grip surface on the Deity grips reminds me of perspective and light art classes from school…

 

Absolute Black Oil Slick Oval Chainring

 

The Absolute Black oval chain ring in Oil Slick / Rainbow, black XX1 AXS chain and titanium Cane Creek eeWings cranks offer nice contract on the drivetrain. A carbon MRP upper guide helps with chain retention in the chunkier terrain.

 

HT Components T1 pedals

 

HT Components T1 pedals are extremely popular with Enduro and Trail riders. Available in a variety of colors the T1 pedals tie in well with the medium grays on this build. One trick to the T1 pedals is to run them slightly tighter on the release than you might have run previous pedals. It might seem counter intuitive but running them slightly tighter improves the clip out feel making it easier for many riders.

SB140 Mullet Build by BikeCo

Chris King Dropset

 

Frames with integrated headsets can still take advantage of the Chris King precision performance. DropSet headsets provide unmatched quality of bearings and a variety of colors to accent your build. The King bearing is slightly taller than the Cane Creek integrated option which leads to this small gap on many frames like the Yeti SB140. This gap doesn’t really effect performance and I consider it akin to a badge of honor to run another American made component on my bike!

This SB140 has 20mm of carbon spacers under the stem. Modern bikes have gone back to a bit taller handlebars for improved performance particularly in steep terrain. When your hands are too low the bike often feels like it is being “pulled” backwards out from underneath you in chutes. Having your hands in the proper power position gives you the leverage to essentially “punch back” when the trail tries to take your bike from you!

This client chose the Industry Nine A318 stem in pink to acknowledge Cancer Awareness. Chromag bars weren’t his first choice, but with availability issues they were the best option with proper rise and a good sweep and carbon layup. More and more manufacturers are catching back up (Shimano is one big exception – but more on that some other time) meaning that Covid Compromise is effecting less and less builds.

 

Mullet SB140

 

Another product we’re seeing more and more riders gravitate to are Onyx hubs. Designed for instant engagement and silent freewheeling these hubs are available in a range of colors to accent your build.

The silent hub is much more notably than you might think – when I wheel Onyx bikes out to take pictures there’s always a “what’s missing” feeling until I remember it’s the Onyx hubs… Onyx hubs silent engagement are a touch heavier than other options – but for riders looking to really hear what their tires are doing and what’s around them they’re a cool option.

In the market for a custom bike? Semi-custom? Factory build with upgrades? Or just a stock build? In every case BikeCo is your resource.  We offer the best spec, setup, tune and pricing in MTB. We invite you to chat, email or call our staff today.

See you on the trails!


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Custom Ibis Ripmo: AXS, King, Magura

Custom Ibis Ripmo with SRAM AXS, Chris King and Magura Brakes

Custom Ibis Ripmo: SRAM AXS, Chris King, Magura

Enjoy some shots of this Ibis Ripmo before it heads to it’s new home. This Custom Ibis Ripmo features SRAM AXS, Chris King, Magura brakes and more.

SRAM AXS technology has proven robust and reliable. We’ve put a lot of riders out on the XX1 and X01 setups with great results. Crisp performance, excellent battery life and the clean lines without shifting or adjustable seatpost cables are most often mentioned as favorites with the AXS drivetrain and Reverb AXS seatpost.

RockShox Reverb Controller

 

The RockShox Reverb AXS controller and Magura MT7 brake could be paired with a Magura specialty mount for an even cleaner look. However, the upside to individual clamp mounts is improved finite adjustability. Which would you choose? (good problems to have either way right?)

 

RaceFace Kash Money Stem

 

The RaceFace Kash Money stem is a great colorway to accent a lot of builds. Imagine this stem with the new SRAM copper drivetrain…

Chris King inset headsets reduce load on the frame being a “one and done” product. With simple service your headset will easily last the frame’s service life.

This build features 30mm of  spacers so the rider can dial in the perfect setup. Modern bikes have tended to run taller cockpit setups for improved power transfer particularly in steep chutes.  When your handlebars are too low in steep terrain the bike will feel like it’s trying to “suck” out under you. Having your hands in a proper “power” position gives you the leverage to aggressively push through the steeps.

Handbuilt wheels by BikeCo.com

 

Ibis S35 Carbon rims laced to Chris King hubs

 

Ibis S35 carbon rims are a popular option for riders looking for a bit more compliance in their carbon hoops. Definitely not “noodle-y” the Ibis rims allow lighter riders or those without the ground speeds for ultra rigid options to improve small bump compliance and tire tracking. The Ibis’ rims are so popular it’s common to see them on other frame manufactures builds as well! On this build the Ibis rims are laced to Chris King hubs with DT Swiss Competition spokes.

 

Magura MT7 4 piston caliper detail

 

Magura brakes provide riders excellent modulation, power, long service intervals as well as tuneability with a variety of levers, rotors, rotor sizes and pad compounds. The most popular lever for the Magura MT7 brakes is currently the HC3 offering. The Magura HC3 brake lever provides easy leverage ratio as well as fit adjustment. The HC3 lever’s clear adjustment lines give riders a reference point to fine tune performance.

Another popular feature on the Magura brakes are the removable piston accents. Many riders pop these out for a quick spray paint or paint pen customization!

 

Chris King and SRAM Logos on wheel build

 

More popular components here at BikeCo. Chris King hubs are made in the USA, provide great engagement and with simple service are essentially lifetime hubs. DT Swiss spokes provide riders the most consistency production run to run. DT’s wire selection and manufacturing mean their spokes are second to none in terms of mechanical performance attributes.  SRAM Eagle cassettes are now available in 10-52t configurations as well as the 10-50t. The difference is the 52t requires the newer derailleur pulleys (which are larger). These are available on all AXS derailleurs as well as the new MAX mechanical derailleurs.

 

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Peas & Carrots: Custom Mullet Yeti SB165

Custom Mullet Yeti SB165

Enjoy some shots of this custom Mullet Yeti SB165 build by BikeCo.com. This Yeti Moss Green frame is set off with orange accents from Fox Suspension as well as CushCore valve stems.

Park, big mountain and enduro riding are on the slate for this build. Contact points include Ergon GE1 Evo Factory Grips, Ergon SM Enduro saddle as well as HT Component Pedals.

 

BikeCo Pro Tune Decals on Fox 38 Fork

 

The 29″ front wheel provides additional roll over capacity while slightly mellowing the steering input. The smaller, stock, 27.5″ wheel in the rear gives riders more room to maneuver when jumping the bike as well as turns corners more quickly.  The slightly smaller circumference will accelerate more quickly when you jump on the power out of a corner.

 

Tag Metals MTB Stem and Bar combination

 

A popular “new” entrant to MTB at this level Tag Metals offer an excellent stem. Light and stiff the T1 stem transfers power well. The T1 Carbon bars are stiff enough to be effective without crossing into the “teeth rattler” realm some carbon bars are known to hit. Shop Handlebars here.

Another popular spec here at The Bike Company are Magura brakes. This bike features the MT7 brakes with HC levers. Magura’s 4 piston brakes allow riders to have both power and modulation. Modulation is defined as how the brake ramps into it’s power. For instance putting a stick in your spokes has a ton of instant stopping power, but, it’s gonna be hard to control. Conversely putting your foot on the back of the wheel (remember no brake bikes as kids?) isn’t going to stop you quick enough. These same issues are prevalent in MTB brakes. Some brakes bring the power on too quickly which can make them hard to control particularly in wet or low traction conditions. Other brakes lack the total power to confidently slow riders down. Magura has spent years dialing in the balance allowing riders to fine tune performance with rotor size and pad compounds. Find Magura Brakes Here.

 

Magura MT7 with HC Lever

Magura MT7 Caliper on Moss Green Mullet Yeti SB165

Custom Mullet Yeti SB165

 

HT Components Pedal mounted to RaceFace Next R Carbon Cranks

 

AE03 EVO+ Stealth pedals give the perfect look with their stealth graphics and black traction pins. RaceFace Next R carbon cranks transfer power to the SRAM drivetrain. Shop flat pedals here.

 

Thrust Bearing on MTB Coil Shock

 

The devil’s in the details and here’s a good one… Chat with our team about your next dream bike or dialing in your current rig!

 

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Custom Yeti SB165 Build – ENVE, AXS

Custom Yeti SB165 Build

Custom Yeti SB165 Build

Enjoy some pics of this out of control custom Yeti SB165 build. Every aspect of this build has been taking into consideration from tip to tail.

Some of the build highlights include:
ENVE M7 carbon cockpit and M730 rims.
SRAM AXS Drivetrain.
Cane Creek EEWings Titanium Cranks (Tie-Dye).
Ergon grips and saddle.
Magura Brakes.
Chris King headset and hubs.
The list goes on and on!

 

SRAM AXS Eagle Oil Slick / Rainbow Chain and Cassette

 

The turquoise derailleur hanger provides a small, simple accent that plays a bit part in pulling this bike’s colorway together.

The new 52t SRAM Eagle cassette gives riders even a bit more gear to climb the burliest terrain.

Ride-Wrap frame protection will help keep this bike looking new well into its service life.

 

ENVE M7 stem with titanium oil slick hardware

 

It’s important to keep an eye on your titanium hardware. You don’t want it to seize (read, you don’t want to have to try to drill Titanium…) nor do you want it to back out. Pedro’s clicker tools are a great way to quickly check torque before your ride. Find more of our favorite SHOP TOOLS here.

 

Magura 4 piston brake caliper

 

Continuing with the attention to detail check out the polished Magura 4 piston brakes front and rear! Oil slick titanium hardware continues to set off these components.

Magura HC rotors, Chris King Matte Turquoise hubs and DT Swiss spokes make an appearance in this pic.

 

Custom Yeti Builds by BikeCo.com

 

Another look at this custom Yeti SB165 build…

In the market? Chat with our team about the perfect bike. Whether you’re shopping a total custom, a factory build with upgrades, a stock kit or a frame / frame kit upgrade we have you covered.

We offer riders access to the best brands, with the longest service intervals no matter budget. Our team is unmatched helping clients dial in setup before and after delivery.

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CushCore XC Install & Ride Review

CushCore XC Install and Review with video

CushCore XC Install & Ride Review

CushCore XC Install and Review with video

I started thinking about rim protection a few rides ago. I managed to shove a branch through the center of a tire. Murphy’s law meant it went straight through a spoke hole puncturing the tubeless tape. No quick fix to that one on trail… Before we get into the CushCore XC Install & Ride Review here’s a quick bio and which aspects of my riding suggested rim protection because frankly, I didn’t see myself as a candidate for CushCore.

Riding Bio (R) / Purchasing Bio (P):

R: I’ve been riding long enough that I feel competent in most terrain. I have enough gray hair to know I don’t need to be pushing into the red zone risking crashes. Maximum performance isn’t necessarily my goal, but I don’t want to leave performance on the table either.

P: While traction is game changing for confidence, I’m confident in my particular terrain, and not really out searching for the biggest / burliest lines. I’m not sure I’d pencil in tire protection based on the bio above.

I knew I would be testing this product in a true sense – it might be right for me or it might not.

Balancing tire pressure, tire retention (ie not burping) and sidewall performance have a huge effect on your bike’s personality.


Rear Tire Compression and Deflection
I was shooting self-portraits for the Ride Concept shoe launch when I caught this image. I was going relatively slow and easy (about a bike length roll in) over this rock so the amount of tire deflection caught me off guard and made me think about rim protection more seriously.

R: As a heavier rider with decent cornering I run substantial PSI (around 32) to keep from burping tires. Currently I’ve been riding Maxxis EXO+ sidewalls for the additional support, protection and notably improved damping (another convo for another day).

P: Some of CushCore’s biggest draws are the lower PSI, additional sidewall support and to a lesser extent tire pressure ramp. CushCore PRO and XC both act as a volume spacer for your tire as well as contacting the tire’s sidewall, lowering the leverage and adding support.

Burping tires is a sign that you lack support for the conditions. But at over 30 PSI in most conditions I know I’m leaving traction on the table – but I like keeping both air and sealant in the tire. The options here would be going to a Double Down sidewall or looking at rim protection to get the pressures down a bit.


R: I don’t often flat, but, the last two flats I’ve had have been a pain to deal with on-trail.

P: CushCore will help minimize pinch flats providing material between your rim lip and tire. It will also help protect rim tape from deep punctures like mentioned above.

While it might not eliminate all sidewall cuts there are certainly conditions where a bit more sidewall support will get you rolling past the shark’s tooth trying to cut into your tire.

Another factor I considered was a CushCore would help me get out after a near flat and low PSI condition without too much stress on the wheels.


R: I ride aluminum rims. My front wheel tends to stay in good condition. The rear? Well, I’ve been known to be hard on those.

P: Protecting carbon rims from karate chop hits with at least a CushCore XC is a good idea.

Aluminum rims might cost less than carbon, but if you’re constantly bashing on aluminum the maintenance costs add up and the interval between service will continue to decrease. You’ve got to keep them true and tensioned, rim edges start taking a beating and might not seat tires as well. Etc, etc.

And when finish one off it’s still going to cost you spokes, nipples and labor to get back out on trail.


R: I’m not a great climber (I have no idea what this “pain cave” people talk about is in riding – I’m looking for the Fiesta Plateau hahaha) and everyone I ride with is faster than me uphill – so – compromising climbing performance isn’t big on my list of “to-dos”.

P: Well weight is weight. And rolling weight factors out even more. However, the weight can have benefits (I can’t even imagine riding skinwall tires these days) so it might be worth a chat.

I’ve added rolling weight going to the more substantial EXO+ tires without noting too much grief so I thought a CushCore XC would behave similarly.


R: While fairly adept mechanically I don’t need any additional work or pain in the ass processes in my life.

P: CushCore PRO requires more patience to mount. The CushCore XC is easier to mount as it’s less substantial. I figured if I could get the XC on without too much heartache it would hit my requirements.


You can see the purchasing bio weaves back and forth on whether rim protection was for me. I thought about whether I’d prefer rim protection or going from an EXO+ to a DD Double Down tire as well.

So what put me over? The last couple flats I’ve had have been a pain. The most recent would still have compromised a tire, but with a CushCore to protect the tape I could have used a Stan’s Dart or equivalent.

My previous flat to that was a slice in the sidewall that I believe a CushCore (or the DD) would have prevented.

Finally my rear rim is kind of at a point where if I slowed the wear and tear I’ll get a notably longer service interval out of it.

Not to mention I thought it would be interesting to work with tire pressure and check on gains from a bit more damping from the tire setup.

And, truth be told, I get to write articles about it to help clients and call it work! Sorry boys, gotta go test…

CushCore XC Install:

You can check out the video for the actual installation of my CushCore XC as well as some tips on taping a tubeless rim.

I found following the steps to install a CushCore Pro with the XC were problematic for me. As I worked the first tire bead the CushCore would fall out of the bottom of the wheel. After a couple tries I ventured off into my “I think this will work better” mode…

What I found was mounting one side of the tire bead, inserting the CushCore into the tire and then mounting the second bead worked well.

To stretch the new CushCore over the rim I found getting low gave me the best leverage. This meant I could push with my arms instead of just pulling with my hands. Also, for the last third or so rather than pushing in a thumb width at a time I would stretch the insert about a fist width then drive that into trough.

I managed to mount the insert and tire without levers. Which says a lot as I have bad hands and use levers nearly all the time!

Watching the video over my shoulder Joe pointed out he can do that with the CushCore Pro’s too. Not sure I want to try that – but its possible!

CushCore XC Ride Review

PSI Dial In

There’s a fun little test trail in San Diego called E-Ticket. Relatively short, not super burly and has some high G corners with a bit of rock to bang into if you choose.

Best part? SDMBA tool kit at the top complete with a pump! Put the digital gauge in the pocket and do a handful of drops at different pressures.

I typically run about 32 PSI in my rear tire. I decided to start at 28 and work my way down looking for tell-tale x’s or slashes in the tire sidewall.

At 28 I didn’t see any sidewall loading. After a couple drops I found around 23/24 PSI I had X’s in the sidewalls, typically a sign that you’re about a PSI or so too low.

Tire sidewall X'sJust a little low on the PSI for my taste. The X markings have me increase pressure about 2 PSI.

You’re looking for “/” marks showing some deformation but less than the “X”. The tires felt like they behaving, I didn’t notice squirm or roll, but sidewall marks have always been a good reference for me.

After another drop or two I settled in with a sweet spot around 26/27 psi. About 6 psi, or nearly 20% lower air pressure from my typical. This also let me keep the rear tire at the same PSI as the front. It seemed sacrilege to run less PSI in the rear…

CushCore XC On Trail

Deciding that 26.5 would be the test pressure I put a few test rides in.

Climbing

My biggest fear was getting so soft or heavy that climbing would be notably compromised.

As far as the weight – much like the jump to EXO+ from EXO tires – as long as I wasn’t in full “trudge” mode it wasn’t too bad. If I could keep some momentum on the wheel and a clean cadence through the pedals I was happy with it. If I was riding slow enough to “stall” the wheel or quit paying attention to spinning good circles with the pedals (which I’m notorious for) I could feel the added weight. But in most conditions it wasn’t a notable thing.

In fact climbing some of the chunkier trails in my networks I found the added traction was a nice feature. The mental “this should stick” versus “I’m probably going to spin it out and not make it up” made a difference.

Cornering

It’s certainly not a secret that traction is confidence in the corners. But if the sidewalls start rolling or squirming around you feel like the bike (and thus you, the rider) might fling themselves past the tire’s contact patch.

Without tire inserts I frequently burp tires in the 30 PSI range so heading into fast corners in the 26 PSI had me attentive the first few times. I heard the growl of the tire working into the corners but not the tell tale “hiss” when you slip a bead. No spray on the tire at the end of the rides either.

The bike felt like it was on rails rather than having a bit of skip and slide at the same speed and higher PSI.

What I Noticed Most

This sort of surprised me actually – but what I noticed most with the CushCore XC setup was when you float off a waterbar or whatever into a corner.

Without the insert I felt like my bike had two small wiggles, or spikes when it landed and you tried to instantly change direction. Not sure if it was bounce from the PSI or sidewall wiggle or whatever but it had a distinct extra motion side to side.

With the CushCore the bike just stuck. Instantly. Even if you started leaning the bike before you landed it was well behaved. This got me paying attention to other conditions that would really test initial or small bump compliance.

The setup’s additional small bump compliance is really notable. Similarly braking is improved as the tire is more apt to dig in then skip over.

What I Wonder About

The improved small bump compliance and damping does have another side to it. Pushing the bike hard the rear end is a bit more “numb” than before. I don’t notice it at slower speeds but as I creep into the faster stuff I think I loose a little bit of feel out of the rear end. Now whether that’s good or bad I’m not sure just yet. It’s just different.

I wonder how it would feel in really choppy terrain at speed. Will the bike react as I suspect? Will it kind of monster truck over without my input making as much of a difference? Not sure yet. I guess the other side to that is in a choppy, high speed, high stress situation is when you’re most likely to karate chop a rim or pinch flat a tire. So maybe it all would balance out? Definitely haven’t heard any rim “tings” with the insert.

Is a CushCore XC is for me long term or not? You know I haven’t made my mind up just yet. When I went to the more aggressive EXO+ sidewall instead of the lighter EXO option I wasn’t sure I’d stick with it either. With the sidewalls I decided they were for me when I quit thinking about it every ride. Will the CushCore get there? We’ll see – so far it’s passing the tests.

Wondering if a CushCore PRO or XC is for you? Or questions on sidewall technology? Reach out to our expert team today to discuss your riding bio, terrain and aspirations. Our staff will help you dial in the best setup.

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Ibis Mojo 4 – Improved Geo Rides Better Than Ever

6-9-20 Ibis Mojo 4 Geometry Explained 2

Ibis Mojo 4 – Improved Geo Rides Better Than Ever

With the Ibis Mojo 4 27.5″ wheel riders have a new trail bike option on the short list for review. Why are experienced riders so excited with the new Mojo 4 and the Yeti SB140? With modern geometry updates designers have been able to shift to smaller travel options without sacrificing as much trail performance. Read: more poppy, more playful, and quicker handling without being sketchy. These bikes have longer reach numbers, but move the rider rearward in regards to center of gravity. They have increased wheel bases but are surprisingly nimble. Let’s look at some geo to explore how.

Continue reading Ibis Mojo 4 – Improved Geo Rides Better Than Ever