Navigating 2022 MTB Products

Navigating 2022 MTB Products with BikeCo.com

Navigating 2022 MTB Products and Getting the Most of Your Current Setup

We’re sure you’ve heard all about manufacturing, shipping, product sitting at customs, etc, etc, etc. Well, let’s look at some of the realities and solution of 2022 MTB Products to help keep you on trail, riding your bike and stoked.

We can break it down into a couple areas that affect the typical rider.

Product availability and how to stretch the service life of your existing parts.

Without writing a thesis on the product availability issues I’m going to try to break it down into the basics of what we see in the market and how its changing product availability and purchasing.

Ibis Exie Frame Detail Made in USA branding

New is still New! Ibis launched the USA made Exie for 2022

Bikes & Bits

2022 MTB Bikes

The pandemic’s rush on sporting goods doesn’t really affect bikes in the tiers that BikeCo.com works. Sport to pro race level bike sales have continued to grow over the years, but not at the explosive, and frankly unmaintainable, rates that say kid bike sales have exploded during the pandemic.

So why the delays and wait times on bikes at our level? Manufacturing slow downs from staffing legislation both domestically as well as overseas have had a big impact. Shipping and customs have been another choke point for product. (A lot of our local trails overlook the Pacific and the amount of ships sitting waiting to be unloaded is a literally staggering thing to see)

Brands have been forced to really look at what can be produced and in what windows. In order to protect their markets, as well as their dealer markets, most bike brands have gone to allocation models providing dealers access to a specific amount of goods per timeframe.

How does the allocation model protect the market? Well, its based on previous sales levels so retailers are able to at least maintain during this market transition until we get back to the old normal or define the new normal. It also keeps a single entity from putting together orders of scale that would push the quantity of dealers down which would dramatically affect the manufacturer’s market equity having “all the eggs in one basket” so to speak.

Some manufacturers have set exact size / color / build options and quantities that retailers will have access to. Others have an allocated quantity of availability and the dealer can pre-order size / color / build or frame options.

At BikeCo we’ve built out our website to show 3 levels of bike and frame availability to help clients understand ETAs. Under the Bikes & Frames menu we have an In-Bound and In-Stock option.

On this page there are listings for In-Stock products (pretty self-explanatory), In-Production and In-Bound bikes and frames.

In-Production product has been acknowledged as received by either the manufacturer or BikeCo and is in the process of build up or shipment. This is fairly imminent product.

In-Bound product is part of the next allocation window and has been assigned some details depending on vendor requirements and is due reasonably soon.

As products are pre-sold they are removed from the categories in pretty close to real time, so this is a fairly accurate portrait of product availability windows.

You can call, email, chat or use a contact form for more details and to secure products.

Available In-Stock, In-Production and In-Bound products are available with typical deposit requirements. If you’re interested in product that doesn’t show In-Stock, In-Production or In-Bound a pre-deposit option is available to secure a waiting list position for the next allocation. Pre-deposits are minimal deposits on product we have reasonable belief we will have access to (ie, we won’t be taking deposits for tricycles, cargo bikes or things we know we won’t have access to). Chat with our team for details on this. Shop In-Bound & In-Stock Bikes and Frames here.

SRAM 12sp Eagle XX1 Chains: Available in Black, Rainbow, Gold & Copper to add some bling to your bike

2022 MTB Bits

Delayed, but available. That’s been the theme so far. Our purchasing team has stayed ahead of the curve and while it’s not the “order on Tuesday deliver on Friday” model anymore typically we’ve been able to keep a reasonable stock of the right products available.

What’s not in-stock is likely on its way. Our website’s inventory is updated daily to provide local and web clients access to the best parts. Don’t see what you need? Contact our team and we’ll get you the details or other options available.

As of now we haven’t seen the supply chain grind to a stop at our tier of product like you may have heard about from lower end products, etc. The sport to pro race level product has a handful of advantages that have helped keep it in production and inbound.

First, while the margins are lower than the kid or beach cruiser bits the overall value is higher. So in the same shipping space your GX, XO1, XX1 (or equivalent) products will generate more cashflow for manufacturers.

Second, sport to pro race level bikes really do create a trickle down in brand acknowledgement so there has been a commitment to keep the eye candy products coming in.

Toilet Paper Hoarding?

Well, I never was the one having to move my car out of the garage to make room for the pallet of paper goods. That said, I do have a couple bits in my toolbox in case I needed them in couple week window that might be a dry spell for product.

In my “shit happens” kit I have 2 pairs of brake pads, a chain and an old front tire. Car still fits in the garage…

Brake pads can be contaminated in odd and annoying ways so it’s nice to have access to a fresh pair.

The chain gives me the ability to either replace my current chain at about 50% wear, while the cassette and chain ring are still viable and performance will be good.

I keep an old front tire around, not really because tires are hard to get but in case I need it before a last minute adventure when I can’t get to the shop.

These bits have been in my toolbox pre-pandemic and will stay in there post pandemic too.

I’ve been watching availability from vendors and most bits have had some availability or options available.

Let’s say I need a cassette – well, that might have some availability issues and could be a couple weeks out. But, most cassette issues aren’t a catastrophic failure (I’ve never seen one like break in half). So if I stay ahead of the wear rate I can pre-order the bits I’ll need a few weeks out for a drivetrain replacement. If I bend or break a tooth you can bend it back or file it down. If it’s in one of the smaller gears more dependent on each tooth you might skip over that cog when putting the power down. Long and short, there are ways around most issues.

So how can you get the most service life out of your existing bits?

Popular Maxxis MTB Sidewall Protection Options EXO EXO+ DD

The right sidewall will help you balance damping (increased plushness across small bumps), support (lower PSI for better grip and tire shape), as well as help keep your rims off terrain!

Maintenance (and non-maintenance) to Extend Service Life

Let’s keep you on the trail with your existing kit as long as possible. Here are some tips that we use to keep our bikes running well deep into service life cycles.

Clean

A clean bike tends to be a happier bike.

Before each ride wipe the fork, rear shock and adjustable seatpost shafts. This will minimize debris into the seals, foam rings and lube oil which will extend performance.

Wipe your chain, chain ring, derailleur pulley wheels and cassette to keep dirt to a minimum.

An occasional bike wash helps keep dirt and debris away from your suspension pivots.

But, Not TOO Clean

Aggressively over washing your bike will displace bearing lubricants leading to metal on metal contact and premature wear. Be wary when washing your bike not to spray directly into bearing access, etc.

I used to take my drivetrain apart and soak it in degreaser. Looking back, if anything, it might have lead to premature wear. It certainly didn’t extend the life of anything in my opinion. I would make a case that its hard to get the degreaser back out of the areas which will require lubrication. Maybe it was just an excuse to have some garage time alone…

I’ve never been one for the carbon fiber wonder spray, you know that restores that shine your bike probably never really had if its matte anyhow? Well, if you’re into it just be aware when you put it on that it’s likely to contaminate brake pads and rotors. If I was going to use it I would remove the wheels and put them a distance away to protect the rotors. I would spray the fluid onto a rag and wipe it on to avoid overspray on my brakes and pads.

Lube

Before each ride use the appropriate chain lube for your riding. We’ve touched on this before and you can read more here – but the jist is this: not enough lube expedites chain wear, which increases the rate of stretch, which hammer forms chain ring and cassette teeth. Use a lube for conditions – a wet lube in dry conditions is likely to attract and hold more debris than a lube for drier conditions.

I also lube my fork, rear shock and adjustable seatpost shafts now and then. There are a variety of lubes available for this – a little dab about once a month will help keep the suspension feeling fresh. Along these lines – occasionally burping your fork lowers, either with the modern burp valves or using a zip tie will minimize gulped air buildup and the negative spring effect which tends to make a fork feel harsh.

Other Odds & Ends

Bolt Checks: a loose bike is wearing out bits faster than it should. A quick review of your fasteners can help keep your bike on trail longer.

Suspension Setup Checks: you don’t need to check your fork or shock’s PSI daily, or weekly, hell I don’t check mine even monthly with a gauge. I do take a look at the sag when I jump on the bike and if it’s notably off I’ll put a gauge on it and correct it. The air springs on your bike are relatively low volume and susceptible to changes based on altitude, heat, etc. Make sure to precharge your pump when you measure the PSI or I can assure you you’re going to “find it low”… Running suspension a bit too plush typically won’t hurt the bike, but it is likely to affect your opinion of how the bike is riding and your enjoyment. Put a premium on your enjoyment and keep an eye on your setup.

Tire PSI, Sidewall & Rim Protection: even after all the years in the industry rebuilding a wheel is outside my scope. So, a folded wheel means I’m not riding until I get one of the guys to fix it. That’s not great.

Keeping an appropriate PSI for your size, terrain, ground speed and style will help keep your rims off those sharp lips that want to eat up your rim and spokes.

Riding the right sidewall technologies will go a long way to keeping an air gap between rim and terrain. The right rim protection is even more insurance.

Shifting: Avoid dump shifting! Just because “you can” push and dump a fistful of gears doesn’t mean it’s a good plan… Check out the video below for details.

 

Need more details? We’d love to hear from you. Reach out to the BikeCo.com team and we will dial you in the with the best products and service in MTB.

How-To Videos & Links:

Click through the tabs below to see a variety of how-to videos and find links to other blogs on BikeCo.com below the videos!

Click through the tabs to see some of our How-To videos that will help you keep your bike on trail longer.

Links to more MTB Tips & Tricks

Check out some of our favorite Tips & Tricks for the Home Mechanic under the Content menu


MTB Bolt Checks – Simple but Critical To Your Safety

importance of mountain bike bolt checks


Chain Lube Best Practices. Its that important.

MTB Pre-Ride Chain Clean & Lube Best Practice


Pre-Ride Cleaning & Lube

chain lube video blog image


Basic Bike Wash Tips & Tricks

BikeCo Tips and Tricks Bike Wash Blog Title Image 3


Four Ways to Improve Chain, Cassette & Chain Ring Service Life

Chain Stretch Explained

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Adjustable Travel on Dropper Posts

Adjustable Travel on Dropper Seatposts OneUp & PNW

Adjustable Travel on Dropper Posts

Fine tune your MTB fit with these MTB  seatposts featuring adjustable travel on dropper posts.

Adjusting adjustable travel? Isn’t that like a double negative? No, not really.

For riders who are looking for the maximum travel on their dropper post the adjustable sizing from OneUp Components and PNW provides a wide range of fit options.

Your adjustable post fit is based on your leg length and frame size. While many riders are content running a size that will have the seatpost collar a touch above the frame collar others want all they can get.

If you’re one of those riders a post with travel adjustment is what you’re looking for.

You can purchase a slightly longer travel post than would normally fit and shim down the travel slightly. (we touch on sizing adjustable posts here)

So why not just stop the post where you want it? Well, most riders want the seatpost to sit at full XC pedaling position so they can quickly get back on the power. Having to adjust it each time is slower and will result in different lengths almost every time. (I’ve seen a DIY “travel stop” with a cable to the saddle – but I’m not sure I’d be looking for another cable looped trying to catch my legs, pants, trees, branches, whatever while I’m descending…)

OneUp Dropper V2

One of the most popular adjustable posts thanks to its compact total size combined with long travel the OneUp Dropper V2 features a toolless travel adjustment.

Watch the video to understand how to quickly adjust your OneUp Dropper V2 travel with the provided dowel spacers.

OneUp Dropper V2 Travel Adjustment

Adjusting the travel on your OneUp Dropper V2 is quick and easy.

First loosen the collar. Typically you can do this with your hands, although sometimes a soft strap wrench is needed to get the collar free.

You’ll need to bump the travel, in the video I do it on the post – it’s much easier with a remote installed, to free the white retainer.

Once the collar and the retainer are out of the way you install the desired amount of spacers for the proper travel adjustment in the three channels around the dropper post shaft.

Ensure that you have the same amount in all three channels before continuing.

Similar to removing the retainer a bump down in travel will help reseat the retainer in place.

Tighten the collar appropriately and test the function.

PNW Loam & Rainier Gen 3 RAD Seatposts

PNW posts are made to handle the rigors of the Pacific North West – often wet and muddy. The Rainier in particular is designed to compensate for these factors. Both the Loam and Rainier offer toolless adjustable travel to fine tune fit.

Watch the video to understand how to quickly adjust PNW Seatpost Travel.

How To Adjust PNW RAD Seatpost Travel

The PNW Rainer and Loam seatposts feature toolless travel adjustment. Adjusting seatpost top out allows riders to maximize their total seatpost travel with the seatpost installed as deep in the frame as possible.

Start by lowering the seatpost from full extension, but not so low that you can’t loosen the collar and move the adjuster. About halfway is fine.

Loosen the collar. Typically you can do this by hand, but a soft strap wrench might be needed to get it moving.

Carefully move the collar up the seatpost shaft. Do not scratch the seatpost shaft or you’re likely to have issues with the internals seals, etc.

Rotate the seatpost to expose the arc allowing you to get under the lip of the plastic adjuster. Pull the adjuster up to allow it to rotate.

Realign the adjuster’s arrow to the number corresponding to the amount of travel you’d like to limit.

Tighten the seat collar and check the post’s function.

Questions on which adjustable post is best for you? No problem, our team has you covered.

Call, email, chat or fill out the form below for more details!

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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.

New Bike Suspension Setup Concepts

New Bike Suspension Setup Concepts

Learn more about setting up your bike’s suspension. At BikeCo.com we pride ourselves on after sales service and helping clients dial in their new bike or Pro Tune suspension is one of our favorite tasks.

Check out this video were Nate goes through some basics of MTB suspension and commonly posed questions during setup.

See the links below for some of the tools and bits mentioned to help you get your setup just right.

Tools to make your MTB Suspension Setup Easier:

FOX Digital Pump, 350 PSI

FOX 350 PSI Digital Shock Pump

FOX Chamferless Sockets

FOX Chamferless Top Cap Sockets

 

FOX Fork Volume Spacers

FOX Volume Spacers

 

FOX X2 Volume Spacers (3 rings)

FOX X2 Volume Spacers

FOX DPX2 Volume Spacer Kit

FOX DPX2 Volume Spacers

 

 

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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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BikeCo Tips & Tricks: Understanding Rear Shock Negative Air Chamber

Understanding Rear Shock Negative Air Post

BikeCo Tips & Tricks: Understanding Rear Shock Negative Air Chamber

A fairly common question is “why does my rear shock lose air when I check it?” While there are mechanical issues that may cause air loss not pre-charging a pump or understanding how the negative air chamber works are more often the culprit.

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BikeCo Tips & Tricks: Service Chris King Headset Bearings

How-To Repack King Bearings Post

BikeCo Tips & Tricks: Service Chris King Headset Bearings

Enjoy a quick video and write-up that illustrates how to easily service Chris King headset bearings. One of the great draws to these products is with very basic maintenance you can expect them to easily last the lifespan of your bike.

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BikeCo Tips & Tricks: Basic MTB Suspension Setup

MTB Suspension Setup Video

BikeCo Tips & Tricks: Basic MTB Suspension Setup

2020 brought a lot of new faces to MTB. We’re stoked to see more people benefit from the sport we all love. That said, a lot of shops simply can’t support rider development like we can. So, here’s a video & blog going through Basic MTB Suspension Setup.

We’ll look at sag, rebound, volume spacing, compression as well as high and low speed damping.

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BikeCo Tips & Tricks: Shifter Barrel Adjustment

Adjust MTB shifting with Barrel Adjustment

BikeCo Tips & Tricks: Shifter Barrel Adjustment

In this How-To we have a video and write-up showing some basics of shifting trouble shooting as well as how to use your barrel adjusters.

Barrel adjusters are used for minute shifting corrections and are useful on new builds due to cable stretch (or housing shrink depending on how you look at it!).

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