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Air Sprung Shocks Vs Metal Spring Shocks


Matt Vandart
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Depends what you are riding. Air shocks are generally better for rebound and other settings like pedal efficiency. You need to set your sag correctly to your weight then adjust your rebound to suit, personally I prefer a slightly lower than my recommended sag as I tend to ride over the bars a bit so that helps even out your weight with a harder fork. Coil shocks are a bit more responsive to your weight and what you are riding.

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Try and find a good medium between a fast and a slow rebound, a slower rebound is good for smooth and swoopy trails and a faster rebound is good for fast rocky trails find your favourite setting between the two and you'll be reet. Also its a good idea to play around with rebound settings out on the trail, go and ride a few different types of terrain to find your favourite.

Edited by Miles Mallinson
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I have a Fox RP23 air shock on my Orange 5 and I run it pretty soft as I HATE sticky shocks, not ideal as it can bottom out fairly easily but it's a compromise. Ideally I would like it to be a little more progressive so I can keep the small bump feel but have it ramp up towards the end so it's harder to bottom out. Coil shocks are waaaay better for sensitivity but obviously weigh more. you need to look at which is better for you, lighter and less sensitive, or heavier and more sensitive?

I have some Air sprung Fox forks up front too, they are the 36's so a little longer travel and they feel pretty good, they are pretty close to coil shocks sensitivity wise, but I can feel them spike on fast repeated hits. for all round use they are amazing, but for mostly DH stuff I would prefer coil sprung.

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I went from coil front and back to air front and back recently, and whilst it due to a complete change of bike so not ideal to compare I'm pleasantly surprised with air in terms of sensitivity and smoothness. I'm also running a RP23 with boost valve so have a lot less trouble with it bottoming out compared to my previous Fox coil shock. Also run Talas 36's on the front as I wanted the adjustability they provide and again have absolutely no problems with them...but then they're pretty much an industry leading fork so should be pretty sorted.

This is all for general trail riding and I find my set-up works perfectly for me and gives me everything I want. If I was to be building something a bit more hardcore for some downhilling and Alp trips/Big hills in Scotland then i'd want to build up a front and back coil Patriot with a Cane Creek Double Barrel at the back - the point i'm making is it's completely down to the type of riding you're doing and tailoring the bike accordingly. In general though...No air shocks aren't shit. Far from it.

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I have a Fox RP23 air shock on my Orange 5 and I run it pretty soft as I HATE sticky shocks, not ideal as it can bottom out fairly easily but it's a compromise. Ideally I would like it to be a little more progressive so I can keep the small bump feel but have it ramp up towards the end so it's harder to bottom out. Coil shocks are waaaay better for sensitivity but obviously weigh more. you need to look at which is better for you, lighter and less sensitive, or heavier and more sensitive?

I have some Air sprung Fox forks up front too, they are the 36's so a little longer travel and they feel pretty good, they are pretty close to coil shocks sensitivity wise, but I can feel them spike on fast repeated hits. for all round use they are amazing, but for mostly DH stuff I would prefer coil sprung.

This is the exact problem I am having.

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Well if you have tried many settings and you can't get a shock as good as an RP23 to feel good then get a coil shock.

I set my RP23 up to the recommended sag and whilst it gets to the end of its travel the boost valve does it bit stopping it bottoming out and I find it good on the small stuff. Perhaps your issues are due to the linkage set-up of your frame...I dunno? I ride a Five so being a single pivot it's pretty active and I think pretty damn perfect for trail riding.

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Commencals are really hard to bottom out - the linkage makes it really progressive and yet compliant over small bumps - I.e. it feels super plush and bottomless. The downside is that it can get a bit bogged down in the mid travel and that's not particularly conducive to riding aggressively.

The Giant is a good linkage design but it's not like the Commencal - it won't feel as plush. 'Car Park' testing of shocks can be really misleading, it's quite easy to design a linkage that will make any frame / shock feel amazing when you're testing it out on flat ground. That doesn't necessarily translate to real-world performance though.

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Yah its with the giant I have a problem.

I have been making adjustments and doing the local circuit I do normally and it just isn't working out tidy beans.

Maybe I am just expecting too much from the bike.

Also the shock has started pissing oil now so I have swapped it out for a coil spring at the cost of 0.3" of travel ride is transformed, I just hope the shock is still in Warranty.

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Yah its with the giant I have a problem.

I have been making adjustments and doing the local circuit I do normally and it just isn't working out tidy beans.

Maybe I am just expecting too much from the bike.

Also the shock has started pissing oil now so I have swapped it out for a coil spring at the cost of 0.3" of travel ride is transformed, I just hope the shock is still in Warranty.

Perhaps it's been broken all along and only now showing it visually?

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