Posted by: bikenfool | October 12, 2008

Extending The Fun…

Sunny, testing suspension, exploring, who could ask for more???

I rode Otis today with two purposes. The first was to play around with the Epics suspension. The Epic is a race bike and thus is very efficient for peddling but offers limited travel. As I have bogged before about the nature of riding this bike on rough trails at high speeds, I have been thinking of playing around with the dampening and compression on both ends. I have the SAG set perfect (see SAG set-up) but thought that today would be the day to play with dampening and rebound settings.

Is it damp in here?

Dampening simply means a shock is being slowed in it’s upward or downward travel by a force other than the main spring system. Dampening a shock’s movement can really change a bicycle’s behavior.Dampeners for the most part use an oil sent through a tiny valve deep inside the shock to control how fast the shock is allowed to move.

In rebound dampening, the return movement of the shock is affected. In the compression stage, the downward stroke of the shock is affected. Shocks use dampening to change how a bike response over a given terrain. There are high-end shocks, like the one on the Epic, that allow the user infinite adjust ability for the compression, including locking out the shocks downward movement- in effect turning a full suspension into a hard tail.

Rebound is not just an NBA term… 

Rebound is when that suspension wants to return to it’s resting state, after absorbing that bump, it wants to get there NOW! So, there is another adjustable control, called “rebound”. Try dropping your bikes wheel on the ground once, when it’s off the bike. BOUNCE! That is a great example of NO REBOUND CONTROL! Most modern suspension controls the “speed” at which a shock can return to its resting state.

Playing around…

So I set everything to what is called the “factory setting” as defined by Specialized. All dials about mid way. My first impression was not good. Both ends felt clunky. Next I moved the dials to no rebound and full dampening. Next I moved the rebound out two clicks and the dampening out about six. On the front forks I did the same. These setting improved the ride but it still did not feel perfect. So the rest of the ride, I kept adjusting the settings on both. I definitely could feel the difference in the steering when the forks were off. Small adjustments are a must. At one point I was able to get the bike to feel more stable over rough sections at 14-15 mph. 

In the past, I had been running the suspension pretty firm. Now with it set softer, I noticed a difference on the big rock garden at Otis. Where my wheel would simply plow over the rocks with the original setting, it now compressed the fork. Uh, this was a surprise. Yes, I found out the hard way. Right at the beginning of the rock garden, on a slight down grade, the bike slowed when the forks compressed, I hit the breaks hoping to keep my balance when poof, hello ground! Ok, that was weird, I thought. Well the rest of the rock garden was interesting. Areas that I have ridden dozens of times and simply rolled over now challenged me not to crash.

The verdict?  

I was no better off than I was before I started!  

Bring it on…

My second purpose riding today was to add a few miles to my favorite loop. I was looking to add about 4-5 miles.  The current loop is just awsome so I did not want to ruin it with a bad section. That being said, there are a few key junctures that I could explore out from. I choose  the area that begins to take me south after going north for about 30-40 minutes. After riding up a fire road a little I hooked up with a trail that was part of my original loop that runs to the Otis rotary.


This section of trail is just great. Lots of rollers, not too rough, nice and twisty.  This section added about three miles to the loop which put it at just shy of thirteen miles. Great ride all in all however, could have done without the the face plant.


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