by Mark Alker
June 10, 2014
A very quick, from Mark at the actual press launch, news item. Apologies for any mistakes but we are loaded into a bus for the next part of this launch.
So today’s press launch by Trek has announced a collaboration that has been going on for five years between Penske Racing, Trek and Fox to create a new kind of shock that will be available on Trek Fuels and Remedy bikes from the summer.
Penske are a company that have been making custom shocks for F1 companies like Red Bull and Caterham F1 so they have the pedigree. What they don’t have though is the ability to mass market a shock system and offer a service network for dealers and end users – That’s where Fox come in. So each company brings something very specific to the party that ends up with a high performing shock suspension system that will be available on Trek Fuel EX and Remedy bikes from this summer. Dealers have already been ‘briefed’ on the options and RE:AKTIV shocks will be available on Fuel EX bikes from the 9 level (starting at £1900) right through to the 9.9. In other words it’s not a shock technology that Trek wants to trickle (dribble) down to mortal purchasing levels in a year or too like XTR does.
That’s the development stuff but what does it do?
We were shown lots of graphs and technical illustrations but just what does this RE:AKTIV shock do in a nutshell?
In a basic sense the RE:AKTIV system provides high levels of damping when the shock is not working too hard but it ‘opens up’ when the shock starts to have to work hard (like on DH or technical sections). In some ways it is designed to deal with the opposite problem that Trek’s DRCV system does, which is a way of making the suspension travel more linear (avoiding the shock ramping up at the end of the stroke as the air is compressed) by using two different sized air chambers – smaller for the beginning of the stroke and the larger for the end. RE:AKTIV adds a regressive damping system that gives lots of damping initially but then when a point is reached in the shock velocity (how hard it’s working to smooth out the bumps) it opens up and allows the shock to soak up the hits. As it was described to us by Trek, when the shock starts to work hard it, ‘gets out of its own way’ and allows the shock to work fully.‘Like taking a cheese grater to the tops of the bumps’, was another analogy we heard. So it’s a new approach to low speed compression damping but as you can see from the graph above, once a peak is reached it quite dramatically ‘digresses’ ie actively reduces the amount of damping, allowing the shock to work smoothly and quickly to deal with the big lumps of trail.
We get to ride some test Fuels later and also compare them back to back with last year’s non-RE-AKTIV versions, so I’ll report back soon on how much difference it actually makes, plus a more considered and technical report on the actual mechanics of what is going on inside that RE:AKTIV shock.
Got questions? Post them below or to our Twitter account @singletrackmag and I’ll do my best to ask the actual in-house Trek experts for you.