Coil suspension is pretty hot right now, and it doesn’t get much hotter than the uber-expensive Elevensix coil shock from PUSH Industries. Our resident Tweed Valley tester Tom has been hammering this exotic coil shock for the past six months. Over to Tom for the review!
PUSH Industries, founded by Darren Murphy and based in Colorado, set out to produce world class products and service aimed at the normal rider. Perfect for me then.
As well as producing fork seal upgrades, service kits and specialist suspension tools, PUSH has more recently introduced the ACS3 coil conversion kit, which is designed to turn air forks (like the Fox 36 and RockShox Pike) into slippery coil-sprung sliders. PUSH also has its own rear shock, the Elevensix, which is entirely designed and manufactured in the US.
And it ain’t exactly an off-the-shelf coil shock either – you’ll only get your hands on one after a conversation between you and one of PUSH’s technical gurus to determine exactly how it’s going to be built to suit your needs.
The Elevensix shock is certainly an industrial and hefty-looking piece of kit with an equally hefty price tag. So, is it worth it?
Specs & Features
First off, the Elevensix is not available for all bikes so if you are contemplating this for your bike it is worth checking the PUSH website first.
The basic principle of the Elevensix (and the key differentiator from other shocks) is that the patent pending Dual Overhead Valve design offers two completely separate ride characteristics that can be toggled between on the fly.
Unlike other shocks where there may be a dial that offers some sort of ‘climb mode’, which simply applies a certain characteristic to the existing damping circuits, the Elevensix has two completely separate damping circuits that can be set to however you like.
So you could have your ‘Wet/Dry’ modes. Or ‘Bike Park/Trail’. Or ‘Ride/Race’. Or ‘Climb/Descend’. Anyway, you get the gist.
There is a lot of Technical Stuff™ that goes on with the Elevensix shock, which all comes together into a very supple and smooth performance package and offers tremendous small bump sensitivity.
There are external, tool-free adjustments that include rebound (20 clicks), low-speed compression (16 clicks) and high-speed compression (20 clicks). With positive notches at each click point, making micro adjustments is simple. Due to the unique dual valve system though, once set the dials rarely need to be touched again unless a factor such as weight, conditions or riding style change.
One thing to note; if you do change bikes and want to take the shock with you, it will need re-tuning due to the likely change in suspension kinematics. Also worth noting is that each Elevensix shock can also be reconfigured to a different length/stroke, which makes it one of, if not the only shock that can be adapted to fit multiple frames and suspension designs. More on that later on…
When you order an Elevensix online, you are asked all sorts of questions about your bike, weight and riding style, but in my opinion it’s worth a phone call to discuss this in detail. As the shock is custom tuned and hand assembled based solely on you and your bike, it’s worth the time.
Due to the custom nature, there is not a huge range of adjustment (the shock should be within a click or two straight out of the box) so getting it right is important. Springs are available in small 25lb/in increments, again helping fine tune the performance.
As an 85kg rider (including pack) I fitted the test shock to a Santa Cruz Hightower (135mm rear travel, 51mm stroke) with a 500lb/in spring. Because of the even shorter stroke due to the orange bottom-out cushion, I ended up moving to a 525lb/in spring partway through testing having found I was regularly hitting full travel.
I have also run the Elevensix on a longer travel Yeti SB66 in the past where the supplied spring rate was spot on so I don’t think the ratings are wrong, it’s just purely down to the shorter travel of the Hightower. I love that when the shock arrives you get a card that lists all the settings, the spring rates, suspension curves and the name of the technician that built your shock. That’s not exactly something you get with every other shock out there.
On The Trail
This particular 200x50mm shock weighed in at 912 grams, which is basically double the Fox Float X it replaced. By using a HyperCo ultralight high tensile alloy spring, this weight is not as high as the bulky body may suggest on first glance, and it’s otherwise on par with competing coil shocks.
The moment I stepped onto the trails with this shock I can’t say I noticed the extra 400g. I did notice the immediate plushness of the coil spring though. Doing the obligatory car park bounce test with an air fork (Fox 36) fitted, the bike suddenly felt a bit out of balance as I had a really plush rear end but a less supple and sensitive front end; definitely an odd sensation.
Taking this onto the trail it was not quite as apparent until riding sections of trail with multiple small hits in quick succession when the rear of the bike was as smooth as a hot knife through butter, but the front just felt a bit stilted.
This was soon addressed once the fork was also converted to coil using the PUSH Industries ACS3 kit. Now the bike felt super-plush and very much in balance whilst maintaining big hit capability.
Several days of lift-assisted testing at Innerleithen really put the Elevensix through the mill, combined with the everyday water, grit and mud that Scotland offers.
The toggle switch is a bit small compared to the rest of the shock, though even with thick winter gloves on I never missed it. It is also not a switch you are faffing with mid-trail, it’s very much a start-of-a-trail change. With the large volume oil and nitrogen reservoir on the back of the shock body, even on the longest of descents I experienced zero fade or cavitation, meaning I could be confident that the performance would be there when I needed it.
And the performance is amazing. The rear end of the bike feels resolutely glued to the ground so I could be far more certain that the bike would track where I wanted to, over the air shock where I felt it could get knocked off line. This may not be to everyone’s taste but for someone who prefers their tyres on the ground rather than in the air it suited me perfectly. When it did come to getting airborne, pushing hard meant the travel was used up more than an air shock due to the linear nature, and a hard landing would invariably make full use of the bottom-out cushion.
However, to play devil’s advocate this shock was not set up or tuned for hitting big air lines – I am confident that after a chat with the PUSH team one of the two independent damping circuits could be tuned so that it would be far more suitable for jumping, and that’s the beauty of this shock.
I had the circuits set up to a ‘climb / descend’ scenario for general aggressive trail and Scottish mountain riding and the difference between the two is marked, like I am indeed riding a different shock. There is enough suppleness on the climbs to deliver traction in spades but if you do forget to flick the switch before the descent there is still enough performance to not turn the bike into a hardtail.
But Wait, There’s More!
You know how I mentioned earlier about being able to change the stroke/length of the Elevensix shock? Well since launching the Elevensix, PUSH has added a service that means you can take it from your current bike, and have it reconfigured to a new bike, no matter how extensive the change. Whether it’s a different eye-to-eye length, stroke or even converting from a standard eyelet mount to a new Trunnion mount, providing the frame will fit a coil piggyback shock in the first place, PUSH says it can be done.
The price varies based on the extent of the conversion and what parts are necessary, but this service is offered for every Elevensix shock. A basic reconfiguration ranges between $125-$275 USD (UK pricing TBC) which also includes a complete overhaul with fresh seals and oil. A larger reconfiguration such as going to a Trunnion mount would obviously cost a bit more.
So, say I want to upgrade to the new Hightower LT and I really want to have the Elevensix shock on there. Instead of trying to figure out how to sell my current Elevensix by itself or possibly with the frame, I simply unbolt the shock and send it in for a reconfiguration:
- Complete Overhaul with Seals, Valving Components, and Oil: $125 USD
- 57mm Stroke Spring Adapter: $15 USD
- HyperCoil Spring: $125 USD (Different Spring Rate Required due to leverage change)
Total cost: $265 USD for what is now a brand new shock, completely refreshed and custom configured and tuned for my new bike. Nice, and great peace of mind that you can take your £1,290 shock from bike to bike.
What Other Options Are There?
PUSH is not the only option on the market, but it is the only option with two totally independent circuits and an adaptable, modular design. What else is there on the market that we can buy if the £1,290 tag is just too much to stomach though?
*Note: the following have not been tested in a head-to-head manner but added to offer you a technical and price comparison and include the price of a spring. The other thing I will add in as food for thought is that the PUSH Elevensix is totally custom tuned on purchase, you will likely have to pay more for that on any of the below which suddenly doesn’t make it look so expensive.
The EXT Storia is the enduro shock in their range and features low and high-speed compression adjusters (high speed needing a 12mm spanner) and rebound adjustments along with a lock out valve.
What you also get for your £950 are two springs and, through Chris Porter at Mojo Rising there will be a myriad of tuning options available at point of sale. There are a selection of standard and metric sizes available and, if not listed, a quick email will start the discussions about a custom size for your particular frame.
The MRP Hazzard, with prices starting at £635 with a standard steel spring, is another option that is not so common on the trails. The Hazzard is available in standard and metric sizing (with traditional eyelet, bearing, and trunnion mounts) and the ‘progressive’ spring option (£149 on its own and available to fit other brand’s coil shocks) claims to increase ending-stroke support by approximately 20% over linear coil springs, allowing them to be used on frames really designed around the progressive nature of air suspension.
The Cane Creek coil series of DBcoil (£578) and DBcoil IL (£378) are two options at a lower price point. Offering 4-way independent adjustment of high-speed compression, low-speed compression, high-speed rebound and low-speed rebound along with their infamous climb switch, the DBcoil is a very credible contender.
The Fox DHX2 is a well-loved shock and can be seen adorning many a bike around the globe. The price can vary somewhat depending on which spring you use but for the X2 variant with a Fox SLS steel coil spring this will set you back about £839. With parts and servicing centres readily available in the UK this certainly offers a simple and high performing shock with the confidence you will be back on your bike asap when it does need a service.
Ohlins offer a range of coil shocks, all of which come in around £735 and are available in standard and metric sizing. Low and high-speed compression and rebound damping are externally adjustable and a climb switch is included on most options or can be added for an additional £39.
In my experience, the performance of the Elevensix shock is nothing short of outstanding, and really it should be for £1,290.
So, who is the Elevensix for then? Well, as a family man trail rider, I simply could not justify the price tag over spending two thirds as much and then using the change to buy a new carpet for the living room.
However, deep-pocketed riders who really want the very best performance from their bike, where fractions of seconds may make the difference between a podium or not, will love this shock. Riders who want to just have a PUSH Elevensix on their bike as a statement will buy this shock. And anyone who wants a smooth and supple ride with no damping compromise, from a shock that has been custom-tuned specifically for their bike, weight and riding preferences, will lust after this shock. It is very, very good.
|Tested:||by Tom Nash for 5 months|
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