Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 67 total)
  • Full Suspension Design … what difference does it make?
  • hardtailonly
    Full Member

    So, I’m in the market, possibly, for a new FS bike.

    As may be implied by my username, I don’t have a lot of FS experience. Have had my Swarf Contour for a little under 2 years, and dabbled with a Cannondale Prophet a few years ago, but other than that, I’ve always ridden/owned HTs.

    I realise I know very little about the different types of FS design; I’ve heard terms being bandied about … single pivot, 4-bar, VPP, Maestro, DW-link etc, but have very little idea about how each works, what are the pros and cons of each, and the different variations on each system. You see designs where the shock is mounted vertically, or on the underside of the top tube, or on top of the downtube … some with lots of linkages and pivots, others that seem more straightforward.

    So, firstly, is there a good Web page, article or whatever that can give an up to date overview? (Found a wiki link, but seems quite old-fashioned). Diagrams and or videos showing how the suspension moves would help.

    Secondly, is there a ‘best’/’worst’ system? Or is it all swings & roundabouts that I’m in danger of overthinking about, and that pretty much all modern bikes have pretty sorted suspension?

    Thirdly, is there a ‘design’ for a 150/160mm bike that would work ‘best’ for a medium guy, 75kg weight, for all-day pedalability but capable of some (not very fast, ie rather mincy) steep/tech?

    Ta!

    2
    shermer75
    Free Member

    You might need to change your username!

    hardtailonly
    Full Member

    You might need to change your username!

    That has been pointed out before in other threads. But, I can’t! STW won’t let me.

    andybrad
    Full Member

    Lots of swings and round abouts.

    dont believe the hype about needing less bearings with things like single pivot / flex stays.

    dont believe the hype about overly complex linkages.

    The only thing i would consider is, coming from a HT are you going to be wanting to lock it out a lot. if so piuck one where you can acess the shock easily (some are tucked away). Otherwise go for it and enjoy.

    1
    whatyadoinsucka
    Free Member

    go and demo some, their aren’t that many bad bikes these days.

    ps. i’d think your “not very fast, ie rather mincy) steep/tech” riding will change massively.

    safer, faster and comfier..

    Kramer
    Free Member

    Most of them were invented purely so that they could be a patentable USP IMV.

    They do feel different, due to the different ratios of lever sizes, but it’s not that any one is better than the others.

    It’s interesting that now that the Horst Link is off patent, many companies seem to be going that route.

    Single pivot means that the suspension isn’t as isolated from braking or acceleration forces, and so may feel more lively and less plush.

    Linkages mean that the progression curve can be tuned for different types of shock if needed.

    IMV you get used to what you ride. Getting the correct sized bike is much more important.

    DickBarton
    Full Member

    As a bit of a luddite with full suspension, I think Vpp, Maestro and Dw-link are slightly the same thing…I can’t explain why but over the years I’ve picked up that they seem to the the same suspension solution just slightly different ways of doing it…
    However as a luddite, I suspect there are differences but I don’t know what they are.
    Best solution is to try as many as you can and see which one works best for you, then go from there.

    hijodeputa
    Free Member

    Try ‘Trail POV’ on YouTube. He compares and explains quite a few of the different designs, their pros and cons.

    1
    Kramer
    Free Member

    I think Vpp, Maestro and Dw-link are slightly the same thing

    They’re all rigid rear triangles that are floating and attached by short links. The difference is in which way the links rotate in compression. Which each manufacturer will tell you their way is the best and anyone else is a heretic.

    el_boufador
    Full Member

    I’d go off reviews (edit: of how it rides, not the theory of it, plus any other upsides/downsides), plus also my own consideration if what other benefits/problems a particular frame design brings with it.

    E.g. does it constrain or make room for bottles or bags? Stash garage?

    I wouldn’t be set on one particular design over another, just what the balance of trade-offs is based on the information available

    Kramer
    Free Member

    The only one I’d straight out avoid if I was riding in muddy conditions is the Switch Infinity. It’s meant to be a great platform, but I’ve just heard about far too many durability issues in wet riding.

    sharkattack
    Full Member

    Which companies are the best for demo days? Cotic, Bird and Geometron are easy to test ride. Most decent shops have demo bikes available.

    Just pick something you like the look of and have a day out on it. All the words and numbers won’t mean anything until you feel something that you either like or dislike.

    honourablegeorge
    Full Member

    DickBarton

    Maestro and Dw-link are slightly the same thing…

    Dave Weagle certainly thinks so, and took Giant to court over it

    deanfbm
    Free Member

    Don’t listen to the bs that “o it’s horst link so it’ll ride like y and it’s vpp so it’ll ride like x”. The ride feel those kind of people experience is down to how that particular brand has decided the best balance of compromises for their chosen platform for the specific application.

    Don’t go reading anything into generalisations on this subject.

    northersouth
    Free Member

    I don’t think there’s a ‘best’ design.

    If you’ve come from hardtail, and so expect zero or easy maintenance. perhaps something like a Santa Cruz with VPP?

    The bearings are pressed into the linkage itself – not the frame – so replacing is easier than other frames. You also get free bearings.

    1
    chiefgrooveguru
    Full Member

    The only consistent generalisations are that common-rotating Horst link designs have less anti-rise than most and true single pivots have close to zero progression.

    The rest (anti-squat, anti-rise details, progression, axle path etc) comes down to the specific pivot locations.

    molgrips
    Free Member

    I’m a very fussy bugger. I will tweak the angle of my bars by a few degrees during a ride or trial fore/aft saddle adjustments by a few mm. I buy different styles of handlebar and even grip shape is part of my tuning programme.

    However, I don’t think suspension design makes much difference. They do feel a bit different, but not in a meaningful way. Geometry and weight distribution are FAR more important IMO than anything, even amount of travel. Then suspension setup i.e. damping and sag.

    Kramer
    Free Member

    I think there’s something to be said that single pivots are less isolated from braking forces than the other designs?

    molgrips
    Free Member

    No, not really. More isolated if anything because there are no pivots between the axle and brake caliper. Some designs might actuall use braking force to counteact the extension of the suspension when your weight moves forward under braking.

    My first long travel bike is a Patriot 7+, 180mm of single pivot travel. It boings around a lot with body weight shifts so it feels terrible at first, but you learn to ride it. You move your body weight around a lot, anticipate its movement, and it’s an absolute blast. My second long(ish) travel bike is a modern Nukeproof Reactor. It doesn’t require the same degree of movement and doesn’t really allow it, and tbh it’s less fun at times. I rather enjoyed working the travel on the Patriot, it was almost like skiing, you’d move your body along with the trail.

    nickjb
    Free Member

    My experience is similar to molgrips above I’d say. My single pivot orange rode much better if you worked it. Was a bit wooden if you didn’t. I prefer a decent four bar, it just seems to behave nicely all the time. I think it suits my very unaggressive riding style.

    6
    dave_h
    Full Member

    There are very few bad bikes these days.

    – Go for the one that looks the nicest with the best colour and the components closest to what you want at a price you can afford.

    – Remember that all reviews are written by people who have to string words for a living and can’t get away with “They’re all as good as each other really, but a horizontal shock on a purple frame with Fox forks looked the best to me.”

    – Do not read any reviews with kinematic graphs.  Their comments are irrelevant to 99% of riders.

    – Spend the minimal amount of time faffing with the various damping options, go for the standard settings and tweak out slightly based on your weight/size compared to average

    – There will be riding characteristics that are different to your old bike but you’ll learn to love them so ignore them when you first ride it

    – Remember, riding bikes is fun.  Any bike is fun.  But you’ve just spent money on the nicest looking, greatest coloured, finest equipped bike you can warrant spending money on so go and love it despite what the internet might say

    finephilly
    Free Member

    It’s always a trade off between several characteristics. In theory, single pivot will feel weird to ride (especially when pedalling) as it pulls on the chain when going up and down.

    The other main design is ‘active’ ie the rear axle is not directly connected to the chainstays. This includes 4-bar linkage . So you shouldn’t get any feedback through the chain. Downside is it will squat under pedalling.

    The VPP designs (like DW link) aim to give active suspension with no squatting

    thisisnotaspoon
    Free Member

    Don’t listen to the bs that “o it’s horst link so it’ll ride like y and it’s vpp so it’ll ride like x”. The ride feel those kind of people experience is down to how that particular brand has decided the best balance of compromises for their chosen platform for the specific application.

    To an extent this is true.

    But at the same time generalizations do often bear out.

    Horst link bikes brake better, it’s just one of their inherent benefits.

    Single pivots feel like you can preload it and pump it more because they tend to be very active. They’re very predictable. I like riding them for fun, but not sure I’d want to live with it if it was my only bike and had to do both fun and 50mile rides.

    Horst links tend to mask what the suspension is doing. it just gets on with it, you can feel plenty of feedback, but it’s using all the travel. Feels very efficient. It’s what I currently have (a Vitus) and what I had previously (a Specialized)

    DW and Maestro feel like someone’s taken the best bits of a Horst and a Single Pivot and made something that (to me) feels like a full suspension bike should, it gets on with the job but you can feel it a bit more when you load it up. It’s efficient, but a bit more fun than a horst.

    VPP is weird and I hate it. Feels like a single pivot without the predictability. Others like them though so that just proves that it’s a personal preference.

    Shock  tunes make a massive difference. Up to a point spending ££ on a custom tune of an entry level shock is better than spending £££ on an off the shelf expensive one.   Shock models have their own character too.

    IME, having ridden hardtails, then rigid bikes, then back to a hardtail when my wrists started to give up.  As long as it deals with the big hits, keeps things under control and reacts to both me and the ground in a predictable manner and it’s not beating me up then I’m satisfied. I like having lots of dials to adjust, but equally I ride cheap products too and just learn to ride around whatever limitation they have.

    molgrips
    Free Member

    In theory, single pivot will feel weird to ride (especially when pedalling) as it pulls on the chain when going up and down

    Yeah this was the case on my Orange. When hitting a bump on a technical climb you felt it through the pedals, but it really was of no consequence. I mean you feel the same bump through your arms and arse so no big deal.

    2
    IHN
    Full Member

    what difference does it make?

    To the journalist who has to find something to say to fill the review, professional riders/racers who have the ability to work stuff to it’s limits, or the punter who has to justify a particular purchase? A lot.

    To the majority of recreational riders? Bugger all (assuming it’s a reasonable but from a reasonable brand).

    1
    molgrips
    Free Member

    professional riders/racers who have the ability to work stuff to it’s limits

    They don’t ride what’s best, they ride what they are given :)

    IHN
    Full Member

    Which proves my point even more.

    chiefgrooveguru
    Full Member

    “It’s always a trade off between several characteristics. In theory, single pivot will feel weird to ride (especially when pedalling) as it pulls on the chain when going up and down.

    The other main design is ‘active’ ie the rear axle is not directly connected to the chainstays. This includes 4-bar linkage . So you shouldn’t get any feedback through the chain. Downside is it will squat under pedalling.

    The VPP designs (like DW link) aim to give active suspension with no squatting”

    This is all the kind of misinformation you get from bike reviews and marketing blurb.

    It isn’t the suspension design that matters most, it’s where the pivots are placed and their interaction with all the force vectors from the chain tension, rear contact patch and, brake caliper and rider’s mass.

    Loads of 4 bar bikes pedal really well. Loads of single pivots feel good because chain forces balance out rider mass forces. DW link etc still have pedal kickback and brake squat.

    This Spanish blog is good:

    https://linkagedesign.blogspot.com/

    1
    Onzadog
    Free Member

    Just how bogged down do you want to get in the science behind suspension?

    Like most aspects of bike design, it’s often a compromise between opposing desires. For example, higher anti squat values will make a bike feel more like a hardtail when sprinting but less active. Lower anti squat numbers will feel active all the time but you don’t want to get out of the saddle and sprint.

    Some bikes will feel really absorbent and as if they have more travel than they do. Conversely a bike with the same travel can feel more poppy and playful but not as much of a trail tamer/bulldozer.

    Are you happy to stick with an air shock, or do you want something progressive enough to take a coil shock of you so desire?

    There is no “best” design as there’s no ideal set of aims.

    It can sometimes help to look for a bike that was designed in an area similar to where you ride or how you ride.

    If you want to get into the nitty gritty of anti squat, anti rise, chain growth, axle path and progressively, then povtrail on YouTube is not a bad start point.

    A good one compares a Kona process to an evil following, both linkage driven single pivots but with very different results.

    Or just buy a pretty bike that speaks to you and makes you want to ride it.

    finephilly
    Free Member

    It’s not wrong. Single pivot and 4 bar are 2 different designs. And I said ‘in theory’. i also said it’s a trade-off so like you pointed out, how the bike rides isn’t just down to the type of suspension. However, single-pivot will in theory pull on the chain.

    4 bar won’t ‘cos the axle is connected to the vertical, rather than horizontal. That’s a fact, not marketing!

    1
    tomhoward
    Full Member

    However, single-pivot will in theory pull on the chain.

    Idler enters the chat

    U Wot M8?

    molgrips
    Free Member

    4 bar won’t ‘cos the axle is connected to the vertical, rather than horizontal. That’s a fact, not marketing!

    No, but what is marketing is how much it matters.

    1
    chiefgrooveguru
    Full Member

    “4 bar won’t ‘cos the axle is connected to the vertical, rather than horizontal. That’s a fact, not marketing!”

    Unfortunately this fact is wrong. The theory behind this is now well established and you can buy software to model suspension designs accurately:

    https://www.bikechecker.com/

    Almost all full-sus MTBs without idlers use chain growth to reduce suspension bob. And that means they also suffer from pedal kickback.

    bikesandboots
    Full Member

    dont believe the hype about needing less bearings with things like single pivot / flex stays.

    Surely those are just facts? Designs that have fewer bearings.

    tall_martin
    Full Member

    I had my DH bike nicked in the Alps and had a week of hire bikes

    Horst link- my canyon torque
    Single pivot linkage- morewood
    Dw- pivot
    Vpp- Santa Cruz v10
    POLYGON COLLOSUS DH8- no idea what the suspension type was.

    The biggest difference was the fit of the bike. I’m 6″4, the Santa Cruz was XXL. The polygon was medium and the rest were large. The size was the biggest thing.

    The morewood had too soft a spring
    The pivot fork hadn’t been serviced recently
    The polygon was massively too short in the reach, but I couldn’t hire anything else that day.

    None of my riding or experience revolved around the suspension type.

    So for me, on rides that were on terrain out of my comfort zone the suspension type had no impact on the amount of fun I had.

    I’ve had
    Yeti straight 8
    Cannondale scalpel- softtail type.
    Giant reign- vpp type
    Orange segment- single pivot
    Geometron- horst link.

    Longer term the suspension type has made very little difference to the amount of fun I’ve had.

    Secondly, is there a ‘best’/’worst’ system? Or is it all swings & roundabouts that I’m in danger of overthinking about, and that pretty much all modern bikes have pretty sorted suspension?

    For me, no it’s all about the ride, not the suspension. If it breaks that’s a problem.

    Thirdly, is there a ‘design’ for a 150/160mm bike that would work ‘best’ for a medium guy, 75kg weight, for all-day pedalability but capable of some (not very fast, ie rather mincy) steep/tech?

    For me at 94kg a mix of all day pedaling, mucking about in the woods and the off uplift-no.

    Are demo days still a thing?
    You might be able to try a bunch of bikes in a day.

    Bike hire- not cheap, but cheaper than hating your ££££ bike and selling it on after a short time.

    jameso
    Full Member

    I think there’s something to be said that single pivots are less isolated from braking forces than the other designs?

    From riding single pivots back to back with a concentric axle pivot design (Trek/Split Pivot type) I’d say that’s true, thought it mainly depends how the non single pivot’s isolated seatstay rotates during compression. Braking still has an effect on the suspension, it can be just less obvious than it can be on a trad single pivot. And whether it’s really an issue is another matter, I like single pivot bikes for XC / trail, can be very direct and predictable feeling.

    I’d agree with others saying most sus designs are about patent use or avoidance more than engineering, some are about both.  I’m tempted to say as long as the actual or effective pivot is in a suitable place, the spring/wheel rate and damping make the biggest difference to the ride feel. The rest (though obv linked to wheel rate) might be a bit like worrying about the detail of a rear mech’s parallelogram – we don’t as long as it moves the right way. Maybe axle path becomes more of an influence on longer travel bikes.

    intheborders
    Free Member

    Just go and demo a Cotic, they work brilliantly and from a maintenance perspective, my 5 y/o and +1 million feet of Scottish climbing/descending Flaremax only needed it’s bearings etc replacing when 4 years old.

    Feels a ‘bottomless’ rear (I’ve the Cane Creek).

    I’ve also a Spesh eBike with their FSR, and while it feels different, it still works well.

    kimbers
    Full Member

    to add some extra complexity into the mix, the shock tune can make a big difference

    you can use your shock to hange how the bike feels

    if youve got an air shock (hiring) a shockwiz can really help, especially if you have a lot of adjusters to twiddle, im heavy and my bike rides much better with lots of LSC

    1
    chakaping
    Full Member

    Don’t go reading anything into generalisations on this subject.

    While this is true as a generalisation, you might decide to consider (or rule out) certain suspension layouts because they tend to favour certain characteristics.

    I choose a single pivot for my trail bike because I like the feedback and immediacy – and I know recent Orange ones pedal very well.

    I chose a four-bar for my big bike because I know they tend to keep the suspension working under braking and can be tweaked to pedal fairly well too.

    I’ve had a couple of linkage single pivots and they tend to be fun to ride, very predictable but can stiffen a bit under braking. Pedal efficiency varies wildly.

    But you absolutely have to test ride, read reviews, talk to owners etc.

    1
    steve_b77
    Free Member

    Pick the one you like the look of / can afford / liked on a ride and make sure you can get a water bottle in there somewhere, job done.

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