Australian Mountain Bike - - Contents - WORDS: BEN MOR­RI­SON PHOTOS: SUPPLIED

Sus­pen­sion gu­rus from Trek and SRAM ex­plain why the new world of met­ric could rev­o­lu­tionise your fu­ture ride – and re­veal how mo­tor rac­ing tech­nol­ogy has played its part.

With more and more 2018 bikes fea­tur­ing the new met­ric stan­dard shocks from vary­ing brands we sat down with some of the key play­ers in the sus­pen­sion world and asked them to dull things down a lit­tle bit.

Many of you will have read up about these new shocks and the ad­van­tages, of which there are many. But what is met­ric and how will it make the lives of moun­tain bik­ers bet­ter?

Jose Gon­za­lez is Trek’s Di­rec­tor of Sus­pen­sion De­vel­op­ment and spoke to us about Trek and the ad­van­tages of met­ric shocks. As a for­mer man­ager for the Kawasaki Team, Jose knows an in­sane amount about sus­pen­sion and de­vel­op­ment and has a background that has helped him look at it from many an­gles and of­ten very much out­side the box of the bike in­dus­try. So much so, he’s also worked with one of mo­tor sport’s big­gest names, Team Penske, in or­der to help find a sus­pen­sion edge over the com­pe­ti­tion.

An­other per­son that is pas­sion­ate about sus­pen­sion is Dun­can Rif­fle, SRAM’s MTB PR and Media Co­or­di­na­tor. Dun­can has a vast his­tory in the sport of moun­tain bik­ing, achiev­ing some of USA’s best ever Down­hill re­sults on the world stage. Dun­can has seen sus­pen­sion evolve lit­er­ally un­der­neath him as a World Cup DH racer for heavy hit­ters like Gi­ant Fac­tory Off Road Team and his own World Cup Team, “Gi­ant Nerd” where he was owner, man­ager and racer – along with an­other sus­pen­sion tech head Brad Bene­dict who now works for Spe­cial­ized and their Oh­lins col­lab­o­ra­tions.


AMB: What is met­ric, and why the switch to met­ric?

Dun­can Rif­fle: The world of met­ric is straight­for­ward once you un­der­stand the con­cept of met­ric shocks, their in­ten­tion to sim­plify and al­low us (the sus­pen­sion man­u­fac­turer) and the bike man­u­fac­turer to work bet­ter to­gether on pro­duc­ing a spe­cific shock for the bike frames they are pro­duc­ing – de­pend­ing on the frame kine­mat­ics, wheel path and lever­age ra­tios.

AMB: How did met­ric come about? “Build­ing bet­ter bikes” is a quote from one of your videos in the Met­ric Dec­i­mals doc­u­ment. Is met­ric an ef­fort to make bet­ter bikes through bet­ter shocks or is it work­ing with the bike man­u­fac­tur­ers to make bet­ter bikes in the de­sign phase not the bike spec phase?

Dun­can Rif­fle: To start, the “met­ric” siz­ing refers to the lengths (eye to eye and stroke length) be­ing more re­fined, sim­pli­fied and spe­cific to a cer­tain frame de­sign, re­duc­ing the SKUs (part num­bers) to “met­ric siz­ing” vs. the stan­dard “all over the map” siz­ing. To give you a rough idea we took nearly 30+ dif­fer­ent shock length con­fig­u­ra­tions and re­duced it to about 10.

AMB: Can you fit a met­ric shock in a cur­rent non-Met­ric bike?

Dun­can Rif­fle: Met­ric shocks will only work with met­ric sized frames, as we have worked very closely with our cus­tomers to pro­duce spe­cific sus­pen­sion that is op­ti­mised to make the bike and our shocks work at their best. So, as the in­dus­try takes hold of this new siz­ing, we will (and al­ready have) see an ex­po­nen­tially greater num­ber of met­ric sized bikes com­ing to the mar­ket.

AMB: What are the ad­van­tages that have been achieved in the new met­ric shocks and can you ex­plain Trun­nion mounts and the ad­van­tages that come with them?

Dun­can Rif­fle: There are many things within our Su­per Deluxe and Deluxe met­ric sized shocks that al­lowed us to make a bet­ter sus­pen­sion plat­form, from larger bush­ing over­lap (due to proper siz­ing op­tions) which sig­nif­i­cantly re­duces side-load, proper oil and air vol­umes in the right ar­eas in­ter­nally and bet­ter mount­ing op­tions. Bear­ing and trun­nion – side mounted bolts that do not run through an eye­let, but rather the body of the shock di­rectly, al­low for a longer shock to fit in a more com­pact area.


AMB: With the in­tro­duc­tion of met­ric shocks into the in­dus­try how has this af­fected the way Trek looks at sus­pen­sion?

Jose Gon­za­lez: In all hon­esty, the met­ric siz­ing ap­proach was re­ally started by DRCV shocks. Re­gard­less of the spe­cific mea­sure­ment, the phi­los­o­phy of a more ef­fi­cient shock pack­age, trun­nion mount eye­lets that al­low for more ef­fi­cient lin­ear space use and the air spring curves found with the EVOL and De­bonair air springs were all the driv­ers be­hind the DRCV de­sign. So with all that said, of course we’re sup­port­ive of a lay­out that al­lows for a bet­ter shock de­sign. If it wouldn’t have been for the ef­fi­cient space use of­fered by DRCV, we would not have been able to in­tro­duce RE:ak­tiv damp­ing un­til the shock was com­pletely redesigned.

AMB: With a bike like the Slash, where you are al­ready run­ning a rea­son­ably large shock, do you feel that the shift to met­ric of­fers bet­ter per­for­mance or is it fu­ture­proof­ing and fit­ting into a stan­dard?

Jose Gon­za­lez: The shift to met­ric of­fered two main ben­e­fits – bet­ter per­form­ing shocks due to space for more com­plex dampers and the abil­ity to ac­com­mo­date Thru-Shaft tech­nol­ogy.

AMB: The trun­nion style mount­ing is some­thing that Trek has been do­ing for a long time across some more ag­gres­sive mod­els with great suc­cess. Was this used be­cause of some of Trek’s own sus­pen­sion tunes and ap­pli­ca­tions in the past or was it just more prac­ti­cal to mount a shock this way over a range of sizes?

Jose Gon­za­lez: We started down this path with DRCV be­cause it al­lowed us to de­sign a bet­ter shock. The same can be said for all of the cur­rent met­ric siz­ing op­tions. With trun­nion mounts, you get a more com­pact eye-to-eye dimension with bet­ter lin­ear space. Keep in mind that a couple of mil­lime­tres in shock space can make the dif­fer­ence be­tween be­ing able to in­tro­duce a more ad­vanced valve sys­tem or not. As shock de­sign­ers, that was

al­ways a huge strug­gle in work­ing with the ex­ist­ing “stan­dards”. Those were con­ceived a long time ago and MTB shock dampers were pretty ba­sic in valv­ing at that time. It started get­ting very dif­fi­cult to de­sign and de­velop bet­ter shocks and dampers within those old boxes.

AMB: Along with Boost, Trek was at the fore­front of the met­ric shock launch - hav­ing bikes ready to use met­ric shocks right away. How long had you been work­ing with met­ric shocks com­ing into the launch of the new Fuel EX, Slash and Rem­edy?

Jose Gon­za­lez: We were in­volved from the very early stages of met­ric shock dis­cus­sions. One of the rea­sons for that is that we were al­ready mostly there with the DRCV shock ap­proach so it was nat­u­ral for Jeremiah Boo­bar at Rock­Shox, who were the pri­mary driv­ers be­hind met­ric shock siz­ing, to reach out to us very early on and pick our brain on it.

AMB: With Trek bikes be­ing known for their very ef­fi­cient and smooth sus­pen­sion, does a stan­dard off the shelf met­ric shock mean Trek is able to now get what they want in a shock from the bike in­dus­try. Or will we con­tinue to see out of in­dus­try col­lab­o­ra­tions in an ef­fort to im­prove sus­pen­sion per­for­mance?

Jose Gon­za­lez: The gen­eral prod­ucts now be­ing of­fered by the main sus­pen­sion brands are def­i­nitely get­ting closer to al­low­ing us to get what we need to meet the spe­cific per­for­mance goals we have for most of our bikes. How­ever, as RE:ak­tiv and Thru-Shaft re­flect, there may be de­vel­op­ment out­side our in­dus­try that will al­low us to el­e­vate the over­all per­for­mance bar of moun­tain bikes. In our spe­cific case, Penske plays at the high­est lev­els of mo­tor­sports and, in turn, sus­pen­sion de­vel­op­ment. They’re ex­posed to and play around with stuff that we don’t get to see in our world. The F1 world for one has bud­gets and R&D ca­pa­bil­i­ties that are un­sur­passed by other wheeled prod­ucts and they ex­plore and try a lot of things. It’s im­por­tant not to have blin­ders on and re­spect the fact that there are a lot of smart peo­ple out there, so ideas will come from other in­dus­tries at times.

“As you state, Trek is known for a very ef­fi­cient and smooth sus­pen­sion per­for­mance. A key driver be­hind that is our “bal­anced ap­proach” phi­los­o­phy in de­sign­ing sus­pen­sion. To us, that means that the shock is a crit­i­cal mem­ber of that for­mula and it doesn’t get over­rid­den by the me­chan­i­cal sys­tem. Not only does the bike of­fer op­ti­mal per­for­mance char­ac­ter­is­tics – ef­fi­ciency, con­trol and ter­rain re­sponse – but it does so with some flex­i­bil­ity for the end user. The shock al­lows the end user to tweak those key char­ac­ter­is­tics to their own lik­ing. If you dis­count the value of the shock and strictly fo­cus on the me­chan­i­cal sys­tem be­ing over­dom­i­nant, that can­not be achieved.”

With the great ad­vances in moun­tain bike tech­nol­ogy over the past few years it is of­ten hard to keep up and un­der­stand why man­u­fac­tur­ers change prod­ucts so of­ten. It’s nice to see that met­ric was done for a com­mon goal or pur­pose, which was to re­duce the amount of shock sizes across the bi­cy­cle in­dus­try and im­prove per­for­mance at the same time. Work­ing with both sus­pen­sion and frame man­u­fac­tur­ers to cre­ate a more user friendly stan­dard can only be a good thing, with egos be­ing left at the door in or­der to cre­ate bet­ter prod­ucts for the end user - which is you!

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