The evolution of a mountain bike: Suspension upgrades (Build 8)

Hold onto your tablets as this is a big one. Having wrestled with several performance issues for over a year, albeit not helped by being injured (ACL reconstruction) and not really being able to push the riding, I decided to bite the bullet and do something about the aspects of the Nomad that I felt were letting the team down, namely:

  1. Front suspension.
  2. Rear suspension.

The Front Suspension.

Using my powers of investigation (reading too many reviews on the Internet!!) but also extrapolating information from reviews and forum threads and interpreting them with my personal views of shared equipment, I decided that a FAST Suspension cartridge was the way to go with my Pike. Do not misunderstand the Pike is a really good fork, however the usual Rockshox thing of plastically and imprecise dials, vague and disproportionate changes for each click (or no change at all) and no separation of HSC and LSC stop it from reaching its full potential in my opinion. Oh I know that there are lots of athletes riding Pikes and Boxers at WC level and doing well but they also benefit from custom tuning, often with precisely machined rather than mass produced components and regular re-builds. I don’t have or deserve access to such pampering so I called S4 Suspension in Quebec (The FAST agent for Canada) and once we got past the Fr-english organised for my fork to benefit from their French based wizardry.

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The Pike received:

  1. FAST Charger Cartridge, which replaces the RCT bit with a precise 24 click HSC and LSC assembly.
  2. FAST Rebound Assembly, which provides precise rebound adjustment that does not influence the compression circuits.
  3. A custom shim stack to take account of my 220 lbs riding weight, my measured current bike set up and the deficiencies I was looking to remedy.
  4. Racing Brothers Lycan Seals, which are apparently as slippery as a greased eel.
  5. Some extra slippery fork oil.

The result is a fork that is amazing. It does everything it should, when it should, perfectly. It feels better than my BOS Idylle RaRe Air which is like saying it is 11/10!!

The Rear Suspension.

Again using the detective power of the Internet, and some serious forum thread discussion and opinion swapping, I decided that, after three different air shocks, that it was time to try a coil shock. I also decided that if I was going to go coil then I might as well drop the hammer on the daddy of ENDURO coil shocks, the PUSH Elevensix.

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This is how the PUSH Elevensix experience works:

  1. Order shock, enter basic data and pay.
  2. Receive email confirming order.
  3. Receive phone call from Dave, who asks a few questions about your current set up, what you don’t like about it and what you are trying to achieve from your Elevensix.
  4. Barely make a cup of tea after phone call and receive an email confirming that your Elevensix will be in your post box in three days time (yes I am not kidding, and this is after Dave apologised that it was a bit late in the day to get the shock finished that afternoon).

So I watched my parcel tracking app like a fiend and dealt with Fedex to pay the duty and/ or tax that one must. There is no way this bad boy is coming in under the $75 duty free limit! I collected the parcel, opened it slowly like it is the best Christmas present ever and considered the tune card (filled in by Dave).

Tune card crop

I then disappeared to my workshop/ man cave to install shock on bike. No fuss, it just slips into place like the precisely machined piece of awesomeness that it is. I got out a tape measure to se the sag and that was it.

I think I ordered on a Tuesday afternoon and I was riding it installed on my bike on Saturday morning.

The shock is so good that I am forced to say what most other PUSH Elevensix owners say; “You don’t even notice that it is there”. It is firm when you want it to be firm, it is plush all the time, small bump compliance is amazing, it uses the right amount of travel for any given situation in a graceful and controlled manner. And that is all without trying the other circuit. It was so good I did not realise I had forgotten to switch to the downhill circuit until the end of my ride (15 kilometres and three downhill trails) so I rode back up an access trail to ride the last section again. Downhill circuit? Like riding a slightly smaller version of my V-10 but with better square edge management and better traction.

Is it worth the extra price over a conventional coil shock? Yes. Simply the best rear shock I have ever ridden on, end of discussion.