Reviews

 

Custom Tuning Fox offering Custom Tuning?

It doesn't sound like they are changing much, as in just a shim changed as described in the article, which can be decent, but custom tuning frequently guts the shock, starts over with differently designed pistons/higher flow, shim stacks, rearranged check valves/mid-valves, adding mid-valves, anti-bottoming cones, removing ineffective/detrimental circuits such as SPV/propedal, and so on. This sounds more like being able to change the "low/mid/high" tune, although a little more specifically. A good step, but here's my take: Avalanche (and more recently Push) have been blowing OEM performance out of the water for years, as in around 20 years. You'd think that in 20 years time the OEM stuff from Fox and RS would be at the same performance level, if not vastly better, but that is not the case. They keep screwing with us with ineffective circuits, wide-range adjustments that give us the choice of a bunch of dive or harsh travel, no way to really adjust high-speed damping, and so on. Now they want us to pay extra money to optimize the shock a little more, but IMO, enough time has passed that they should be blowing the custom stuff out of the water. It's just not the case though.
Jayem Jayem
Open Bath Cartridge


I have a '15 pike and i'm thinking of the open bath cartridge or getting rid of it and geting a new DVO diamond, to those who have ridden both, what are your suggestions?


Without a doubt, my Avy is better than my DVO. The DVO Diamond wasn't much different than my Pike. I spent a lot on the DVO and was pretty disappointed with the performance. Yes, a lot of adjustments, but couldn't set up compliant, the only way was to reduce the air pressure to a level where it'd bottom out. According to DVO, it may have been too firm for my weight, but then again I weigh pretty close to the "standard" mountain biker, around 170lbs, so that doesn't really make sense. DVO revalved it, and sent it back to me, but I haven't tried the re-valved version.

When I got my Lyrik with the next bike, I got the avy cartridge right off the bat. There's a world of difference in low-speed compression damping support. Just trying to push down on it feels like you are running a higher spring rate (pressure)/has lots of resistance, so it doesn't dive and has excellent chassis stability. Kind of hard to explain, but off the backside of bumps, going off curbs, etc., it doesn't "dive" through the travel, there's a lot of resistance that keeps the bike stable. Yet, open it up at speed through chunk, and it feels smoother the faster you go in the crazy rough. It's like having a "trail" setting that doesn't spike and is great for high speed chatter, which typically they are not, since most OEM stuff comes with very little compression damping when set to the "DH" setting. I have the standard cart with the midvalve and anti-bottoming cone. That also works well and as advertised. There's an additional feature now called the HSB I believe, which might make it a little more compliant at slow speeds(corrected: at high speeds it blows off)? One trait, I wouldn't exactly call it a negative, is that the fork is very firm at low speeds. Since I'm a pretty aggressive rider, this is not an issue and it never feels harsh, but there is a lot of damping and it keeps up amazing as you go faster. A less aggressive rider might find this a little harsh though, as they simply wouldn't move the fork anywhere near the total travel, unless they went with way too low air pressure. One negative with the avy is you need a small flat-blade to stick up the leg to adjust the compression. It doesn't have an adjuster knob, but can be adjusted externally via an adjuster inside the foot-nut bolt, it just requires a very small screwdriver.

I don't know what went wrong with my Diamond, a few people seem to like them just fine, but I can't say anything felt "broken", I tried every damping combo after normal tuning didn't seem to work.

But anyway, yes, cartridge was well worth it. Just changed out the oil bath on the lyrik the other day, I like that it's 15ml and it makes me feel a little better about not changing it every month or something (the pike has less oil in that side), but on the damper side, I love the fact that I can just pop the top-cap, turn it upside down, drain it all out, then re-fill it with the same amount of fresh fluid, and be done. No bleeding. No rebound seal to break. No stupid intensive process. No kit to buy. Just simple and reliable. Sometimes while just blasting down stuff I start laughing uncontrollably because I'm able to go straight through nasty stuff that guys in front or in back of me avoid, and the fork just sucks it up like it's no big deal.

Jayem Jayem

Custom Tuning

The search for coil enduro shock is still on!

Hello everyone, i've recently fell in love with coil shocks, but the problem with present enduro frames is that they are designed around air shocks. Most of them have got linear ratios, i want to switch my monarch rc3 for a coil shock but i dont want to bottom out so easily as it may happen with the coil.

Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
Most progressively damped cool shocks work like crap and spike. I have bike that is just slightly regressive at the top of travel, but the shock tuner I used (because I wanted to improve the bump performance) said its not a big effect and no drastic measures are needed. He installed a bigger bottom out bumper, and I can say from DHing with it that it's spot on. I would not be looking for a progressive coil shock.


Turner RFX. It gets slightly regressive at the top of the stroke, presumably to offset the excessive-rising rate of air shocks as they reach the end of their travel, but talking to Craig Seekins at Avalanche, he said that this was relatively slight in the big scheme and the bike is overall progressive looking at the beginning and end rates, so his view was that the slight amount of progression created by internal floating pistons in the reservoir and bottom-out bumpers was more than enough to deal with this. Craig said the "progressive" shocks, like 5th element, curnut, even DHX, were for the extreme-falling rate bikes like the old single pivot heckler and others and that Craig's own position sensitive mod that he offers on the RC4 is for these bikes, a very limited number of bikes that actually needs this.

I'll get to the RC4, but I also had Craig modify/tune my Monarch+, which totally transformed it. Before I couldn't run less than 35% sag and have any compliance, and I had to have a bunch of spacers to avoid bottom, but now I can run 30% with great compliance and never bottom, something that just wasn't possible before. Craig tuned the positive and negative (no negative spacers come stock) spacers in the shock, as well as revalved the thing. I will say that for true DH and such, a coil shock will still be better, but this thing is pretty damn nice, enough to get me 2nd in an enduro race and give me the feeling of suspension and control I was missing on the last bike in the same terrain. It's a great combo with the bike on the tuned monarch+. Firm, but blows off for the sharp hits.

On the RC4s, there were fat-shaft versions first. These tend to not move enough oil for bikes that use some of the longer-stroke shocks, like some of the DH bikes using 3" stroke shocks. Craig said it was nearly impossible to tune those for the proper damping rates without going to the skinny-shaft.

What also was on those first RC4s and even the skinny-shaft up until a few years ago was the "boost valve". This is your progressive damping and platform. This is one of the biggest reasons you get a lot of spiking and harsh travel at speed through rough/choppy terrain. There's a valve that has to overcome pressure to allow fluid to flow, more pressure=more resistance and as the shock goes through travel, this resistance gets greater. Maybe sounds good on paper, but then you have to remember that you want the suspension to provide good support on a big drop, and blow off to absorb a big root or rock. To achieve this you need speed sensitive damping, not position sensitive. This came on the DHX and RC4 and many of Fox's other offerings. Removal of the boost valve is one thing that Craig will recommend and do, and as I said before, it's not necessary to have this position sensitive damping except on a few extreme frame designs that aren't around any more.

I'm not sure on the year the boost valve was removed, but at least the last few years of RC4s has been like this.

What I did though was to buy a new-old-stock RC4 and sent it to Craig to tune. I spent almost a week dialing in the settings and now it blows my mind how supportive and plush it is. Riding on the sharp rocks uphill as if there's nothing there, blowing off for the big roots, just total control. The key here is that when you look at stuff like DHX, RC4, X2, etc., there's really no golden-bb or feature that's going to make one of these react like butter, Fox is trying to do things like satisfy a super-wide range of rider weights, like 120-240, which is going to mean sub-optimal performance for just about everyone, but it is sometimes livable and "not horrible", just not nearly as good as it could be. Shock technology is not a mystery, it uses things like check valves, shim stacks, poppet valves, needle valves, and so on. Some OEM stuff doesn't always come with separate high speed and low speed damping circuits, and most can't be run more than a click or two of compression without feeling like a jackhammer, just like you can't really run the rebound really slow or it packs up, usually because these bleeds are such that you aren't really adjusting low-speed rebound as much as you think, so it's having a bigger effect on the entire speed range, which causes harshness when you go faster.

When I got the DHX, before I sent it to Craig, he asked me "let me guess, you are probably running 0-1 clicks of HSC and 0-3 of LSC?". He had it nailed, because any more and the stock shock was too harsh.

So, you can go buy a used shock like a DHX, RC4, or whatever, and send it to Craig or Push, get it revalved and all the crappy stuff removed, and get it back and it will make you smile, it will make you think "wow, this is what I knew suspension could do all along". You will be able to have slow rebound that causes the wheels to stick to the trail for traction, while having no problems with it absorbing multiple hits. You'll be able to run a decent amount of compression, like 1/2 the range for real firm initial travel, without having it feel like a jackhammer. You'll have firm resistance, but great high speed (sharp edged) bump absorption.

Yes, I'm a suspension junkie, but in my experience, a tuned shock (Push, Avalanche) always outperforms a stock one, by a large margin. I keep upgrading shocks through the years, but I've never experienced out-of-the-box anything that made me feel otherwise. One of the best ways to get good suspension is take a decent shock chassis, and send it to Craig or Darren at Push. In this sense, there's no big difference between a Vanilla, DHX or RC2, because the insides are gutted anyways.

Here's what I wrote after riding my RC4 after getting it nice and dialed in. The most important take-away for me was during some of this terrain I was simply laughing out loud while riding because of how the shock just leveled the terrain and handled crazy stuff that other people were avoiding:
Damn, just did a big epic ride with my Avy tuned RC4. Man, this thing is DIALED. I was riding uphill over the pointy sharp rocks like they weren't there, downhill just sucking up huge rock stairs we have, to the point where I was just laughing as I rode downhill because no one else would even ride over the same stuff, man, just great. I spent a lot of my week in Washington state a few weeks back tuning the coil shock, trying to get the settings right, and at the end of the trip it was feeling pretty nice. I think I nailed it and it's absolutely amazing to have the entire bike react so nice going downhill, just launch with no cares into a mess of roots, so much support, big braking bumps disappear, etc. The chunkier it gets, the more it loves it. Paired up with the fork, just amazing.

Just right off the bat I was thinking that it wasn't quite as good as my monarch+ that's also tuned. I wanted to give the RC4 a chance and made sure to systematically go through the settings in WA. Good choice.

Jayem Jayem

Rockshox

2016 Lyrik

I just did a big ride today where my suspension (front Lyrik cart included) was just dialed. The cart is never harsh, I always have control, it sucks up big stuff like crazy, I take it through big braking bumps and it's like they are not even there, doesn't dive through the travel on the steeps, it's just the way things should be.

Compared to my charger, it's a mind blowing difference. Just pushing down on my fork feels like there's a ton of resistance compared to the charger, at the same PSI it's much harder, and at speed the thing sucks up bumps just amazing. I'm running around 13-14 clicks of rebound and maybe 10 of compression. Just brilliant.

I also had a pike, and I also had a pike with an Avy tune. If I tried to run a lot of compression on the pike, it was simply harsh, it did help to keep it higher in the travel, but it wasn't a very useful adjustment, since it made it more "jackhammer". Still, for bigger jumps and drops I ran it like that, with the compresion turned up about half. The Avy mod for the pike made it much plusher, but it still dived quite a bit. The Avy cart in my Lyrik is a totally different game, and I knew it would be because I had one in my 888 a few years back. It could just be what I asked for as far as tuning, I upgraded bikes and moved on to the Lyrik. This thing is done right. Anti-bottoming cone so it never reaches the end of travel, can run a lot of compression and it never reacts harsh, lots of low-speed rebound to stay in contact with the ground, especially off camber, etc. It's fixed so many of my mistakes it's unreal.

Jayem Jayem

Rockshox

Monarch Plus

 

I recently got the ssd/hsb upgrade for the monarch plus on my Nomad 3. I just wanted to let you know that I am very pleased with the work, and despite what you said about how the upgrade works with the vpp suspension, it really is night and day for me. All of a sudden I have a very usable range of low speed compression, and even in the open mode I now have a decent platform that leaves me with a plush blow off. It really does perform better in every way.

Thank you!!

Nathan Baumgarten

Fox CTD Evolution


Avalanche SSD Mod for Fox Float CTD Evolution
Avalanche now offers their SSD Mod for Fox Float CTD Evolution (read: the cheapest of the cheap) shocks. I pre-ordered the mod and have been riding the "new" shock for the past 2 weeks. I know there are literally thousands of Fox FLoat CTD Evolution shocks out there, so I thought I'd share my experience. Some of the following is a re-post from my thread in the Turner forum.

Background: In Jan I purchased a Turner Burner. At the time, I wanted the CC Inline upgrade, but the shocks were on backorder for 6-8 weeks. So, I decided to go with the stock Fox CTD Evolution out back, with the plan to upgrade in the next year or so.

Fast forward 3 months, and I was hating the Fox out back. Poor small bump compliance, slow reaction to big, square edged hits and -most glaringly- a complete lack of mid-range support, meant that I was running the fork at 35% sag with a large volume spacer wide open at all times and wallowing all over the place. Shame on me for being impatient and hamstringing the Burner with such a subpar shock!

So, I started looking for a replacement. Found a great deal on the CC Inline, but was scared off by the reliability horror stories. Almost went with a RS Monarch, but eventually heeded the advice of my fellow Turner Homers and went to Avalanche.

So far I have ~50 miles and 8,000 ft of vertical on the Avalanche.

Setup: Craig went ahead and removed the volume spacer from my shock after talking to me about it, so I'm now running right around 180 psi to get 30% sag (Craig's recommendation) at 182 lbs with gear (including water). I kept rebound compression right in the middle per Craig's recommendation. I'm pretty happy with this middle-of-the-road setup for now, and have found no reason to change it.

Climbing: A noticeable improvement. I HATE lockouts/super aggro pedal platform/whatever the hell you want to call it, and I was happy to hear that Avalanche doesn't try to make the shock "locked out" for climbing. Instead, the Avalanche mod is supposed to provide light low speed bleed with "easy" blow-off. I don't know about all of that, all I do know is that the travel feels efficient in that I'm not bobbing all over the place even on smooth pedal-y climbs and there is enough mid-stroke support (something the CTD completely lacked stock) that I can get out of the saddle and put down the power without everything turning to apple sauce out back. But, the best part is that the shock still reacts to ledges and roots, which keeps my rear wheel glued while scrambling up steep, technical climbs. So far, so good.

Descending: Based on Craig's recommendation, I've kept the shock in "T" for the most part, which should provide firm low speed bleed and medium blow-off. I've stuck with this approach, using "T" for rolling singletrack and climbs and descents that aren't going to last more than a few minutes. Did I mention that I hate flipping switches?

In "T", the AVA CTD shock doesn't suffer from "packing" over successive hits, gobbles up small chatter pretty well while maintaining good trail feel and handles the bigger hits (particulary square edged rocks) very well. However, the biggest improvement over stock is, again, the mid-stroke support that it provided while still reacting to big hits and soaking up the small stuff.

I've had the opportunity to flip the shock into "D" mode for some ripping NorCal descents: Solstice, the Manzanita trail at Skyline Napa and the Skyline Trail at Skyline Napa. All three of these descents are dry, rocky, rooty and really steep with plenty of "oh sh*t" sections. For a puny looking 2" travel air shock that felt overwhelmed on this type of terrain before I sent it to Craig a few weeks ago, my little AVA Fox CTD did really, really well on these trails. There was none of the mid-travel wallowing that plagued the stock shock, and it gave me all of its travel without feeling bogged down or overwhelmed at any point. I am completely happy with how the shock performed - it did exactly what I wanted it to.

Overall: I'll definitely be throwing a whole lot more in the direction of my AVA Fox CTD and pushing it as best I can, but I am very happy with my choice so far. The biggest improvements are the mid-stroke support, big hit reaction and useable/sensible compression adjustments for climbing/scooting along/descending. Craig did a great job in addressing the weaknesses of the stock CTD Evolution, and my bike is a hell of a lot better for it.

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Just got my Avy’d CTD Evolution shock out for a first ride. All I can say is Craig is magical unicorn with shocks. I had a CCDB coil on my 2015 Banshee Rune V2 because I’m really picky about rear suspension and want it just right. I decided to sell the CCDB coil and have Craig do his mod to an old Fox Float CTD I had and drop 2+lbs from my bike. I thought the Avy’s CTD would be good, not great having come off a DB Coil that I had all dialed in but it would be worth losing 2lbs. First ride was a trail I’ve ridden about a hundred times, literally. It’s my test trail for new upgrades. It’s rocky technical climbing for 5 miles and then fast rocky descending.

Flipped the switch to right for the climb, didn’t feel drastically different bouncing around compared to the middle position but I just left it. Had a great climb and noticed not getting a pedal strike when I thought for sure I’d get one. I ride 175mm cranks on a 13.5” BB and 30% so pedal strikes a frequent concern. Avy’s climb position noticeable helped keep me high in the travel during the climb which really helped.

The descend was mind-blowing. Lever in the middle “Trail” position. Felt better than I could have hoped or imagined. Years ago I had an Avy’d 5th Element on a dw-link Iron Horse 6Point6 and that was the best feeling suspension I had ever had. The Avy’s Fox Float on my Rune V2 feels very close to that.

BTW, I’ve got the LV (large volume) float with no volume spacer on my Rune V2.

After a 15 minute fast rocky DH beating the shock was very warm to the touch but I didn’t notice any performance drop off. Hopefully that doesn’t become an issue, but that’s not Avy’s doing, just the nature of running such a small air shock for DH.

I couldn’t be happier with Avy’s Fox Float conversion. I feel much more confidence on the descents and find myself charging the trail more as a result. Amazing work, Craig! You’re the best!

 

inonjoey

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DirtyMartini

Avalanche

Chubie

Rockshox Pike



What's the gold adjuster on top of the right stanchion of your Pike?

Can you explain a little more about the benefits of the chubby on this bike? It's been a long time since I've ridden a coil shock on a trail bike. I always end up adding spacers to my air fork and shock to make them more progressive for big hits under my 185lbs. When you take a linkage designed for an air shock's naturally progressive spring rate, my worry is that you would blow through the travel to easily or get forced onto a heavy spring rate, negating the benefits of the coil shock. This might work out better for lighter riders who don't need as progressive a spring rate?. Very curious to hear a response from those of you who are running coil shocks.
The Gold adjuster is the older Pike open bath cartridge from Avalanche. The newer ones are recessed into the crown, so they don't stick up. I am sure its not a big deal, but you run less oil with the newer style...

The main reasons most shocks blow through the travel in the midstroke is that they do not have a midvalve. I don't know the ins and out of this, but give Craig a call and he will explain it in detail Basically, without valving to help control the oil throughout the stroke, the shock is not going to give you the support you need and the bike will not perform well in the middle part of the stroke.

The main driver for me to get a different shock was the CCDBAir was harsh and spiked on the faster, chunky trails I love to ride. Even with my compression all the way dialed out, the bike just didn't ride smooth like I had expected it to.

I initially planned to get a used air shock and have Craig custom tune it. But by the time I bought the shock, the custom tune, shipping, etc, it would have cost me nearly the same as getting a custom coil shock. So that is the direction I went.

The Chubby or Woodie (or any custom coil shock for that matter) on the Riot is going to offer a custom tune for the individual and how he/she rides. For example, I do a lot of sustained climbing including stand climbing where I need to have a firm initial stroke to deal with pedal bob. But then as soon as the going turns downhill, the shock needs to feel like butter. With this information, Craig was able to adjust the piggyback pressure and arrange the shims in the shock to do exactly what I wanted. He recommended the Chubie to me due to the IFP design and how it takes a little more pressure to overcome the initial stiction of the design. If you are more of a straight DH preference, the Woodie could be better.

He designed my Pike cartridge under these same parameters. He used the HSB to affect the initial stroke and still offer the bottom out resistance. I have still never completely bottomed the fork. I ended up taking out one of my volume reducers in the Pike because I never felt a need to force the fork to ramp up. The way the cartridge was designed, the harder and faster I go, the smoother the suspension is. Its a weird experience, but its pretty impressive.

On the climbs, the Chubie felt even better than the CCDBAir with the Climb Switch on. Its a set and forget item on my bike that I have only had to make one adjustment to the rebound to compensate for the cooler weather. I never have to reach for a lever to help the bike pedal better. Another nice bonus.

Another benefit is the service life of coil shock is much longer than the Air shocks. Craig said I wouldn't have to touch mine for 2-3 years. The same interval for the front open bath Pike cartridge.

What I was going for was a bike that would climb and descend extremely well. Between the design of the bike and the custom tune of the suspension, thats what I got. Every part is on the bike was picked to suit my riding style. The extra money for the shock and pike cartridge was about $1200, which was a cost I had not initially planned on. I ended up selling my other bike and some extra parts to help cover the expense.

I passed on the carbon cranks, xx1 drivetrain, etc, and put that money toward the suspension where I felt I would get a bigger bang for my buck. Not everyone is going to run out and get their suspension custom tuned, but its something that will probably improve the bike more than anything else.

For reference, I about about 190 geared and ready to ride and I am on a 400 pound spring.

Hope that makes sense.

dustyduke22

Avalanche

Chubie



I've only had one ride of the avalanche chubie and four on the db inline, but i thought I'd post my initial thoughts as the differences between the two shocks are at there most apparent. This might be useful for some considering contacting Craig at Avalanche, but remember this is just my opinion. I'm just an average rider who loves mountain biking.

After my first ride on the chubie on some reasonably rocky terrain with numerous square edged hits I think it is a really nice shock with a noticeable improvement over the db inline which I already liked. The chubie feels a bit sluggish/over damped when you are squishing the shock in the car park, but everything comes together when you are up to speed on the trail. Along the trail it felt a the chubie gave a slightly flat tire (not a strong sensation, but noticeable) feel to the riot which was taking an extra bit of the sting out of the trail (I mean this in a good way and that it improved handling and comfort rather than being a negative). I checked my air pressures and they are they same that i normally run so this wasn't at play.

The chubie is very good on the square edged hits compared to the inline (this should be the case as I specifically asked for this when ordering the chubie) which it soaks up nicely and I felt the effect was the riot was maintaining even greater moment on reapeated square hits and I didn't feel a mini bucking feeling you sometimes get when you hit a log or rock at speed. The chubie ramp up is nice and very smooth when you hit the normal trail bumps and the lack of stiction at the beginning of the stroke makes it really sensitive to the small stuff out on the trail. I didn't notice the chubie bobbing much out on the trail, however I wasn't really keeping a close eye on it and the canfield rear suspension is pretty efficient anyway. It's possible that the inline is actually the better pedaling shock but I thought the chubie was the better pedaling shock out of the two, but it's not something I am really too worried about when I'm riding.

The main disadvantage of the chubie is an added 600 grams (or so) of weight (compared to the inline) on an already heavyish bike. It doesn't bother me as I like how the chubie performs and I’m always slow up the hills. I know if I want to get better at climbing it simply comes down to my fitness and the extra weight is not an excuse for being slow up the climbs. The other disadvantage is obviously the cost which at $650US/$925 Aussie when I ordered, however as dusty duke mentioned it comes with all of the mounting hardware and the service period is 2 years (or potentially even longer) vs the shorter service periods for the db inline which must be done by an authorised service centre. Its certainly not cheap but it isn't far off the price of other high end rear shock options once you add the mounting hardware. Whilst I have talked about the benefits of the chubie it is a nice extra to have and but definitely not necessary. The db inline is a really nice shock for the riot, the chubie just adds to the already impressive performance.


additional notes - I'm running and a 400lb spring which is a bit more than Craig calculated for my weight (370 lbs), but I don't have any complaints at the moment. Also I have to be honest and say that I do prefer coil shocks as they were what I was running when I used to race downhill.

I don't want this to sound like an ad for avalanche as if you have a reliable db inline then I believe you have a great shock for the riot already particularly with the combination of performance and weight. Unfortunately my inline blew on the third ride so I have a query on the inline's reliability which is a shame, but my riding time is limited and I really need the shock to perform well between services. If you can handle the additional weight then you will be rewarded with additional performance from a customised chubie/woodie from Avalanche. The balance shifts from the equal weighting of performance and weight that the inline does so well to outstanding performance with the addition of weight.

After typing out all of that I'm keeping the chubie and selling the inline as the improved suspension performance is something I value and I'm not fussed about the increased weight. And now I need another beer

aussieprime

Fox 34

Cartridge

I've now had an avalanche replacement cartridge to replace the one in my 2014 fox 34 for about a month.

Its a very significant improvement. Given the limited adjustability of the original damper, I could never quite get it set up exactly as I wanted. The story has been told before I am sure...

Somehow Craig has engineered very effective but separate high and low speed systems. The fork no longer dives in G outs or berms but is supple rather than stiff. It is far far better at high speed descents, and the front tyre follows the contours in a way that it just never did. My control in dodgy high speed rock gardens is significantly better, to the point that I became pissed off that Fox sold me an expensive fork that was so poor by comparison to what might have been.

I had to think for ages before pulling the trigger (this aint cheap) but given that it works so well am happy that I did.

just an FYI, and good riding guys. Unfortunately I am off to surgery so will be off the bike for a while...

Beerhunter

Fox 36

Cartridge




Avalanche Cart
All i can say is wow! I have been unhappy with my 36 and know that i have tried everything to get it right but never been fully connected with the fork. i then added an 11 6 to my bike and the fork's performance was so outgunned i made the decision to do something.

I then decided to research tuning options......i first went to a local guy who was an outside mechanic for fox and opened a local tuning shop. he checked it out and gave me some ideas and worked with me and it felt better but I still felt it wasn't exactly where i hoped it would be. I was looking for what I would consider the holy grail of fork performance, very plush off the top with great small bump compliance but still supportive and able to handle repeated hits, also no excess dive in the corners with a resistance to bottoming out. I wasn't sure if all of this was possible so may next steps were to look into push and avalanche.

Due to the fact i own an 11 6 and have been impressed with push i was initially planning to go that route. i called both companies and wanted to fully understand what they do. my first discussion with craig from avy really turned me off to avy though as i wasn't in tune with some of his comments, i did though feel what he was saying made sense. Due to that initial conversation i was going to go with PUSH but what he told me got me to thinking-so I looked further into what Push does very AVY. I think PUSH is great but decided i didn't want to modify what Fox already put out because I wasn't happy with it and what Avy does is put in a new cartridge with a completely different approach to performance. I know the AVY set up is heavier and could even be considered older tech but i have come to believe we have gotten to a point with forks that all we care about is weight and we have sacrificed some performance for that. Craig made some really great points regarding what his stuff does. I am not suspension expert but after riding it the approach just makes sense and i can't get over what a difference it made.

Bottom line is that after 2 runs on a our local trails i couldn't believe how much speed i was carrying everywhere. not only that but i felt ZERO are pump verse normally battling with it about midway down the trails. i have been riding bikes for a long time and i have never felt a fork work so well. i didn't have to adjust a thing beside the sag all of his tuning set up was spot on. also the trails i ride consist of a little bit of everything, climbing, roots, rocks, jumps, drops, your basic northwest downhill/enduro type trails and i can't find a spot on that trail that the fork didn't inspire so much confidence.

also in the end after i spoke to wendy and craig from avy a few times i was treated so well as a customer it make feel good to support avy. craig just speaks his mind but the bottom line is the product works and if you are on the fence based on my experience you will not be disappointed.

kenwood72

Rockshox
Pike

Cartridge

how does it behave midstroke? have to say I just love the way Charger Damper handles mid travel of the fork, but read all over the net ravings about Avy open bath.

would really like to know more on it...
The support is mind-blowing, people drone on and on about "midstroke", but what they are usually lacking is low-speed compression support, this is why the fork/shock dives all over the place, why the chassis moves up and down over bumps and such, etc. Just pushing down on this thing it feels exceptionally "stiff" at the same PSI as before the upgrade. Of course, many shocks have a LSC knob, but turning it destroys the ride, turning it into a jackhammer on anything rough. This is where Avalanche comes in. With the custom high speed valving, this thing just plows through rough and it feels smoother the harder/faster you go through the rough. I'm able to stay seated much easier in rough stuff while pedaling uphill, because the chassis isn't bouncing all around just because I go over a few bumps. It's absolutely mind blowing if you've never experienced it. It also tends to far outshine the other end of your bike, so that's also something to consider. I did the fork before the shock, so I've been riding this around now for a while. I can just slam into massive root complexes or rock gardens and it absorbs, doesn't bounce off or do anything funny. The adjustments you get are LSC and LSR. I backed both off 2 clicks and it seems perfect to me. Really unlocks the performance capability of an air sprung fork IMO. HSR and HSC are via the shim stacks/valving. Avy makes a kit if you want to do this yourself, but it's not necessary unless you change a significant parameter, like you are moving the shock to a new bike or you dropped 40lbs of weight. In most cases, on most shocks, I find the "knobs" to be fairly useless. I did run myPike charger about halfway closed on the LSC to keep it from diving during DHing, but it was a pretty rough ride like that. On my Fox RC4 shock, running anything but open HSC is a jackhammer, so often these adjustments "exist", but they are of little or no use, because they destroy other important characteristics of the suspension action.

I also added the anti-bottoming cone to mine, which is another awesome upgrade. Try to bottom the fork off a big drop? Nope, it just slows down at the end of travel and feels amazing. It also has a mid-valve, which helps to control dive too.

This also replaces the crush-washer and I don't have to worry about the rebound seal going on the charger damper, not to mention oil changes are easier.

I actually go looking for big braking bumps now

Originally Posted by Rockrover
^^ Jon, any chance of a review on your Avy? I'm about to pull the trigger myself. TIA!
Goddamn amazing. I got the cart with the optional anti-bottom-out cone. So much support, doesn't dive, ram it through a rock or root-complex at high speed and it maintains stability and the chassis doesn't dive or buck. Well worth it iMO. No worrying about charger seals, etc.


Originally Posted by Jayem
Goddamn amazing. I got the cart with the optional anti-bottom-out cone. So much support, doesn't dive, ram it through a rock or root-complex at high speed and it maintains stability and the chassis doesn't dive or buck. Well worth it iMO. No worrying about charger seals, etc.
What he said ...


I am a heavy rider @ 240 lbs and found the pike to be a real handfull on downhill slow tech, rock gardens, and brake dive. Fork doesn't dive when encountering large objects at low speed, rides higher in the travel, and takes makes me a lot more confident on the bike.

It's a lot of money for a fork that was expensive to start off with, but is pretty awesome. I asked for an XC/trail tune as I am using this on my tallboy, and other than no longer having a lockout function for out of the saddle climbs, I 100% happy!

Jayem

softbatch

jonshonda




Rockshox
Monarch RT3

 

Hi there!!!

I used to praise my DVO now you’ve gone and screwed this up!!! Now my shock feels better than the Diamond, WHAT AM I GOING TO DO NOW??? Hahaha
No, seriously, thanks a lot, the shock feels awesome, I didn’t get it quite feeling good at first because you told me to add 215psi on it, it turns out my pump was a bit off and when putting in 220psi it just felt waaay better!!!
I’ve done only 3-4 bike outs, I just feel I’m floating through stuff, you’ve made me like my bike even more, and that was hard!
it’s all wet, muddy and slippery here so maybe when things dry out and I can ride a bit faster.

Anyways, my riding buddy is the Mexican EVIL Bikes distributor and he’s now curious about the mod from all my rage, he’s gone 11/6 on his Insurgent but he loves his Following, and several friends of mine have either insurgents or followings and I have planted a curiosity seed in them, haha, so lets see if we can figure out a way here in Mexico for us to lower the shipping costs to send things over there.

Anyways, I just wanted to thank you and let you know I’m really enjoying your work and that I’ll be getting in touch with you gain once I’ve done a few more hours on the shock to ask you some questions.

Well, MUCHAS GRACIAS!!!

Cheers!

Nicolas Switalski




Rockshox
Lyrik

 

I will rehash some of my feelings on the cartridge now that I have some extended time on it.

After install, the cartridge initially felt like it had some stiction and needed a bit of break in. After a few rides the feeling was gone, and nothing but smoothness ensued. I highly recommend riding the the damper with the settings that Craig sends to you. Under no circumstance should you rely on the parking lot test. It will fell way over-damped. However, on the trail, the damper just kills it. I have has a 2011 Van RC2 Kashima, 2011 55RC3TI and my Lyrik Solo Air, and neither of the 2 previous forks are even close to the performance of the Lyrik. With the damper side becoming open bath, you will feel the overall fork performance increase.

My biggest concern with the damper was the lack of an HSC adjustment and the loss of the dual flow rebound of the stock damper. The rebound is amazing. I'm sure everyone has had that scary rebound feeling where to fork takes a big hit, dives deep into its travel, and rebounds so fast that it nearly bounces the front wheel off the ground. I have had several issues with that with the older RS dampers, much less with the dual flow. With the Avy, this doesn't exist, period. The rebound is consistent every time.

On the compression side, the fork really feels like nothing I have ever been on. I would challenge anyone to say my fork feel like an air fork. It is so smooth, has unbelievable mid-stroke support, yet is nice and linear with beautiful bottom out dampening. This fork takes square edge hits like nothing I have been on, in fact it was the reason I began to search out the Woodie as the fork was outperforming the CCDB on the Chili.

tiSS'er
Knollician

Rockshox
Boxxer

Originally Posted by kidwoo
Yeah I agree......I think the low speed damping on the boxxer works pretty well. I also run my forks pretty damn stiff though.

But you're a fan of avy cart huh? My WC rides a little rough on fast chatter but I'd been assuming it was just the stickiness of the air spring piston. I had a team before that and I was honestly pretty satisfied. I'm wondering now if the avy cart would be an improvement......or if I should just buy a fox 40.

But first I need to figure out what I'd actually need to buy from avalanche.
Durrr, yeah, the midvalve is just a low speed compression valve, I don’t know why I diverged…

I’m a big fan. I was a bit skeptical before I bought it since all the reviews read heavily with fanboyism. But, I decided to take the chance. The most notable difference is after a day of riding lifts with the old internals my hands and wrists would be beat to ****, but, maybe I’m a weenie. That isn’t the case anymore; I can ride more runs, which translates into more fun Actually, this deep into the season my hands and wrists have never been better and I have been spending more on the big bike this year than I can remember. I have a late 2010 fork and found that the old internals spiked occasionally further beating me up. Maybe if you are riding the later model year boxxer(s) with the adjusted shim stack this problem was resolved? Probably the best feature of the cart that doesn’t seem to get any love is the hydraulic bottem. Its hard for me to describe, but, its beautiful. I imagine that if you like pretty stiff dampening that you will like how they set the stuff up for your weight style ect. Anyway, I’m happy with the fork now: Its lite, its stiff, its controlled, and now, its plush (for lack of a better word), oh yeah, its no longer needy either.

bustanutley
Customer
support

Quote:
Originally Posted by Renegade


Custom, which means, have a phone conversation with Craig. What I called trail riding, he called, downhill. After my phone conversation, where I verbally described my conditions, wants, and needs, I immediately followed it up with an e-mail, so he had written reference. Craig is great on the phone for exchanging information. I would urge everybody to NOT just check a box on the website order sheet and you expect to get what you want. A conversation with him is worth all the $$$ you are spending!
Done, I probably spoke with Craig for at least 45 minutes on Monday before deciding to purchase one. He was extremely informative and very helpful in steering me in the right direction as to what would best suit my needs. I was just curious if you too went custom with your fork cartridge, like most do, or if you picked one of his preset tunes. I would definitely not purchase such an expensive suspension product/service without first talking to the tuner about it.


tiggs
Rockshox
Lyrik
Installation was straight forward thanks to the folks in this thread that contributed. I started out riding with the recommended settings; 12 clicks out from full in on both compression and rebound. With 2 rides in I have changed the rebound setting just a couple clicks either way, but very much backed off on the LSC quite a bit. The mid-valve does such a fabulous job at chassis control that the LSC is free to do what it should do; control lsc, and not much more. It is mind blowing how much a few clicks of lsc changes the fork; I have a full range of absolute butter response over any little trail feature to total domination of the biggest features I can find on the trail with turning the lsc adjuster. Same sort of control, but better, that I had with my two avy chubbies.
I totally suggest talking to Craig when you discuss your build; do not just order it via the website and check a box like DH, freeride, urban, etc. The more concise you express your riding, the better your results will be. My biggest complaint about my stock Lyrik [that had the full DH interals] was that over high speed chatter, the fork spiked from hydro-lock; no adjustments of the rebound, lsc or hsc would alleviate that. He was not surprised; his comment was that the stock components cannot flow oil fast enough in those situations.
Well, he did a good job of taking care of that problem for me. My second ride was the epitome of that situation; fast, with high frequency sharp hits. The stock fork felt like a solid fork ripping down that. The avy fork moved very well; I carried more speed with good control with less handle-bar fatigue than ever before.
More to come as the rides come in. So far, the cartridge has not disapointed me a bit; it feels like the other avy products I have owned; FABULOUS.
Renegade
Avalanche Woodie
Thanks for taking the time to chat with me on Monday. I made some changes and then received an email from Brandon Albrecht (another Chilcotin rider) with his settings

Since i am lazy...i took a run with the Woodie set up as he suggested (at the bottom) and WOW...now i know what you and he have been talking about.

The climb was 3 miles with 2K of vert on a gravel road. I recently switched to a 36T front ring (only 9sp at the back) and was expecting to suffer...actually had no problem. I could not discern any pedal bob. On a short technical single track section climbing section...i hit some ledges going up and had to make zero compensation for the rebound / compression...simply pedaled up. Awesome...I am so used to shifting my weight around and absorbing rebound after hitting bumps on a technical climb.

On the descent the bike was a different animal. I rolled my rear tire off the wheel on the second berm...something i have never done before on that specific berm...but i railed it super hard and the bike stuck like glue...pumped up to a little more tire pressure and hiked back up to restart the trail. Railed down the first bermy smooth section and into the really rough (roots/rocks/high speed ledges) and the bike was really stable but lacked a bit of pop when needing to hop over things. I removed ONE click of rebound compression and my word...what a difference. I felt like i was riding a mustang and totally in control. I got caught out a little by the first compression...but then shifted my weight back a little and rode more like DH style (more on my feet - so that i could employ the shock). I was pumping / absorbing / popping at will. it was quite incredible.

I felt the mythical "flat tire" sensation...took a look (it wasnt flat)...and realized this is what others have referred to when their wheel is tracking the ground. I was able to pedal at full power through some really rooty sections that would normally rattle your teeth loose. With the correct sag and the ability to push the bike into corners I was popping out super fast...one corner has a massive root jutting into the trail just past the apex - that would normally cause you to slow down and get inside....I STILL cant believe that i didnt even think about it...but just naturally waited to apex a little later...compressed and released just before the stump and the bike responded by snapping out the corner before the stump and actually airing over it...i have thought about it but never done that and y'day i never even thought about it...i just did it. So amazing.

I am sure i will tweak a few things...i still need to measure my sag and actually count all the clicks / turns...but seriously...it it gets better than this...its a bonus.

Now...cant wait to ride the DH trail that i built - next week....that will be the true test of how confident i feel.

LSC - 10 clicks
HSC - 2.5 turns
Rebound - 5 clicks
Preload - at least 1 turn, I'm running 1.5 turns.


Dave
Rockshox
Boxxer
I cannot comment on the High Speed Mod, I have never used it.
I have been using the cartridge for the past few years. Bought the first version a few years back and now I'm running the current version. There's been a few upgrades done since the first version, Mid valve, which helps fork dive to name one.
I'm not usually one to hit the forums and praise stuff , but I have to say the cartridge transformed the boxxers that I have had, simply amazing. Everything about it just works right. I don't think about my fork anymore. It WILL have you thinking about your rear suspension, it can make a average shock feel like crap.
Money well spent in my opinion.
Craig at Avalanche knows his stuff.
Tree
Avalanche Woodie
Originally Posted by G-AIR
How come Craig is recommending the Woodie over the Chubie now?

I am pretty stoked with my Avy DHX/Avy Lyrik on my Chili. I hope Craig is having some success. He deserves it.
It seems to be a decision based on the frame. My EG was the first one he built a shock for, and he wanted to take a few days to think about which shock to build for the bike. The chubbie gets the nod if the frame needs help in the end of stroke/bottom out department [ the floating piston design provides that]. If the frame linkage displays enough ramp up, the woodie can qualify, if it fits [ the bladder design does not provide the ramp up that the chubbie offers]. I probably could have gone either way, is my impression after about 6 hours of ride time.
Yes, Craig is kicking some serious butt with his products right now; he is as busy as a beaver. Kudos to him.
__________________

Renegade
Avalanche Woodie
I was in St. George on some business last week and got in a few rides (Grafton Mesa, BC Poppy, Church Rocks, & South Rim Trail** on Gooseberry Mesa) that varied in difficulty and terrain.

I haven't gotten a lot of time on this shock but the Avy'd shock was the best I've ridden. I found a sweet spot with the compression where it pedaled without noticeable bob but rode very well. And, as tiSS'er said, I did find that slowing the rebound for climbing made the shock feel amazing. I did find myself turning a knob a click or two from "my base setting"* to fine-tune to the conditions but these changes were only a click or two. (And, admittedly, I'm a fiddler. Even when I think I've found "nirvana" I want to see if I can find "nirvana+").

The Chili/Avy descends great and climbs amazing (only once did I spin out and that was probably rider error). It's the first shock that made me excited to climb on a mountain bike. (I can't believe it myself!)

In short: it is my favorite shock that I've ever ridden.


TSC
Fox
DHX 5.0
Nice. Keep us updated on your riding and tuning discoveries.

I got my avalanched DHX 5.0 back from craig the day before I left for Whistler so haven't had a chance to get it mounted up on my DT until yesterday.

First ride was a long fire road climb followed by a steep, techy in places, fast choppy in others, and steep, rutted, rocky, and fast at the end descent (Whore House Hill for those who know the Fears Tears and Beers final descent).

I also thought the rebound was a little fast at 8 out and may slow down the compression a bit too for climbing. I always got a little bob from my uber plush-at-the-top 66RC3 but now the super plush shock gets both ends kind of see-sawing rocking horse style while pedaling up long fire roads a bit if I'm not really smooth on my stroke.

On the fast choppy parts of my descent yesterday I absolutely loved the AVY'd shock. Very "unstopped" as someone said. Active, yet controlled.

Loved how it landed drops. Very plush with no spiking and a nice ramp-up at the end.

On more technical slow to medium speed stuff I didn't notice any huge improvement. In fact the whole bike just felt tall, awkward, and tippy. Not sure if this is because I just got back from three days at WBP on a full DH rig or something different about the way the shock makes the back end feel or maybe how it affects the balance between the fork and shock. Maybe just noticing the old-school geometry a bit more after riding the Chili, RM Slayer, and Giant Glory, in BC? Don't know. Thoughts anyone?

I need to fine tune the shock settings but what others said about the fork now feeling like the weak link is true. Used to be very happy with my fork and the shock was holding things back, now the fork doesn't seem quite as good as the shock.

Once I get the shock adjustments sorted, I suspect the fork is going to really need some avy attention to keep up.

Just need to decide how much money I'm going to throw at this bike if I'm just going to turn around and sell it.


KRob
Avalanche Woodie
Hi Craig,

first of all; tnx for Woodie - have ridden with it now ~100 hours somehow poor conditions, but at least realized that it`s better than any
other shock I´ve now - spent lot of time riding same trails swapping shocks between DB Air / DB coil / Vip`R / RP23 - all tuned ones -
and in downs /flatland here there`s no such a difference, but I´ve found many super tech wet & slimy rooty / rocky steep climbs I can clear with
only Woodie, with others even adjusted for max performance for climbs no-go I´m super-satisfied for your tune.

pekka
Fox
DHX 5.0
Originally Posted by onzadog
Very interested in these as Craig recently sorted my dhx5.0c. Doing that now make my van 36rc2 feel a bit overwhelmed. Tempted to do this to the float 36rc2 I run on the hardtail. However, buying two of these and then importing them into the UK is a lot of money.

Tell me more about them, help me justify the outlay.
Go to the Avy website for the best writeup and photos of the Avy cartridge dampers. Craig has also prepared an installation manual, which is as easy as dropping the cartidge in and filling with oil. I have owned an Avy Chubie shock for 8 years on a 160mm AM bike and never had a fork that could keep up. The Chubie has been flawless (and still is) and the Fox 36 with Avy cartridge is now the fork I always wanted. The Avy Fox fork behaves like the Chubie and has great high and low speed performance. Low speed compression/rebound are externally adjustable with the knobs and high speed compression/rebound are set internally by Craig with the shim stack. You can adjust the internal shim stacks if you are so inclined; however, Craig knows what he is doing and my damper is perfect as is. It is a true, set it and forget it fork. The Avy cartridge weighs slightly more than the Fox FIT cartridge, due to the higher volume of oil but not by much. IMO, the Avy cartridge is a major improvement over the Fox FIT and I could not be happier. FYI, I do not get paid by Avy and I am only writing this since I have been a happy customer and Avy provides a superior product and superior service but will not be written up in the magazines, even though they deserve to be.


MetalFlake
Avalanche
DHS
Interesting info for Avy DHS users
I found some interesting info regarding the interaction between th high and low speed compression adjusters on the Avalanche DHS rear shocks. This is for the ones with the separate hi/low adjusters. It turns out that the high speed position has a huge influence on the available low speed compression.
I had thought that the high and low speed adjusters were completely independent of each other all this time! No wonder strange things would happen while making adjustments sometimes!

Here's some quotes from posts I found on the subject...

"Craig explained to me that the HS and LS damping overlap, so in reality I still have four holes fully open in my damping circuit. So, basically no resistance to squatting at all. He mentioned if I were to turn my high speed in any amount, the shock would firm up quickly..

He suggested the following process for tuning;
Turn HS and LS in all the way
back off LS until you feel satisfactory small bump compliance
back off the HS until pedaling performance begins to suffer, then add 1/4 turn or so.
As always, Craig was very helpful. Great when the guy who built the product also answers phones and questions."

"This is how it was explained to me
The HSC determines the working range of the LSC.

My e-mail to Craig:

I just received my Chubie with the optional Hi/Low compression adjuster.
I'm having a little trouble understanding the two circuits.
Unfortuantely it will be awhile before I get the bike completed,
so it will be sometime before I can experiment with damper settings.
I have downloaded the manual and I have read the FAQ.
I always thought low speed compression helped control pedal input
as well as undulating terrain input and high speed compression
provided for small/large bump and square edge hit compliance. You describe
using the high speed adjuster to control pedal input. This seems
to be the reverse of everything I have read elsewhere.

My thinking would be to use the low speed adjuster to establish
a balance between pedal input and undulating terrain and use
the high speed adjuster to establish a balance between small and
large bump hits and square edge hits.

Craig's response

Yes, all you said is true, but in order to give the low speed circuit the
most damping, the high speed circuit must remain closed, if the hi speed
adjuster is set full soft the 4 holes it controls will be open, thus
decreasing the low speed damping by 400 %. If pedaling is the only concern
set the high speed to full hard so it stays closed, if there are high speed
bumps that need to be absorbed then open the high speed up a little, but if
you open it to one turn from all the way out it will also open more holes
which will affect the low speed circuit too."

"In general he said just what your 3-step list indicated: Start with both HS and LS full in, back out the LS until it's plush enough then the HS until pedaling suffers. (Still not sure what that last bit means but I'll try it and see for myself)

Some other tips he offered

For super techy low-speed trail riding: HS mostly in LS mostly out.
For General Trail: HS mostly in & LS mostly in. Back out the LS just enough to eliminate chatter maintain traction and follow the terrain.
For DH: HS 1-1.5T in & LS 8-10T in if it's fast rolling & swoopy or a less LS if the DH is fast & chattery.
For FR with Drops: Much more LS...like 1/2T from full in.
*NEVER full out on both HS & LS*


He explained another chronic user error was ppl would open the HS adjuster full open and try to compensate with the other controls. He went on to explain that the HS & LS controls tune 5 oil ports. One large center port for the LS and 4 smaller ports around it for the HS.

He added that the HS adjuster must be at least 1-1.5 full turns in from wide open or the ports would be wide open for any movement and then add to the flow effects of the LS port leaving you with 5 ports flowing oil when you should have one."

Interesting stuff eh? I am curious now about the CCDB shocks and if their adjusters truly are independent of each other. Of course it's a completely different design so I'm sure that they are actually independent.
Now that I know the interaction between the Avy hi/low adjusters it makes me wonder why I paid to have it installed when they aren't actually independent.

Well this is funny but guess who phoned me a few minutes ago?
Craig Seekins from Avalanche! I'd sent him an email earlier asking him about the adjusters. He prefers phoning as typing isn't his strong suit (Nor mine).

He was super friendly and hapilly explained that the high speed compression is independent up to a certain threshold which he said is about 1.5-2 turns in from fully closed. After that point you are changing the "knee" or crossover point of the low speed/high speed compression.

As long as you don't really open up the high speed ports, it will remain quite independent from the low speed settings. The further you open the 4 high speed holes, the more you are allowing oil to flow and the less effect the low speed compression will have. After chatting for about 20 minutes or so we also established that I can safely drop down to a 400lb spring from my 450 without a revalve since I have lost some weight and am still dropping. A healthier diet and Aikido twice a week does wonders!

Soooo, I'm going to sell my 450 lb Ti spring that I only just picked up and I'll pick up a 400 lb steel spring instead. I think Craig said that the weight difference between the two is minimal so no need for Ti for now to keep the weight of the bike.
Now I remember one of the biggest things I love about Avalanche... The outstanding customer service. Thanks for the chat Craig!

I should point out that I wasn't having any issues with the shock but I had bought the high/low speed adjusters after market and wanted to be sure they did what I wanted them to.
Now that I can drop down in spring rate I'll be able to get the rear end plusher and still maintain that bottomless Avalanche feel I've come to love. My main problem was being on the wrong spring rate now that I lost weight for the type of feel I want out of the rear suspension. I can hardly wait to get the 400 lb spring on there and hit some trails!


 


Marzocchi 66

Is everyone still happy as can be with the Avalanche system? I am thinking about taking the plunge and sending my Lyric RC2 Coil U-Turn in for the custom overhaul/tune. It's a few years old and ready for some love. I have it paired up with a Push'd Monarch Plus and or Push'd RC4 with Push link on my Nomad. Now that I have a Tallboy LTC to use for trail/all mountain riding, I think it's time to make my Nomad more shuttle, lift, and freeride dedicated. Though I still like to peddle it to the top now and then, plus I might take on some Enduro races with it. Guess maybe looking for an Enduro tune of sorts? So with that being said, the Avalanche cartridge seem like it might really fit the bill. The fork seems to work well for me, no real complaints. But figured if it can be made better, why not reinvent my Nomad a little. Plus after riding my Fox 34 Float on my Tallboy, Lyrik doesn't feel as good. But the Lyrik really needs to be pushed in my opinion to feel good, it kind of sucks for slower trail riding stuff.

Anyway, people still happy?

Yes, I'm totally digging the Avy cartridge in the Marz 66 on my Chili; enough so that I ordered a 55 cartridge for the Marz 55 going on my dad's new Chili.

Regarding enduro style riding, or what is commonly referred to as "mountain biking," Craig's cartridges and shock modifications are perfect for this pursuit as they allow for much more mid stroke valving to reduce fork dive and/or suspension bob and add composure on the downs due to superior valving circuits. So basically, the bike will pedal better going up and descend with more composure.


B Gillespie
Customer
Support

I LOVE my Avy stuff. The key is to call Craig and talk to him. He will be able to build a better product for you, your bike, and terrain by asking some questions. You will not find a better, more reliable product than what Craig builds. It is the best money you can spend on your bike.

 

tiSS'er
Fox
VanRc
Originally Posted by nhodge
you must have tried it out by now. give us your impression. did the original settings work for you? answer the q's you asked me.
I've been swamped with work so I've only gotten out on one ride for a few hours so far, and I was wanting to wait until I got another ride or two to get a better overall feel before I threw up any kind of review or comments.

But initial impressions are as would be expected, completely incredible. Brake dive is pretty much non-existent, and mid stroke support is fantastic. Much like the rear end of my bike just "disappeared" under me when I put the Avy'd Van RC on, this is a nearly identical feeling. I can now focus on everything else and not the weak points of the fork and what it's doing (which become very apparent after running a custom tuned rear shock.)

I did replace the oil seals and dust wipers with RWC stuff when Cheezwhip and I tore the fork apart and installed the cart. So in that sense it's still like a brand new fork and needs a bit of time to break in. Install is a breeze, the only thing I can say is it to take a bit more care and caution when removing the stock Marz rebound rod to install in Craig's cart. It's not hard by any means, but it's just a really fragile part, so take your time and be careful.

I've left all the adjustments at Craig's recommended settings for now. I didn't notice anything feeling like it needing adjusting on the ride last weekend, but again, I've only been out once. I'm about 215 RTR, and with just a few clicks of spring preload to put some tension on the spring, and no air preload. I get about 25% sag in attack mode IIRC.

I plan on riding again this weekend, so I'll report back. FWIW, these are the trails I've been riding it on: Video: "Sunday" With Bryn Atkinson - Pinkbike


rscecil007
Marzocchi 55
Updated Thoughts:
Avy'd Marzocchi 55

The fork has been really just stellar - it's freed me up to notice other things on the ride other than wrestling with the bike (like "my front tire isn't biting very well in the corners today" or "was that an equisetum I just rolled over?")

Craig suggested I turn the preload down a little and give a few pumps into the air preload to balance things out - haven't played much with the compression yet but when I'm riding, it's kind of a pain to bust out the tools and besides, it's pretty d@mned good where it's at. (I do want play with this setting more though).

I settled with the rebound @ 8.5 clicks (which is approximately 13 clicks on the production model carts - my unit is a preproduction cart so the rebound range is a little less granular than the production ones).

I'm really appreciating the midstroke support and how the bike is sitting more level/higher in the travel - it's just so composed that I think I'm actually riding faster... I find myself having more of these "oh sh!t" moments when I realize I'm going faster than usual on the same trails (usually resulting in me grabbing a fistful of brake lever) - I attribute this to the suspension doing a better job of smoothing the trails out.

I really liked the stock RC3 EVO Ti but the improvement to me going to the AVY cart is dramatic - I couldn't be happier with the upgrade so a big thank you to Craig for making this available on the 55!


cheezwhip
Fox 36
Fox DHX 5.0
Hi Craig,

I'm loving the shock and fork combo. I've been running them for a while now so thought it time I let you know how I'm getting on.
I wrote the following for a forum thread where someone asked how I was getting on with them... so I'll paste it in here if you fancy a read with a coffee.

First release from the geek

FORK

Installation was easy as I followed the instructions... and I did indeed need the blowtorch to release the Loctite on the rebound cap. Heat then twist, heat then twist, etc as it’s a very fine thread and took a while. Once installed filling with oil was easy and getting the fork back together was no bother. I bought some MAXIMA Race Enduro fork oil from ebay as Avalanche recommend using fork oil designed for cartridges. Going from the FOX RC2 Cartridge to open bath Avy its gained 150g… which means it now weighs only 100g less than my Marzocchi 55 RC3 Ti. If I’d realised that before I might have got the cartridge for the Bomber but the 250g of the 36 was calling the weight weenie in me .
So far the fork is a huge improvement over the 36 RC2 (older 2010 FIT cartridge). It feels overdamped in the garage but on the trail it is superb. I used to run about 55psi as a compromise pressure; this gave 20% sag which is less than I wanted but it prevented wallowing, fork dive, and end of travel harshness(packdown?). I’m now running 50psi which is about 30% sag and I think I will go lower still as I’ve yet to feel dive is a problem and the fork is not yet as plush as the Bombers (I doubt it will ever be but it’s fun to try… should I have bought the kit for the Bombers though?).

REAR SHOCK

After the first ride I reduced the air volume as I found it was wallowing in the early travel (I’ve done this with my other Float shock so expected this to be the same). It was a big improvement and now the DHX feels really well suited to my AM. It feels better than either the Float or the CCDB which is high praise. The TF/Push tuned Float I have is a great XC shock as it has plenty of compression damping so doesn’t give up its travel easily (unlike before it was tuned). Where my simple Float is outclassed the CCDB takes over and is my more AM and doonhall choice. I love the CCDB on the downs as it soaks everything up but for techy climbs it can wallow deep in the travel making you feel like your falling over the back. The Avalanche DHX Air so far feels like a great combination of the two. As with the fork it feels overdamped in the garage and sitting on it I’m getting 30% sag at the same pressure I do with the Float (and the same sag as the CCDB). Out on the trail it feels little different to my Float at low speed and in the normal stuff, but when the speed increases it seamlessly gains the fluidity of the CCDB, without the falling off the back feeling.

FORK & SHOCK

So far so good. I’ve not done everything I want with them yet but so far they feel better than the other forks and shocks I’ve tried (Yes, even the BOS stuff!). As good on the XC stuff as the Float/Float combo I have and as good on the doonhalls as the CCDB/Marz set up. Where the Avalanche combo has amazed me so far and really feels special is when you start attacking and pumping trail features. This is something I love about hardtails but some full suspension set-ups just don’t work that well at it. I loved my CCDB/Marz combo at speed but for low speed and pumping they felt too soft. I think CCDB’s are quite slow to rebound from deep in the travel which is why they don’t pump too well, and perhaps why people say they” feel a bit dead” or “lack pop”… and Marz forks are always a bit softly sprung and underdamped which feels great at speed but isn’t overly responsive (IMHO etc). The Avalanche combo feels amazing when being pumped… much better than anything I’ve tried before almost like a great big hand is shoving the bike forward with each pump. More testing and riding required but so far I’m very very impressed.

I'm enjoying the geekery

Thanks Craig,


Brian
Fox 36
Fox DHX Air
Box of Avalanche Speed Sensitive Valve (SSV) goodies destined for my Nicolai Helius AM

I’m not selling this stuff just reporting back on what I’m finding out while riding them. There is some good info on the Knolly forum about Avalanche stuff and the Nicolai forum seems to have become a Bos fan zone so time to cross pollinate

This is all geekery and it’s not to make me faster but to make the bike handle how I want which pleases me

I wanted improvements to my suspension and knew what I wanted… which wasn’t a three option switch to faff with or some other marketing departments wet dream. I’ve tried the Bos VIPr and Deville combo (thanks Dipper) and I liked them but the current warranty and servicing hassles had me worrying as I like to fiddle and tend to break stuff. I’ve always ended up getting rear shocks custom tuned and had decided that even my all-singing-super-adjustable-never-need-custom-tuned CCDB needed a tweak to improve it. I did consider a CCDBAir but I thought I would end up wanting it custom tuned too? I’ve been looking at Avalanche Downhill Racing stuff for a few years and when on a work trip to Phoenix Arizona last year some of the guys I rode with were running Avy forks and shocks so I had a chance to ask what they thought; all positive feedback especially regards tuning options and longevity. When I read about the Avalanche fork tune cartridges becoming available for a Fox 36 and Marzocchi 55 Forks (both of which I have), and tuning options for the much maligned Fox DHX Air shock it became an itch which I thought worth a scratch; especially since I could now do fork and shock from the same tuner. So I entered into an email conversation with Craig at Avalanche and spoke to him a few times about what we thought would work for me. He suggested sticking with coil shocks and forks but the weight weenie in me wanted to go air as I have a few Enduro type races I want to enter this year… so I decided to get my Float fork tuned rather than my Coil Marzocchi. For the shock since I didn’t own a DHX Air shock Craig recommended buying an older version as it has a multi position Pro-Pedal dial which converts to a better Compression Adjuster than the three position Pro-Pedal switch on newer DHX Air’s. The DHX 4.0 version also doesn’t have the volume adjuster which is removed as part of the modification anyway so he suggested a DHX Air 4.0 with a dial… and once we found a suitable shock on eBay USA I bought it and had it sent to Craig. When he was ready to carry out the work we had another quick chat and he built my shock and fork cartridge and sent them over to the UK.

The modified DHX Air is lighter than a CCDBAir (heavier than a Float R/RP23 etc though)

This is what my AM now looks like (bit of a sleeper... "why are you running a DHX Air when everyone knows they are sh*% Mr... and 36mm stantioned forks are so last year" ).

And this is what I think so far.

I'm very impressed with the Avalanche tuned fork and shock. Compared with all other shocks I've used including CCDB's and custom tuned Fox this is my favourite. It holds up in its travel which makes it feel good on tamer terrain and doesn't blow-through through the travel when you do big weight shifts to the rear like many air shocks do (Especially the standard DHX Air). In the gnar it feels like a coil shock; when you start hitting stuff hard and fast all the travel is there and the shock is able to recover quickly enough to take the next hit without packing down. It feels quite like a BOS VIPr but a bit more fluid feeling at the start of the travel… and without the “chirping”.
Overall feeling is one of efficiency - it only uses the travel it has to and doesn't give me that falling over the back feeling that I used to get with big weight shifts on the CCDB/Float. Pedal stroke wise it feels really good and when clawing up techy steeps the shock feels like it’s working for you rather than against you in the way it rebounds from rocks and roots helping with grip and almost pushing the bike along (yes… really).
With the Avalanche tuned 36 up front the two work together well as they have similar feeling; there is plenty of mid stroke support which limits brake dive yet they feel smooth and bottomless when hitting stuff hard and fast. Get out of the saddle and honk and again fork and shock are only using the first part of the stroke so not wallowing around too much. Where the Avalanche combo feels amazing is when being pumped… much better than anything I’ve tried before, almost like a great big hand is shoving the bike forward with each pump (yes…really).

Best fork and shock I've used by far and very much worth the cost.


MORE ON THE FORK

Installation was easy as I followed the Avalanche instructions... and I did indeed need the blowtorch to release the Loctite on the rebound cap. Heat then twist, heat then twist, etc as it’s a very fine thread and took a while. Once installed filling with oil was easy and getting the fork back together was no bother. I bought some MAXIMA Race Enduro fork oil from ebay as Avalanche recommend using fork oil designed for cartridges (Spectra which is what Avy use is not available in the UK as far as I could find out). Going from the FOX RC2 Cartridge to open bath Avy the fork gained 150g… which means it now weighs only 100g less than my Marzocchi 55 RC3 Ti. If I’d realised that before I might have got the cartridge for the Bomber but the 250g of the 36 was calling the weight weenie in me .
Performance wise the fork is a huge improvement over the 36 RC2 (older 2010 FIT cartridge). It feels overdamped in the garden but on the trail it is superb. I used to run about 55psi as a compromise pressure; this gave 20% sag which is less than I wanted but it prevented wallowing, fork dive, and end of travel harshness (packdown?). I’m now running 50psi which is about 30% sag and I think I will go lower still as I’ve yet to feel dive is a problem and the fork is not yet as plush as the Bombers (I doubt it will ever be but it’s fun to try… should I have bought the kit for the Bombers though?).

MORE ON THE REAR SHOCK

After the first ride I reduced the air volume as the DHX Air has a high volume can and I found it was wallowing in the early travel a little (I’ve done this with my other Float shock so expected this to be the same). It was an improvement and now the DHX feels really well suited to my AM. It feels better than either the Float or the CCDB which is high praise. The TF/Push tuned Float I have is a great XC shock as it has plenty of compression damping so doesn’t give up its travel easily (unlike before it was tuned). Where my simple Float was not enough such as for rides with big hits and long doonhalls where it gets very hot I used the CCDB. I loved the CCDB on the downs as it soaks everything up but for techy climbs it can wallow deep in the travel making you feel like your falling over the back. The Avalanche DHX Air feels like a great combination of the two. As with the fork it feels overdamped in the garden and sitting on it I’m getting 30% sag at the same pressure I do with the Float (and the same sag as the CCDB). Out on the trail it feels little different to my Float at low speed which is great in the normal stuff, but when the speed increases it seamlessly gains the fluidity of the CCDB and I’m using all the travel without feeling like I’m falling over the back or suffering lots of pedal strikes (like the CCDB sometimes does). Coming from the CCDB the Avy also has loads of pop and playfulness which is something I missed when running the CCDB. I liked the CCDB but I prefer the Avy DHX Air.

FORK & SHOCK

So far so good. I’ve not done everything I want with them yet but so far they feel better than the other forks and shocks I’ve tried (Yes, even the BOS stuff!). As good on the XC stuff as the Float/Float combo I have and as good on the doonhalls as the CCDB/Marz set up. Where the Avalanche combo has amazed me so far and really feels special is when you start attacking and pumping trail features. This is something I love about hardtails but some full suspension set-ups just don’t work that well at it. I loved my CCDB/Marz combo at speed but for low speed and pumping they felt too soft and had more squish than pop. I think CCDB’s are quite slow to rebound from deep in the travel which is why they don’t pump too well, and perhaps why people say they” feel a bit dead” or “lack pop”… and Marzocchi forks are generally a bit softly sprung and underdamped which feels great at speed but isn’t overly responsive (IMHO etc). The Avalanche combo feels amazing when being pumped… much better than anything I’ve tried before, almost like a great big hand is shoving the bike forward with each pump (yes…really). More testing and riding required but so far I’m very very impressed.

Thanks to Craig at Avalanche for reading and listening to my ramblings... and for making me the best fork and shock combo I've tried yet

I'm enjoying the ride and the geekery

Cartridge Kit
Hi Craig
I ment to email you sooner but I've been having way too much fun on my bike. I've got the cartridge installed and all I can say is wow. Im amazed at how well my fork adapts to different terrain and speeds. I've been recommending your cartridge to everyone I know touting it as the best suspension product I've even tried, period.
Thanks for making an awesome product can't wait to start racing on it
noah
Avalanche
Chubie
Component: 2011 Avalanche Chubie Rear Shock with independent Hi/Lo adjuster
Intended Use: Any and everything on the dirt
Size Tested: 8.5” (eye-to-eye length) x 2.5” (stroke) [216 x 63mm]
Shock weight (w/ 450lb spring): 930g. Shock body: 510g
Bike: 2010 Santa Cruz Nomad Mk II Aluminum Frame
Bike/Shock Weight: 32 lbs.
Rider: 5’8”, 165lbs. I prefer to jump over or around obstacles instead of plowing through them.
Test Locations: New Hampshire, Vermont, Utah, Colorado, British Columbia
Days Ridden: ~220 Days

Avalanche Chubie
Based in Connecticut, Avalanche suspension sells shocks designed to provide optimal suspension performance for individual users, instead of the average user. Their products break into two categories: (1) complete forks and rear shocks, and (2) replacement cartridges and rebuilds.
Their fork cartridges can be easily installed in most forks with at least 6” of travel, and their shock rebuilds can transform most coil shocks (as well as the Fox DHX Air) into better performing products.
If you do not have a suitable shock for conversion, or you want to have their highest-performing offering, their complete shocks provide a solution that will fit almost any bike.
And while most mechanically-inclined riders can easily install the fork cartridges, Avalanche does offer installation services for an additional charge. (Rear shock modifications, however, are only done in-house.)
The Avalanche Chubie is one of four different rear suspension options manufactured by Avalanche. The Woodie, Chubie, and DHS are all comparable shocks, while the Montie is a less expensive option that does not feature externally adjustable high and low speed compression.

The Avalanche Shock Lineup
The reason for offering three seemingly similar shocks is to solve the fitment and performance problems that different suspension designs present. All three of the shocks share common components inside their main bodies, but feature different external reservoirs. So let’s talk reservoirs for a minute.
Reservoir Design
Avalanche has two different reservoir designs for their three reservoir-equipped shocks; the Woodie and DHS share a rubber bladder reservoir design, while the Chubie uses a floating piston.
External reservoirs improve performance by offering a greater oil volume, decreasing the chance of encountering the damping changes that occur when a shock overheats. As a shock is compressed, the oil volume available in the main body of the shock is displaced by the shock shaft. That oil is pushed into the reservoir, compressing the gas there. In order to prevent foaming and cavitation caused by gas mixing with oil, the two are kept separate in the reservoir by either the floating piston or the flexible rubber bladder.
In the vast majority of shocks, the gas used in the reservoir is either nitrogen or air. Using nitrogen makes it harder to work on a shock at home (as you need to have a supply of compressed nitrogen available), but it does a better job of maintaining reservoir pressure, and it is less corrosive.
Both the rubber bladder and the floating piston reservoirs on the Avalanche shocks use nitrogen for optimal performance. The bladder design (used on the Avalanche Woodie and DHS) has the best small bump compliance, since it has no seal stiction to overcome. This sensitivity makes it a great choice for a downhill bike where traction and a smooth ride are prioritized over pedaling performance.
The floating piston in the Chubie has its advantages too. It enables the shock to be easily tuned for pedaling and end-stroke performance by making internal changes to the nitrogen pressure or available volume for displaced oil.
The ability to reduce wallow caused by pedaling is advantageous on any bike that will be pedaled uphill, while the option to tune the progression helps to work around the leverage curve on any bike that has too much of a falling rate—either throughout its travel, or at the end of its travel.

Tom Collier, Porcupine Rim Trail, Moab, Utah. (photo by Anson Moxness)
Speed Sensitive Damping
One of the big selling points of Avalanche suspension is speed sensitive damping (SSD), so I want to say something about that, too. The “Speed” being referred to here is the speed of compression of the shock (often referred to as piston or shaft velocity).
Shaft velocity is determined by the magnitude of the impulse applied to the shock; the greater the force of the impact, the larger the impulse applied to the shock and the higher the shaft velocity.
In contrast to impacts from the trail, body movements are relatively gentle and cause only small impulses and thus, low piston velocities. Because of this, adjusting low speed compression on a shock most noticeably causes changes to brake jack, cornering traction, and pedaling efficiency, while adjustments to high speed compression are most noticeable when going over small bumps very quickly, or absorbing the impact from a drop.
Speed Sensitive Damping vs. Position Sensitive Damping
One of the common alternatives to speed sensitive damping is position sensitive damping. In a shock featuring position sensitive damping, the compression damping force increases throughout the stroke of the shock. While this is great for making a shock resistant to bottoming, it can limit the shock’s effectiveness when, for example, the shock is already compressed halfway from small trail features and the rider hits a large rock or root in the trail—the damping force will be too great to allow the shock to react sufficiently.
With speed sensitive damping, that larger impact is absorbed in a controlled manner because it creates a high shaft speed and a corresponding response from the high speed compression damping (more on that below).
Position sensitive damping is usually used because of its simplicity, which makes it less expensive to design and manufacture. Speed sensitive damping circuits are typically more complex, and thus more expensive.
High vs. Low Speed Damping
A shock featuring speed sensitive damping has different oil flow paths for different piston speeds. This allows the suspension performance to be optimized for both high and low speed compression situations.
Most oil dampers are variations on passing oil through constrictions. Low speed damping could be provided by a simple hole that the oil has to pass through, but that same hole would provide very poor high speed damping, since it would not allow for sufficient flow rate, and would effectively lock up the shock.
A larger hole would work better for high speed damping, but would not provide enough resistance to be effective at low speeds.
The solution is to have both holes, but block the large hole at low piston speeds, and open it at high piston speeds.
By having a spring-loaded shim covering the larger hole, it will not open with low shaft velocity, but high shaft velocities will be enough to push the shim off the hole, allowing for greater flow rate.
High vs. Low Speed Rebound
High and low speed rebound adjustments are similar to compression adjustments, with one crucial difference: rebound speed is dependent on the shaft position reached during compression. This is because rebound force does not come from an outside impact, but from the spring.
Springs consistently provide the same output force for a given displacement. More displacement equals more force, and more force yields greater shaft velocity. Thus, mid- and end- stroke rebound are controlled by high speed rebound circuits, while beginning up to mid- stroke rebound is controlled by low speed rebound circuits. And that means that the low speed circuits determine the riding feel in all situations except large impacts.
Because of this, having an external low speed rebound adjustment is very helpful for altering ride feel. High speed rebound adjustments however, do not change ride feel as much as they affect large impact control.
Next Page: The Build


Avalanche Chubie: The Build
The fit and finish of the Chubie are refined—the shapes are clean, and the machining leaves a smooth surface finish. All of the features are purposeful, not slapped on simply for appearance’s sake.
The finish is a hard anodized grey that may not look as snazzy as a bright color, but is more wear and scratch resistant. A bonus point is that the internal components are all anodized where possible. Raw aluminum parts can foul oil, which reduces the service interval.
Most of the internal parts are also machined instead of cast. This yields closer tolerances and better performance.
Honestly, the only spot where I would knock the shock would be … the decals. They look okay but not great, and have some tendency to peel.
The DU bushings used are standard and easily replaced. All of the adjustment knobs allow for adjustment using a flathead screwdriver or crescent wrench. It would be more convenient if they were adjustable without a tool, but this works.
My Bike
The Avalanche Chubie was installed on my primary ride, a 2010 Santa Cruz Nomad Mk II Aluminum bike. The bike is built up with a 1×10 drivetrain, aggressive tires, coil suspension, and a short stem.

Tom Collier, Park City, Utah. (photo by Stu Johnson)
Two other BLISTER reviewers have tested the Santa Cruz Nomad Mk II (see Rob Dickinson’s Nomad review, and Joe Hanrahan’s Nomad review), and a ton of people out there have ridden it. Consistent among the reports is some amount of complaining about pedaling / climbing performance, and / or mid-travel wallow.
When I first received the Nomad with a Rockshox Monarch 3.3 shock on it, I was thrilled to be the new owner of one of the most exciting trail bikes of the day.
It was only after riding it around for a month and getting my butt handed to me by some of my fitter friends that reality sunk in, and I was able to admit to myself that the pedaling performance actually wasn’t mind-blowingly great.
Pedal strokes would often cause the bike to settle too far into its travel, only saving an inch or two of reserve at the end for big impacts. I wasn’t quite sure what to do about it, but that matter quickly left my hands when the rear shock blew up.
The Monarch 3.3 was replaced by Rockshox under warranty with a Monarch 4.2, and performance improved some, but mostly only because the mid-range could be supported by the lock-out with a low blow-off setting. Bump sensitivity suffered as a result. I wasn’t satisfied, and began to think of replacing it.
The problem with both of the Monarch shocks was that they had insufficient low speed damping to isolate my loading at the pedals from suspension movement.
Because the Monarchs are designed to be lightweight shocks, Rockshox puts in relatively limited damping valves to save weight and cost. As such, they only feature rebound, lockout, and blow-off threshold adjustments with no low-speed compression adjustment. Because of this, I could not add the low speed damping that I felt would solve my problems.
Exacerbating the problem was the inherent nature of the Monarchs as air shocks. Seal stiction tends to be higher with air shocks than with coil shocks, since the seals need to be tighter and / or greater in number (to keep the air from leaking out). Air shocks also feature a progressive spring rate, ramping up at the end of the stroke. Because of this, they can often feel softest in the middle of their stroke, just after stiction has been overcome, but before the progression plays much of a role. This is the part of the stroke the shock typically resides in when pedaling.
In addition, the VPP linkage on the Nomad does not help this. It features a rising rate in the initial stroke, then a falling rate in the second part of the stroke, meaning that the leverage ratio is also highest in the middle of the stroke. Combined, these two factors result in the wallowing sensation I was noticing.
Ideally, I wanted to achieve more linear suspension performance, with some mild progression at the end of the stroke to prevent bottoming.
The Decision Process (Contenders, Prices, and Weights)
At the time of my search for a shock with more / adjustable low speed compression, the most advanced air shocks available were the Fox DHX Air 5.0 shock and the Rockshox Vivid Air, but neither of these were very attractive. I had tried the Fox on a Nomad and it still lacked a real low speed compression adjustment. The Vivid has the adjustments I was looking for, but was a new shock on the market with unknown reliability. The Cane Creek Double Barrel Air could have been a viable option—except that it didn’t exist at the time I was shopping around. This left me looking at the heavier option: coil shocks.
I appreciate light wheels and tires, but find that adding weight to the rest of a bike does not bother me as much, so I was not worried about the increased weight of a coil shock over an air shock. Coil shocks are inherently more linear than air shocks, and often offer more external adjustments to allow the rider to tune performance to suit their preference—both features that should help solve my problem.
In my time riding a variety of different coil shocks on a few different frames, I found the Cane Creek Double Barrel and Avalanche rear shocks to be the most reliable, and to provide the smoothest, most controlled rides. Their performance comes from two things:
First, their adjustments are appropriately sensitive, covering a suitable range and allowing me to easily achieve my desired tune. Second, their designs offer minimal cavitation and turbulent effect in the flow of the damping fluid, which manifests itself in smooth and consistent performance. Prices and weights for the Double Barrel and Avalanche are similar, so no tie breakers there.
The appropriate spring would weigh approximately 420g for each of the shocks, so with either of the coil shocks, my bike was going to gain around 600g over the Monach air shocks.
Weights and prices (USD) of the various shocks I was looking at are as follows:
• Rock Shox Monarch 4.2 shock: ~330g / $309
• Fox DHX Air: ~435g / ~$320
• Fox DHX RC4 shock body: ~440g / $595
• Cane Creek Double Barrel shock body: ~460g / $620
• Avalanche Chubie shock body: ~510g / $599
• 450lb spring: 420g
The most notable difference between the Avalanche and Cane Creek shocks at my time of purchase was that Avalanche provided their shocks custom tuned to the bike and rider, while Cane Creek provided their shocks with a simple base tune. (Cane Creek now does provide specific recommended base tunes for most bikes, but not the Nomad).
I am pretty confident in my suspension-tuning ability, but in the end, the thought of having a shock tuned by an expert to my personal needs was extremely appealing. So after much internal debate, I placed an order with Avalanche.
The next morning I received a call from Craig Seekins, who is the owner of Avalanche and the engineer behind their products.
We talked for a long time about the type of riding I like to do, as well as other suspension set ups I have liked in the past. By the end of the conversation, I had learned a great deal more about suspension, and Craig said he knew exactly how my shock should be set up.
The Ride
After a couple weeks, I received the shock. It came with a sheet specifying the oil weight and type, the shim stack set up, the positions of all the external adjusters (see below for a list of the available adjustments), and a bag of extra shims. Most users will send their shock back to Avalanche for service, but providing the parts you’d need to work on it yourself or have a local shop work on it is a nice touch.
Once unpacked, I bolted it onto my bike, and immediately went for a ride.
The bike was transformed.
I anticipated that the shock would be great on the downhill and would no longer wallow on flat, bumpy trails, but I also expected the weight and plushness to hinder climbing performance.

Tom Collier, Bartlett Wash, Moab, Utah. (photo by Anson Moxness)
I could not have been more wrong.
Probably the most noticeable change was how well the bike pedaled. It no longer sagged deep into the suspension with each pedal stroke, but was now absolutely perky. All of a sudden I had a bike I liked sprinting on.
The performance on bumps actually didn’t feel all that special … until I looked down. I hadn’t realized the size of some of the roots I was riding over. I’d done a lot to tune suspension on my bikes before, but this felt different. It was almost like it was not there. I have never had a more forgettable part on my bike, and I mean that in the best possible way.
I used to spend lots of time thinking about how to make my rear shocks perform better. With the Chubie, I just never noticed what I was riding over. Traction was great, and the rear of the bike always felt composed. It felt oddly similar to riding a hardtail on a beautifully smooth dirt singletrack, only the rear wheel was going over terrain that was anything but smooth.
Taking it into larger and rougher rock gardens built my confidence in its capabilities. The Chubie enables my Nomad to handle rock gardens almost as well as a downhill bike.
With the same sag setting as used with the Monarch shocks (~25%), the Chubie used the middle of its stroke more judiciously. The Monarch shocks tended to blow through the middle of their stroke on relatively small impacts or from pedaling forces, creating a hung-up sensation that felt like it sapped momentum.
In comparison, the Chubie would use the minimum travel necessary to absorb the impact, and moved only a small amount from pedaling forces, thus retaining valuable momentum.

Avalanche Chubie Rear Shock
Jun 13, 2013
By Tom Collier
Adjustments

Adjustments on the Avalanche Chubie
The Avalanche Chubie offers the typical adjustments featured on most high performance coil shocks and on select air shocks like the Cane Creek Double Barrel Air. I found all of them to be responsive and effective, with appropriate sensitivity to allow you to achieve the desired settings.
Having said that, all of the adjustments were within a click of my ideal settings straight from Avalanche. It was really nice to receive a shock that was already close to ideal, and not have to work to find baseline settings. This would be especially valuable to riders who aren’t comfortable their correct settings on their own.
User Available Adjustments
Spring Rate – swap springs to adjust the spring weight to match your weight and riding style
Preload – Increase the static force on the spring, by tightening the spring collar. This will change the amount of sag the shock has.
Low Speed Compression – 22 clicks – adjusts suspension resistance to brake dive and body movement
High Speed Compression – 3.25 turns – adjusts suspension resistance to rapid impacts (braking bumps, rock gardens, drop-offs)
Low Speed Rebound – 16 clicks – adjusts return rate of suspension, helps keep the wheel tracking the ground
Durability
In addition to the performance, the durability of the Chubie has been great. I just sent it in for a two-season service purely because I wanted to be proactive on maintenance. It was returned with fresh oil, seals, and a clean bill of health. Nothing was damaged, and nothing was particularly worn out. I don’t have a lot to say about the durability on this shock, which is a good thing.
Bottom Line
On my Nomad, the Avalanche Chubie has out-performed two Rockshox Monarch air shocks and a demo DHX air shock in every way other than weight. And the pedaling performance is so much improved that it more than makes up for the weight increase of 600g from the Monarch shocks.


Tom Collier on Ladies Only, Mt. Fromme, Vancouver, BC. (photo by Ben Peters)
The Chubie has turned my Nomad from a long-travel trail bike into a mini-downhill machine that canalso be ridden uphill as fast as many short-travel trail bikes. I’ve done shuttle runs on one day, then group rides with the spandex crowd the next, and done nothing other than change my seat height.
Over two years, the Chubie has proven its durability, its adjustability, and its all-around high performance. In short, the Chubie has been a remarkable upgrade to my bike that was worth every penny.

Tom Collier
Avalanche
Advantage
HSB
Hello Craig,

I'm really enjoying the threshold blow-off valve. It definitely opens things up on square edge hits. I was waiting until getting some serious time on it before providing you with feedback. I'm now there, so I thought I'd let you know my impressions. I love how it keeps the bike from bucking on square edged hits. I did have to increase my low speed compression by a couple clicks to achieve the same feel I had before. It now feels almost exactly the same until the valve opens.

It took me a while to appreciate the difference between the fork with the new valve and without it, but I now definitely feel that it is an improvement. Good work!
Tom Collier

Fox 34
Cartridge Kit

geraldooka has just replied to a thread you have subscribed to entitled - Avalanche now servicing Fox CTDs - in the Knolly forum of Mtbr Forums.

This thread is located at:
http://forums.mtbr.com/knolly/avalanche-now-servicing-fox-ctds-890566-new-post.html

Here is the message that has just been posted:
***************
Finished the install of the Avalanche damper into my Fox 34 Evolution.

I ordered the complete set with optional ABS system.

Things I learned not made expressly clear on the instructions (you can always call Craig for help he’s awesome.)

-Follow Fox 34 oil change procedures for oil draining and re-install of the air side. Fox 34 Float Evo 27.5 takes 30cc of Fox 10wt green on the air side (check Fox for your forks specs.)
-2014 Fox 34 Float Evo uses a 26mm 6 point ratchet on the damper side. You can also use a crows foot (which works with a torque wrench if your re-installing, just look up the math as there is a change to the torque numbers.) If you don't care (like me) about he existing damper any adjustable wrench will work, I did manage to remove mine without damage using one.
-Before closing up the air side put in the appropriate Fox oil.
-Re torque specs for Fox air side retaining nut they recommend 35 in/ib
-When adding oil to the new Avy damper side. Use the top cap to cycle the damper, then remove it and compress fully before measuring the oil height. Also ensure the fork is fully compressed. Check your custom sheet for your oil height.
-Before threading on the Avy top cap to the fork add some air to lift the fork up and prevent a vacuum from forming in the damper. Fox recommends 220in/lb I converted this to ft/lb as I found it much easier to torque to that spec with a larger torque wrench.

First ride impressions (some of these thoughts extend to the Avy rear shock as well), coming from a layman I tend to describe less in technical terms and more about how it felt:

To sum up in one word; control. When I embarked on this endeavour my primary reason for upgrading so I thought was simply to improve compliance or bump absorption without resorting to running the suspension so soft it felt like riding a wet noodle. To say that the Avalanche suspension accomplished this goal seems almost trite, as it has done so much more. Thing is I didn’t know what I didn’t know, like:

It was possible to have fantastic small/large bump absorption and keep the suspension at ideal sag levels (22-25 F, 30 R)

I wouldn’t need a “climb” mode (or any other 1 click wonder mode change - I hated having to flip that bloody switch) and still be able to climb fire road or technical terrain without wallow. Or to bomb down a run at speed. setting as it arrived from Avalanche. ThoI will be adjusting the compression settings slightly despite my best efforts last night I never hit bottom. Unbelievably (as it already feels like I gained 2 extra inches with the upgrade) I still have more travel to enjoy!

Suspension could feel progressively better the faster I went, not pack down or get “overwhelmed” but continue to keep the wheels on the ground and me comfortable on top of the bike.

Support you in high speed bermed turns, almost like the suspension knows that while this section is not bumpy, it is fast and the g forces are pushing me down and in towards the berm so its going to keep me at the right spot not too low but enough to apply extra pressure on my tires to help me dig in.

Improve braking feel, limiting dive, or wallow in slow speed tech up or down again without having to flip switches (ya I can’t stand flipping switches).

Drops could be composed; the suspension has transformed these trail features from a hairy experience to a predicable and fun part of the ride.

Its only been a few rides on the rear shock and one on the forks but I pushed that bike hard yesterday night and did steep rolls and drops I had never attempted before. Perhaps a better word to describe the experience would be: inspiring.

Michael
FOX
DHX RC2
Mid-Season Review: Avalanche Downhill Racing Suspension - Rear Shock SSD Modification -FOX DHX RC2
07/09/20140 Comments


BICYCLE SUSPENSION: THE SYSTEM, OR SYSTEMS, USED TO SUSPEND THE RIDER AND BICYCLE IN ORDER TO INSULATE THEM FROM THE ROUGHNESS OF THE TERRAIN.


Suspension is one of the most important aspects of a proper downhill bike. It can make or break the handling of a machine. If a bike is shod with the most high end shock and fork and it isn't set up properly, it won't perform at optimum levels and the rider won't be able to ride… at optimum levels.

This is especially true with DH bikes, considering the speed and roughness of a proper DH course, and similar to motocross, typical bike park jumps these days are big and require proper skill and bike set up to ride properly. This is even more true in a bike park setting with high speeds and lots of big jumps in succession. Where one incident of getting flung off of a jump face because of improper suspension set up, could mean a trip to the hospital.

Last season, I aquired a base model Devinci Wilson XP to use as my DH park and occasional race bike for the next few seasons. I have lots of parts on other bikes and just laying around so I figured I would start with the base model and mount up my preferred accessories. The Wilson came stock with a Fox DHX RC2 rear shock, with a rebound dial, low speed compression dial, and an air boost valve for bottoming resistance. Devinci claims it has Dave Weagle's custom valving to match the Wilson's linkage ratio. I set it up with the proper spring for my body weight, got some base line settings from Devinci and hit the bike park. It rode ok out of the box. The bike handled fine at speed and jumped level, but it seemed to pack up after successive hits and it felt terrible on square edges and anything ledgy. I dialed the rebound knob out, hoping to get less rebound dampening, speeding up the return stroke, resulting in less of a packing up feeling, but not enough rebound dampening caused the bike to get bad traction in corners and feel sketchy off of jump faces, with the rear jumping higher than the front, not good. I was able to get the bike to feel Ok but not great and some days I kept make adjustments all day trying to get a better feel.

After a few months, it was time to send the shock into Avalanche Suspension to see if they can fix the issues I was having. I know a lot of riders that use the open bath Avalanche Fork Cartridge and have great things to say about it, and the same can be said for the rear shock modification. After reading all the info on the Avalanche Racing website, finding lots of technical info and visual diagrams about what modifications are made, it was a no brainer to get the service. The website is simple and efficient and gets the job done easily. I emailed Avalanche to get the ball rolling and see what features I needed. This is where the story gets better. I was pleased to get a friendly return email quite soon after sending, and was able to figure out exactly what I needed after I described my likes and dislikes of the stock shock. Avalanche customer service is professional and expedient with a touch of personal flavor that lets the customer know they're getting individual attention that equals well set up suspension for each individual rider.

I informed them about the issues I had with the stock shock. Checked all of the boxes, including my body weight, riding style, and that I spent a lot time riding lift access bike parks, jumping, and some racing. I was informed to order Build 2, to match the leverage ratio of the Devinci Wilson, and Options 1 and 2 (see below).
Check here for that info: http://www.avalanchedownhillracing.com/Fox%20DHX/Fox%20RC4%20Speed%20Sensitive%20Adjuster%20Kit.htm

TECHNICALITIES

Exactly what does Avalanche do and what is SSD? SSD stands for Speed Sensitive Damper. In a nutshell, (I'm a rider, not a suspension engineer) the valving is affected by the speed of the shock shaft as it moves through the travel as apposed to the Position Sensitive Dampener that relies on the position of the shaft in relation to it's position in the travel. I won't get into the debate about why or why not one is better than the other. My goal is to solve the problems of the stock shock by getting the Avalanche treatment and letting people know the results.

This is what Avalanche says about Build 2: Removal of the Boost Valve and the high speed adjuster will be modified to independently increase high speed damping and along with the linkage, it will give you all the end stroke damping you will need. For rising rate linkages the High/low adjuster will be completely redesigned to create what we are calling a FvAT/HSB,
this will allow the rider to blend the low speed into the mid speed damping will maintaining pedal performance and low speed plushness.
The RC2 will be preset with our custom high speed tune.
The SSD valve will become an option only if needed for low rising rate systems and more aggressive free riding.

This is where it gets a bit more complicated and the three Stage treatment is explained:

Stage 1 (included)
Removing the boost valve and replacing it with our Speed Sensitive Valving.
This fixes the middle to bottom of the stroke by removing the position sensitive portion and making it speed sensitive,
It still prevents bottoming and will now blow-off when needed on high speed square bumps, that the RC4/RC2 fails to do.

Stage 2 (included)
The main compression valving will be revalved and modified for the linkage system and type of riding.
The rebound valving will be revalved and set for the spring rate needed for the rider,
allowing the rebound adjuster to fine tune the low speed.
The stock RC4/RC2 valving is the same for all spring rates
and the low speed adjustment has to be compromised to compensate for the fixed high speed internal valving.
.
Stage 3 (included)
Seals, bushings, and dust scrapers will be changed to better quality and less friction.

Oil replaced with Spectro Suspension Fluid, Recharged with Nitrogen to reduce fade and heat affected pressure increases.

There are also 3 OPTIONS: Optional SSD valve (1), shape factor anti-bottoming bumpers (2) and extended reservoirs (3) to increase Nitrogen volume
for racers and more aggressive riders and or rising rate linkages to prevent shock fade and heat related pressure build-up.

Includes custom revalve and setup for rider, frame leverage and conditions
and printed set-up chart. We will ask you all the right questions to help you help us with the best possible set-up.
Also includes complete rebuild service, new improved seals and dust wiper system, oil, nitrogen charge and typical wear parts* included in price.

GETTING IT DONE.
I scheduled the service, fed-ex'd the shock to Avalanche and received it on the scheduled date. No problems or issues. The shock arrived with an extensive sticker kit, all adjustment dials are pre-set, and an easy to follow set-up chart is provided if I needed to change anything. A really easy explanation of what adjustments to make and when is on the chart as well.

HOW DOES IT RIDE?
Did all of this technical modification result in a better riding bike out on the dirt? Did it solve the issues I had with the stock shock?
Yes, and Yes. The first time taking the bike out for a test on a local shuttle trail was eye opening to say the least. I didn't touch the settings, trusting that Avalanche knows what's best, and this turned out to be ideal. The bike picked up speed a lot quicker and felt really plush but firm. Pumping seemed to provide more speed than before, I could easily maintain a lot more momentum over rough sections and I felt like the shock was getting full travel but wasn't bottoming out. It stayed up in the travel nicely, even though it also had the right amount of sag. Plush but firm. It totally erased small chatter and square edge hits didn't feel square anymore. The bike carried so much speed into corners, I had to brake sooner, noticeably sooner, and it didn't wallow in corners or get out of shape in the rough, in anyway. Jumping felt solid and the bike landed like a works motocross machine with no harsh bottom feeling and no bucking or swapping. The rear suspension was responsive and predictable, and even though it was plush, it didn't feel sloppy or inefficient when trying to get some pop off of the something small or when pedaling.

A few more test days at Northstar further proved the effectiveness of the Avalanche treatment. I kept the settings the same and the bike felt perfect. The issue of packing up after successive hits was no longer an issue, and there was no need for me to mess with the rebound settings to get the proper feel. Overall, the bike performs better in all areas because of the Avalanche suspension.
The bike now has pop and feels lively, but it also feels like it sticks to the ground and finds excellent traction when I want it.
I can honestly say, I don't feel any negative handling traits, and I am free to shred the bike like it was meant to be.

WHAT ABOUT THE FRONT OF THE BIKE?
With the rear suspension working so well, and the bike carrying so much more speed, I had to make some adjustments to the settings on my fork, a Fox 40 RC2. Firm up the high speed compression a bit, and a click less rebound. I've never had an issue with getting the stock Fox 40 to feel comfortable. With both high and low speed compression, it's easy to find the sweat spot, but it is now obvious that the fork does not match the performance of the rear shock. It's a subtle difference, and it means that I'm now looking forward to getting an Avalanche cartridge for the Fox 40. I'm confident this will provide a balanced ride that outperforms a stock set-up.

GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE.
I can't say enough about Avalanche's excellent customer service. Quick email replies, all questions answered with no problems. The entire process was smooth as silk. Check out the Avalanche website for more info about suspension, and what will work best for you. They offer rebuilds and services of just about everything and their fork cartridge fits any fork.

Paul Wilson

 

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