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Thread: Air suspension on a DH bike

  1. #1
    Member kurtis1984's Avatar
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    Default Air suspension on a DH bike

    Forgive me if this stuff has been posted before, but I can't find anything too useful.

    What are people's experiences with:

    1. Solo air (replacing a coil) in a Boxxer? Looks like you can drop around 300g, but I'm wondering about service intervals and overall feel.

    2. Float X2 shock, replacing a Fox coil in my Lappiere 722? I can lose another 500g or so, and it seems to have good reviews. Again, I'm wondering about real world experience from a performance and maintenance view.

    Cheers,
    Kurt

  2. #2
    Clinically Inane
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    Not exactly a match for your specifics...I have ran a lot of air suspension on down hill and free ride bikes over a few years. I personally prefer the floaty feel of an air shock over a coil, mainly the bottomless floating feel. The main reasons I have ran the air was:
    - Huge weight savings
    - Ability to adjust spring rate on any trail for most riders.

    In all instances I was quite happy with the air suspension.

    I don't think the service intervals really changed because I was running air rather than coils Springs.

    Make sure the shock you choose will fit your bike. I tried to fit a fox float x on a 951 not so long ago and the shock body fouled on the frame preventing the eyelets from lining up.

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    Senior Member Nautonier's Avatar
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    Agree with the increased tuneabilty of air. You can't put tokens in a coil shock/fork to make it ramp up more. I think in the past air was always harsher than coil, but these days with the larger negative air chambers and slippery coatings, most recent air shocks and forks are getting a much more 'coil-like' feel. In some cases it would be hard to tell the difference in terms of small bump compliance.
    safreek: if I want an arse pounding I will go to the correct toilet block

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    Member kurtis1984's Avatar
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    Thanks guys, this is tipping the balance.

    Anyone else with experience of either of these products (air Boxxer; Float X2) care to chime in?

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    Senior Member Mywifesirrational's Avatar
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    Coil all the way, there is a reason why reviews frequently say 'air felt almost coil like'.

    Weight savings and more adjustable are the only things air are good for.

    Boxxer WC's always felt harsh to me compared to R2C2's or better yet, Marz 380's. WC's they also need constant rebuilding if you want to keep feeling smooth, they get very harsh if not rebuild regularly. Air feel nice on big casings due to the ramp up - but a fork like the 380 / bomber, you adjust the oil height and tune the ramp up however you like. Coil has always been smoother, with greater traction.

    The harshness issue, not to bad on flow or jump trails, but after a day or two of DH'ing, you get absolutely hammered from it.

    300g vs <performance, yeah nah.
    Quote Originally Posted by jarrod839 View Post
    All three were not wearing neckbraces and its all most impossible to determine if paul and sams outcomes would of being different if they were wearing one.
    Agree completely, there is no evidence!

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    MTB Precision John U's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mywifesirrational View Post
    Coil all the way, there is a reason why reviews frequently say 'air felt almost coil like'.

    Weight savings and more adjustable are the only things air are good for.

    Boxxer WC's always felt harsh to me compared to R2C2's or better yet, Marz 380's. WC's they also need constant rebuilding if you want to keep feeling smooth, they get very harsh if not rebuild regularly. Air feel nice on big casings due to the ramp up - but a fork like the 380 / bomber, you adjust the oil height and tune the ramp up however you like. Coil has always been smoother, with greater traction.

    The harshness issue, not to bad on flow or jump trails, but after a day or two of DH'ing, you get absolutely hammered from it.

    300g vs <performance, yeah nah.
    Agree with MWI.

    My stuff was a few years before old but Fox 40 with coil was much smoother than Boxxer WC with air. Weight difference was not noticeable when riding.
    "People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it". - George Bernard Shaw

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    Senior Member Nautonier's Avatar
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    I disagree with the harshness aspect, as I said, I think that's harking back to the past. I used to have Boxxer World Cups (air) and hated them. After a top to bottom at Whistler my arms were jelly. I went to coil Fox 40s and it was night and day. Recently I had a bounce on some 2018 Fox 36s (air) and they feel even plusher than my Fox 40s did. I'm sure the latest Boxxers have got it sorted with the larger negative chamber. The new Fox 40 airs feel amazing.

    I've also just gone from a Cane Creek Inline coil to a Float X2 and really haven't noticed any harshness in the X2. Rear wheel still has that 'glued to the ground' feel and I much prefer the 'bottomless' feel when landing biggish drops. The coil was good, but I didn't like the way it bottomed out on big hits and used too much of its travel on small - medium stuff. Yes, it felt a little bit plusher (slightly less stiction in the breakaway) doing the bounce test, but on the trail you don't notice this at all as you've already into the sag.

    Obviously with coil shocks the leverage ratio of the frame is crucial. The reality is that many frames are better suited to air as coil is too linear. As you're talking about a DH bike, this is probably not an issue as the leverage ratio was most likely designed for coil.

    In terms of the weight differences, this is becoming less of an issue with lightweight springs. The weights you mention are clearly based on steel springs, which are stupidly heavy. When I went from a steel spring on the CC Inline to a Valt spring, it only weighed 40g more than the (equivalent) CC air shock I had.
    safreek: if I want an arse pounding I will go to the correct toilet block

  8. #8
    Member kurtis1984's Avatar
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    Thanks all.

    To clarify my original post a little more:

    The air conversion for my RC Boxxers is part of an attempt at decent weight loss, which is why I'm also thinking of the Float X2. Converting to these two alone would save in the ballpark of 850g. Pair that with a Charger Damper and we're looking at basically a kilo weight loss.

    Aside from the financial cost (which I'll carry), there is the potential performance and maintenance costs. A few years ago, both of these would have been significant, but it does seem these days that this is less of an issue.

    As an aside, I have also looked into Ti springs, but the good brands (Obtainium, Progressive?) seemed to have disappeared, leaving only cheaper brands with moderate weight savings. Ultimately, I stand to only lose around 230-ish g by swapping out my steel for a Ti (580 to say 350). Nautonier, I assume this is similar with a VALT spring? Anyone have any good coil spring manufacturers they can recommend?

    Either way, it sounds like the Float X2 is a nicely performing air shock that nets 500+ g weight saving without (or minimal) performance costs, while the Boxxer air SHOULD be good enough (if competition, i.e. Fox, is anything to go by), but this s yet to be confirmed?
    Kurt
    Last edited by kurtis1984; 01-11-2017 at 04:44 PM. Reason: Grammar

  9. #9
    Senior Member Mywifesirrational's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kurtis1984 View Post
    The air conversion for my RC Boxxers is part of an attempt at decent weight loss...
    Is the boxxer new? only issue with a coil to air conversion, unless its changes in the last couple of years, the spring marks the inner stanchion, air conversion may not work. Would be worth asking a suspension guru before investing in the kit (or price a new stanchion if need be).


    Quote Originally Posted by Nautonier View Post
    I disagree with the harshness aspect, as I said, I think that's harking back to the past. I used to have Boxxer World Cups (air) and hated them. After a top to bottom at Whistler my arms were jelly. I went to coil Fox 40s and it was night and day. Recently I had a bounce on some 2018 Fox 36s (air) and they feel even plusher than my Fox 40s did. I'm sure the latest Boxxers have got it sorted with the larger negative chamber. The new Fox 40 airs feel amazing.
    Opposite effect for me, I have a CCDBA and a CCDBC, same bike, same trails, I always stop 2-3 times when the coil goes on because it feels like the rear tyre is half flat it is that much smoother.

    The X2 and the DHX2 have the same feeling to me, albeit I haven't spent much time on them as the CCDB's.

    I also have a 350 ti coil and air, coil blows the air away in how composed it is going flat out - it also has air preload and adjustable oil height, so you get the ramp up as steep or linear as one wants. With a lot of the enduro guys going to coils on the rear, I wonder how may have a sneaky coil fork conversion? Not uncommon on the WC DH to run a coil with the air top cap.

    But then I love air on the jump bike, front and rear, with the inherent stiction = more pop, and greater ramp up when casing is great.
    Quote Originally Posted by jarrod839 View Post
    All three were not wearing neckbraces and its all most impossible to determine if paul and sams outcomes would of being different if they were wearing one.
    Agree completely, there is no evidence!

  10. #10
    Member kurtis1984's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Mywifesirrational;3153985]Is the boxxer new? only issue with a coil to air conversion, unless its changes in the last couple of years, the spring marks the inner stanchion, air conversion may not work. Would be worth asking a suspension guru before investing in the kit (or price a new stanchion if need be).


    The Boxxer is lightly used but this could be an issue. Thanks for the heads up!

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