Levo Gen 3 Improving Levo Comp suspension

Nickolp1974

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Jul 30, 2019
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So whats the most cost effective way to improve the suspension on the Levo comp alloy?? I don't do big jumps or anything like that, chunky trails mainly. I think the grip 2 damper can be installed in the 36 Rhythm??? is a coil conversion better??? what about the rear, never had a coil shock on any bike, what the best bang for buck way to go? read due to the levo's frame air shocks are stiffer, is that true? i know nothing about spring weights etc but im about 93kg fully kitted. The X2's are too much for me at this time otherwise i may of gone that way as my weight is like a YOYO!!!
Thanks for reading. ;)
 

Nickolp1974

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Jul 30, 2019
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What's the present front and rear travel ? What on the back ...

Most importantly, what do you mean exactly by "improve", ie, what do you want from it that you don't think you get now ?
160F 150R all stock. Got the rhythm on my stumpy and to have it small bump compliant i have to run low pressures and the mid stroke is non existent, or higher pressure to have more support but then it does not use its travel, always one trade off for another. Had a Zeb on my rail which was much better, i know its a stiifer fork but it tracked much better. I'd consider coil but had no experience there. It a fox float perf X on the rear, will see how that goes before deciding, bike arrives in 2 days. just looking at options and keeping an eye out for deals.
 

steve_sordy

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Nov 5, 2018
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Lincolnshire, UK
Have a read of this before spending any money at all.


It is a comprehensive guide to suspension set up from Bike Rumour.

And of course, don't forget this either. Read the words, watch the video, buy a digital tyre pressure gauge.

 

Zimmerframe

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Jun 12, 2019
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Brittany, France
160F 150R all stock. Got the rhythm on my stumpy and to have it small bump compliant i have to run low pressures and the mid stroke is non existent, or higher pressure to have more support but then it does not use its travel, always one trade off for another. Had a Zeb on my rail which was much better, i know its a stiifer fork but it tracked much better. I'd consider coil but had no experience there. It a fox float perf X on the rear, will see how that goes before deciding, bike arrives in 2 days. just looking at options and keeping an eye out for deals.
I have the 36 Rhythm on my Focus and can't really fault it, but then I'm lighter. Maybe you just need another token in there (possibly simplifying things).

Shock sounds like a good choice too ...

I think I'd ride it and assume it's actually going to kick ass and spend some time getting compression/rebound/sag right and go from there.
 

Nickolp1974

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thx guys for the input, i will take it onboard and just ride it for a bit tweaking as i go and thanks Steve for the guide, i'll have a good read of that. Any changes at sherwood pines?? not been for nearly 2 years, too much like hard work on an analogue bike, hence going back to an e bike, way more smiles. @Zimmerframe i'm sure it will kick ass after the stumpy!!! can't wait tbh, in the peaks this weekend, with the mrs though and not the bike :(
 

kawamaha

Member
Apr 1, 2020
59
48
Monaco
I run a RS Super Deluxe shock and tuned the Rhythm 36 a bit:

The best shock i have ever tried was the Fox float x2, but the 2023 and older have problems with leaking. They have solved this on the 2024 models but i have not tried one...
 
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Desert_Turtle

Active member
Mar 1, 2022
125
155
Palmdale, CA
Although I am one of those people who would just spend my way to satisfaction, I think you can get that stock suspension to work just fine. You’ll just need to fine tune with tokens/volume spacers and testing. The Cascade link does a lot for the bike. It’s cheaper than a new shock and I feel like there’s lots of bang for your buck. I have friends that are well above average riders that are heavier than you that get by with the stock suspension.
 

QuackFU

Member
Apr 25, 2023
55
39
USA
Throw the Rhythm away to start with, and put on a Lyrik Select, Select+(you can find new take offs for a great price on PB) or Ultimate. They have much better small bump compliance and better mid-stroke. FYI, im about your same weight on a Carbon Comp and don't let the rubber get in the air much either. And its made a big difference.
Next step will be the shock, but thats a bit down the road
 

Hicksy 92

Member
Nov 23, 2018
85
118
Stonesfield Oxfordshire
I’m running the same bike and actually followed the specialized recommendations on there web site , then literally made a couple of tweeks and for me it’s the best suspension I’ve had , had fox factory 38’s on my last bike which was a cube and factory shock and I think the 36 is way more comfortable, taking big fast hits down rocky decents in the Yorksire dales , I know this dose not answer your question but the web site helped me a lot .
 

jgusta

Member
Mar 21, 2021
118
47
USA
So whats the most cost effective way to improve the suspension on the Levo comp alloy?? I don't do big jumps or anything like that, chunky trails mainly. I think the grip 2 damper can be installed in the 36 Rhythm??? is a coil conversion better??? what about the rear, never had a coil shock on any bike, what the best bang for buck way to go? read due to the levo's frame air shocks are stiffer, is that true? i know nothing about spring weights etc but im about 93kg fully kitted. The X2's are too much for me at this time otherwise i may of gone that way as my weight is like a YOYO!!!
Thanks for reading. ;)
I personally think the stock suspension on the Comp is pretty darn good for what it is. I ride DH, jump lines, trail with no limitations. Just add a bit more compression with swtich to firm up as needed foe the big senders and high compressive hits. I am +200 lbs, ride my bikes pretty hard/aggressively and cant any fault in the stock with 3 spacers to fork (92-95 psi) depending on terrain and second from largest spacer for shock with 244-249psi typically (terrain dependent). All my buddies with X2’s/FOX 38’s on their Levo’s eventually blown out of the gate or never could get to feel right with coil conversion for better compliancy. RHythm really is a great performing, underated fork that is simple as it comes to use and make quick, on the fly changes in feel. Float X with Spesh Rx tune is pretty good as well. Yes both go through travel fairly quickly, but compliancy excellent and so easy to dial in/use once finding ideal pressures.
 

steve_sordy

Wedding Crasher
Nov 5, 2018
8,508
8,787
Lincolnshire, UK
thx guys for the input, i will take it onboard and just ride it for a bit tweaking as i go and thanks Steve for the guide, i'll have a good read of that. Any changes at sherwood pines?? not been for nearly 2 years, too much like hard work on an analogue bike, hence going back to an e bike, way more smiles. @Zimmerframe i'm sure it will kick ass after the stumpy!!! can't wait tbh, in the peaks this weekend, with the mrs though and not the bike :(
Loads of changes in the last two years. The blue has been changed out of all recognition, longer too. The red has had many tweaks here and there, lots of left-right-left berms that add a lot to the experience. The distance lost to the blue has been got back by an optional route stolen from previous off-piste. But I seldom ride the traditional red/blue/green offerings, preferring instead to use them to get about the place to access the off-piste features that are everywhere if you know where to look.
A couple of years ago I started going the other side of the old railway line that runs parallel to the blue that runs next to the downhill park, extending outwards to the desert area. This year I have gone even further away from Pines, over the big hill to Vicar Water. I have a route out and a different one back, but there are absolutely loads of routes still to explore. I have a variety of routes now, from 14 to 20 miles, depending upon conditions and how I'm feeling on the day. You are most welcome to come along next time you are at Pines, just let me know. :)
 
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Nickolp1974

Active member
Jul 30, 2019
236
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Louth lincs
Loads of changes in the last two years. The blue has been changed out of all recognition, longer too. The red has had many tweaks here and there, lots of left-right-left berms that add a lot to the experience. The distance lost to the blue has been got back by an optional route stolen from previous off-piste. But I seldom ride the traditional red/blue/green offerings, preferring instead to use them to get about the place to access the off-piste features that are everywhere if you know where to look.
A couple of years ago I started going the other side of the old railway line that runs parallel to the blue that runs next to the downhill park, extending outwards to the desert area. This year I have gone even further away from Pines, over the big hill to Vicar Water. I have a route out and a different one back, but there are absolutely loads of routes still to explore. I have a variety of routes now, from 14 to 20 miles, depending upon conditions and how I'm feeling on the day. Yiu are most welcome to come along next time you are at Pines, just let me know. :)
thanks Steve, not explored much of the off piste stuff as i just shot there after work for a quick blast, but i intend to in the future. I did go the opposite way with a work colleague, parked at the pub near pines entrance/end of railway track?? ended up in sherwood and clumber, bit tame but made a change
 

Nickolp1974

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Jul 30, 2019
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had a good ride on the Levo today, very impressed overall. Only a local one in the Lincolnshire wolds so not that hilly but 35 miles, 2200ft of ascent a mix of modes used but mainly trail, 66% battery used, happy with that for my 93.5kg all in weight. Running fork with 20% sag, not checked spacers, feels pretty good but i may try a touch more sag and add a spacer to see how that goes. Not so sure on the rear yet, 30% sag, rebounds at 3 from closed, running about 30 more psi than recommended, wondering if i need to tune it with volume reducers also, i'd like it a little plusher off the top. Shouldn't need to run more than 30% should i???
 

Rod B.

Well-known member
Aug 18, 2021
509
869
USA, Orange County Ca.
had a good ride on the Levo today, very impressed overall. Only a local one in the Lincolnshire wolds so not that hilly but 35 miles, 2200ft of ascent a mix of modes used but mainly trail, 66% battery used, happy with that for my 93.5kg all in weight. Running fork with 20% sag, not checked spacers, feels pretty good but i may try a touch more sag and add a spacer to see how that goes. Not so sure on the rear yet, 30% sag, rebounds at 3 from closed, running about 30 more psi than recommended, wondering if i need to tune it with volume reducers also, i'd like it a little plusher off the top. Shouldn't need to run more than 30% should i???
Nicolp1974,

Steve offered you the best advice. Before you start throwing money at your suspension, know how to set it up. There are so many good suspension articles out there on set up. Understanding how your suspension operates is also really important, i.e. Rebound, sag, Low Speed and High Speed Compression, air volume spacers, and how to go about making corrections.

Two of the very best articles I’ve read on suspension set up were produced by BetaMTB.com. The articles are easy to read and understand..

If you would like to read them, here are the links.

Higher Education, How to set up your suspension

Higher Education, Volume spacers and Spring Curves
 

Nickolp1974

Active member
Jul 30, 2019
236
174
Louth lincs
Nicolp1974,

Steve offered you the best advice. Before you start throwing money at your suspension, know how to set it up. There are so many good suspension articles out there on set up. Understanding how your suspension operates is also really important, i.e. Rebound, sag, Low Speed and High Speed Compression, air volume spacers, and how to go about making corrections.

Two of the very best articles I’ve read on suspension set up were produced by BetaMTB.com. The articles are easy to read and understand..

If you would like to read them, here are the links.

Higher Education, How to set up your suspension

Higher Education, Volume spacers and Spring Curves
Yep and advice taken on board, after reading the article i was linked by steve the fork feels pretty good at 20% sag (32mm) and 88psi, on my trails in the wolds which consist mainly of bridleways etc i used all but 30mm of travel which i would of thought to be expected as theres nothing really to challenge the fork. I've got some volume spacers coming so i can fine tune a bit better. i'm hoping to get the fork feeling a little more active, possibly a bit more sag, a volume reducer and a bit more compression to stop it diving, but time will tell as to what combination i use but sure i will get there and be happy with the fork. A friend has just got an e160 with the Z1 which i believe is pretty much the same fork? he is 25KG lighter than me, i set the fork very similar in sag terms, his rebound is a lot faster and does not need the compression due to the lower weight. It appears to be working well from riding by his side, tracks well, not pogo'ing and looks very active. He can't really tell me how it feels as he is very in experienced, kind of guy whom would buy from shop and leave as he got it.
My rear shock has 30% sag and 285psi, had rebound 4 clicks from closed, comp fully open. Does not seem very active, will try opening up rebound 1st and again have some volume reducers coming so i can try some different set ups.
I'll have a read of the links you gave now over breakfast, thank you

*EDIT* on a positive note, while riding and compressing on the bike it does feel very balanced, the front and back appear to me to compress equally at the same time.
 

Rod B.

Well-known member
Aug 18, 2021
509
869
USA, Orange County Ca.
Yep and advice taken on board, after reading the article i was linked by steve the fork feels pretty good at 20% sag (32mm) and 88psi, on my trails in the wolds which consist mainly of bridleways etc i used all but 30mm of travel which i would of thought to be expected as theres nothing really to challenge the fork. I've got some volume spacers coming so i can fine tune a bit better. i'm hoping to get the fork feeling a little more active, possibly a bit more sag, a volume reducer and a bit more compression to stop it diving, but time will tell as to what combination i use but sure i will get there and be happy with the fork. A friend has just got an e160 with the Z1 which i believe is pretty much the same fork? he is 25KG lighter than me, i set the fork very similar in sag terms, his rebound is a lot faster and does not need the compression due to the lower weight. It appears to be working well from riding by his side, tracks well, not pogo'ing and looks very active. He can't really tell me how it feels as he is very in experienced, kind of guy whom would buy from shop and leave as he got it.
My rear shock has 30% sag and 285psi, had rebound 4 clicks from closed, comp fully open. Does not seem very active, will try opening up rebound 1st and again have some volume reducers coming so i can try some different set ups.
I'll have a read of the links you gave now over breakfast, thank you

*EDIT* on a positive note, while riding and compressing on the bike it does feel very balanced, the front and back appear to me to compress equally at the same time.
Nickolp1974,

What is your suspension doing that you do not like? If you could be more specific maybe I can help.

As a side note, I weigh about the same as you and I have a Levo Carbon Comp. I recently wrote a three part series on suspension, which I posted on the Orbea Forum. My first eBike was an Orbea Rise and I occasionally post articles on the forum. The three suspension articles were written to help newer riders better understand how the Fox suspension on their bikes operates. Both the Levo and the Rise utilize similar Fox suspension components so the articles will be applicable to your situation. The articles cover basic componentry, tuning tips and easy to do suspension hacks.




Before you do anything to your bike, first make sure your suspension does not have a stiction issue in which the upper fork assembly is grabbing against the fork wiper seals and upper fork bushings. If stiction is occurring, your fork will feel overly firm and harsh. I find that other than improper set up, most fork issues are caused by stiction. Beneath the two black rubber wiper seals on your fork are foam rings that "Must" be saturated with oil. The oil lubricates the upper fork stanchion and fork bushings located in the lower leg assembly. If the foam ring becomes dry or overly contaminated with dirt, the upper stanchion will no longer receive lubrication. The loss of lubrication creates stiction in which the upper and lower fork assemblies no longer slide together in a friction free manner. The oil in the fork's lower leg assembly is used to lubricate the foam rings. To insure the foam rings are lubricated, you need to turn your bike upside down so that it is resting on the saddle and handlebars. Let your bike sit like this for 30 minutes or so. This will allow the lower leg oil to saturate into the foam rings and your suspension will become plush. Ideally I like to do this at least once a week. I will do it more frequently depending upon how often I ride, or exposure to dust and water.

I hope the above helps.

Be safe,
Rod
 

Nickolp1974

Active member
Jul 30, 2019
236
174
Louth lincs
Nickolp1974,

What is your suspension doing that you do not like? If you could be more specific maybe I can help.

As a side note, I weigh about the same as you and I have a Levo Carbon Comp. I recently wrote a three part series on suspension, which I posted on the Orbea Forum. My first eBike was an Orbea Rise and I occasionally post articles on the forum. The three suspension articles were written to help newer riders better understand how the Fox suspension on their bikes operates. Both the Levo and the Rise utilize similar Fox suspension components so the articles will be applicable to your situation. The articles cover basic componentry, tuning tips and easy to do suspension hacks.




Before you do anything to your bike, first make sure your suspension does not have a stiction issue in which the upper fork assembly is grabbing against the fork wiper seals and upper fork bushings. If stiction is occurring, your fork will feel overly firm and harsh. I find that other than improper set up, most fork issues are caused by stiction. Beneath the two black rubber wiper seals on your fork are foam rings that "Must" be saturated with oil. The oil lubricates the upper fork stanchion and fork bushings located in the lower leg assembly. If the foam ring becomes dry or overly contaminated with dirt, the upper stanchion will no longer receive lubrication. The loss of lubrication creates stiction in which the upper and lower fork assemblies no longer slide together in a friction free manner. The oil in the fork's lower leg assembly is used to lubricate the foam rings. To insure the foam rings are lubricated, you need to turn your bike upside down so that it is resting on the saddle and handlebars. Let your bike sit like this for 30 minutes or so. This will allow the lower leg oil to saturate into the foam rings and your suspension will become plush. Ideally I like to do this at least once a week. I will do it more frequently depending upon how often I ride, or exposure to dust and water.

I hope the above helps.

Be safe,
Rod
Thanks for this Rod, that shall be my bedtime reading for tonight.
Think i explained a little in an earlier post, but long story short,
Fork, 20% sag 32mm, 80 psi, 30mm left over after 35 mile ride, gives me 100mm of travel im using, in this instance, bridleways etc nothing at all extreme, no drops or jumps although if i see anything to pop off i will. It feels ok but it would be nice if it felt a , plusher for this type of riding. Got some volume reducers today, didn't know what was in the fork before hand, after looking today it has 2.
Am i right in thinking for this type of riding and my requirements, a plusher feel but still being able to pop off things if i come across them i need to make the fork more linear? so actually remove the volume spacers one at a time, add a bit of compression to stop the fork diving and dial rebound a little faster to help with the pop??

Rear shock, 30% sag 16.5mm (55mm stroke) comp open, 280psi, recommended rebound is 2 clicks from closed, i ran at 4 and it felt slow to me. opened up the shock and its got a yellow spacer in it 0.2 i believe, so i've swapped that for a smaller one which is half the size in diameter, can it be run with none??? after the same ride as fork i had about 13mm left so using around 70mm of travel in ride with sag being 45mm so total of 115mm being used. Again to make it more linear have i done the right thing by swapping the volume spacer for a smaller one?? will this use more travel at the same sag and make it plusher, and then speed up the rebound to give it some pop?? not had chance to test the new settings as its not stopped raining with lots of flooding, not riding in that!!

If i can get a good understanding of how to set this up then when i travel to better places such as the peak district in the UK where the trails can be quite chunky i should be able to tune quicker for that, as no doubt i will need to add volume spacers otherwise i will blow through travel with my "bridleway" settings.

With regards to turning bike upside down, thats a good shout, i've not done that for years since owning a maintenance stand.

couple of videos to give you an idea of my riding

My local area, the "bridleways etc" very tame but i can get the miles in. Peak district, Jacobs ladder where i visit when i can, good riding here
 
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Rod B.

Well-known member
Aug 18, 2021
509
869
USA, Orange County Ca.
Thanks for this Rod, that shall be my bedtime reading for tonight.
Think i explained a little in an earlier post, but long story short,
Fork, 20% sag 32mm, 80 psi, 30mm left over after 35 mile ride, gives me 100mm of travel im using, in this instance, bridleways etc nothing at all extreme, no drops or jumps although if i see anything to pop off i will. It feels ok but it would be nice if it felt a , plusher for this type of riding. Got some volume reducers today, didn't know what was in the fork before hand, after looking today it has 2.
Am i right in thinking for this type of riding and my requirements, a plusher feel but still being able to pop off things if i come across them i need to make the fork more linear? so actually remove the volume spacers one at a time, add a bit of compression to stop the fork diving and dial rebound a little faster to help with the pop??

Rear shock, 30% sag 16.5mm (55mm stroke) comp open, 280psi, recommended rebound is 2 clicks from closed, i ran at 4 and it felt slow to me. opened up the shock and its got a yellow spacer in it 0.2 i believe, so i've swapped that for a smaller one which is half the size in diameter, can it be run with none??? after the same ride as fork i had about 13mm left so using around 70mm of travel in ride with sag being 45mm so total of 115mm being used. Again to make it more linear have i done the right thing by swapping the volume spacer for a smaller one?? will this use more travel at the same sag and make it plusher, and then speed up the rebound to give it some pop?? not had chance to test the new settings as its not stopped raining with lots of flooding, not riding in that!!

If i can get a good understanding of how to set this up then when i travel to better places such as the peak district in the UK where the trails can be quite chunky i should be able to tune quicker for that, as no doubt i will need to add volume spacers otherwise i will blow through travel with my "bridleway" settings.

With regards to turning bike upside down, thats a good shout, i've not done that for years since owning a maintenance stand.

couple of videos to give you an idea of my riding

My local area, the "bridleways etc" very tame but i can get the miles in. Peak district, Jacobs ladder where i visit when i can, good riding here
Nickolp1974,

I hope you find the suspension articles useful. Much of what is contained in the articles will help you with your suspension issues and better understand my responses to your questions.

I am sorry to inflect this overly worded response upon you. I'll buy you a Guinness when I see you......

Question: I explained a little in an earlier post, but long story short, Fork, 20% sag 32mm, 80 psi, 30mm left over after 35 mile ride, gives me 100mm of travel I'm using. In this instance, bridleways etc., nothing at all extreme, no drops or jumps although if I see anything to pop off I will. It feels ok but it would be nice if it felt plusher for this type of riding. Got some volume reducers today, didn't know what was in the fork before hand, after looking today it has 2. Am I right in thinking for this type of riding and my requirements, a plusher feel but still being able to pop off things if I come across them I need to make the fork more linear?
Answer: Based upon your style of you riding and terrain, your would benefit greatly from a more linear rate of air spring compression, i.e. ramp up. You are absolutely correct in removing air volume spacers provided you are reaching sag and not bottoming out on your bridal path trails.

So, actually I should remove the volume spacers one at a time, add a bit of compression to stop the fork diving and dial rebound a little faster to help with the pop??
Answer: Yes that's correct. Keep in mind, that air components i.e. forks and shocks will start with a linear rate of compression at initial stroke. This is due to the negative air spring which offsets the positive air chamber's resistance to compression. However as a fork or shock reaches mid to end stroke, the air spring compression rates will begin to ramp up based upon air chamber tuning. Volume spacers alter the mid to end stroke air spring ramp up.

If you were hitting large trail features which were causing large compressive spikes in your suspension, you would ideally want a more progressive rate of air spring ramp up at mid to end stroke. This prevents bottom out when landing a feature. It's possible to alter the air spring ramp up rate on a fork or shock by adding a volume spacer and adjusting air pressure.

In your case, you are riding on predominantly smooth trails and are not hitting large compressive trail features. You would benefit more from a linear air spring compression ramp up rate. This is accomplished by removing volume spacers from the fork and or shock. Were it me, I would remove both volume spacers. I think you will discover that your fork and shock will be much plusher feeling. If your fork does not feel supportive enough on the mid to end stroke, then add one volume spacer and re-adjust sag and fine tune the air pressure setting by going for a ride with your shock pump.


Question: Rear shock, 30% sag 16.5mm (55mm stroke) comp open, 280psi, recommended rebound is 2 clicks from closed, i ran at 4 and it felt slow to me. opened up the shock and its got a yellow spacer in it 0.2 i believe, so i've swapped that for a smaller one which is half the size in diameter, can it be run with none???
Answer: Yes you can run the Float X with no volume spacer. Were I you, I would remove the air volume spacer and run the Float X with no volume spacer at all. You would want to add a volume spacer if you find after setting correct sag, that you are bottoming out too easily or if you find you are forced to run an excessively high air pressure rate, i.e. close to the maximum recommended air pressure to make sag. You would also add an air volume spacer if you are hitting large trail features and you need more support from mid to end stroke to keep from bottoming out.

After the same ride as the fork ride, I had about 13mm left so using around 70mm of travel in ride with sag being 45mm so total of 115mm being used. Again to make it more linear have I done the right thing by swapping the volume spacer for a smaller one??
Answer: Yes, removing a volume spacer will alter the air spring ramp. Removing a volume spacer will reduce the progressive rate of air spring compression and move it towards a linear rate of spring compression. Keep in mind mountain bike suspension will have some form of progressive ramp up rate at mid to end stroke. By removing a volume spacer you are simply decreasing the progressive ramp up rate mid to end stroke.

Here's the thing. The trick is to monitor your sag "O" ring as you ride. You want to occasionally bottom the O ring against the shocks wiper seal as you ride. I like to do this whenever I stop for a break. Occasionally, you want to look down and see what the O ring is doing as you ride. Is the O ring barely moving on the shaft? This means too much air and you need to let some out. Is the O ring being blown off the back of the shock or pushed up hard against the fork crown? This means too little air and you need to add some. Is it riding mid shaft? This means a wee bit too much air and you need to slightly adjust air pressure by removing only a few pounds until you get it right. The O ring will let you known whether to add or subtract air from the shock. When you ride, take your shock pump with you, at least until you dial in your suspension.

On moderate to high compressive trail features, you would ideally want to end your ride with the rear shock's sag "O" ring about six to eight millimeters from the end of the rear shocks shaft. On forks you want the O ring to be about 20mm from the bottom of the fork crown. In your case, you are riding mostly smooth bridal trails which offer small compressive forces. I would probably set the rear shock up so that I would end my ride with the sag "O" ring about 20mm or so from the end of the shaft. This will give you a very supportive pedal platform, i.e. no pedal bob and still have a bit of plushness. If your suspension is too plush, you'll experience pedal bob and possibly bottom out or strike a pedal on a gravity inducing "G Out."

SAG is not a set in concrete definition that must be adhered to come hell or highwater. I cannot stress this enough. SAG is merely a baseline starting point from which to begin adjusting your suspension. Once sag has been set, you will then fine tune your suspension by adding or removing a few pounds of air pressure and or, adding or removing volume spacers. It all depends upon the terrain you will be riding and your ride weight. In other words, stay away from cake and ice cream. You can have beer.....jus sayin.

Lastly, the air pressure and volume spacer setup that you run on your local bridal path trails, may not not be the same as what you'll run on Jacob's Ladder in the Peak District. Keep in mind, I run zero volume spacers in my ZEB 170mm fork and my X2 shock on my Levo. That's because I don't jump and 95% of the terrain I ride, doesn't offer high enough compressive forces to warrant a volume spacer. My Fox X2 recently began to leak and it's at Fox being warrantied. I have the stock Float X Performance on my Levo and it too has no volume spacers. It does have a custom damper tune to work with my fat ass. I routinely hit double black trails running no volume spacers and have had no issues.


My Levo in it's current form, ZEB 170, Fox "OEM" Float X Performance with a low speed compression hack, TRP DH R-Evo brakes, Zipp Three Zero Motor Wheels and SRAM 160 crank arms. Part three of my suspension series details how to perform a blue knob, low speed compression hack on the Fox OEM Performance Float X.

IMG_5262.jpg


IMG_5262b.jpg



Tuning suspension is very much a rider specific thing. If you find your hands are sore after a ride, it will most likely be a tuning or stiction issue with your suspension.

Here is the best way I know of to dial in your suspension. I will do this whenever I buy a new bike or suspension component. I will drive to the trail head of my local area with my tools and shock pump. I will ride a very short loop of approximately 400 meters. I try to ride a loop which features various trail features which will work the suspension, this includes high speed flow, wash boarded trail, trail kickers, rock gardens, steep punchy climbs and downhill rock drops. After I ride each loop, I return to my truck to add or subtract air and or, add an air volume spacer. I will continue doing the short loop circuits until I've dialed in the suspension to my satisfaction. I once tried a Shock Wiz. It worked, but it was such a pain in the ass to deal with. Ultimately I ended up just adjusting manually by feel.

I would offer one last suggestion. Download a note taking app onto your cellular phone. For each area you ride, keep a record of the suspension settings you run on your fork and shock. I include my air pressure, volume spacer if any, compression, both LSC and HSC and also rebound. I also include my body weight and tire pressure. I include a date for the entry. If I make a new modification, I make a new entry and date. I do this because if the modification doesn't work, I have a record of my previous setup which worked. You want to add your body weight to the records. That way you will know to add or substract air pressure based upon how heavy or lighter you've become since the last entry. Keeping a record on your phone is extremely helpful. Is it a pain in the ass to do so, yes it is....but, it's better than trying to remember your settings each time you mess with your fork or shock.


Question: By lowering or removing the volume spacer, will this use more travel at the same sag and make it plusher, and then speed up the rebound to give it some pop?? not had chance to test the new settings as its not stopped raining with lots of flooding, not riding in that!!

Answer: I feel for you, rain sucks. On a positive note, you could live in Southern California where hikers are rabid, trails are as blown out as Kim Kardashian's ass and it rains once a year whether it needs to or not. Hint, stay with the UK rain....

Adding or removing an air volume spacer alters the interior volume of the air chamber. In other words, adding a volume spacer decreases the interior volume of space in the air chamber. Removing a volume spacer increases the interior volume of the air chamber. If you removed a volume spacer and ran the exact same air pressure as you were running before removing the volume spacer, this would tend to make the ride less firm or more plush on mid to end stroke because of the increase air chamber volume and lower air pressure due to the increased physical air chamber volume. The exact amount of ramp up is determined by the amount of space which has been subtracted or increased by the air volume spacer(s). It's for this reason that Fox offers volume spacers in various sizes which allows fine tuning of the air spring ramp up rate.

Note, that anytime you add or remove a volume spacer, you must reset sag and fine tune air pressure accordingly. If you were to add or remove a volume spacer and you were to run the exact same air pressure you had prior to messing with the volume spacers, then yes, this would affect plushness/firmness to some degree. Always reset sag and adjust air pressure accordingly.

Rebound adjustment is a very rider and terrain specific thing. An overly fast rebound will cause your wheels to hop and skip like a pogo stick when you encounter wash boarded trail. An overly fast rebound will cause your bike to want to walk sideways and not hold a line when you hit small ripples in the trail. An overly slow rebound will not give your suspension time to fully recover from a previous hit. If you hit a series of bumps or drops in quick succession, your suspension will essentially "Pack Up" i.e. not fully recover, and continue packing up until you bottom out. Ideally, you want your rebound set so that your wheels are making firm contact with the ground, your wheels track true instead of bucking beneath you like a bronco and your suspension is fully recovering after each hit. I personally find most people tend to run rebound too slow. It's a fine line between too fast and too slow. With experience you can tell if rebound is set correctly by pushing down on the handlebars and watching the fork and or shock recover. For what it's worth, on my Fox X2, I run 6 clicks of High Speed Rebound and 10 clicks of Low Speed Rebound. On my ZEB 170, I run 5 clicks of rebound. On my Fox Float X Performance, I run 6 clicks of rebound.

High and Low Speed compression settings are subjective and vary by rider and terrain. For what it's worth, on my X2, I run my open/firm lever in the open position. I run my Low Speed Compression fully open. I run my High Speed Compression at 8 clicks (2 clicks from full open). I run my Fox Float X Performance in the open position on the blue High Speed Compression lever. I run the "Hacked" blue Low Speed Compression knob in the full open position. On my ZEB, I run my Low Speed Compression 4 clicks from full open and my High Speed Compression 2 clicks from wide open.

Wow.....that was a lot. Good luck getting through all that....

Thank you for sharing the videos, I really enjoyed watching them. I love watching home trail videos. My buddies and I like to do road trips in which we drive to various "Bucket List" places to ride. The United States has an absolutely incredible diversity of terrain. I would absolutely love to ride in the UK some day. The videos looked great. We don't get that much greenery in So. Cal.

If your interested in seeing the terrain that Southern California and various other places in the United States has to offer, I've included links to mountain bike videos which I've made. The two videos mostly contain pictures and a few video segments which my buddies and I have taken during our rides/trips.

The first video I made during my recovery from an accident which nearly amputated my right foot. I couldn't walk for 18 months and was going crazy from not riding. I gathered up all my ride pictures and made the video. The video features rides and trips which my buddies and I did on our pedal bikes for the period from 2015 to my accident in October 2019. During my recovery, I switched to riding eBikes. The second video documents a road trip which my buddies and I took in September of 2022. We spent two weeks driving across the United States to ride various world class trails on our eBikes. The riding was absolutely incredible.

The videos are formatted for HD 1080P. However, the videos will sometimes open to a blurry 360P. When you open each video, click on the gear symbol in the lower right corner and make sure 1080P has been selected as the video viewing quality. That way the video pictures will be crisp.

Pedal Bike trips: 2015 to 2019

September 2022 Mountain Bike Trip

Be safe,
Rod
 
Last edited:

Nickolp1974

Active member
Jul 30, 2019
236
174
Louth lincs
Nickolp1974,

I hope you find the suspension articles useful. Much of what is contained in the articles will help you with your suspension issues and better understand my responses to your questions.

I am sorry to inflect this overly worded response upon you. I'll buy you a Guinness when I see you......

Question: I explained a little in an earlier post, but long story short, Fork, 20% sag 32mm, 80 psi, 30mm left over after 35 mile ride, gives me 100mm of travel I'm using. In this instance, bridleways etc., nothing at all extreme, no drops or jumps although if I see anything to pop off I will. It feels ok but it would be nice if it felt plusher for this type of riding. Got some volume reducers today, didn't know what was in the fork before hand, after looking today it has 2. Am I right in thinking for this type of riding and my requirements, a plusher feel but still being able to pop off things if I come across them I need to make the fork more linear?
Answer: Based upon your style of you riding and terrain, your would benefit greatly from a more linear rate of air spring compression, i.e. ramp up. You are absolutely correct in removing air volume spacers provided you are reaching sag and not bottoming out on your bridal path trails.

So, actually I should remove the volume spacers one at a time, add a bit of compression to stop the fork diving and dial rebound a little faster to help with the pop??
Answer: Yes that's correct. Keep in mind, that air components i.e. forks and shocks will start with a linear rate of compression at initial stroke. This is due to the negative air spring which offsets the positive air chamber's resistance to compression. However as a fork or shock reaches mid to end stroke, the air spring compression rates will begin to ramp up based upon air chamber tuning. Volume spacers alter the mid to end stroke air spring ramp up.

If you were hitting large trail features which were causing large compressive spikes in your suspension, you would ideally want a more progressive rate of air spring ramp up at mid to end stroke. This prevents bottom out when landing a feature. It's possible to alter the air spring ramp up rate on a fork or shock by adding a volume spacer and adjusting air pressure.

In your case, you are riding on predominantly smooth trails and are not hitting large compressive trail features. You would benefit more from a linear air spring compression ramp up rate. This is accomplished by removing volume spacers from the fork and or shock. Were it me, I would remove both volume spacers. I think you will discover that your fork and shock will be much plusher feeling. If your fork does not feel supportive enough on the mid to end stroke, then add one volume spacer and re-adjust sag and fine tune the air pressure setting by going for a ride with your shock pump.


Question: Rear shock, 30% sag 16.5mm (55mm stroke) comp open, 280psi, recommended rebound is 2 clicks from closed, i ran at 4 and it felt slow to me. opened up the shock and its got a yellow spacer in it 0.2 i believe, so i've swapped that for a smaller one which is half the size in diameter, can it be run with none???
Answer: Yes you can run the Float X with no volume spacer. Were I you, I would remove the air volume spacer and run the Float X with no volume spacer at all. You would want to add a volume spacer if you find after setting correct sag, that you are bottoming out too easily or if you find you are forced to run an excessively high air pressure rate, i.e. close to the maximum recommended air pressure to make sag. You would also add an air volume spacer if you are hitting large trail features and you need more support from mid to end stroke to keep from bottoming out.

After the same ride as the fork ride, I had about 13mm left so using around 70mm of travel in ride with sag being 45mm so total of 115mm being used. Again to make it more linear have I done the right thing by swapping the volume spacer for a smaller one??
Answer: Yes, removing a volume spacer will alter the air spring ramp. Removing a volume spacer will reduce the progressive rate of air spring compression and move it towards a linear rate of spring compression. Keep in mind mountain bike suspension will have some form of progressive ramp up rate at mid to end stroke. By removing a volume spacer you are simply decreasing the progressive ramp up rate mid to end stroke.

Here's the thing. The trick is to monitor your sag "O" ring as you ride. You want to occasionally bottom the O ring against the shocks wiper seal as you ride. I like to do this whenever I stop for a break. Occasionally, you want to look down and see what the O ring is doing as you ride. Is the O ring barely moving on the shaft? This means too much air and you need to let some out. Is the O ring being blown off the back of the shock or pushed up hard against the fork crown? This means too little air and you need to add some. Is it riding mid shaft? This means a wee bit too much air and you need to slightly adjust air pressure by removing only a few pounds until you get it right. The O ring will let you known whether to add or subtract air from the shock. When you ride, take your shock pump with you, at least until you dial in your suspension.

On moderate to high compressive trail features, you would ideally want to end your ride with the rear shock's sag "O" ring about six to eight millimeters from the end of the rear shocks shaft. On forks you want the O ring to be about 20mm from the bottom of the fork crown. In your case, you are riding mostly smooth bridal trails which offer small compressive forces. I would probably set the rear shock up so that I would end my ride with the sag "O" ring about 20mm or so from the end of the shaft. This will give you a very supportive pedal platform, i.e. no pedal bob and still have a bit of plushness. If your suspension is too plush, you'll experience pedal bob and possibly bottom out or strike a pedal on a gravity inducing "G Out."

SAG is not a set in concrete definition that must be adhered to come hell or highwater. I cannot stress this enough. SAG is merely a baseline starting point from which to begin adjusting your suspension. Once sag has been set, you will then fine tune your suspension by adding or removing a few pounds of air pressure and or, adding or removing volume spacers. It all depends upon the terrain you will be riding and your ride weight. In other words, stay away from cake and ice cream. You can have beer.....jus sayin.

Lastly, the air pressure and volume spacer setup that you run on your local bridal path trails, may not not be the same as what you'll run on Jacob's Ladder in the Peak District. Keep in mind, I run zero volume spacers in my ZEB 170mm fork and my X2 shock on my Levo. That's because I don't jump and 95% of the terrain I ride, doesn't offer high enough compressive forces to warrant a volume spacer. My Fox X2 recently began to leak and it's at Fox being warrantied. I have the stock Float X Performance on my Levo and it too has no volume spacers. It does have a custom damper tune to work with my fat ass. I routinely hit double black trails running no volume spacers and have had no issues.


My Levo in it's current form, ZEB 170, Fox "OEM" Float X Performance with a low speed compression hack, TRP DH R-Evo brakes, Zipp Three Zero Motor Wheels and SRAM 160 crank arms. Part three of my suspension series details how to perform a blue knob, low speed compression hack on the Fox OEM Performance Float X.

View attachment 127355

View attachment 127356


Tuning suspension is very much a rider specific thing. If you find your hands are sore after a ride, it will most likely be a tuning or stiction issue with your suspension.

Here is the best way I know of to dial in your suspension. I will do this whenever I buy a new bike or suspension component. I will drive to the trail head of my local area with my tools and shock pump. I will ride a very short loop of approximately 400 meters. I try to ride a loop which features various trail features which will work the suspension, this includes high speed flow, wash boarded trail, trail kickers, rock gardens, steep punchy climbs and downhill rock drops. After I ride each loop, I return to my truck to add or subtract air and or, add an air volume spacer. I will continue doing the short loop circuits until I've dialed in the suspension to my satisfaction. I once tried a Shock Wiz. It worked, but it was such a pain in the ass to deal with. Ultimately I ended up just adjusting manually by feel.

I would offer one last suggestion. Download a note taking app onto your cellular phone. For each area you ride, keep a record of the suspension settings you run on your fork and shock. I include my air pressure, volume spacer if any, compression, both LSC and HSC and also rebound. I also include my body weight and tire pressure. I include a date for the entry. If I make a new modification, I make a new entry and date. I do this because if the modification doesn't work, I have a record of my previous setup which worked. You want to add your body weight to the records. That way you will know to add or substract air pressure based upon how heavy or lighter you've become since the last entry. Keeping a record on your phone is extremely helpful. Is it a pain in the ass to do so, yes it is....but, it's better than trying to remember your settings each time you mess with your fork or shock.


Question: By lowering or removing the volume spacer, will this use more travel at the same sag and make it plusher, and then speed up the rebound to give it some pop?? not had chance to test the new settings as its not stopped raining with lots of flooding, not riding in that!!

Answer: I feel for you, rain sucks. On a positive note, you could live in Southern California where hikers are rabid, trails are as blown out as Kim Kardashian's ass and it rains once a year whether it needs to or not. Hint, stay with the UK rain....

Adding or removing an air volume spacer alters the interior volume of the air chamber. In other words, adding a volume spacer decreases the interior volume of space in the air chamber. Removing a volume spacer increases the interior volume of the air chamber. If you removed a volume spacer and ran the exact same air pressure as you were running before removing the volume spacer, this would tend to make the ride less firm or more plush on mid to end stroke because of the increase air chamber volume and lower air pressure due to the increased physical air chamber volume. The exact amount of ramp up is determined by the amount of space which has been subtracted or increased by the air volume spacer(s). It's for this reason that Fox offers volume spacers in various sizes which allows fine tuning of the air spring ramp up rate.

Note, that anytime you add or remove a volume spacer, you must reset sag and fine tune air pressure accordingly. If you were to add or remove a volume spacer and you were to run the exact same air pressure you had prior to messing with the volume spacers, then yes, this would affect plushness/firmness to some degree. Always reset sag and adjust air pressure accordingly.

Rebound adjustment is a very rider and terrain specific thing. An overly fast rebound will cause your wheels to hop and skip like a pogo stick when you encounter wash boarded trail. An overly fast rebound will cause your bike to want to walk sideways and not hold a line when you hit small ripples in the trail. An overly slow rebound will not give your suspension time to fully recover from a previous hit. If you hit a series of bumps or drops in quick succession, your suspension will essentially "Pack Up" i.e. not fully recover, and continue packing up until you bottom out. Ideally, you want your rebound set so that your wheels are making firm contact with the ground, your wheels track true instead of bucking beneath you like a bronco and your suspension is fully recovering after each hit. I personally find most people tend to run rebound too slow. It's a fine line between too fast and too slow. With experience you can tell if rebound is set correctly by pushing down on the handlebars and watching the fork and or shock recover. For what it's worth, on my Fox X2, I run 6 clicks of High Speed Rebound and 10 clicks of Low Speed Rebound. On my ZEB 170, I run 5 clicks of rebound. On my Fox Float X Performance, I run 6 clicks of rebound.

High and Low Speed compression settings are subjective and vary by rider and terrain. For what it's worth, on my X2, I run my open/firm lever in the open position. I run my Low Speed Compression fully open. I run my High Speed Compression at 8 clicks (2 clicks from full open). I run my Fox Float X Performance in the open position on the blue High Speed Compression lever. I run the "Hacked" blue Low Speed Compression knob in the full open position. On my ZEB, I run my Low Speed Compression 4 clicks from full open and my High Speed Compression 2 clicks from wide open.

Wow.....that was a lot. Good luck getting through all that....

Thank you for sharing the videos, I really enjoyed watching them. I love watching home trail videos. My buddies and I like to do road trips in which we drive to various "Bucket List" places to ride. The United States has an absolutely incredible diversity of terrain. I would absolutely love to ride in the UK some day. The videos looked great. We don't get that much greenery in So. Cal.

If your interested in seeing the terrain that Southern California and various other places in the United States has to offer, I've included links to mountain bike videos which I've made. The two videos mostly contain pictures and a few video segments which my buddies and I have taken during our rides/trips.

The first video I made during my recovery from an accident which nearly amputated my right foot. I couldn't walk for 18 months and was going crazy from not riding. I gathered up all my ride pictures and made the video. The video features rides and trips which my buddies and I did on our pedal bikes for the period from 2015 to my accident in October 2019. During my recovery, I switched to riding eBikes. The second video documents a road trip which my buddies and I took in September of 2022. We spent two weeks driving across the United States to ride various world class trails on our eBikes. The riding was absolutely incredible.

The videos are formatted for HD 1080P. However, the videos will sometimes open to a blurry 360P. When you open each video, click on the gear symbol in the lower right corner and make sure 1080P has been selected as the video viewing quality. That way the video pictures will be crisp.

Pedal Bike trips: 2015 to 2019

September 2022 Mountain Bike Trip

Be safe,
Rod
Hi Rod, firstly WOW some amazing places in the videos, you are blessed to be able ride in such diverse beautiful areas such as those, EPIC!! I do like the bit in Utah with the arrow saying "mud" thats all my bridleways are pretty much from start to finish, adds a new element to this time of year which makes the odd bit a little more interesting which is great, but it hammers the bike :( Love a Guinness especially in Ireland, been many times and its where i first tasted that magical beverage. Thanks for the vids they were great ;) The peak district one i shared, check out more of his, funny group of guys just doing there thing.
I always thought if anything was under the cap on the float X, ordered one. Any idea what thats set to at default on the levo?? After reading everything think i will remove all volume spacers and work up if i need too, which i very much doubt for my local stuff. Will be able to go out tomoz and test. Should be a fair bit dryer by then and i have to wait for a bleed kit! I messed up LOL, wanted to try and improve the Sram code R's, not great out of the box. Done 50 miles on the bike since new, went to lube the pistons and align them correctly. Upon pumping the brake(rear) only 1 moved out of the 4!! in my haste i carried on pumping, forgot to put a 4mm allen key between the caliper and of course a piston popped out spewing out the oil. Had a shimano bleed kit which i managed to get it to work, but of course shimano use mineral oil and not dot!!! so ordered the correct oil and the kit, need to get the mixed oil out asap. On a positive the pistons now move evenly front and rear and hit the rotor correctly so hoping this will improve them, sure it will. As long as i havn't knackered any seals with the mixed oil(rear only)
Thanks for all the advice, can't wait to get out and test some set ups and get this thing dialed.

Nick
 

Rod B.

Well-known member
Aug 18, 2021
509
869
USA, Orange County Ca.
Hi Rod, firstly WOW some amazing places in the videos, you are blessed to be able ride in such diverse beautiful areas such as those, EPIC!! I do like the bit in Utah with the arrow saying "mud" thats all my bridleways are pretty much from start to finish, adds a new element to this time of year which makes the odd bit a little more interesting which is great, but it hammers the bike :( Love a Guinness especially in Ireland, been many times and its where i first tasted that magical beverage. Thanks for the vids they were great ;) The peak district one i shared, check out more of his, funny group of guys just doing there thing.
I always thought if anything was under the cap on the float X, ordered one. Any idea what thats set to at default on the levo?? After reading everything think i will remove all volume spacers and work up if i need too, which i very much doubt for my local stuff. Will be able to go out tomoz and test. Should be a fair bit dryer by then and i have to wait for a bleed kit! I messed up LOL, wanted to try and improve the Sram code R's, not great out of the box. Done 50 miles on the bike since new, went to lube the pistons and align them correctly. Upon pumping the brake(rear) only 1 moved out of the 4!! in my haste i carried on pumping, forgot to put a 4mm allen key between the caliper and of course a piston popped out spewing out the oil. Had a shimano bleed kit which i managed to get it to work, but of course shimano use mineral oil and not dot!!! so ordered the correct oil and the kit, need to get the mixed oil out asap. On a positive the pistons now move evenly front and rear and hit the rotor correctly so hoping this will improve them, sure it will. As long as i havn't knackered any seals with the mixed oil(rear only)
Thanks for all the advice, can't wait to get out and test some set ups and get this thing dialed.

Nick
Nick, I'm glad you enjoyed the videos. Regarding the mud....You know how everybody has a riding partner that's a trail dirt shit magnet? He's the guy that says "Let's do this 25 mile ride, it only has 2,000 meters of climbing, don't be a pussy" Well, that's my buddy Dan. Dan wanted to do a winter ride on the Thunder Mountain Trail located near Bryce Canyon in Utah. I mentioned the possibility of snow at the high elevation. Dan said it wasn't an issue. He was right, the snow had all melted by the time we got to the trailhead. Halfway into the ride, we dropped down into a valley on the Thunder Mountain Trail and realized what became of all the melted snow. At the bottom, we hit a mud patch that was about a mile long. The mud was about 10 inches deep. It was not possible to go around the mud due to steep sides of the narrow valley. The mud literally sucked the shoes off of my feet and my rear wheel locked up solid due to the clay. I ended up walking barefoot for about a 1/2 mile with my bike on my back. Everybody gave a "Thanks Dan" and he bought beers that night. When you watch the videos you will see various mentions on the maps which say Thanks Dan...

As a side note, if anybody from the forum is visiting the US and would like additional information on California, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, or Arkansas trails seen in the videos, send me a private message. I may be able to answer your questions. If you are planning a visit to Orange County California and interested in doing a ride, send me a private message. I may be able to arrange for an eBike and ride gear so you can get in a ride with my buddies and I.

Thunder Mountain on a beautiful spring trail day, with no mud conditions
IMG_1559 (2).JPG


My previous eBike, an Orbea Rise
IMG_3821.JPG


High speed flow down to the valley floor
IMG_E1569.JPG


In regards to your brakes. SRAM "Guide" and "Code" brakes are what I call "Needy" brakes. They have to be maintained constantly to work right. I love them, but they are a pain in the ass to deal with. I also like Shimano brakes. Both systems are good in their own way. I like being able to feather my SRAM brakes in critical braking situations. On the other hand, I also like the stopping power of Shimano brakes.

At issue with SRAM brakes are the phenolic plastic pistons which SRAM uses on Guide and Code calipers. Note that Shimano uses a much harder ceramic piston. Ceramic is less prone to scoring from dirt which is why Shimano pistons don't stick as much. On SRAM brakes, after a very short period of time, the plastic pistons will become gummed up and begin to score. Eventually, the pistons will begin sticking in their piston bores.

For those of you who have SRAM Guide or Code brakes, if you are having trouble achieving a hard bleed, i.e. the lever remains soft no matter how many times you bleed the brakes. The cause will most likely be a sticking piston or multiple stuck pistons. I know it sounds strange but a sticking piston will not allow you to achieve a good bleed. If you begin to experience a brake pad rubbing on the rotor sound while spinning the wheel and despite numerous attempts at centering the caliper the noise continues, the cause is most likely a sticking piston(s).

As Nickolp1974 mentions, you can perform a piston cleaning service on SRAM brakes. Most of the time, this will free sticking pistons. When cleaning SRAM pistons, I use the following process:

1. One at a time, extend each piston outward from it's bore in the caliper.
2. Take a Q-Tip dipped in rubbing alcohol and clean the piston.
3. After cleaning the piston, take a long but thin strip of cotton t-shirt. Wrap it around the piston. Work the cotton strip back and forth in a buffing motion to polish the piston and remove small scratches.
4. After polishing the piston, take another Q-tip dipped in brake fluid and lubricate the piston.
5. Push the piston fully back into it's bore.
6. After all of the pistons have been cleaned, take a rag dipped in alcohol and completely clean the caliper and caliper piston area so that dirt won't accumulate and cause excessive dirt build up.

The above procedure will free any stuck pistons and you will now be able to achieve a very good bleed, i.e. A firm brake lever.

Nick mentions that during the above cleaning process, he accidentally pushed a piston too far out of it's caliper bore and thus drained the brake fluid from the caliper and lost bleed. I wish I had a quarter for every time I've done this. They now make a tool specifically for the purpose of cleaning SRAM and other brake system pistons. The tool which costs only a few pounds, inserts into the caliper and only allows two pistons at a time to fully extend for cleaning. The tool prevents the other pistons from popping out of the bores. After servicing the one bank of pistons, you flip the block and do the same for the other side. There are various designs and types of exposure blocks for sale on eBay, Etsy, etc. Below is an example of an SRAM exposure block produced in the UK.

Screenshot 2023-10-21 09.14.48.jpg




Instead of cleaning and if I have time, what I prefer to do is completely replace the brake pistons and seals each time I replace my brake pads. I know this sounds intimidating and it requires a brake bleed, however after doing this a few times, you can knock out a caliper and bleed in about 15-20 minutes each. Replacing your pistons with new pistons will eliminate sticking pistons and insure a firm lever and beautiful braking.

You can purchase both Guide or Code pistons in kit form. Guide and Code calipers have differing size pistons and the kits are not interchangeable. If you have Code brakes, buy a Code piston rebuild kit. One kit is good for one caliper. You will also need SRAM DOT grease during re-assembly.

SRAM Code Piston & Seal Kit

Screenshot 2023-10-21 09.35.55.jpg


SRAM caliper DOT assembly grease

Screenshot 2023-10-21 09.38.45.jpg




SRAM brakes use DOT 4 or 5.1 brake fluid. I prefer 5.1 because the boiling temperature for the fluid is higher. Make sure to immediately wipe up spilled or splattered brake fluid which makes contact with the bike. If the brake fluid is left standing on painted surfaces, it will damage the paint. I keep a spray bottle filled with water next to me when I work on SRAM brakes. If I have a spill, I immediately spray the entire area with water and then wipe down. You never know when you might miss a drop. The water will dilute the brake fluid and prevent it from damaging the paint.

If you have decent bike mechanical skills, performing a caliper brake piston replacement service is actually very easy to do and doesn't require any special tools other than a SRAM DOT bleed kit and a plastic pick. In truth, a caliper overhaul only takes a few minutes longer than a thorough piston cleaning. The results from new seals and pistons is worth the extra work and time. I no longer clean pistons. If a caliper has sticking pistons, I rebuild the caliper.

There are many companies who produce quality bleed kits, i.e. Park Tool, SRAM, etc. I prefer the Elite Bleed Kit produced by Jagwire. The kit can be used on various DOT braking systems such as Hayes, SRAM, Hope, etc. The materials in the bleed kit are higher quality.

Screenshot 2023-10-21 09.41.56.jpg


When I perform a piston replacement service, I leave the caliper mounted on the bike to save time. However, if you are unfamiliar with the process, it's much better to remove the caliper from the bike, as there's less chance of fluid spilling and damaging paint.

This is critically important. Before you remove the brake line from the caliper or loosen the bleed screw, insure that all four pistons have been extended out of their bore holes far enough so that you can get a grip upon each piston with a pair of pliers. You are replacing the pistons so it doesn't matter if the pliers scratch them. I cannot stress this enough. You will need all four pistons extended far enough so that they can be removed with a pair of pliers. If you split the caliper before you have extended the pistons, the rebuild process becomes very difficult. If you do forget to extend the pistons, then re-join the two halves together and perform a half assed bleed so you can extend the pistons.

There may come an occasion where a piston has cracked and you are unable to force all the pistons out of their bores. If this should occur, you will need to split the caliper. Once the caliper halves are split, you can blow air into a brake fluid feed port on the halve and force the piston out of the bore. This is not an easy process, but it can be done.

You may also encounter a situation where a piston is firmly stuck in it's bore and you cannot get it to release with fluid or air. It's also possible you may not have access to an air compressor, but need to remove a piston(s). You can take a small 1/8 (3mm) drill bit and drill a hole through the very center of the phenolic plastic piston. The piston is soft, so it doesn't take much pressure to drill through the piston. The back side of the piston will have a small cavity which will allow you to drill through the piston. Be extremely careful when drilling, you do not want to drill into the back side of the piston bore. Be slow and cautious with your drilling. Once you have drilled the hole, take a small wood screw of similar size to the hole you've drilled. Thread the wood screw into the hole. Using a pair of piers, grip the screw and remove the stuck or broken piston.

Okay, you've read this thread and you begin the process of extending the pistons. This first involves removing your wheel. Leave the brake pads in place on the caliper. Squeeze the brake lever and extend the pistons outward until all four pistons are fully pressed against the brake pads. Remove the brake pads and once again slowly extend the brake pistons outward by pumping the brake lever. At least one of the pistons will try to extend outward before the others. Using a plastic tire lever, apply pressure against that piston to keep it from moving. Slowly pump the brake lever and work the other pistons out of their bores. Eventually, you will reach a point where all of the pistons are extended far enough so that you can grab them with pliers. Note that the farther out the pistons are the better. Eventually, as you work the pistons fully out, one of the pistons will pop from it's bore.

After you have fully extended the pistons, detach the brake hose from the caliper and wrap a rag around the end of the brake hose to prevent fluid from dripping on the bike. The banjo fitting and screw which attaches the brake line to the caliper uses several small "O" rings. The piston kit comes with replacement banjo fitting O rings. Replace the O rings on the banjo fitting/screw. I use a small plastic pick to remove and install the O rings.

SRAM calipers are held together with two screws. Remove the screws and separate the caliper into two halves. Set the silver heat shield off to the side but in view. It's east to forget about the heat shield during re-assembly. You will note there are two small O rings which seal the caliper at the two screws. The kit comes with replacement O rings. Remove the two O rings from their indentations in the caliper halve.

With the caliper split, you want to use care while working around the mirror surface finish of the caliper halve. You do not want to scratch the finish which can possibly cause a fluid leak. I use a plastic pick to prevent the chances of scratching the alloy body of the caliper halve.

Using a pair of pliers, softly grab a piston at it's tip. Using a combination of "Twisting and Turning" while also "Gently" pulling, remove the piston from it's bore. If you try to pull directly up on the piston without twisting the piston will not come out. Make absolutely sure that the nose of the pliers does not come in contact with the caliper halve and scratch the mirror finish as you work on removing the pistons.

Once you have removed all of the pistons, you will see a square O ring in each of the piston bores. Using your plastic pick, remove the O rings from the four piston bores.

Using a spray bottle filled with rubbing alcohol, spray down the caliper halves and clean them thoroughly. Small pieces of the caliper pistons may have broken off during their extraction. Make sure all of the pieces are removed from the caliper and caliper bores. You are now done with disassembly.

SRAM Code and Guide calipers use four pistons. Two of the pistons will be small and two will be larger. During reassembly, start with the smaller piston O rings by separating them from the larger O rings in the kit. Apply a small amount of DOT grease to the O rings. One at a time, insert them into their groove inside the piston bore. Once fully inserted, use a finger to insure the O ring is fully seated in the groove and not twisted. Do this by spinning your finger around the O ring. Repeat the same process for the larger piston O rings. Do not go heavy on the DOT Grease. If you apply too much, it can plug or restrict the brake fluid feed ports in the caliper halves.

Starting with the smaller pistons, apply a small film of DOT grease around the circumference of the pistons. One at a time, gently insert the piston into it's caliper bore hole. Insure that the piston is going straight into the bore by performing a visual check. As you push the piston into it's bore, you will feel resistance when the piston meets the O ring. Apply forceful pressure and push the piston past the O ring and completely into the bore. You want the piston to completely bottom out in the bore. If it's not, it can cause an air pocket issue during the brake bleed process. Repeat this same procedure with the larger pistons.

Remove the remainder small O rings which are used to seal the caliper halves from the kit bag. Apply a film of grease and place the O rings into their indentations in the caliper halve.

The heat shield is attached to the caliper via two small protruding tabs on the heat shield. Make sure the curved heat shield is orientated so that the heat shield curve matches the curve of the caliper. The heat shield tabs will insert into indentations in the caliper halves. Carefully join the two caliper halves together and insure the O rings have not fallen out. Using the two caliper screws, join the two caliper halves together and torque the screws to specification.

Okay, you're like me and you forgot about the heat shield......loosen the two caliper screws and split the caliper slightly apart. Slide the heat shield into place and re-tighten the caliper screws to toque specifications. It's only bad if you discover you forgot the heat shield and have bled the brakes.....SH*#.....

Once everything has been fully assembled and all grease and other debris has been cleaned from the caliper, you can install the caliper back on the bike. After doing so, perform a standard bleed by using a bleed block in place of the brake pads. You're good to go.

Attached is the official SRAM caliper rebuild video for visual reference.


Here is a link to the 2023 SRAM Small Parts Catalog where you can find part numbers for various SRAM kits and components.

 

Nickolp1974

Active member
Jul 30, 2019
236
174
Louth lincs
Just had a 37mile ride and brakes feel much better, front is biting well and rear is a lot better but not as good as front, my fault though as the rotor wasn't aligned correctly, only by a mm or so i adjusted it, should of left it as pads had done 50 miles in wet conditions. most likely after another muddy ride i wil do the rears again as it should then have bedded into the rotor by then.
Forks felt better with no volume spacers, but i think i need to lube the dust seals next ride, they were not sticking but i feel it would help a little more.
Again rear was better with no volume spacers but i think there was too much sag and i didn't take a pump with me. Not sure what the factory sets compression too but i'm doing the float X hack/blue knob when it arrives.
 

Rod B.

Well-known member
Aug 18, 2021
509
869
USA, Orange County Ca.
Just had a 37mile ride and brakes feel much better, front is biting well and rear is a lot better but not as good as front, my fault though as the rotor wasn't aligned correctly, only by a mm or so i adjusted it, should of left it as pads had done 50 miles in wet conditions. most likely after another muddy ride i wil do the rears again as it should then have bedded into the rotor by then.
Forks felt better with no volume spacers, but i think i need to lube the dust seals next ride, they were not sticking but i feel it would help a little more.
Again rear was better with no volume spacers but i think there was too much sag and i didn't take a pump with me. Not sure what the factory sets compression too but i'm doing the float X hack/blue knob when it arrives.
Nick,

If you or any other members are interested, I did a three part series on Shimano brakes for the Orbea Forum a while back. Even though the articles apply to Shimano brakes and Orbea Rise modifications, they are still very applicable to SRAM brakes other than Shimano using mineral oil and SRAM using DOT brake fluid.

The articles discuss various things including, sticking brake pistons, brake pad cleaning and surfacing, identifying troubling wear patterns on brake pads, when to replace a brake rotor, etc. I think you'll find the information very useful.




So, the cool thing about suspension is it's a very personal thing. Experiment with your suspension, twist the knobs, see what happens. I forgot to add one more suggestion for you. If you could do this for me, I would really appreciate it. Find a short little loop on your home trail. The object will be to test your suspension only. This will not be a bike ride. Make sure the section has a little bit of roughness to get the suspension working.

Starting with the fork first, I want you to turn all the dials to full close, this includes compression, rebound, etc. I recall your bike has a OEM Fox Rhythm which has an open to firm lever. Close the lever. Ride your bike a short distance and feel what your suspension is doing. It'll ride extremely harsh, much like a rigid fork. Next, I want you to open once click everything and back the ride lever off a bit from firm. Feel what the suspension is doing. Keep doing this every hundred feet or so until your have gone to full open on the ride lever and rebound. Now that you know what the suspension feels like on both extremes, you can start dialing the adjustments to what works and feels good for you. You are going to find that at about mid adjustments, the fork is going to feel really good to you. Make a note of that adjustment on your cell phone and continue riding through the loop.

On your next short loop, I want you to do the exact same thing for your rear shock. Close everything out and during the short loop, start back things off until everything is full open. Once again, there will be a point on the loop where your rear suspension will feel really good. Make a note of this on your cell phone.

On your third short loop, you're going to adjust your fork and shock to the settings you noted on your cell phone. Things might possibly feel off a bit because you are now combining both settings. However, because you now know what it feels like for all extremes, you can give each component a single click here or there to make it a Goldilocks thing, i.e. "Just Right." Now your ready to hit the trail.

You'll have noticed that removing the volume spacers plushed up the fork and or the shock, and made things more small bump compliant and softer in a way. This is because removing volume spacers enlarged the air chamber or your fork and or the shock. You may need to add just a few pounds to accommodate the enlarged air chamber and the now more linear rate of progression caused by the enlarged air chamber. Keep in mind, we're talking just a few pounds here or there. When you do your short loop suspension circuit that I spoke of above. Take your shock pump with you. Add a few pounds...substract a few pounds...Make it just right. You're good to go brother.
 

Nickolp1974

Active member
Jul 30, 2019
236
174
Louth lincs
went to sherwood pines today, new burgtec carbon bars were great, maxxis shortys were fab where ground was soft but a bit slippy on the rockier parts but most likely as i was running higher than normal pressures, shocks F&R felt good although due to not running any tokens i bottomed out quite a few times 20%F 30%R so will probably reinstall for next time, new deathgrips(thick) also felt great. Brakes as always (code R's) shocking!!! they need to go, they just don't install confidence at all, got some new uberbike sintered pads to try but i won't hold my breath, just gonna swap them out. Enjoyed it though today, few new bits since i last went, was fun. Missed the derestriction of my last bike, but if my Levo was unlocked it could of been very sketchy due to brakes, will get both parts sorted for next time.
 

Mikerb

E*POWAH Elite World Champion
May 16, 2019
6,204
4,709
Weymouth
some really good suspension set up advice a bove!

A small cameo example from me with Fox 38s ( Performance Elite/Factory).I have 2 bikes each using Fox 38s...one ebike tuned....the other not. The ebike tuned version is set up with compression and rebound settings pretty close to Fox recommendations, but somewhat less air spring pressure than recommended, and its performance is fantastic.

I tried to replicate that performance on the other Fox 38 but found the response very different. So I ended up using a much lower air spring pressure and ran compression fully open and rebound almost fully fast. It was OK but small bump compliance was poor and it lacked pop off a jump ramp.

The key difference in tune between the forks is that the ebike tuned version has a "softer" tune.

So I decided to have another go at set up and this time I checked the tokens in the air spring....there were 3. I reduced them to 2 and the net result was that I increased air pressure by 10psi to achieve the same SAG ( 25%) and now all compression and rebound settings ( High and Low speed) are very close to Fox recommendations. So much difference just by removing one token!!

The moral of the story here is that there is a very special relationship between the air spring and the damper that needs to be found if you want them to work well in combination. I probably need to do a little fine tuning when actually riding my favourite trails now, but it will only consist of 1 or 2 clicks either way on LSC and LSR rebound.
 

Mikerb

E*POWAH Elite World Champion
May 16, 2019
6,204
4,709
Weymouth
Some further thoughts/experiences with Fork set up:-
The advice is always to set SAG first but not be a slave to the manufacturers recommendations and there is a very good reason for that. Firstly the front to rear weight balance of bikes varies as does frame design and that means standing in the ready position will put more or less combined bike and body weight over the bars. Different head angles, different fork offset, full29er or mullet.........all make a difference. Different riders of the same riding weight also have different body proportions.....again meaning a different % of overall mass over the bars. Lastly, I can get wildly different Sag% for the same air pressure with only slight variance in how I position myself............even a change in pedal angle ( toe or heel down) changes the front to rear overall mass balance.
The important thing to achieve is consistency.........replicating the same process to set SAG whilst altering the pressure.
The purpose of SAG is to set the starting position of the Fork in terms of its travel before it has to deal with g outs, drops jumps and trail chatter. Most brands recommend that point to be c 20% of total travel......less for a firmer ride, more for a plusher ride on more mellow trails.
So here are my recommendations for setting SAG. (kitted out in helmet and usual riding gear)

1. By far the best way to hold the bike stable is to have someone stand over the front wheel and hold the bars........where that is not possible, setting the bike up next to a wall is second best but just use your elbow against the wall to hold you in position. Dont use the brakes and dont block the front wheel with a stand.
2. Slam the dropper.............adopt the ready position with your chin over the stem, arms slightly bent at the elbows, pedals level, and pump the fork through c 30% of its travel a few times.
3. After releasing the last pump, you or your assistant needs then to push the O ring down to the seal. ( If you merely set SAG without using that pumping process, you will have the inevitable initial resistance caused by the seals giving you a false reading)
4. gently get off the bike. You can then measure the distance from the seal to the O ring.
 

decooney

New Member
Aug 27, 2023
11
4
NorCal USA
May 2024, new member here. Looking for feedback from 200+lb riders maybe upgrading from Fox 36 to new generation 38 forks.

My rider weight kitted is 218lbs, on a 2023 Turbo Levo Comp Carbon, S4 size.

Fork Change:
Moving from the OEM Fox 36 Rhythm 160mm fork to the new Fox 38 Performance Elite Grip X2 170mm fork setup soon on order. Looking for more support and fork rigidity/stabilty/predictability due to rider weight on a heavier 50.2lb eBike. Fox tech and local bike shop agrees, we'll see how it goes.

I did try a Levo Expert with the last generation Grip2 damper, and could immediately feel a sense of added stability and predictability compared to my oem 36 Rhythm fork. The could be beefier chassis alone, I suspect. Not sure. Hoping the new design fork, Grip x2 damper design, and with new bushing setup will be more plush too if i don't have to air it up too much like I do now with the 36s trying to keep them at the top of the stroke. Ex MC dirt biker here, novice-intermediate on my eMTB.

Feedback and comments welcome if any of you are researching the same or comparable stories from friends, Thx.
 

Rod B.

Well-known member
Aug 18, 2021
509
869
USA, Orange County Ca.
May 2024, new member here. Looking for feedback from 200+lb riders maybe upgrading from Fox 36 to new generation 38 forks.

My rider weight kitted is 218lbs, on a 2023 Turbo Levo Comp Carbon, S4 size.

Fork Change:
Moving from the OEM Fox 36 Rhythm 160mm fork to the new Fox 38 Performance Elite Grip X2 170mm fork setup soon on order. Looking for more support and fork rigidity/stabilty/predictability due to rider weight on a heavier 50.2lb eBike. Fox tech and local bike shop agrees, we'll see how it goes.

I did try a Levo Expert with the last generation Grip2 damper, and could immediately feel a sense of added stability and predictability compared to my oem 36 Rhythm fork. The could be beefier chassis alone, I suspect. Not sure. Hoping the new design fork, Grip x2 damper design, and with new bushing setup will be more plush too if i don't have to air it up too much like I do now with the 36s trying to keep them at the top of the stroke. Ex MC dirt biker here, novice-intermediate on my eMTB.

Feedback and comments welcome if any of you are researching the same or comparable stories from friends, Thx.
Decooney,

I weigh pretty much the same as you in full kit. I ride fairly technical black to double black trails with the occasional 'I'm having a lazy day' fire road ride thrown in. On my 2022 carbon comp Levo, I installed a 2022 ZEB Ultimate with buttercups 170 and a custom damper tuned Fox X2 (stock length). The bike can pretty much handle anything I can throw at it. My suspension setup is stable, even in the worst of chunk.

The Fox 38 with Grip 2 is a very good fork. It's a much stiffer fork than the Fox 36. The Fox 36 Rhythm can also be upgraded to make it an extremely good fork, i.e. addition of a Grip 2 damper, Vorsprung Luftkappe negative air piston, custom damper tuned to your weight, etc.

If your interested I wrote several basic info suspension articles for the eMTB Orbea Forum. You might find them interesting as a reference for suspension upgrades.




Be safe,
Rod
 

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