Tyler is a fast local rider in the SF Bay Area. He is a former downhill pro and is still races as a pro in the California Enduro Series. Tyler had a bike setup that he liked and could control. His bike cornered well and seemed balanced. We chose Tyler as a test rider based on his riding ability and familiarity with his setup. He had his shock re-valved to match his fork. Based on his testing and development of the bike, he was convinced he had a great setup but still had an open mind to try out something new. Tyler’s bike was the first attempt to use our balance algorithm to dial in a bike. The test was simple, shuttle to the top, ride down, analyze the data, make a change, keep Tyler blind on what we changed. Just ride the bike and report back on how it feels.
Second run, better results. Fork speed had increased a bit, in the 1900-2100 mm/s range. We were heading in the right direction. We decided to not touch the shock and only work on the fork. We opened up the rebound 2 more clicks. After this run Tyler had a blank stare on his face. I asked what’s up and his reaction was “I don’t know if I should buy you a beer or give you my first born, but that was amazing.” We looked at the data and were encouraged, fork velocities were peaking in the 2300 – 2500 mm/s range. Again, Tyler is a pro rider so we opened up the fork 2 more clicks. This run was his best ever down that section of trail, he was ecstatic on the feeling of his fork. Peak fork velocities were now in the 2500-2800 mm/s range. We began to look at the shock. Tyler’s shock was rebounding at 900 – 1200 mm/s velocity range. This was way too slow in our opinion for an advanced rider like Tyler. We decided to open up the shock rebound all the way. When developing a bike balance, you will see in the data the front and rear dampers put pressure on each other back and forth much like a teeter-totter. You may get the fork rebounding to your desired speed range, but increasing the shock rebound will then apply pressure to the fork and slow it down. Increasing Tyler’s shock rebound all the way ultimately increased shock velocities to 1800 mm/s. This change ended up slowing down his fork a bit, but overall the bike was in way better shape than when it started.
I cannot compare my riding to Tyler’s but I decided to follow him down the run. I saw about 20 seconds of his run as he quickly left me in the dust. What I saw was a rider in a neutral position, hucking off large rocks into rock gardens, and railing a right to the left-hand corner. I watched him huck off a 10’ vertical drop and he disappeared. It was my first time on the trail, but still, I witnessed a rider with confidence. I asked him if he always rode like that and his reaction was:
“Hell no! My hands couldn’t take the abuse. My old style was to look for immovable objects that I could bank my bike off so I could turn the bike. I didn’t have corner grip so my style was to pinball my way down the mountain banking off objects. With the way the bike rides now, it seems to ride higher in the stroke. The bike is set up perfectly into a corner so I don’t have to focus my attention to where the tires connect to objects, which lets me look forward. In rock gardens, the faster rebound is keeping my wheel planted. In fact, I feel like the bike travels straighter since the fork is in position to hit the next rock lower (closer to the open position) in the stroke travel. The bike feels great! I am bummed I haven’t been riding this bike all along…”
From the analysis we did on Tyler’s bike, we concluded that we made significant progress but he needed a shock with more rebound speed. We nearly doubled his fork rebound speed. However, we ran out of clicks on shock rebound which means the shock needs a re-valve to speed things up. Since our session, Tyler’s been to Whistler and has raced a few more Enduros. When I see him at the races he’s all smiles and is thankful we helped him get the most of his bike.