Basic Full-Suspension Types /Reference

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Basic Full-Suspension Types /Reference

Postby ChiliPepper » Thu Jan 02, 2014 7:02 pm

What the differences are between suspension types is a common question for beginner/novice mountain bikers, or riders who've stuck with hardtails and are considering making the change to FS.

So I've made a basic rundown on full-suspension bikes and pro's/con's a sticky for everyone's future reference.

Singlepivot (i.e. SantaCruz Heckler, Cannondale bikes) - These bikes are great in their simplicity, strength, and versatility of design. They can be built either as a minimal travel XC race bike, or a freeride meteor. However, they do suffer from pedal-bob, and the suspension is often locked out while pedaling or braking, making the bike a virtual hardtail. This can be alleviated to an extent by many of the pedaling-platform shocks on the market, as well as several aftermarket floating-brake caliper setups.

Horstlink/FSR (i.e. Specialized FS bikes, Norco bikes) - This suspension design is considered one of the best pedaling, and remains fairly active under braking. Contrary to the hype, Horst-linkage bikes often do exhibit some pedal feedback while in the granny-gear, and the suspension does benefit from a pedal-platform shock damper(s). It can be a somewhat flimsy design unless well thought-out, and companies other than Specialized have to pay to use their patent, and often that shows in the cost of a Horstlink bike. Norco & Fuji are companies that use this setup.

Virtual Pivot Point (i.e. SantaCruz Blur, Intense bikes, Marin bikes) - Here the rear triangle pivots on two short rotating links near the seat-tube, and behind the bottom bracket. This design is very versatile, but depends a LOT on proper shock setup/sag. When done correctly, these bikes resist pedal-bob very well, and although they do exhibit some stiffening of the suspension under braking, it's negligible. Again, this depends highly on proper shock setup.

Four-bar/Rocker Link (i.e. Trek bikes, Kona bikes) - This is design is very similar to the FSR/Horstlink setup, but differs in that the rear pivot is placed above the axle instead of on the chain-stays. This makes causes a small increase in pedal-bob, but has more of a tendency to lock-out the suspension under braking. However, these bikes can be made as light or as beefy as needed, and there are a lot more choices of frames using this design.

DW Link (i.e. Iron Horse bikes) - This is a fairly new design, somewhat related to the VPP linkage system, but supposedly responds a lot better to hard pedaling than the VPP suspensions and is not as reliant on precise shock dialing. I'm not too familiar with this setup, other than what I've read.

I-Drive/Freedrive (i.e. GT bikes, Mongoose bikes) - These look a bit like a single-pivot design, except that the pivoting rear triangle actually includes the bottom bracket. This solves the problem of pedaling topping out the suspension, and pedal bob to some extent. I am unfamiliar with this design as well, and I am unsure on how braking affects this suspension.

Mono-Link (i.e. Maverick Bikes) - This suspension design is somewhat like a URT (Unified Rear Triangle) design, except the bottom-bracket is housed in the lower linkage. This setup keeps the suspension's travel in a path parallel to the fork's travel, which aids in tackling square-edged obstacles. It also keeps chain-growth to a minimum, which in turn keeps pedal feedback to a minimum. The Mono-Link is an efficient & easy pedaling design well suited for technical singletrack.

Soft-Tails (i.e. Salsa bikes) - These have a very minimal amount of travel, and this is granted by the seat-stays actually flexing up to 2", and damped by a shock. I've seen this setup on a lot of 29" bikes, and are popular with the XC/endurance crowd. The bonus here is that the price of a premium softtail frame is often between that of a hardtail and a full-on FS rig, and while not providing as much cushion, they still keep you from feeling every bump later and are simple to service.

"Magic-Link" (Kona's new design) - Now, this one is VERY interesting. Under power or while coasting, and depending on the rider's position, the extra little shock under the main damper compresses or extends. This changes the bike's head-tube angle, making it steer slower on fast downhills or sharper on climbs. It also increases/decreases suspension travel a bit. I've not tested this design out yet, but from all accounts it's a very effective & efficient suspension.

ABP ("Active Braking Pivot") - Another new design, this one puts the rear pivot point at the rear axle, which supposedly does away with braking/pedaling feedback. Again, I've not tested it, but it is also reported to be very good.
ChiliPepper
 

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