Mountain bikes go through a tremendous amount of testing before we can put our name on it. First, we need to define the geometry and kinematics of the bike and make a prototype that we can test our insights. At the same time, we test frame flex and durability of the bearings, axles, and bolts. Later we finalize the usability and optimize weight. Throughout the test, we try different parts and try to cherrypick the best combo for each price/user case categories. The most significant parts for performance are tested by timed runs and they are documented very carefully. Also, our race team is a constant test group that is doing their best at finding failures and improvements to our products. We do several runs with each shock and make notes verbally during the runs. Also, we make notes after the runs and analyze all later through video editing software and timing data.
Here is a documentary from one test session
Leo went to a local bike park and did several runs on different shocks and documented the runs on a stopwatch, video, and Strava. We don’t use a data logging system that would record the shock movements. The reason is that we can do the analyzing faster from a video. We have several cameras recording a high frame rate on the bike and from there we can track what is going on. We are keen on taking advantage of any technology that would help us analyzing the rides but usually, the stopwatch just tells more clear what is going on. Here’s a video comparing two shocks with two tunes on the shocks. This video is not to point out which shock is better over the other but just to show that we have a reference shock that is tested with two tunes and the shock that we are working on to get right. RS1 and RS2 are a Rock Shox Super Deluxe and CC1 and CC2 are a Cane Creek Double Barrel. The Rock Shox has just a different compression setting. Cane Creek has a different rebound setting.
How many points?
I have a ten spot on this track that tells me how the bike performs. I give points if the shock passes these test or not. I’ll break it down for you here.
0:17 “The Spruce”
Huck to flat at high speed over the root. This tells me if the shock can take a high-speed hit and recover from it fast enough that I can start pedaling right away. You can see from the video that RS2 and CC2 wallows a bit after the hit so they fail here.
0:21 “The tunnel”
I enter this high-speed flat corner and trust that the bike has enough grip and I don’t need to turn two times. I have crashed this corner a few times at high speed and I know how the bike should feel that I can go into the turn at high speed. After the launch, it’s a completely flat bit of trail over roots. An overdamped shock will stall over the roots and you won’t have speed on the following straight. RS2 and CC2 make me turn two times on the flat before the corner so they fail here.
0:29 – 0:38 “The Root Hell”
This is a very flat part that begins with a flat turn that takes a significant portion of speed. This part of the trail has many roots that try to stall the bike. All shocks pass this part of the test as I am going through the part very fast.
0:36 “Knock Knock”
These holes will make your fork bottom out and if the rebound is not right, you will go offline. My target is to go from the left side of that rock (you can see this frame at 0:37 on RS1) RS2 and CC2 did not pass this as they make me go over the rock or outside line.
0:39 On RS1 “Don’t Slip”
As you can see the RS1 is already significantly faster than the others. This part is very important as it will define how fast you take the lower part before the fire road. The bike needs to hold the line and not slip on the off-camber rock. You can go on the rock even if it rains but the shock gets a fail if the rear skids on that slab. All shocks pass this test.
00:51 “Don’t Let Me Down”
This one needs commitment. I built this feature a few years back to test the rebound. You need to land a 1.5m stepdown to a slight corner and make a gap jump immediately after you land. Some shocks or wheels have failed here and I have needed to bail before the jump. All shocks pass this test.
0:55 “Speed down”
Here you brake the speed down so you can take the left hand turn around the tree over a root and rocks to an off-camber steep part with roots and rocks. It’s important that the shocks can carry over the low-speed chunks. All shocks pass.
1:00 to 1:05 “Switchbacks”
The name says it all. All shocks pass this one. If I would have trouble turning these there is something wrong on the bike.
1:05 “Pedal strike”
This one is a tricky one. I always go for the pedals here as you can see there is a small bit of flat part. But when I enter this there is a big compression and on 180mm travel bike sometimes I get a pedal strike on the floor. If the pedal is on the floor it’s a fail here. CC2 failed here.
1:10 “Hit Or Miss”
Here it’s a fast speed left and right plus some whoops after. Here I measure accuracy after the right. If I hit the rut, it’s a fail. All shocks pass.
RS1 1:13:04 10/10
RS2 1:14:14 7/10
CC1 1:14:18 10/10
CC2 1:15:19 6/10
The RS1 should be a reference shock for CC1 and we need more testing between these two shocks to find the optimal tune for the Cane Creek Double Barrel for Stamina 180