At Sea Otter we asked key suspension makers what they see as trends both in their own mountain bike fork & shock product development, and where the industry is headed overall. We filmed the chats, so we could share their unedited thoughts on how they look at bike suspension, making better bikes for every ride, and what’s coming in 2019…
Suspension Trends, from Sea Otter to 2019 Products
The overarching trend in suspension is the continued evolution of more capable suspension, generally to tackle more technical terrain – and that continues into 2019. Whether you are riding a new gravel bike or an enduro bike, frame reach is getting longer, head tubes are getting slacker, yet we are putting more weight on the front wheel. Rear shock design might be trending towards replicating coil-like performance, but the new geometry has driven fork progression as well, certainly not stopped by more wheel sizes popping up across all disciplines.
MRP sees that some mountain bike riders are heading back towards the performance and supple feel of coil shocks for proper enduro riding and racing, which drove development of their new Hazzard shock. They also see an industry honing off-road ‘modern trail’ geometry and appreciating the impact of balancing head angles, fork offset & trail figures, so they are adding a number of fork offsets to better match OEM specs. MRP also have their own take on offset measurements – something close to, but not exactly the same as, what’s found on most bikes. The intention there is to give riders yet another way to customize the handling of their bikes.
The big deal from SR Suntour is Boost spacing. Sure nothing new there, but they’ve gone full in. There are other product updates from them, which we’ll outline in a separate post.Everything’s Boost spaced now.
RockShox just overhauled virtually all of their mountain forks, from the Boxxer to the SID, with new gripshift remote lockouts and Deluxe shock improvements thrown in between. Their ongoing direction is headed into larger negative air volumes and refined internals to make air forks and shocks feel more like coil springs. By which they mean instantly active, with no stiction, so they can react to even the smallest bumps.
RockShox are also looking at ways to keep their products simple and feeling good right out of the box. Make something instantly usable, but provide the right range of adjustments that actually offer useable benefits & improvement to your ride. Sounds like a nice idea to us.
Marzocchi pretty much got us up to speed with their all-new fork collection and the return of the Bomber. They continue to work to make sure they have all the right fork offsets that riders and OEM partners will need. Their overall brand goal is to offer Fox’s proven technology in a burlier and more affordable package. That sounds pretty good too.
Where is Suspension Tech going from here?
These key points really hit pretty much across the board with all of the suspension manufacturers. We didn’t break it down with Fox who also made big fork introductions in recent weeks with their 120mm 34 Step Cast, new Grip2 damper & Float X2 shocks. But like with RockShox, for Fox “constant refinement” is the buzzword – always finding little ways to make their current stuff work even better – like the sneaky little bottom out bumper in the new X2 shock.
The fun never ends. Stay tuned for a new post each week that explores one small suspension tech, tuning or product topic. Check out past posts here. Got a question you want answered? Email us. Want your brand or product featured? We can do that too.