The air shock has reigned supreme in Enduro / trail bikes for years now. But, the faithful coil is coming back and making some noise. So, what should you be riding?
There is a good reason the air shock has been so dominant in recent times. They work. Damn well. Being air sprung you have greater control of your spring rate, take a few PSI here, add some there, easy as. On top of this, you can tune your spring curve with volume reducers. Most modern shocks allow you to install volume reducers in both the positive and negative air chambers. This lets you adjust the feeling of both your beginning and mid / end stroke in search of the ‘sweet spot’. And of course, air shocks are know to give a poppy and playful ride that can result in a serious grin from ear to ear when hitting your local trails.
But, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. The air can itself means that your shock has a lot more critical seals. These seals require added maintenance to make sure your bike is running smooth and consistently. Although air spring designs have come along way there is still more breakaway force when compared to a coil. This slightly hinders your small bump sensitivity and traction when compared to the coil.
An increasing amount of riders and racers are making the jump to a coil shock and it’s easy to see why. Despite great advancements in air spring technology the initial stroke suppleness of a coil can’t be beaten. Silky smooth across small impacts traction is unparalleled. We can all appreciate a predictable and consistent suspension platform, another strength of the coil. With their linear nature you won’t suffer from any wallowing in the mid stroke or abrupt ramp up. Performance more predictable than that post rain hero dirt you dream of.
Let’s get off cloud nine for a moment, although damn convincing the coil isn’t perfect. Weight being the most obvious draw-back. Modern coil shocks are now lighter and can be paired with affordable lightweight spring options. A popular combination being the Cane Creek DB IL Coil with their VALT spring. Despite these advancements there is still a small weight penalty when bolting in a coil. That beautiful initial suppleness you feel on the descents will also play apart when you turn back up hill. Coils are known to be more active under pedal forces, robbing riders of a small amount of their power. Once again, technology has evolved and modern coils still do a good job under pedal power. Most coils have a climb switch like the Cane Creek offerings. Combine this with a smooth pedalling action and rides will be well rewarded for their efforts. But, at the end of the day, the air shock still rules for power transfer when climbing.
What it all means
So what should you be riding? If you want to burn up, down, all around, enjoy tinkering with your suspension setup and love that ‘poppy’ feeling an air shock will be your best option. But, if you’re looking to continuously push yourself on the descents, hold a straight line through the rough stuff and value a more composed ride when things get wild a coil will reward you.
Still want to know more? Feel free to contact us today and we will find the best shock for your riding!