Basic Full-Suspension Types Reference

Forums Mountain Bike Forum Basic Full-Suspension Types Reference

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    • #75654

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

      So I’ve made my rundown on full-suspension bikes and pro’s/con’s a sticky for everyone’s future reference.
      In addition, for members who already have a FS bike or have just bought one, please vote in the poll as to what type you own. It’ll be interesting to see which types are the most popular with Singletracks members.
      Note: Vote for the suspension type, not brand type, as many brands use several different suspension designs.

      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 aleviated 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 braket. 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 chainstays. This makes causes a small increase in pedal-bob, but has more of a tendancy 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 singlepivot design, except that the pivoting rear triangle actually includes the bottom bracket. This solves the problem of pedaling toping 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 pedalling 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 seatstays 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 headtube 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/pedalling feedback. Again, I’ve not tested it, but it is also reported to be very good.

    • #75655

      How about "none of the above"? I vote for Niner’s CVA (Constantly Varying Arc) suspension design.

    • #75656

      cjm

      Personally, I would just stuff that under VPP. There are so many takes on that design. Also not mentioned: Maestro, VF4P, Canfield’s or Karpiel’s design. I call them all link plate designs. The axle paths are different, but the basic design is the same.

    • #75657

      Which would the Fisher Hifi fall under?

    • #75658

      cjm

      Single Pivot

    • #75659
      "cjm" wrote

      Single Pivot

      Cool, thank you sir.

      No complaints with single pivot design from me then. ;)

    • #75660

      Very nice. Thanks for the definitions, I still find myself getting confused while reading bike reports-

      I currently have a 4 bar link system which I dont have too many complaints about now that I have figured out just how stiff I need my shock. My next bike may be back to the basic VPP style, something simple and light for x-country riding.

    • #75661

      All three of my bikes have VPP i used to have Horst links on my older rides. I find the VPP work better and react faster than the Horst…This is after much fiddling with the pressures and rebound controls….In general i find that when seated in the VPP bikes there is no bob when pedaling.

    • #75662

      What category does the Giant Maestro suspension set up fall under?

    • #75663

      It’s not really 1 category. The setup can be tuned for a number of different riding styles and categories. Most suspension types are tunable like this. The build of the bike and the amount of suspension are your best indicators of a "category". But even that can vary among manufacturers especially as a discipline progresses over the years. And of course, the skill of the rider is really going to decide whether or not he/she can pull off riding a bike in a specific style.

    • #75664

      +1 for Giants Maestro

    • #75665

      cjm

      Maestro is closest to VPP or DW Link. Banshee and Canefield use a design that is visually similar. They all have different axle paths. They all articulate the rear axle path closer to the seat tube instead of the by the rear wheel. Horst and ITC have a pivot near the rear wheel on the chainstay.

    • #75666

      Wow, just went back and read the entire post and realized that my previous post had exactly NOTHING to do with the topic. Sorry to waste people’s time.

      +1 on what CJM said about it being basically a modified VPP.

    • #75667
      "GoldenGoose" wrote

      Wow, just went back and read the entire post and realized that my previous post had exactly NOTHING to do with the topic. Sorry to waste people’s time.

      +1 on what CJM said about it being basically a modified VPP.

      lol I read it and was like wtf is goose talking about? I thought I was missing something and read everything 2 or 3 times.

    • #75668
      "Biohazard74" wrote

      lol I read it and was like wtf is goose talking about? I thought I was missing something and read everything 2 or 3 times.

      Don’t feel bad, I did that too. 😆

    • #75669

      When I went back and read it, I basically said the exact same thing. Jumping into the middle of a conversation while busy at work is probably not the best thing to do around here. Just end up looking like a fool. 😳 At least this time my coworkers didn’t start posting up random crap under my screen name like they have in the past when I had to run away and leave the computer unattended. 😼

    • #75670

      Sometimes closing the screen and exiting is a good thing…Just for that reason..

      Cheers

    • #75671

      Hahaha

    • #75672

      Maestro… it destroys climbs and gives buckets of grip when I crank. putting down more power actually stiffens the suspension to the point that it has better climbing manners than a hardtail. the faster I go the smoother it gets.

    • #75673

      what are the motos FS design type
      [url:36qn6jr8]http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/fantom_29_fs_framesets.htm[/url:36qn6jr8]

    • #75674
      "basshunter" wrote

      Maestro… it destroys climbs and gives buckets of grip when I crank. putting down more power actually stiffens the suspension to the point that it has better climbing manners than a hardtail. the faster I go the smoother it gets.

      😎 Can’t go wrong with Maestro

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