Friday, October 31, 2014


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Downhill Domination

On Downhill Domination if you go back and beat all the levels with the prototype bike, then with the Llama, then with the sheep, you win this final super secret bike:

As an aside, T-Bag is still the greatest video game character of all time:

Always choose T-Bag. Duh. Ride the pony.

Standover clearance

There's a nightmare bike thread going on Vital right now, and one of the bikes featured is the old Trek Y-bike that Sharples and Ronning were on circa '98ish. The featured bike is not a Trek, but a Gary Fisher by name, but same difference right?

The weird thing is, in the article, the supposedly scary nightmare part of the bike is the top tube. Spomer just keeps going on and on, "there's no getting around that potential for pain with that top tube!"

I know I'm tall, and a pro rider, and thus my preferences and habits don't represent those of the mean gravity rider, but does anyone out there regularly place their balls between and below their stem and seat when they ride? Think of the body position you'd have to be in to even get your balls there, I would have to consciously work to get in that position while riding, and I would need to be cruising around in a parking lot to make that move happen.

I've prepared this helpful graphic to illustrate where my ass and(or) balls normally go on my downhill bike, and most of my bikes:

Am I way off base here, and there's a mass of people who regularly crouch in the forward position with their center of gravity 3-6 inches away from their hands when they ride? Spomer, do you normally ride like that?

Sharples works for Felt, so I can actually touch base with him and see if he regularly rested the old marble bag on the top tube of his Trek. Me personally, I'm willing to bet the insane head angle, comically short top tube, mediocre suspension performance, and most of all the IRC Liferisk® tires he got paid to ride were a much greater "nightmare" for him than the inert piece of metal that he never interacts with, resting in a place far away from his person.

BREAKING NEW!!! from a LEGENDary friend

A local LEGEND I know actually said this with a straight face:

"Loam is good training for cyclocross, yes? Haven't touched the cross bike since April, can't recall doing an interval set since last winter, don't even know where my bike is, but hopefully flogging mtb's up big terrain and tons of hard grovelling up/down granite in the Sierra Nevada has done something good..... And 2 days rest after a hard month of PT and getting after it from injury is enough rest, eh? ‪#‎unusualtrainingtactics‬ ‪#‎cx2015‬ see ya'll in Bend!"

Reading his Facebook page is one of my favorite things.

Whatever you're doing right now, this will make you feel better

Happy humans are easier for robots to exterminate, so watch up.

Bernard Kerr

Three thoughts on the Pivot video:
  1. I'm always paying attention to new downhill bikes, and this is one of them. Boring as the video is, Pivot did some interesting things with this bike and it's cool to hear head man Cocalis drone on about the process. Obviously it's a DW bike, so that's cool. It has a 107mm press fit BB, a standard I haven't even heard of yet. It seems like the 157mm axle is catching on in downhill world, but the bike still has a standard 1.5" headtube top and bottom. It's an interesting grab bag of standards used on this bike. It has an insanely long top tube and an almost 51" wheelbase on the XL, making it even longer than the GT's. At 62.5 degrees in the middle setting it has one of the slackest head angles in production today. 440mm chainstays aren't "super compact" as Cocalis claims, but it's interesting to see where average chainstay length will land over the next few years with 27.5 DH bikes. To top it all off, it's dropper post compatible. Is the dropper post a good thing on a downhill bike? I don't know, but it sure is interesting. Why not, I guess? Does it ride well, will it break in half, is a 482mm reach length too long? I don't know the answers to those questions, but hey, there's a lot of noteworthy stuff regardless.
  2. That video is really boring. Not "Grubby in the Kootenays" boring, but still really boring.
  3. Bernard Kerr is the real deal. Most of those shots were practice, but plain and simple the guy looks comfy at speed. He's put up some serious results this year, and I wouldn't be surprised if he's on the way to being a consistent top ten kind of guy. Eliot is deadly fast, and I don't want to take anything away from Eliot's speed, but Bernard is phenomenally talented and clearly the class act at Team Pivot. Whatever they're paying him is not enough.

Bonus screen capture, at 4:05 in the video. Eliot Jackson with his knee pad around his ankle at Fort Bill:

Bonus Bonus screen capture at 3:59 in the video. Eliot riding down on a detonated rim, also at Fort Bill:

It's a hilarious clip for Pivot to use in a promotional video, because including clips of your team cosponsor's equipment clearly broken makes those December and January "hey [insert brand here], can we get another pile of rims and money for our race team" emails a lot harder to write. Please, make my day and reveal your limitless ignorance by blurting out "See! that [insert brand here] rim sucks. He broke it."

Chevrolet's VP of Occupational Hypnotherapy

It's nice to see that, after dying, the occupational hypnotherapist from Office Space made a smooth transition into another field, the VP of Marketing for Chevy:

"It combines class winning, and leading umm, you know, technology and stuff... [gasp, heavy breathing, then a slight moan]..."

Keep fighting off that heart attack, man. Keep fighting the good fight.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Bar height?

Something I've been looking at for a while, and could never quite figure it out:

Gwin always had his fork slammed on his Treks, with a bunch of stanchion sticking out the top of the crown, but since day one on Specialized he's been running the crowns really high, with very little stanchion sticking out the top of the crown.

Low front end on the Trek:

High front end on the Specialized:

And you can see this in his body position when he rides. When you watch the video, his handlebars just look higher on the Specialized:

The other lesson learned is that having no music as in the Lawlor/Specialized videos is a better choice than whatever that horrible teen bop semi punk emo obscenity was in the Trek video:

So why does he run his bars higher on the Demo? First off, I don't know. These are all guesses and who knows what the real reason is. But that's never stopped TEAM ROBOT before, so here are some uninformed guesses:

He's a brainless gorilla and has no idea what his bike feels like 

This one actually seems plausible, because a lot of World Cup guys act like brainless gorillas whose only thought is to crush. The story goes like this: when he got on the Demo that's just where his bars ended up, it felt alright on day one, so he just kept his bars there.

I find this explanation to be unsatisfactory. First off, these guys test stuff all the time, and if this new setup was just by chance, and was in fact inferior to the old lower bar setup, it would have been revealed in the countless tests he's performed for the multiple iterations of Demo 8's he's developed and raced for Specialized. Someone would have mentioned something. Also, even if he is a brainless gorilla, "it feels good" is probably still determined by real, tangible numbers and qualities of the bike, ie low bars felt better on the Session, higher bars felt better on the Demo. If there's a tangible reason that relates to geometry numbers, I'd like to know that reason. So we keep exploring for a better explanation.

The Demo has a lower BB height

Assuming these guys don't have custom frames, the Session BB sits right around 14" stock, and the Demo BB is right around 13.5" (338-353mm for the Demo in it's various adjustable heights, and 356-360mm for the Session). All told that's a range of almost an inch (22mm) between the lowest possible Demo configuration and the highest possible Session setting. If you don't like that and you don't want your bottom bracket to be super low, you can run your fork high in the crowns to raise your BB height off the ground.

Head tube angles are right around 64 degrees for both bikes, though just a hair slacker on the Session, so you could achieve almost exactly the same BB height and head angle on the Specialized by running the fork super high. Raising the fork an inch rakes out your head angle just under a degree, and raises your BB about 1 cm.

This explanation still doesn't answer my questions, though, because it ignores all the other geometry numbers. His BB and HA might be the same on both bikes after adjusting fork height, but his bars are still higher on the Specialized, resulting in a higher stack height from pedals to handlebar, and a wildly different feeling bike. Anyone who was psycho enough to measure and then emulate BB height while going from one bike to the next probably wouldn't slip the little detail that his stack height is an inch or two higher than it used to be.

I'm that psycho, and I wouldn't miss that detail.

Chainstay Length

This one goes out to all the haters. The argument goes something like this: the chainstays on the Demo were too short, his bike was unstable, so he raised the bars because he was scared. Initially that sort of makes sense, sort of, except it doesn't make sense at all. Short, unstable chainstays would cause a "looping out" kind of feeling when you shifted weight rearward, making you scared or hesitant to shift weight rearward. So to combat this sensation, he would raise his bars to shift his weight rearward?

Probably not. Also, his bars are still high on new bikes with longer chainstays, so yeah that's probably not it.

Suspension setup
This is going to take some explaining, but bear with me for a second. Or don't, I don't really care.

In my experience, really stiff forks pair nicely with relatively low front ends, and really high bars only work with softer forks. As a guy who ran really high bars on all his bikes for multiple seasons, this was actually a big lesson for me over the past season. I've lowered my bars a touch and stiffened up my forks on all my bikes as of late.

More on that personal bike/lessons learned theme soon.

Allow me to unpack this bar height/spring rate idea for you: It's all about shifting weight. If you have stiff forks, you need to shift weight onto your bars in order to apply enough force to make the fork move. Low bars accomplish this because shift your weight forward. Reverse engineering from that principle, if you have a soft fork, tall bars allow you to shift weight off your front end onto your rear suspension. Running a stiff fork and tall bars, though, is the worst of both worlds on anything but the steepest or harshest of tracks, because you have no weight on the front tire unless you're smashing a mega hole and you can't turn on the rest of the smooth sections.

The suspension theory makes sense because A) Gwin is famous for running his fork mega stiff, and B) the Demo has a much more linear leverage rate than the Session.

What's the intersection between a linear rear spring rate, a super stiff fork, and tall bars?

Start with the rear suspension leverage rate: if you have two 8" travel bikes set up with 450 pound springs, and one bike has a more linear leverage rate, the linear bike will feel harsher on small bumps and will blow through it's travel more quickly on big bumps, a "worst of both worlds" kind of situation. With a linear leverage rate you have to choose between harsh small bumps, divey suspension in big bumps, or some compromise between the two. Knowing how Gwin rides (out of his mind fast), and knowing his suspension preference (I don't care about small bumps, just give me the stiffest suspension possible so I can ride through big holes at mach 10), my wild guess is that he's been running a really stiff spring in the Demo, probably a stiffer spring rate than the equivalent spring on the Session, and the small bump performance of his rear suspension is probably less than stellar as a result. Of course the Fox guys can work their devil magic to make the shock have better small bump performance, but relatively speaking it would be worse.

Now throw a super stiff fork into the equation: you can only ride a jackhammer fork if your rear suspension is doing exactly what you want. Said differently, you can only handle one disaster at a time. If your fork is insanely stiff, and it's kind of skatey and unpredictable on small bumps, you need to shift your weight forward to deal with it and you need you rear end to be dialed, predictable, and low stress. If your rear end is extremely stiff, skatey, and sort of unpredictable on small bumps, you need to shift your weight rearward to control that near-disaster. You can't have a near-disaster on the front and the rear of your bike simultaneously and expect to ride it out.

My bet is that Gwin got on the Demo, had to bump up spring rates in the back so he could run the bike through big holes, and to compensate he had to make his fork softer. As a result, he raised his bars. That's my guess, but who knows? The only thing for sure is that, if you read all that, I look like a complete psycho right now.

The linear leverage rate thing isn't my bag, but Specialized has made it clear that they like it on the Demo and it's not going anywhere. The new S-Works Demo carries over a very similar, almost identical, leverage rate from the existing Demo's, so Specialized has committed to their linear spring rate for the forseeable future and that's what Gwin will be working with as long as he's on the Big Red S.

The real question is this: is that a bad thing? Is the difference between the Session and the Demo bad? The big overarching assumption surrounding any comparison of the Aaron Gwin Demo vs. the Aaron Gwin Session is that the Demo isn't working for him and the Session was, thus something was wrong and something needs to be fixed on the Demo.

I'm not sure that assumption is correct. Every internet armchair engineer looked at Gwins results on Trek vs. his results on Specialized and assumed the bike made Gwin slower, and suddenly in 2013 and '14 the broad internet concensus is that the Demo is "more of a park bike" (whatever that means), but most of those people wouldn't know their ass from a hole in the ground, led alone the subtleties of a winning bike setup. It's true that the Demo is different, and I for one don't agree with all of the design decisions, but they are just that: decisions representing the combined preferences and informed opinions of people seeking an acceptable compromise to multiple design challenges. There is no perfect downhill bike, and each downhill bike on the market takes a different angle on meeting the various and conflicting demands on such a bike.

I don't think it's a matter of Gwin putting a bandaid fix on a bad design, as much as Gwin adapting his setup to a different bike. Even in 2011 and 2012 when he was winning every race in sight, I don't pretend to believe that he was on a perfect bike. People assume that the Session was a perfect bike (look at the results, bro!), but I'm positive there were significant compromises made in the design and setup of Gwin's 2011 and 2012 Sessions, but the man is a single-minded freak of nature winning machine and he did what it took every day to make that poor Trek Session his bitch. I have no doubt he is doing the same thing right now with the Specialized people.

I think there are a lot of terrible, unrideable bike designs out there, and TEAM ROBOT is first to call those unrideable bikes out, but from what I've seen and heard I don't tend to think the Demo is one of them. While the Demo wouldn't be my first pick of downhill bikes due to the leverage rate, A) that's my personal preference speaking, and B) if I was winning or losing on a Demo 8, I hope I'd be smart enough to recognize that it's not the bike winning or losing those races.

Preach it

Sunday, October 26, 2014

We're all pussies

Riding a skateboard down my driveway is roughly the same challenge level for me as running on marbles or juggling chainsaws blindfolded.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Eastern Europe? Russia? Maybe the Balkans. Yeah, I think it's the Balkans.

As a good freedom loving American, I don't know where Estonia is on a map (it's near Latvia, I think), but apparently that's where the real shit goes down:

If I have to learn geography, then the terrorists win.

Can't... wait... need to... post... now


I'm away from my computer right now so I can't go into the full breakdown that this new product deserves, but I don't want that to stop you from seeing it. Stop whatever you're doing and click the link above. It's that important. 

People suck

The McDonald's of Trail Building.

This article documents another in a long list of reasons why the ROBOTS will be eliminating your species, and soon.

Memory lane

1st GREG MINNAAR Santa Cruz Syndicate 2.41.34
2nd NATHAN RENNIE Santa Cruz Syndicate 2.46.02
3rd GEE ATHERTON Animal Commencal 2.47.00
4th FABIEN BAREL Subaru Mountain Bike Pro 2.47.64
5th CHRIS KOVARIK Chain Reaction Cycles / Intense 2.48.38
6th ANDREW NEETHLING Mongoose 2.48.67
7th STEVE PEAT Santa Cruz Syndicate 2.48.78
8th JARED RANDO Giant 2.49.19
9th BRYN ATKINSON GT Bicycles 2.49.39
10th SAM BLENKINSOP Yeti/Fox 2.50.01

Here are some fun facts I completely forgot about: 
  • Kovarik made it on the podium for the most pedally downhill race of recent memory with flat pedals. That's three Burgtec flat pedal riders in the top ten at the pedaliest race ever.
  • Greg Minnaar won by an unimaginable 4.5 seconds on a sub three-minute track.
  • The Canberra track was almost identical, but over 10 seconds slower in 2008 than at World's in 2009.
  • Sam Hill is nowhere to be found in the top ten, finishing 11th, making his bid for the overall a lot harder. It came down to a points battle with Greg at the next and the final race in Schladming, but with a different venue instead of Canberra, or a different result from Sam at the pedal track, we may have been looking at three back to back to back years of Sam Hill winning the World Cup overall. This was the second to last race of the season in 2008, and it pretty much secured Greg's win, also cementing his place on the Syndicate for, apparently, forever.
  • Lord Bummer smiled one time:

All good things.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Insanely boring

If you were to poll the internet I'd in the minority here, but I find the current prevailing construct for web videos to be insanely boring:

The worst part is this: the Graves video featured above is a best case scenario. It's a video of a good racer, riding cool trails, with good camera work... but it's still almost unwatchable. I was halfway asleep before they showed Graves doing anything remotely creative and cool. Up until the 3:30 mark it was just "dude riding main lines set to slow music and epic b-roll."

Obviously the video is going to getting crazy amounts of views and likes and faves and comments, but I only finished watching it out of a sense of duty and borderline curiosity.

And it's not the rider's fault, either. My complaints are 100% directed at the people in the editing booth. You could take exactly the same footage AND b-roll, and with a different soundtrack and maybe some clips of the rider acting like a normal human being you could have an interesting video that at least remotely resembles an actual mountain bike experience.

Stop making these videos, mountain bike industry. Please make it stop.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Kill me now

If I never hear the word "zone" used in a mountain bike context ever again, I'll be a happy robot.

If there aren't any trails there yet, you can just call it "a hill."

Industry Insider

Another conspiracy afoot, and another pressing issue that needs delving into. Is this a unilateral act by Commencal only, or is Commencal merely a pawn playing out the first move in a greater chess game that is, in fact, an industry wide conspiracy?

We immediately connected with BikeJames about this conspiracy, a meeting of the minds if you will, and he has deferred this hot lead to the investigatory journalists here at THE BOT. Sort of like when the grizzled, time-tested but tired head dog journalist at the paper gives the young up-and-comer a shot at the big time, reluctant but ready to pass the torch to the next generation. Like when Tommy Lee Jones trains Will Smith in MIB, but he's not training his partner, he's really training his replacement.

We won't let you down, James. TEAM ROBOT: you new source for top notch investigatory journalism.

This is pretty much what it's like at ROBOT HQ, except with more strippers and blow.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Industry Insider

Even better than "Special Ed."

The ROBOT apocalypse will be air-powered

Shimano Airlines: a preview of the sound of your impending mechanized doom.

The sound of Chris King ringdrives will also feature heavily in ROBOT armageddon:

Eric Carter: Spiritual Guru


Balfa BB7
Super Monster
24 inch Outlaws
Holy Rollers
Diabolus Cranks
World Force 3" riser bar
Love seat
Road cassette with long cage Deore derailleur
Hayes Mags
That seat clamp

Other than BMW Shinburgers and a 50 tooth MRP, it's pretty tough to improve on that rig. Maybe Hookworms.

[Editor's note: Thanks for setting me straight in the comments. Yes, a remote reservoir Avalanche shock is pretty mandatory for this bike. Can't believe I let that detail slip.]

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

BikeJames, Investigatory Journalist

James Wilson is currently losing his mind over on, trying to convince you there's a massive conspiracy and cover up at not only Trek BUT ALSO THE GREATER MTB INDUSTRY to coerce you out of buying flat pedals. It's really worth a read. I've highlighted some of the crazier quotes below for your reading enjoyment, but here's the spark notes:
  1. Dude stakes whole coaching career on the value of flat pedals
  2. Dude/coach/life guru needs constant web content
  3. Dude discovers some arcane CPSC/SNELL/CEN compliance sticker that recommends clips or toe straps.
  4. Dude loses mind and launches enormous investigative report into this non-issue, blaming and finger pointing at half the bike industry and media.

Here are some of those instant-classic highlights:

"So what would you say if I told you that a major bike manufacturer was shipping all of their mountain bikes with a sticker that told riders not to use flat pedals?"

"What if the company had been caught in several lies and that they were actually misquoting and misrepresenting laws in defense of the sticker?"

"Despite sending several follow up emails I have never heard anything back from him."

But if I've caught them in some sort of lie and there is another reason for the stickers to be there, then what is that reason?"

"There were no checks-and-balances for this sticker being placed on their mountain bikes and there was no inter-department communication."

I like the part where he evokes the constitution itself, citing the total disregard for the institutional checks and balances that our freedoms are built upon, putting at risk not merely our bike riding, our recreation, or even our ability to travel freely, but our very way of life. I think that's what he would have said, anyway, if he'd kept going.

But all of this leaves me with one question, James. Do you understand that the world does not revolve around you and your "do whatever it takes, ruin as many people's lives, so long as you can make a name for yourself as an investigatory journalist?"

No matter how many friends you lose or people you leave dead and bloodied along the way, just so long as you can make a name for yourself as an investigatory journalist

No matter how many friends you lose or people you leave dead and bloodied along the way?

Monday, October 13, 2014


"Brown pow and Aggy, brah."

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Seatpost height hall of shame

Thanks to the elder Furbee for linking to this classic Lars and Bars hall of shame photo.

Also Eric Porter has the slammed seatpost of shame in his recent bike check on Vital.

Bonus hall of shame points for Porter for clamping his dropper post by the stanchion.

A lot of people in the comments didn't like my suggestion that having your dropper seatpost slammed *probably* means your bike is poorly set up or poorly fitted for you. I suspect that's because a lot of people have their bike poorly set up or poorly fitted and they don't like hearing about it.

The complaints all came in one of these three flavors:

1. My frame fits perfectly, bro. How do you know my post isn't at exactly the right height when the dropper is slammed?

How do I know it doesn't fit perfectly? Because it doesn't. Seat height is a tricky thing, and it's a game of millimeters. Pro road and XC guys sometimes obsess over seat height down to thousandths of an inch. Obviously long travel full suspension bikes don't require or allow that level of precision because the geometry changes as the bike cycles through travel, but dialing in seat height is still awful finicky.  Perfect seat height is really hard to find, and even when you find it, it can still change due to a myriad of factors. Sometimes you run the same seat height forever only to discover that your body has changed, necessitating a change in seat height. Sometimes you change your sag or compression settings on your rear shock, and that throws off your seat height. Sometimes you realize that you just had the wrong seat height in the first place because you're an idiot. Personally, I struggle with that last one a lot.

In all of those scenarios, you might want to change your seat height. If your seatpost was already slammed, you can't move it down. What I'm saying is: that sucks.

2. Anonymous asked "So if I want to put a 150mm drop Reverb on a frame where the original 125mm had over an inch clearance above collar I should buy a smaller frame?"

I can't believe I have to spell this out, but here's some quick math to help you out, Anonymous:

  More than an inch
- an inch
More than zero inches

So, no, you shouldn't need to buy a new frame, and sorry, this article clearly had nothing to do with you and your non-problem. If you have more than an inch of post showing with a 125mm dropper, and you put a 150mm dropper on there with the same dimensions and run the same seat height (aka 1 inch longer), you will still have seatpost showing above the collar. That would be the sort of situation where you might say:

"Wow, that seatpost barely fits, didn't I get lucky? Judging by the fact that I still have some room to adjust, I am confident that I made the right decision for this bike, my riding needs, and my body dimensions. Boy I'm glad I made a smart decision." 

This would be in contrast to the alternative position that I highlighted in my recent blog post "Seatpost height," which goes something like this:

"When I attempt to put my seat at the correct position for proper leg extension, it leaves me no room for adjustment and fine tuning. Judging by the fact that I have no room for even minor adjustments, clearly this frame and seatpost combination is not correct for my riding needs and body dimensions. Bummer."

Now if you have less than an inch of post showing and you want to upgrade to a 150mm dropper, you're screwed. Either you have to settle for the wrong seat height, you have to buy a different frame or if you're really sketchy maybe face down your seattube until it's short enough, or you have to just deal with your 125mm post. What I'm saying is: that sucks.

3. I have a long torso, and if I buy the frame with the right reach length I have to run my post as low as it will go.

That would either mean your frame doesn't fit you, or you're running a bigger dropper post than you can get away with, or both. AKA the whole point of the article.
  • If you have to run a bike with a toptube that's too short in order to get proper leg extension, that bike doesn't fit you.
  • Conversely, if you have to run a bike where you can't get proper leg extension in order to get the proper top tube length, that bike doesn't fit you.
  • Germans love David Hasselhoff.
  • And Richie Schley.

Either way, that's a poorly fitting bike for your body dimensions. And the point of the article is that I can see from a mile away that your bike doesn't fit you when I look at your stupid dropper post that's slammed in the stupid seattube. What I'm saying is: that sucks.

Go to a mountain bike demo, any mountain bike demo, and watch the guys working the van try to size people on modern mountain bikes with dropper posts. There's not a single day that goes by where some tall gangly bastard says "I can't get this dropper post high enough for proper leg extension, I'm running it above the minimum insertion line" or some tiny dwarf midget says "I can't get this dropper post low enough for proper leg extension, it's slammed and it's still not low enough." That's true if it's a Santa Cruz demo, an Ibis demo, a Diamondback demo, or a Specialized demo.

There is simply not a sufficient range of adjustment for modern mountain bikes with dropper posts. Sure, before dropper posts every once in a blue moon some tall guy needed a 400mm Thomson post so he could put his seat in the sky, but more often than not that was to eek out proper seat height on a frame that was too small in the first place. In contrast, I've never seen a shop run out of room to adjust a seat low enough on a frame that fit in every other dimension. This is a new problem since the advent of dropper posts, and it's a common problem. Is that even arguable?

What I'm saying is: that sucks.

It's like when I see 5'5" women like Emily Batty on 29er's with massively negative rise stems: that bike doesn't really fit you. It's a problem.

Watch how many hits this article gets on google now because it has a picture of Emily Batty.

Ohlins making a 40 cartridge for Gas2Flat

Breaking news brought to you by Adam Brayton's growing social media empire.

Pairing the above photo with this photo from Steve Jones' Instagram of an Ohlins cartridge ramjammed into a Fox 34, does this mean they're really going to release a fork?

I don't know, but one of the members of TEAM ROBOT has been on an Ohlins shock all season and is pretty impressed. And the ROBOTS that are not easily impressed.

Me personally, I'm still a Fox4Life kind of bro, but at this point there are only two real options for suspension anyway: Fox and Rockshox. You can make a good argument for either one, and by now both brands are clearly offering top level performance, but anything else is unrideable. Like if this were a Pepsi vs. Coke argument, the guy who runs in and argues the merits of RC Cola is the same guy who rides a Manitou in 2014.

"In my humble opinion, I think RC has a smoother finish..." blah blah, kill yourself.

In light of Ohlins increasing threat to break into the mountain bike fork universe, here's a ROBOT breakdown of the front suspension universe as it stands in 2014.


Clearly unrideable. Are you serious right now? Next question.


Seems to be doing alright for Bernard with another banner year.

I've heard good things about X-Fusion from riders who I respect, but I've also seen a lot of these go back for major service problems after one or two rides. The main sticking point for me is that their downhill fork in 2014 still runs on springs made of metal. Pretty weak. Air spring tech has come a long way, and it's pretty hard to argue for a coil on the front of your bike. At this point when companies don't offer DH air springs it seems like less of a performance-based decision, and more like a "it was really hard to do an air spring well so we just stuck with the coil for this model year" kind of reason.

Another easy choice.

If you had to choose between two springs that were equally supple off the top and both offered consistent performance, but one of them weighed a pound less and had a progressive spring curve to keep you from dying when stuff gets real, it's a no brainer choice. In 2014 and 2015 that's the choice that Rockshox and Fox offer. The 2015 air sprung 40 and air sprung Boxxer are both clearly better in every respect than their coil sprung variants, the only reason not to choose the air spring version is money.

Also, stuff like this sets your brand image back a couple years or decades:

Custom made for Camaro guys everywhere.


Mike Levy seems to like the new Manitou stuff, but he also runs Kenda tires. Unrideable.

I have no personal experience with any of the modern Manitou products, but that's sort of like when you go digging around in some bands history and you're like "hey I've never heard any of these songs." So you start listening to all these songs you've never heard, and even though you keep an open mind for the first couple, four songs in you realize they all suck. If you've never heard those songs, there's probably a good reason. It's not like all the people who were into that band conspired against you to hide all their best material. The reason you haven't heard all those songs is probably because they suck.

SR Suntour:

Morlando making the new Suntour stuff look good.

Honorable mention here. Being in the upper echelon of super pros, SR Suntour is obviously unrideable for me, but for the average consumer Suntour might be a real contender. The pricepoints they're hitting with the features they offer are no joke. That said, they're playing catchup and still have a big confidence deficit, and their marketing strategy is not doing them any favors. Garrett Buehler's a great guy and RAMPAGE!!! is rad, but I feel like his suspension requirements roughly break down to:

1. Goes up and down.
2. Doesn't kill me.

"I'm real happy for you Garrett, and imma let you finish, but you need a high profile race team that's winning races if you want consumers to take your suspension components seriously. Seriously."


Those Riding Addiction guys are doing alright on this stuff, and everybody who rides it raves about how good it is. Also if you ask half of Pinkbike, they'll tell you that Remi Thirion won Andorra because he was riding BOS suspension, so ignore the collective wisdom of Pinkbike readers at your own peril.

If you live in France, BOS is totally rideable. Kind of weird that they don't have a closed damper system, but it seems to be working so whatever.

On the other hand if you live outside of France and you have to mail stuff back and forth to all ends of the earth for service and wait weeks and weeks to ride your bike? Unrideable. Also, remember that buying French products means that you're supporting socialism, which is basically the same as spitting on an eagle while peeing on the flag, so think about that next time you toss an Orangina or Mini Babybel's in the shopping cart.

If you're buying this stuff you might as well set fire to the Constitution.


Markus Pekoll's had multiple banner years riding for the big red M, but his forks and shocks get the gucci treatment from this Pedro guy that's apparently pretty smart. If you're some off the street jamoke buying aftermarket, who knows what the performance gap is between what Markus rides and what you can buy? That gap can be HUGE when we're talking about suspension internals.

Maybe the new stuff really is great. I keep hearing good things about their new stuff, but I've seen and heard that same pitch about Marzocchi so many times."No dude, I know what you're saying, but the new stuff is good." I'm not sure I can get burned again. It's like that friend that keeps coming out of rehab and saying they're better now. If I'm going to believe that you've changed, I need to see more than words: