Shagged Shocks

After getting my bike back with the bad news that my rear shock is knackered, I figured I’d just ride it anyway.

We met up with Stephen at Cannock today for a very wet MTB ride. It was raining consistently so we thought there wouldn’t be many people out, but apparently loads of other people had the same idea as us, so the car park was as busy as ever.

We set off up the climb, starting Follow The Dog from the halfway point. Things were going great and I was really enjoying being back on the bike. It rolled really nicely, changed gears beautifully and was as springy through the bumps as I remember.

About 2 sections from the forest centre, I noticed my pedals striking the ground a little more often than usual. The rear shock must have lost pressure or something – they had told me it was knackered… The bike was sitting a bit lower than it should and so the pedals were hitting more often. No worries, we went over to the bike shop and borrowed a shock pump to top it back up.

But the shock was still at 300psi, where I had set it before starting out today. Turns out, after chatting to a bloke in the queue for the shop, that the air reservoir on the other side of the ports can go into negative pressure if the ports aren’t working correctly. Basically it’s letting air out, but not back in again and so pulls a vacuum. I was measuring the pressure on one side of the ports only and while that was maintaining pressure, the net pressure in the system was significantly lower than what it needed to be. There is no way to access the other side of the ports without specialist tools and a workshop – not something I can do at all, let alone trail-side.

Well… Shit

This is the end of my riding for today – It truly is knackered

I spent the rest of the day waiting in the van for Aimi and Stephen to finish the Monkey trail. I busied myself making tea and eating hot soup while watching all the other bikers race around in the rain and cold. I was happy to be warm and dry, but envious of their fun.

I trawled the internet for a replacement shock. The bike center had quoted me £490 which is an eye watering amount. I found a couple sites selling it for about £350 which is better but then I found a site offering it – brand new – for £180. The only catch is its 6mm shorter travel than my current shock.

This is a very hard dilemma for a penny pincher like me because I know I need a new shock and there will be cost involved. I want to get the best deal possible and while this is a great deal and will save me over £300, its not quite the right bit. There are a few very good instructional youtube videos that say you shouldn’t change the dimensions of your shock. But these guys have to say that because they would be in deep dog doo if someone did it on their recommendation and it damaged their bike.

The only dimension that is different with this shock from mine, is the travel length. Its still the same size physically, but the stroke is 6mm shorter. When installed and operating through the suspension linkage, this may actually be 20-30mm travel at the rear wheel which – while noticeable – is also negligible given I’ve never bottomed out my rear suspension and I’m not a pro rider by any stretch of the imagination. Reducing the travel, is not ideal but it wont damage the bike by letting the frame components come into contact with each other – something that increasing the travel could do – so I’m going in the safe direction.

A few mm of travel is a compromise I can live with for the cost saving so I’ve ordered it. Hopefully it will fit well and work fine – if not, I guess I’ll have to return it and buy the “correct” and more expensive one.

I’ll let you know…