Coil vs Air Suspension

Coil vs Air Suspension

Component Info Tips & Tricks

We’re deep into the Epic Coil Resurgence of 2018 and talking to a lot of riders who are curious about whether a coil shock is the truth they are seeking. When you strip a shock or fork down to the core you have a spring that supports the rider’s input and a damper that controls the spring’s behavior. Coil-sprung suspension can really change the ride quality of your bike, even with the typical “weight penalty” of a half to full pound more than air suspension.

MTB Suspension Spring Performance:

  • Air springs become harder to compress as they sink into their travel, giving the shock a progressive feel and more support as you push the bike harder.
  • Coil springs provide a linear spring rate and a consistent feel from the top to the bottom of your bike’s travel.
  • GG bikes are designed to work well with modern high-volume air springs, as well as coils. We make the bikes, you make the choices.

Coil vs Air Ride Quality

  • Coil springs provide increased comfort off the top which allows for the suspension to remain active, tracking the slightest changes in trail conditions. This gives you excellent small bump compliance for gobs of traction and control.
  • While air springs may not have the top stroke suppleness, they do ride with more “pop” that creates a livelier platform for jump trails and flow sections.

MTB Shock Tunability

  • Air springs are highly tunable via air pressure and volume spacers. If you are heading out on a big ride with a lot of gear, it’s easy to adjust your spring rate by adding more pressure. It’s also easy to adjust how progressive the suspension platform is by adding or removing volume spacers, which also creates several additional tuning options by optimizing sag and volume spacers in conjunction with each other.
  • Coil springs are simpler than air and require purchasing new springs if you want a stiffer or softer suspension.
    “Pre-load is for increasing topout force, not for setting sag” - Matt G.

Setting up your MTB Suspension

  • Regardless of spring choice, GG suspension baseline start with 20% fork sag and 30% shock sag.
  • Bottoming out your air shock? Add volume spacers to make the spring more progressive in the bottom third of its travel. Not using all of your travel at 30% sag? Remove a volume spacer.
  • Bottoming out your coil shock? Hit us up to order the next stronger spring rate, typically available in 50lb increments.

Should I run an air shock or a coil shock?

My weight varies a lot from ride to ride or I’m planning on losing some winter layers once I’m able to start riding more frequently.

Air springs allow you to easily adjust your spring rate from ride to ride or over the season as you get back into riding shape.

My trails are littered in roots and rocks and I’m looking for a supple, comfortable ride

Coil springs offer the softest feel off-the-top and throughout additional hits and trail chatter.

I want to pre-load the face of every jump at the park but I’m not always at the bike park

The progressive nature of an air spring allows you to pre-load and boost to the moon at the park or run less pressure on the trail where you won’t see quite the same big hits.

I want to really get after it on the descents but also have an XC marathon race I’m training for this Summer

Run a coil spring for most rides but have a lightweight air-shock to swap in for XC days and races.