All Strokes Aren't Created Equal

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The Inside Story of Metric Shocks and The Modular Frame Platform

A lot of us were scratching our heads when metric shocks were first announced in 2016. It seemed silly that a change in units would make older shocks obsolete. However, behind the scenes, this development streamlined one of the most important decisions an engineer faces when designing a new full-suspension bike. Rather than locking in the eye-to-eye length and shock stroke, engineers can now adjust the shock stroke independently from its length to squeeze out the most travel for a given application or adjust the ride quality in a shorter travel bike. Chief Enginerd Matt sums this up nicely by saying “metric shocks are modular, which is a huge benefit to making modular frames.”

With older shocks, it was clear that you had pegged out the rad meter when the shock’s o-ring was dangling off the end after a blazing run. This isn’t always the case with metric shocks as the exposed shock stanchion might be longer than the usable shock travel. For example, the shock used on The Smash has a 5 mm stroke-reducing spacer installed to maximize shock travel and tire clearance to the seat-tube, meaning that not all shock configurations bottom out at the end of the shock stanchion.

The previous iteration of the Shred Dogg used this innovative feature to offer a mid-travel 27.5 bike that was limited to 135 mm of travel (in Trail Mode) compared to the Megatrail’s 150 mm of travel. This was the result of limiting the shock’s travel from 65 mm down to 57.5 mm with both shocks using a 230 mm eye-to-eye length. In the real world, this let many of our riders trail ride on a mid-travel bike while bumping up the travel to “full-strength” Megatrail mode for weekend trips to the bike park by simply swapping the shock.

Freedom isn’t free, even with our Freedom Linkage because there are compromises to adding or removing shock stroke. The Pistola, for example, gains 10 mm of travel over the standard-issue Trail Pistol by upstroking the shock from a 210 x 50 to a 210 x 55. The compromise (albeit, minimal) results in a reduction of rear tire clearance from 29 x 2.6” to 29 x 2.4”. This setup also lets Pistola riders run slightly deeper sag for a softer feel off the top, butting right up against the performance of The Smash on most trails.

  • Pros:
    • 10 mm more travel!
    • Softer off-the-top feel
  • Cons:
    • Slightly reduced tire clearance

On the flipside, reducing the stroke of a shock will make the frame kinematics slightly less progressive. This is because the stroke reduction happens at the very end of the travel, removing a lot of the end-stroke progression. Aggressive riders on shorter travel bikes may want to add more volume spacers to add bottom-out support back to the shock since it was removed from the linkage. Less aggressive riders may notice a ride that is a little more plush through the mid-stroke.

It’s safe to say that most of these stroke adjustments are not user-adjustable, but a small quiver of metric shocks paired with our Modular Frame Platform can open the doors to a playful variety of bike hacks. Below are a few options for tuning your ride with a slightly different shock:

  • 210 x 50 shock on a Shred Dogg resulting in 120 mm travel with sweet and zesty kinematics.
  • 210 x 55 shock on a Trail Pistol resulting in 130 mm travel and 29x2.4” max rear tire size
  • 230 x 60 shock on a Megatrail resulting in around 143 mm travel in Trail Mode and improved high-speed stability over the Shred Dogg.
  • 230 x 65 shock on The Smash. DO NOT DO THIS, The Smash will not accept a longer stroke shock for additional travel.
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