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Shock tactics

A year ago it looked as if the rate of development in rear suspension was slowing down, but it turns out not to be the case. 2004 is going to be the year of the clever shock…

There are of course a bunch of clever shocks out there already. Progressive Suspension’s Fifth Element is being joined by a super-light air version about now, while Manitou’s variant on the same theme, the Swinger, is available on Orange bikes, forthcoming Giants and elsewhere.

In the face of this new competition, leading rear shock maker Fox isn’t sitting still. Anti-bob loveliness is coming in in the shape of Fox’s Pro-Pedal damping, essentially a factory version of the sort of compression damping tuning that you’ve been able to get done aftermarket for a while.

Thanks to the quick work of BM member Richard Hayter in downloading a 2004 Fox owner’s manual from their site (before they noticed it described unreleased products and took it down again…) we also know that the BRAIN shock found on Specialized’s Epic bikes will sprout a sensitivity adjuster for next year. When we tested the Epic Pro earlier in the year we commented that an adjustable threshold on the BRAIN would be a boon, and lo and behold, there it is – a little lever that lets you decide how big a bump it takes to disengage the BRAIN’s automatic lockout. Lovely.

Meanwhile Scott has decided that none of these new shocks quite fit the bill and has struck out to design its own, which is certainly a brave step. We’ll have more on that in a couple of weeks…

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