Air or Coil this is the actual question in enduro and downhill bikes. Let’s see a bit of pros and cons and if we manage to answer some questions.
The air shocks are less heavy, it’s easier to reach the spring rate, we just have to modify the pressure. The feeling is today quite close to the coil one.
They are heavier and to get the ideal spring rate you have to change the coil, also depending on the track. The coil accumulate more energies in the provoked compressions during the ride which we’ll use to obtain more speed.
Lately we’ve seen how in downhill bikes we have air shocks and in the enduro bikes ones coil ones WTF? Why?
At the beginning of the enduro, tracks were more natural, they trained less, so looked much more important the physical conditions. Being able to pedal the most with a light bike, to make it a bit easier to start in the turns. Not knowing so well the tracks much more mistakes were made and to compense this you had to pedal even more. That’s the reason why they used harder bearings, to get more speed. Let’s remember that among the first EWS Clemetz used a 38 as ring, today the majority of pros use a 34 o 36 max, Sam Hill ex rider of downhill is one of those that use a 32 like many of us and today win specials, something not even thinkable at the beginning of enduro races.
Today things have changed, riders train much more before the racers, the circuits are less natural and with a clear trend to downhill style, but without looking so spectacular for the moment.
This requires now a bigger demand on shocks, to the bikes and the racers and as consequence needs more reliability and that’s why the coil shock.
These shocks are thought to be used in a more intensive way, they resist better the effort, don’t change with the height. In fact in many races there are gaps of hundreds of meters and these cause a change in the air pressure (spring rate), and in the case of break you could only finish the race with a coil shock something impossible with an air shock which in case you break it keep blocked in the position of maximum compression making impossible the ride.
In relation with the weight, pros don’t care about one kilo more or one kilo less, they are much more trained than all of us. What they really care about is the reliability in a race of several hours with a “x” number of specials.
And in downhill?why air then?
Well in downhill we don’t need so much reliability, in other words if a shock breaks down, doesn’t matter if it’s a coil or a air one, won’t change a thing, you won’t win in any case.
The air shocks don’t depend on a spring to get the ideal rate, it’s enough with a variation of the pressure, with which we get a better adaptacion to any track without needing to bring a 5 springs case. The feeling between air and coil is every day more close and the energy obtained in the spring to get more speed depends a lot on the tracks and doesn’t make such a difference for the riders.
Usually, in a downhill track there’s not such a big gap that makes possible a change in the air pressure. And it’s only two turns.
So here we leave it, we hope that this was useful to make you decide for one or another.
Also in Basicletta being an official Andreani suspension centre, we’ll soon be official distributor of Öhlins, shocks, forks.
For any further information send us a message, we’ll be happy to answer to any of your doubt!