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Tech Tips & Reviews
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Professional Tweaks, Tips & Reviews By "AJ" Picarello
I hope you find my Tweaks and Tips section helpful. If there is something you want to know about, send me an email and I will try to add that to one of my upcoming articles.

A brutal winter is upon us. Do yourself and your bike shop a favor and prepare now for the warmer temperatures. The following Tech Tip is a simple way that you can check the condition of your bikes rear suspension:

Temporarily remove your rear shock and rear wheel. Cycle your swing arm through full travel. It helps to have a bike stand, but you can perform this tip without one. Watch out for bikes with front derailleurs. Shift into 2nd gear before lifting up your bikes swingarm! Some swing arms will hit the front derailleur when it is in 1st gear and cause headaches.

You should be able to move the rear triangle/swingarm though full travel with very little effort. If you feel or hear noise/friction, you have problems. Usually FS bikes need pivot work after a hard season of riding. Many bikes are blamed for bad performance only because they have not been maintained properly.

While you’re at it, check your cables running to your rear brake and shifter. Make sure they’re not rubbing on the frame or being pinched. Also keep in mind that your shock will bottom out long before your rear tire touches the seat/seat post.

Another smart thing to check is your frame/rear shock alignment. Eyeball your suspension links, where your shock mounts and where the front of the shock bolts to your frame. These locations should be parallel to one another. In other words, you’re checking to see if your rear shock is under unnecessary side load. Your shock will dramatically affect your quality of travel if it is under side load pressures. Your shock will also suffer premature failure operating under these extreme forces. You can usually see issue’s with frame alignment when cycling the suspension into full bottom out. I’ve seen bikes that were more than a 1/8” out. This issue is usually not rectified by your bike shop. You will need to warranty your frame if it’s out of wack.

I remember a customer who complained that his BMW race link suspension worked horribly and he wanted to sell the bike because of this. Now I know that the BMW bikes are amazing from first hand experience! I did this exact test to his bike and couldn't believe how contaminated his links were. It was amazing that the suspension worked at all. I could hardly move the suspension with no shock installed!!! Needless to say, many dollars latter, his bike was repaired and he was blown away by how well it now performed! So get on it people, pull that shock off and inspect your bike. Now's the time to drop it off for service as DOWN Cycles is open in the winters (winter hours, so call first). I'm pretty sure everyone out there is pumped for spring; don't let mechanicals hold you back from riding at your best on that first warm sunny day!
Suspension Cycled at Full Bottom Out

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