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There are so many different types of suspension setups for full-suspension mountain bikes, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the various technologies, terms and choices. But one thing they all have in common is the use of rear shocks. The shock is the heart of any suspension system. It absorbs bumps and hits from the trail and controls the suspension linkages that allow the rear wheel to move up and down and stay in contact with the ground, soaking up impacts and hugging the trail as it moves throughout its travel.
Mountain bike rear shocks consist of two telescopic tubes that slide into each other. They all use a spring mechanism, either air or coil, that compresses under force and a damping system that regulates the spring’s speed compression as well as its rebound. Without a damping system, the shock would feel like a pogo stick, bottoming out roughly under full compression and bouncing back too quickly.
Upgrading or replacing a bike shock is a great way to improve the performance of your bike. One of the first things to decide when purchasing one is whether you want an air spring or coil spring. Most shorter travel full-suspension bikes in the cross country and trail categories use air springs. One big advantage of an air spring is that it’s much lighter than a coil. Air shocks can also be easily adjusted by increasing or decreasing the pressure in the air chamber with a shock pump. A coil spring, on the other hand, is often favored by enduro and downhill bike riders on the more aggressive terrain. At high speeds and big impacts, coil shocks can feel smoother, and they also have a reputation for being super durable.
Rear shocks can be a little more difficult to purchase for your bike than front suspension. This is because many manufacturers use different length shocks. Make sure to know your eye-to-eye measurement of the shock your bike uses and the size of the hardware. Some websites, like Cane Creek’s, have tools to help find these measurements.
JensonUSA carries a wide variety of both air and coil-sprung rear shocks from all the major brands including Fox Racing Shox, RockShox, Cane Creek, DVO and others. There are plenty of features and options to consider, including lock-outs, compression and rebound adjustments. When shopping for a new rear shock, it’s important to start by considering compatibility and the amount of travel your bike is designed for. This will help you narrow down your search. Beyond that, you’ll need to know some key measurements such as shock stroke and length (eye-to-eye), and also if you’ll need new shock mounting hardware as well. Our Gear Advisors can help, so feel free to give them a call at 951-234-7554!