I was just lamenting how I hadn't seen Steve M. in a while, when lo and behold the very next post was from him. If you don't know Steve, he's been a RM member for a really long time and has been very helpful in past posts when it came to suspension tuning. Any shock/leverage rate questions were usually answered by he and Udi, and occasionally dw. Well, it turns out he has a new tuning house, and I thought it would be neat to ask him some questions, and subsequently send a shock off to him for some tuning. Hopefully it'll turn my overdamped, falling rate Rush into a playful, much more capable bike. I apologize if this comes off as SPAM, but I'm pretty excited by RM members who open/operate their own businesses in the MTB industry (GGDH is another), and especially forum members that are actually helpful and knowledgeable. Here's the link: http://www.vorsprungsuspension.com/ Anyways, here goes. What is your background? I originally studied mechanical engineering due to my interest in mountain bikes and suspension, and it has snowballed from there. Since writing my undergraduate thesis on the interaction between rider and mechanical suspension, I've been balls deep in all manner of suspension improvement projects, from modifying existing dampers, shoehorning high performance dampers into chassis' they weren't designed for, designing and building new damper components from scratch, and discussing all things suspension with a few other suspension geeks. What made you decide to get into suspension tuning? Looking back, I'm not sure I had a choice! It's always been a passion of mine, and after spending 18 months doing R&D with Tekin Suspension in Melbourne, I set up Vorsprung here in Whistler as a means to live the lifestyle I've always wanted to have - as a suspension engineer living, riding and working in what is arguably the world's best mountain bike Mecca. What does Vorsprung offer that the competitors don’t? First of all, we're a tuning and servicing centre based in Whistler. For a lot of people, that simply means we can fix your stuff ASAP when your riding holiday is threatened by suspension malfunctions or poor suspension performance. It also means we have access to a huge variety of trails and terrain from our doorstep, not least of which is the Whistler Bike Park, giving us unparalleled trail testing capabilities. On the tuning side though, in addition to the usual stuff you'd expect from a suspension tuner, we have the ability to analyse and compare the relative performance characteristics for any weight rider, on any frame, with any shock on the market, using our proprietary mathematical models. This exponentially increases the usefulness of any testing we do, because we can quickly and easily get a good idea of how any given setup will perform before it ever hits the trail, based on past testing - even with totally different riders on different frames using different shocks. What kind of services do you offer? We offer maintenance servicing and repair of suspension, front and rear, from the major manufacturers (FOX, Rockshox and Marzocchi at this point), but we offer custom tuning on almost everything out there, from Rockshox to Avalanche. We work closely with the customer, often providing custom modifications as well as the more common revalving and setup work we do. A large part of our job is basic suspension setup - getting your spring rates right is key, especially for riders hitting the bigger jumps in the bike park. We're also willing to take a look at any suspension related issues a rider may have, no matter how obscure they are. Do you have a preferred brand of shock to work on or ride? Not particularly, as long as it's standard equipment it's all good - custom shocks built around frames (two big brands, you know who you are!) tend to be pretty hit and miss. At the moment, all my bikes have FOX parts on them, but the choices I have made are based entirely on the notion of "what product on the market provides exactly what I need here?". When it comes down to it, you are buying a single model to suit your needs, not purchasing an entire brand's lineup. For this reason, we are brand-neutral, and we pride ourselves on honest, unbiased advice with regards to all things suspension. What are the most critical aspects of suspension tuning? The two most critical things are the fundamentals: 1. Spring rates - get these right, including the balance between front and rear, and the damping will usually fall into relatively easily, if these are whack then you will continually struggle. Sometimes, the spring curves themselves are hard to work with too. 2. Paying attention to every single little detail. The devil is absolutely in the details, and ignoring any aspect, from fork axle-to-crown length, to spring rates, to lubricants, to o-ring durometers, can completely change the performance you get out of your suspension. If you're going to try to get the best out of your suspension, all factors need to be considered and taken care of - no point having the best valving in the world if your rear shock's oil is full of air, for example. What are some common problems that riders have tuning their own suspension? The single most common problem is not getting the spring rates right. Each end of your bike has a range of usable spring rates (including air pressures). If your suspension is coil-sprung, this may mean that the suitable range contains one or more rates that are actually manufactured - for example, a certain rider may be fine on either a 400lbs/in or a 450lbs/in spring. But what a lot of people miss is the next important consideration: there needs to be a balance between front and rear spring rates - especially for those riders who are riding bike parks a lot, where big jumps are very common. All too commonly, we see riders running soft forks to try to relieve the hammering on their hands, and stiff springs on the rear so that they don't bottom out too easily, but this can easily result in a setup that tries to kick the rider badly off lips, often resulting in the damping adjustments being used to try to fix something that never needed to be a problem. What does Vorsprung have in store in the future? Expansion of our servicing and tuning works for the 2013 season, and some pretty nifty stuff for the trail riding crew out there should surface in a few months when our R&D is complete. That's all I can say for now, but there is plenty on the horizon! ____ I'll post up when i have my shock in hand and try to give it a review...he provided me with a collection of graphs that I'm still trying to wrap my head around, but hopefully it'll all make sense in a bit.