Most suspension bikes these days come with a single rear shock that’s often described in marketing speak as ‘intelligent’. Now we all know that even the best bike industry engineers still haven’t quite got a handle on artificial intelligence, but that single rear shock does seem to be capable (when well set up) of improving every single aspect of your ride on any well designed suspension bike. In fact average top of the range shocks have become so damn clever that it’s no longer so crucial to design the frames so well. Clever shocks can hide all sorts of minor detail devils.
So what happens if you attach not one but two clever shocks to a moderately clever frame? The answer is that you get a seven inch travel freeride bike that hauls up climbs like a hardtail, rushes you down rocky chutes with barely a glimmer of respect for the terrain then grabs you a cold beer and launders your kit when you arrive home.
We’re talking about Kona’s new Coilair ‘Magic Link’ bikes. As well as the usual clever Fox shock, they come with a little ‘subsidiary shock’ set up on the Magic Link, which sits between the bottom shock mount and the swingarm pivot. The extra spring allows the Magic Link to move backwards and forwards, carrying the shock mount and swingarm pivot with it. The float effect results in your pedal forces moving the swingarm, the link and the lower shock mount forwards, limiting suspension travel and introducing a tighter suspension feel at the same time as lifting the bottom bracket, steepening the frame geometry and tipping your weight forward for a more aggressive riding stance.
However, as the terrain points down, becomes more challenging and you compress the suspension more, the frame geometry slackens, the extra spring increasingly makes its presence felt and the suspension travel increases to 7in+. In short, bump and brake forces pull the Magic Link backwards by pulling the bottom of the shock back and down. The frame geometry relaxes, the bottom bracket drops (this increases higher speed stability), travel increases and the compression rate becomes a bit more progressive.
We’ve only ridden a pre-production sample of the Coilair to date. We’ll report back when we have the first production sample, in a month or so. But first signs are encouraging. Even without using the ProPedal damping controls on the main shock, this 33lb bike climbed well without feeling in any way compromised on the big drops. We particularly liked the way the initially rearward axle path tamed the bumpy climbs without any obvious speed loss. Watch this space.
For further information take a look at http://www.konaworld.uk.com/magic/