If you’re looking to boost bike control and eke out as much traction as you possibly can, EXT’s Storia LOK V3 rear shock is well worth a look.
Let’s first address that price, though (£950 / $950 / AU$1,300). While the Storia is by no means cheap, what you’re buying here is a quality bit of kit, built by hand for the bike/rider it’s destined for.
Ahead of leaving EXT, the shock is triple checked on a dyno at three different shaft speeds and with three different adjustment settings to ensure it’s reaching the specified compression and rebound forces.
It then sits in quarantine for 48 hours before a final check for any leakage and a second trip to the dyno to check for cavitation.
EXT’s UK distributor, Mojo, can then help with any further setup and tuning. Mojo is run by Chris Porter, the man behind Geometron bikes, and dealt with Fox suspension tuning and servicing for years, so it clearly knows its stuff.
Included in the price is a second Super Alloy Spring (which comes in 25lb increments) plus a two-year warranty on all parts and labour, should something go wrong.
The Storia uses a mono-tube design and features a large, 29mm main piston that allows for masses of oil flow. Porter says: “More oil flow allows the designer/tuner to meter the oil flow through the piston and past the shims really accurately at all shaft speeds to provide the damping necessary.”
The Storia’s IFP (internal floating piston) is nitrogen charged but to a relatively low pressure. Porter says that by using a lower pressure, friction can be reduced, which in turn helps to improve the shock’s sensitivity.
Then there’s the Hydraulic Bottom-out Control (HBC) system, which adds some position damping progression.
“When we say progressive, that’s mostly talking about shaft speed rather than position. So we try to create a damping feel that allows the wheel to move easily during the initial touch from un-loaded to loaded and damping increases as the rider stiffens from initial touch to maximum load at the rider contact points,” explains Chris.
EXT claims this is capable of increasing hydraulic resistance by up to 50 per cent through the very last part of the shock’s stroke, creating a smooth ramp up at the end of the travel.
EXT pre-sets the HBC at the factory, based on bike design and rider weight. As I’ve already mentioned, the Mojo team can then take the time to tune things further, if needed.
External adjustments require a 12mm spanner/socket and 4mm Allen key to adjust the high- and low-speed compression when it comes to fine tuning things – though the rebound adjuster can simply be twiddled by hand.
While that may sound like added hassle, it only took a few runs and a couple of clicks here and there to get the Storia feeling spot on, before leaving the tools in the van.
While the adjustment clicks may be subtle, they do make a difference and offer a useful and usable way in which to refine performance that bit further.
There’s also the LOK lever (which operates a different circuit to the one that governs the shock’s compression damping) to properly firm up the shock and keep it sitting higher in its travel for long, draggy climbs.
Should you forget to flick the lever and open the Storia back up, EXT has ensured the LOK system features a blow off feature, which will open up enough to absorb big impacts and won’t leave you rattling down the trail out of control.
EXT Storia LOK V3 shock ride impressions
I settled on a 325lb spring (on the 216 x 63mm shock that weighs 772g on our scales) which, combined with Mojo’s lighter compression tune for my G16 test bike, delivered an impressive balance of support, progression and comfort.
Despite it feeling a little slow and a touch softer than expected when just pottering around the car park, get trucking down a trail and the Storia’s ability to track the terrain but still offer support when you most need it is seriously impressive, never sitting too deep or blowing through its travel.
It’s worth noting that the Storia isn’t the quietest shock out there. There’s a little rattle from the plastic washer that sits in front of the thin bottom-out bumper while riding, but I can’t say I ever really noticed it.
What you will notice is the audible whoosh it makes when it’s working rapidly over big impacts – imagine you’re rapidly drawing breath through clenched teeth and you’ll get the idea. Again, it’s something that’s easy to get used to and something I soon tuned out.
Another thing worth mentioning is that the Storia’s predecessor did suffer from a distinct top-out knock at full extension when unweighting the bike, but thankfully this isn’t the case on the V3 courtesy of a softer, better shaped top-out pad.
While there’s still a hint of top-out if you push down then lift the back of the bike up while stationary, I didn’t notice it while riding.
What becomes immediately apparent when speeds pick up and the terrain becomes more challenging is just how capable the Storia is in delivering grip when you need it most. In fact, it’s staggering just how much traction this thing can generate compared to some of the best dampers out there.
When tackling dicey cambered sections or loose turns with awkward rocks and roots caked in a layer of slimy mud, the Storia really comes into its own and delivers a dollop of confidence when you need it most.
On repetitive hits, the Storia reacts rapidly with what feels like almost no lag as it transitions from compression to rebound, smoothing the terrain with relative ease and keeping your rear tyre firmly on your line.
Where I noticed one of the biggest differences over the other shocks I back-to-back tested the Storia against, was just how comfortable it could make things feel when the trail got really roughed up, but without losing that all-important support and never once wallowing or disrupting the bike’s dynamic geometry.
Its ability to isolate you from the battering your rear wheel may be suffering meant I found my legs fatiguing less compared to riding the same trail using other shocks.
The rapid response and lack of lag simply makes riding technical terrain that bit easier. Slam it into really massive impacts and the control and smooth ramp up meant I never suffered any harsh bottom outs or felt like I was using up the 155mm of rear travel too readily.
Although there’s a suppleness to the Storia’s action, which delivers plenty of ground hugging traction when you need it, it by no means dulls the bike’s handling.
Set it up just right and you’ll be rewarded with a great balance of ground hugging traction when you need it and still retain a liveliness that’ll let you pop and hop your way down the trail, ensuring things stay fun.
EXT Storia LOK V3 shock overall
Overall, the Storia LOK V3 is a beautifully made shock and an incredible performer on the trail.
It’s composed and controlled in the ugliest of terrain where it manages to balance comfort and support impeccably. When it comes to delivering that all-important traction, it’s seriously hard to beat.
While it’s certainly not cheap, Mojo’s support and backup is legendary and I think that counts for a lot.