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Existentialism-- Just a bloody good excuse to go riding...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Vector HLR Air initial review (+updates)

Almost always too excited when it comes to new suspension parts... but decided to just hold back this time on both the X-fusion Vector Air HLR and the 34mm Slant.

Ok the Slant came earlier and had more trail time but I can't wait to describe the Vector Air first...

Vector HLR Air
First ride--if anything can be described as plush yet firm (because with all previous air shocks-- firm means getting that wet cardboard-ish feel). I attribute a portion of it after eye-balling to at least that massive (diameter-wise) looking damper !

Halfway thru the second ride after some higher speed run, seals seem to have broken in nicely but just felt that something on the inside would need a bit more mileage to get it really working.. Just a gut feel.

This is the closest to a coil comparing across all air shocks I had till date.. Hmmmm.. Yup linear in the first 2/3 of the stroke. Pretty much the same bottomless feel like my DSP Dueler Coil setup. However the shock never seem to use beyond 2ish" of its 2.5" stroke (total damper length is actually 2.75"). Might have been the 250psi loaded piggy but then for now this setting is sweet for normal trailing with lots of pedaling.

Riding over anything up to 3-4" root patches was plush but more importantly the rear tracks pretty much perfectly.
Rebound set @  is ~67% (22 of 33 clicks), a little higher than my usual on shocks but...

0 lo-comp as usual for me and hi comp at ~2/3 (10 clicks of 14-15)

Suspect that current rebound setting which is  ~2/3 to the fastest is a little too fast. But everything is manageable so far without the feel of getting bucked around on a bronco.

On the mid-stroke there is an unmistakable slow bounce (for lack of better words, think controlled+ feedback, not kick) over loose and rough. Something I like when sometimes trying out other people's bikes. Never seem to be able to replicate that feel with all the air shocks I had until now. With the Monarch RT3 and the RP2- they all have that dead wet cardboard feel.

Balancing bottom out with proper sag at best was a very narrow range on the RT3 and never felt optimal... impossible with the RP2 until at least some mod on it. Objectively I'm looking for a plusher tracking feel...

Definitely more breaking in needed at this point but  have a gut feeling the Vector Air might just get plugged into the bigger EG for more gravity oriented riding.... hmmm..

Update:  Mar 30th 2014

Well since XF sent over a new prototype shock which looks better suited for the small EG.. I gotten the Vector plugged in place of the Dueler on the bigger EG. No better time as I just jigged it the new RV1 during last month's trip for my annual biking pilgrimage.

The Dueler even after trying out with different spring rates. 350, 400 and 450-- was forever trying to play "catch-up" to the fork while I was trying to get the suspension to "talk" to each other... Not good. Still, out of paranoia since for the last 3 years I have always been using the Dueler during these trips.. brought it along in case I didn't like the Vector slashing down trails like Crazy Dust.

Plugged up the Vector HLR, drop the rebound click by click until it was at 45-50% out from fastest sealed the deal. Always steep and gnarly but this time of year in Chiang Mai was super dry and fast. Left the compression as it is .. All working well in the rear-- it was the front end I had to make some pretty drastic adjustment after day 1... down to 1 click of rebound!

Shock setting: remains at 33-35% sag(~85 psi @ my weight)
Piggy: dropped from my "Trail setting" of 250 psi to "DH setting" here @ - 235psi>SWEET SPOT
Rebound 45-50% out from slowest
Lo Comp: 2
Hi Comp: 10 ( I could have fidgeted a bit and so might be 8-11 during all the trying out)

(Note: for a shock with a max piggy rating @ 300psi-- going 250 for my weight is pretty high, other shocks in the past with the same max rating, usually my setting is between 180-200 at most)

Don't think there has been a better combination. Given that no matter what I do, the front will always be over-forked since the EG technically is a 6" bike but at least now it won't try to "run away" before the rear can recover even with a relatively slow rebound out back.. And if it is the case here then there really shouldn't be anything back home to worry about since the trails are way milder...

Apr 2014
Makes no sense to keep a DH fork up front on local trails so it was swapped back to me fav, Vengeance Coil. But the Vector stays.. convinced by now and probably might even sell of the Dueler if it ain't for nostalgic reasons. Damn the sentimental me arrghhh...

SHock is now finally finally well broken in with all the trial by fire riding in Thailand..

Back to local trail setting.. need no change with the new BT trail where everything is smooth and "park-like" But for the older more rooty jungle trails.. its just a matter of halving the hi-comp to get the whole bike to flow over those finger roots with ease with the seasoned shock by now.

Vector HLR (2014 model)-- This shock works. Period. Once at proper sag. Experiment with minor psi change in the piggy to get the shock to really come alive. Its really sensitive to minor changes.

Realistically I would not use this as a "climbing shock" when there are all those out there to stiffen up the compression settings on the fly. But for a descending oriented application and general trailing-- it will still get you up there but won't win an xc race for sure. Of course can always ramp up the main chamber to stiffen things up..  but frankly I wouldn't bother with most of the roller-coaster riding locally.

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