Archive for February, 2011

Bike Checks: New Build on a Trek Fuel!

We will be featuring bikes that are build at Tionghin from now and having a bike checks on the complete set up!

Bike Checks on a Trek Fuel!
The bike was brought to us for assembling as it had received a new custom paint job and decals on it. The owner do own a JayTheHill Hardtail bike in Titanium, Ht.Xc.Ti stands for Hardtail Cross Country Titanium. So these decals was brought over to the new custom Trek colour, smooth finishing in classic style on a 90s Trek Fuel!

We do provide Matt race shield protections on your bikes with additional cost on the labour charges too!

Read on..

The finish build!

Front absorber with FOX Float 140mm or travel.

Cockpit with Thomson X4 stem, Spank riser bar, follow by the Shimano XT shifters for shifting and Shimano XTR brakes for braking!

Front drive train with Aerozine adjustable arm length crank set in dual ring with bash with Shimano XTR front derailleur.

Rear gear transmission with Shimano XTR rear derailleur and Sram PG990 Pink cassette and Shimano XTR chain.

Wheels are laced with DT swiss 445D rims with rear Specialized hub and front Chris King ISO hubs.

The frame details.

The custom decals.

The Trek Fuel pivot linkage.

Components List
Frame: 90s Trek Fuel with custom paint and decals
Fork: 2008 Fox Float 140mm RLC FIT with standard 9mmQR
Headset: Chris King nothreadset headset
Wheels: Chris King ISO 9mm hub(32hole), Rear Specialized hub(32hole), DT swiss 445D rims, DT swiss competition spokes and aluminium nipples
Tires: Continental Mountain King 2.2 Front and Back
Saddle: Sella seat
Bar: Spank riser Handlebar
Grip: Ergon lock on grips
Crank: Aerozine Cranks with adjustable crank arm length at 175mm
Brake: Shimano XTR Disc Brake
Rotor: Alligator windcutter rotor 6 bolt Disc, 160mm(front and rear)
Stem: Thomson X4, 50mm length, 31.8mm clamp diameter stem
Seatpost: Thomson Elite
Pedal: Xpedo Hurtle Pedal
Cassette: Sram PG-990 Pink cassette 9 speed
Shifters: Shimano XT shifters
Rear derailleur: Shimano XTR non-shadow
Front derailleur: Shimano XTR
Chain Guide Device: none
Chain: Shimano XTR 9 speed Chain

Stay tune for more upcoming new builds and bike checks!

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Bike Checks: New Build on a Pivot Mach 5!

We will be featuring bikes that are build at Tionghin from now and having a bike checks on the complete set up!

Bike Checks on a Pivot Mach 5!
Once the lunar new year holidays was over, we started on another new project for a Pivot Mach 5. Again it was custom chosen parts and building all from scratch. Once the bike fully assemble, it weights at an amazing 13.00KG flat on the scale!

We do provide Matt race shield protections on your bikes with additional cost on the labour charges too!

Read on..

The complete build of the Mach 5!

Upfront of the Mach 5.

For the front legs, its equipped with the all new 2011 Fox Float RLC with the new Kashima coating and in 15QR for rock stiffness!

Cockpit handling with Ritchey WCS Carbon handlebar mounted with Thomson X4 stem, gears system with the Shimano XTR shifters and braking on the powerful Shimano Saint 4 piston brakes!

Front drive train with Shimano XTR crankset with Shimano XT front derailleur for the shifting.

Rear drive train transmission with Shimano XTR rear derailleur and Sram redwin red cassette with the KMC X9 chain!

Wheels are using the all NEW Sun Ringle Dirty Flea hubs which features super smooth japanese bearings and 24 engagement set, wheelsmith DB14 spokes and Sun Ringle MTX 31 rims!

Headset details were not left out too, using the Chris King inset headset for the precision steering upfront!

The Sun Ringle Dirty Flea hub upfront for stiffness matching the 15QR axle and braking under the loads with the Shimano Saint 4 piston brakes on Magura Storm Rotor!

The Mach 5 Machine DW Link where technology takes over the ride…

Components List
Frame: 2009 Pivot Mach 5
Fork: 2011 Fox Float 140mm RLC FIT with Kashima Coating in 15QR axle
Headset: Chris King Inset headset
Wheels: Sun Ringle Dirty Flea 15mm hub(32hole), 135mm x 10mm Rear Sun Ringle Dirty Flea hub(32hole), Sun Ringle MTX 31 rims, Wheelsmith DB14 spokes with Wheelsmith Brass Nipple. Rear Kore quick release.
Tires: Kenda H-Factor DTC 2.35 Front and Back
Saddle: Fizik Arione seat
Bar: Ritchey WCS Carbon low riser Handlebar
Grip: Lizard Skin lock on grips
Crank: Shimano XTR 175mm Cranks
Brake: Shimano Saint Disc Brake
Rotor: Magura Storm 6 bolt Disc, 180mm(front) and Magura Storm 6 bolt Disc, 160mm(rear)
Stem: Thomson X4, 70mm length, 31.8mm clamp diameter stem
Seatpost: Easton Saetpost(Updated)
Pedal: Shimano XTR SPD pedal(Updated)
Cassette: Sram PG-990 Redwin Red cassette 9 speed
Shifters: Shimano XTR shifters
Rear derailleur: Shimano XTR non-shadow
Front derailleur: Shimano XT
Chain Guide Device: none
Chain: KMC X9 9 speed

Stay tune for more upcoming new builds and bike checks!

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Bike Checks: New Overhaul Service on a Pivot Mach 5!

We will be featuring bikes that are full overhaul service at Tionghin from now and having a bike checks on the complete assembly!

Bike Checks on a new Overhaul Service on a Pivot Mach 5!
Overhaul before the weekends ride! It was in bad shape when brought to us, it looks like a brand new bike again!

Read on…

The before!

Grime and mud all over the linkage!

The pivot blind spot which traps lots of grime in it.


Completely reassemble, performance back!

Front detail, with FOX Talas for the bump absorption.

Cock pit with Easton Stem, Handlebar and Shimano XTR shifters combo.

Front drive train with Shimano XTR Crankset and Shimano XT front derailleur.

Rear transmission with Shimano XTR rear derailleur and Shimano XTR cassette and KMC X9 Chain.

Mavic Crossmax ST for the hoops.

Detail of the overhaul.

Nothing gets left behind!

Fully rebuild DW-Link to ensure maximum performance out of it!

The FOX Rear shox RP23 gotten a seal lubed!

Components List
Frame: Pivot Mach 5 2010
Fork: Fox 2010 TALAS FIT RLC 150mm, with 15QR axle
Headset: Ritchey WCS Sealed bearing headset
Wheels: Mavic CrossMax ST wheelset
Tires: Kenda Nevegal 2.1 Front tubeless and Panaracer FireXC Pro 2.1 Rear
Saddle: Saddle
Bar: Easton Monkey Lite SL Low rise Handlebar
Grip: Ergon Lock On grips
Crank: Shimano XTR 175mm Cranks
Brake: Shimano XTR disc brake
Rotor: Formula Oro 6 bolt Disc, 180mm(front) and Formula Oro 6 bolt Disc, 160mm(rear)
Stem: Easton EC90, 90mm length, 31.8mm clamp diameter stem
Seatpost: Thomson Elite Seatpost
Pedal: Crank Brother Egg Beater SPD Pedals
Cassette: Shimano XTR Cassette 9sp
Shifters: Shimano XTR Brake combo shifters
Rear derailleur: Shimano XTR non-low profile
Front derailleur: Shimano XT
Chain Guide Device: None
Chain: KMC X9 Chain 9spd

Stay tune for more upcoming new overhaul services and bike checks!

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The Secret Life Of A Hayes V-series Rotor

We take a closer look at how a Hayes V-series rotor begins life as a massive roll of steel, and becomes the finished product that their new Prime brake system uses.

The Secret Life series lets you look beyond the packaging and flash to see what it takes to bring to life the products that we use.

  • The stainless steel is purchased in a large continuous roll; like toilet paper, but without the perforations or 2 ply thickness.
  • The stamping press straightens the strip through rollers, then stamps out the shape. It’s a progressive die, meaning the rotor geometry is created by stamping the part multiple times with various dies. One hit removes material in the center for the hub, one punches out the cooling holes in the rub area, one creates the ‘spokes’ in the center, etc. The last hit is the one that punches the rotor out of the strip. Like making cut-out cookies, the rotor goes on for further processing and the rest of the strip is recycled.

The Hayes V-series rotor in various stages of production. If you thought that making a rotor was a quick and simple process, you thought wrong.

  • Then the critical dimensions of the rotor are machined. Things like the mounting holes and the lobes that locate the hub.
  • After that the rotor is ED coated. The whole rotor is essentially painted black. This keeps the “as-stamped” surfaces (those created from the stamping process that do not get machined or ground afterwords) from oxidizing.
  • The stainless steel we use is called martensitic stainless steel. It has very high strength, is heat treatable and machinable, but does not have the best corrosion resistance, compared to other grades of stainless steel. The ground and machined surfaces of the rotor have a very smooth surface finish, almost mirror-like, which keeps oxidation (rust) to a minimum, but the rougher as-stamped surfaces will begin to show red rust over time if not protected as the high amounts of iron in the stainless begin to oxidize or rust.
  • The rotors are ground to the proper thickness and flatness. This removes the ED coating off the part, except for the as-stamped edges.

Two pieces become one when the steel braking surface is riveted to the aluminum carrier

  • Then the rub area of the rotor is heat treated to increase hardness and reduce the wear rate. The heat treat is a special, proprietary process that maintains the flatness of the rotor.
  • The rotors are then ready for use. Bicycles are of course lighter than most all other vehicles with disc brakes, but in the ultra weight conscious bike industry, the mass of the rotor is minimized creating extreme usage conditions that match or exceed the harshest motor racing environments.
  • Temperatures reach over 1000 deg F in the rub area, but remain much cooler at the hub. This creates a thermal stress as the rub area expands with heat, but the hub area doesn’t. The rotor needs to be able to allow this expansion, but still remain flat and return to its original form when cool. All this in addition to the brake torque loads.

After a lot of work, this is the finished product. This V-series floating rotor is used on the new Hayes Prime brakes and is available in 140, 160, 180, 203, 224 mm

A brake rotor is a simple looking part, but presents a formidable design challenge.

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Bike Checks: New Overhaul Service on a Scott Speedsters 3!

We will be featuring bikes that are full overhaul service at Tionghin from now and having a bike checks on the complete assembly!

Bike Checks on a new Overhaul Service on a Scott Speedsters 3!
Major overhaul from us again! Getting ready the machine for the road ahead again.

We do provide full polishing services during the Overhaul service entirely to complete the package!

More road bikes overhaul at our Road Store.

Read on…

Complete reassemble!

Front end of the complete bike.

Cockpit with Shimano Ultegra Shifters and Scott Drop bar with Truvativ XR stem.

Shimano Ultegra brakes caliper.

Front transmission with Shimano Ultegra crankset and Front derailleur.

Rear shifting with Shimano Ultegra Rear derailleur and YBN Superlight chain.

Wheelset from Mavic Aksium Race.


Vittoria Zaffiro pro tires.

Polished package result.

Components List
Frame: Scott Speedsters 3
Fork: Scott CR1 Aero carbon fork
Headset: Cane Creek Integrated Non – Sealed headset
Wheels: Mavic Aksium Race wheelset
Tires: Vittoria Zaffiro Pro 700c x 23c Front and Rear
Saddle: Sella Saddle
Bar: Scott Drop bar
Grip: Deda Bar tape
Crank: Shimano Ultegra Cranks
Brake: Shimano Ultegra Front and Rear brake caliper
Stem: Truvativ XR 70mm length, 31.8mm clamp diameter stem
Seatpost: Scott Seatpost
Pedal: Shimano Ultegra
Cassette: Shimano Ultegra Cassette 9sp
Shifters: Shimano Ultegra Brake and Shifter combo
Rear derailleur: Shimano Ultegra
Front derailleur: Shimano Ultegra
Chain: YBN SL Chain 9spd

Stay tune for more upcoming new overhaul services and bike checks!

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Shimano – Ice Technologies XTR Benchmark Test at Sicklines!

In order to test the limits of the Shimano XTR Ice-Tech rotors, Shimano solicited the help of Velotech to test the Saint as well as XTR brakes. See inside for the results from Shimano.

Shimano introduced a revolutionary cooling technology for disc brakes in 2010 named ICE TECHNOLOGIES. Since in any brake system there is a direct relation in between the generated kinetic energy (for brake power) and thermal energy (generated heat), Shimano has focused on the management of the system temperature. Lowering the temperature contributes to avoid negative effects on braking performance, as a result ICE TECHNOLOGIES brake systems have practically zero brake fading in normal usage, it increases the pad-durability up to 100% and reduces noise substantially.

XTR Trail brake with cooling fins and Ice Tech rotor

This technology basically consists of two elements. First of all, the rotors have a 3-layer sandwich structure of an aluminum core and two stainless steel outer layers; due to the higher heat dissipation of aluminum it reduces the rotor surface temperature with around 100 degrees. Secondly, the ICE TECHNOLOGIES brake pads that are recommended for trail riding feature aluminum cooling fins that can further improve the heat dissipation and reduce the brake-pad surface temperature by another 50 degrees.

The renowned German test institute “” has tested all SHIMANO XTR disc brakes in the previous weeks with striking results. They have tested the Cross-Country as well as the Trail version of the new XTR with different rotor-sizes and compared them to the famous SAINT brakes as well as with other high-end brands that are included in the usual magazine- tests regularly as well. You can check the details of the test results for the tested brake-models in the attached PDF’s of the original “” certificates and test reports at the right side of this web page.

The result in short:

  • All tested new SHIMANO XTR disc brake models/rotor sizes/pad combinations have exceeded Velotech’s firm disc brake standards, as well as the DIN EN 14766 and GS standards. See the attached reports for the detailed data.
  • The Ice-Tech brakes do withstand testing even under conditions that are 3 times as hard as required by DIN+.

  • Even if trying to test until failure of the brake Ice-Tech brakes are far ahead of the other brands and do withstand the test under 1050 Watt, while even the famous SAINT brake cannot do that (as a tip for SAINT users we recommend the usage of Ice-Tech rotors as these will improve the system performance a lot!!!).

* = marked brakes did complete the test without failure
** = the brake did fail in the 700W test already

The new XTR brakes work on a much lower temperature level than regular disc brake systems and do have practically no fading as you can see in the below chart

Shimano’s Conclusion – The Ice-Tech system contributes a lot to the lifetime of your system and the reliability and stability of your brake performance. Enjoy the ride!


Available now at Tionghin!

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Bike Checks: New Overhaul Service on a Scott Scale 50!

We will be featuring bikes that are full overhaul service at Tionghin from now and having a bike checks on the complete assembly!

Bike Checks on a new Overhaul Service on a Scott Scale 50!
Total overhaul and making it brand new again! Focusing on details during the overhaul, the bike was assemble with a show room condition result!

We do provide full polishing services during the Overhaul service entirely to complete the package!

Read on…

Details? We really mean it!

Fully assemble!

Upfront of the assemble complete bike!

Rock Shox Recon for the front shox absorber.

Cockpit with Shimano XT shifters, Avid Elixir brakes with Scott Team low riser handlebar and stem.

Shimano non-series crankset featuring the hollow tech 2 bottom bracket and doing the front shifting with Shimano XT front derailleur.

Shimano XT rear derailleur for the transmission and Shimano Deore cassette with Shimano XT chain!

Wheelset with Shimano non-series hubs and DT swiss 445D Rims and DT swiss competition spokes. Which are mounted on Schwalbe Rocket Ron tires.

We won’t leave any details behind during the polish process.

Details on the finish.

The result of a passion overhaul and service with quality!

Components List
Frame: Scott Scale 50
Fork: Rock Shox Recon, 100mm, 9mm standard QR
Headset: Cane Creek non-sealed internal headset
Wheels: Shimano non-series 6 bolt front hubs(32hole), 135mm x 9mm Shimano Shimano non-series 6 bolts hubs(32hole), DT Swiss 445D Rims, DT Swiss spokes with DT swiss brass nipples
Tires: Schwalbe Rocket Ron 2.1 Front and Rear
Saddle: Scott Saddle
Bar: Scott Pilot Team low riser Handlebar
Grip: Scott Team grips
Crank: Shimano non-series 175mm Cranks
Brake: Avid Elixir 5 Disc brake
Rotor: Avid G3 6 bolt Disc, 180mm(front) and Avid G3 6 bolt Disc, 160mm(rear)
Stem: Scott Team, 100mm length, 31.8mm clamp diameter stem
Seatpost: Scott Team Seatpost
Pedal: Shimano SPD Pedals
Cassette: Shimano Deore Cassette 9sp
Shifters: Shimano XT shifters
Rear derailleur: Shimano XT
Front derailleur: Shimano XT
Chain Guide Device: None
Chain: Shimano XT Chain 9spd

Stay tune for more upcoming new overhaul services and bike checks!

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Twenty Nine Inches Interview With Manitou’s Tech Expert Ed Kwaterski!

In this installment on Manitou, we were afforded the opportunity to interview Manitou’s top suspension engineer, Ed Kwaterski. Ed was helpful in getting us some answers on how to set up a suspension fork, set up a rear suspension to work with a front fork, and more. Read on for the full details.

Twenty Nine Inches Interview With Manitou’s Tech Expert Ed Kwaterski: by Guitar Ted

Twenty Nine Inches: How long have you been tuning and designing suspension products?

Ed K: I have been involved in suspension since I graduated from Milwaukee School of Engineering in 1996. Initially, I worked on active suspension systems for the automotive industry. During this time, I began tuning motorcycle suspension with my own side-business. In 2000, an opportunity came up to go to Showa and focus on motorcycle suspension. I spent 7 years there, literally riding and tuning on the track and on public roads 15 weeks/year. The rest of the time, I worked with the factory, created suspension specs, helped sort out problems…anything to streamline the relationship between Showa and the customer. It’s pretty neat to think there are over 1 million motorcycles on the road with suspensions I had the privilege to work on, next to some of the most talented suspension engineers in the world…guys who tuned for the likes of Freddie Spencer and Mick Doohan at the heights of their racing careers. During this same time, I also grew my side business and did both tuning and kit development on Road Race, MX, Supermotard, and Street applications. It was really like having two careers going at the same time, as both jobs complemented one another. The most important thing I learned is that a vehicle needs to be developed as a system. You don’t just put “the best fork” on and expect the best result. The geometry of the bike, including front end trail, rear anti-squat, and overall weight distribution need to be understood and accounted for. I have also found that individual preferences on a given bike are mainly a result of weight distribution and how the rider reacts in the corner (how body English and application of power affects the weight distribution.)

In 2007, I sold my shop and came to Hayes Bicycle Group to focus on the Manitou suspension product line. Our time was initially spent fixing old problems, and training the team on a new product line. Now we are fully focused on developing and launching new products with an emphasis on performance, reliability, and ease of use. Personally I like it because it takes advantage of everything I’ve learned over the years technically, and adds in the challenge of working with the team here to rebuild the brand.

TNI: What makes a good damper and why?

Ed K: Clearly, the best dampers have the best frequency response. This means the damper generates force consistently and predictably regardless of size and shape of the bump. When the damper moves, it must immediately begin pumping fluid and reacting to changes in direction and velocity. That said, a lower performing shock that is carefully tuned to the bike and rider will outperform a very high end shock that is mis-applied.

TNI: Tell us the importance of sag in set up.

Ed K: The adherence to a magic sag number is a bit over rated. It is only a starting point. We achieve several things when setting sag:

First, we are setting the static geometry of the bike. On the front, this affects the trail primarily, but to a smaller degree also affects weight distribution. On the rear, it is important to set the triangle in the proper position for pedaling efficiency and traction. The frame engineers design the pivot systems to behave a certain way, and we need to complement that with proper sag settings. Not only sag, but also shock or fork length play a major role in achieving the proper geometry.

Second, we are controlling the amount of suspension available to soak up a bump, and how much is remaining to extend into a hole. Too little sag adds harshness because the bike falls into holes rather than the suspension extending to allow the wheel to follow the ground. Too much sag wastes travel needed to soak up a bump, and also allows the bike to pitch and dive more easily.

Third, and not lastly, we are starting to balance the front and rear of the bike. If one end is too stiff relative to the other end, the stiffer end will drive excess motion into the softer end. A hard tail will perform better with less front end sag than a full suspension with the same fork. Generally, it also needs more spring rate. Otherwise, the fork will absorb the bump initially, and then take a second shot (double dip) when the rear hits that bump. This is felt as a forward pitch. Also, you don’t want the bike dipping in the front with each pedal stroke. Far better to have a full suspension bike that stays level and has no pitch motion.

TNI: Tell us the difference(s) between spring and damper circuits.

Ed K: Springs hold up the bike and STORE energy. Dampers control velocity and DISSIPATE energy. The dampers control how quickly things happen. When both of these functions are optimized, there is a greatly reduced need to change the set-up for different terrain. Now, this goes way beyond sag and knob clicks. It is up to the engineer or tuner to tailor the shape of the damping curves, the bottoming characteristic, spring rate, bike geometry, etc so that this optimal setting can be reached.

Many riders like to add compression to “hold up” the bike. This is misleading and causes many riders to get that system out of balance. Neglecting systems with lock-out or platform, adding compression damping will only slow down the motion, but given enough time, equilibrium is reached where the weight balances with the spring force. Where compression can “hold up” the bike is in quick transitions or short duration events that do not allow equilibrium to be reached. (Fast corners, quick brake applies). Damping also prevents overshoot (wheel moving farther than the bump) which is critical for maximizing traction.

Lock-out or platform dampers defy the above logic a bit in regards to what dampers do. They essentially hold up the bike by stopping oil flow, and do not perform a damping function until they blow off. How these systems blow off is unique among brands. Manitou’s ABS+ blows off a preloaded shim stack. Once that shim stack starts to pass oil, it absorbs kinetic energy in proper fashion, then closes off as soon as the input forces (bumps) drop back below the blow-off point.

Manitou’s “Wrecking Crew”: From left to right: Chris Volbrecht, Test Engineer Suspension; Ed Kwaterski, Chief Engineer/PM Suspension; Shawn Cotter, Product Engineer Suspension and Wheels

TNI: Can you give our readers suspension set up 101?

Ed K: Number 1: Take care of your investment. Wipe off the forks and shock, linkages, brakes, etc. Nothing is more important to service life than keeping the seals and sliding surfaces clean. This doesn’t mean they can’t handle mud and water. Just don’t let that mud dry on between rides. Next, keep things lubricated per owner/service manual recommendations. And be aware of spring or damping kits that may be available for your product. Manitou has damper tuning kits available for ABS+, and spring rate kits for both ACT Air (Tower Expert) and MARS Air (Tower Pro). Many riders gain both control and mid-stroke plushness with a FIRMER spring kit on their MARS air system. This happens because it enable s a lighter air pressure. Now that we covered the hardware, let’s go to set-up.

Set sag to about 20% for XC, and up to 35% or so for long travel applications. This is a starting point.

On a full suspension bike, after setting sag, the rider should get on the bike in an aggressive riding position. Bounce on the bike in a controlled manner, with most force driving thru the pedals, but also keeping the arms rigid and driving maybe 15-20% of the torso weight thru the bars. Try to do this without rocking forward and backward: just smooth vertical motion. The front and rear should move downward evenly (compression), and back up evenly (rebound). If springs are unbalanced, the softer end will dip more. On the trail, this will encourage the bike to pitch over bumps, and force the rider to compensate body position.

Adjust rebound damping on both ends as soft as possible, while not bouncing off the ground, or allowing the wheel to chatter along uncontrolled. As you go tighter on rebound, the chassis will feel more controlled, but at some point, harshness will increase, and traction will diminish as the wheel can not respond quickly enough to stay in contact with the ground. Rebound is more critical than compression to be set correctly, but compression gets all the attention.

Adjust compression damping to control the chassis during fast transitions, to minimize brake dive (speed of the brake dive), soak up landings (control bottoming energy), absorb bumps in a plush manner while not allowing the wheel to move too far and lose traction.

What causes us to change some of these set-up parameters? Sag is a static condition, but we notice performance issues in the most dynamic situations. If you really push the front down in corners, shifting weight onto the front wheel, then more preload, higher spring rate, or more compression damping may be needed. Conversely, if you sit back in the corner, then a softer front end is needed to maintain the proper balance. Don’t forget, you may adjust the rear end in the opposite direction in these situations.

Hard tails need a firmer front end set-up in order to remain balanced with that rigid rear. Just don’t go to far and lose the benefits of comfort and traction that come from a suspension fork.

Above all, experiment and enjoy the features you have paid good money for. Take some notes. The Pro’s are always tweaking and testing, and this is necessary to gain set-up knowledge. You test first, and learn as a result; not so much the other way around.

TNI: Give us the differences between the Absolute Plus and the old Absolute damper. Why the change..?

Ed K: ABS+ is a shim based damper with a tapered needle adjuster. It is very responsive and very easy to tune for any application. The closed position of the needle creates a pedaling platform, with characteristics dependent upon internal shim stacks. The old Absolute was essentially a relief valve. Each click of adjustment increased the pedaling platform. The downfall is the system did not have a good setting for plushness, and going back to frequency response, it was very slow, so you could not respond properly to changes in terrain.

TNI: What are the differences between the Tower Expert and Pro models? Is it the just the air systems?

Ed K: The Expert uses ACT Air, which is an air adjusted coil spring. The Pro uses the MARS Air system, which is a lighter and plusher system. The plushness is achieved by eliminating the effect of air piston stiction, not necessarily by low spring rate. Beyond this, the Pro reduces weight even further by the use of a lighter hollow crown, internally tapered inner legs, and more use of aluminum components internally.

TNI: How does Manitou see the future of 29″er forks in the longer end of travel? Are we going to see 140mm forks? 160mm?

Ed K: We already make a 29″er version of our Dorado DH fork, so we see this segment filling out in these mid-range travel segments. Several companies already make a 140mm travel 29er.

TNI: What about a lightweight XC type short travel fork for 29″ers. Is there any room for a product like that?

Ed K: Certainly everyone wants lighter products that are still durable. We see more trends to the longer travels than the other way around. However, there are endless niche opportunities for many unique products.

TNI: Manitou went through some rough times as far as producing underwhelming forks and providing poor customer service. Why should a customer feel good about spending money on today’s Manitou product?

Ed K: We love to answer this question. Our Tech-Service Department has developed a reputation for taking care of problems quickly and without hassles. We give every caller the same attention. On the product side, we have a couple engineers who came from other suspension industries, places where the product is expected to perform for 25,000 to 100,000 miles or more without service. This long life does not come necessarily from heavy materials or high cost, but rather from paying attention to the details: cleanliness, tolerances, oil quality, workmanship, and architectures that protect themselves from the extremes of use. Manitou has added various life cycle tests, and elevated the requirements on existing tests in an effort to bring this reliability into our line up. We expect this reliability at all price points as well. This is probably the single most important factor in the ownership experience. If you need to send your suspension back for frequent tune-ups, it means you are not riding. It adds hidden costs as well. We all work very hard for our dollars, and nothing is more disappointing than taking time off, and traveling to our dream destination only to lose riding time due to equipment failures. Our mentality here is that this is unacceptable.

When Hayes Bicycle Group purchased Manitou a number of years ago, everything was broken: drawings, supplier quality, manufacturing quality, and low product expectations. These issues are all fixed now: I can not remember the last time a fork leaked. Our ABS+ damping system is very consistent and durable; every example we ship feels the same, and the technology holds up to the most severe thrashing our Dirt Jump riders can dish out. We assemble at our own factory, with great pride of workmanship. I recently returned from our Taiwan factory, and after 3 years of assembling product, I see the same faces on the line; experienced assemblers building with much higher skill levels, and an eye for quality that did not exist when I got here in late 2007. And we are not finished. We keep raising the bar; what was good last year is no longer good enough.

TNI: Some of the trends in forks like tapered steerer tubes and 15QRs are a boon to 29ers in my opinion. That is a minimal weight gain and allows for the potential of a better steering bike. I know you guys are bringing that tech to your product at some point. Is it just a matter of time before the traditional 1.125″ steerer and 9mm quick releases are gone from mountain biking?

Ed K: Actually, the increased diameter at the point of highest stress on the steer tubes has allowed Manitou to design our most recent tapered steerers to be lighter than the 1.125 steerers. It also complements the thinner walled aluminum frames and use of carbon fiber on both road and MTB applications. As for axles, many of us in the industry feel that 9mm quick release will happily go by the wayside, as we enjoy the greater safety and higher performance of the 15mm systems. Cost will likely keep both 9mmQR and 1.125” technology on mountain bikes at some level for the foreseeable future, however more and more just on the lowest cost product.

Twenty Nine Inches would like to thank Ed Kwaterski, and Manitou’s Rich Travis for getting this interview off the ground. Look for more on the Tower forks coming up this spring.

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Happy Chinese New Year!

Gong Xi Fa Cai! 恭喜发财! The entire crew from Tiong Hin want to wish you and your beloved ones a Happy Chinese New Year, and Great Year of the Rabbit!!!

PS: We will be closed from today, 2th Feb, and will resume business on next Tuesday. For any inquiries, kindly contact us @ 81188529…

Best regards,
Tan Kiang Chen

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