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Previously we have written about the idea of setting air pressure and spring rate by natural frequency. We have had some great responses, all positive (check out Mackmountain's post in this forum at NZMTBR).
Now we get to one of the greatest marketing triumphs in suspension tweaking, which is also the worst idea ever: Volume Spacers.
Whoever at Rockshox decided to name them "bottomless tokens" needs to be condemned to forever ride a quadra 5. In the freezing cold!
Customers read the label and decided "sweet, they'll stop it bottoming out" and stacked their forks (and shocks) with them, resulting in suspension that didn't get full travel. No problem, we'll just drop the air pressure.
Now they have a shock which is undersprung, sags too far into it's travel (so pedals hit the ground and steering is too steep) before it has an extremely short mid-stroke and an end stroke that stores and returns so much bump energy it's like riding a mechanical bull.
So then you've gotta crank the rebound slow, turning the fork into a dead feeling, low hanging, wallowing, miserable hack that will make every bump of every type feel horrible.
Got the picture?
Volume spacers' real purpose is to change the relationship between the natural frequency and ride height. If you've got a shock or fork that requires too much pressure to get the correct natural frequency, then it will sit too high in it's travel, have not enough sag to deal with dips in the trail and it'll feel harsh.
Adding volume spacers will let you drop the air pressure, gain some sag but keep the natural frequency high enough to not let it wallow.
Conversely, if you are sagging too much with the right natural frequency, then you need to increase air chamber volume and increase pressure. The increased volume with the increased pressure will balance out to give the same natural frequency but higher ride height and make it easier to get full stroke.
If it sounds a bit complicated. That's because it is. But you can trust me. I'm an Engineer. Proof is below.
Volume spacers for forks and shocks are here and here. The RS rear shock volume spacers fit a whole heap of other brands, including the Manitou McLeod. But they can only be used on dual layer air-cans.
For other brands not on the website, call us and we'll sort you out.