So I pulled the sleeve off and found (let me make sure my math is correct)…zero of these rubber bands. Dammit. I found out that a certain bicycle suspension tuner who’s been around a bit was working at RockShox, and tracked him down. He was more than happy to send me some of the rubber bands, so I knew I’d be dialed pretty soon. Again, I hold nothing against a workforce that is in a position to be ready at any moment to evacuate their homes and keep their pets and families from catching on fire. If it were me, I probably would have mailed some pizza crusts and beer cans by accident and never would have noticed. In the meantime, of course I rode the bike.
Heh…it’s funny when you literally can’t put enough pressure in a shock to keep it from using 99% of the travel at 4 mph. With the large air can, this thing was far too linear for the frame I had it on. But it was kind of cool to ride something so responsive on climbs. The cliche “plush” did apply. I could feel myself slowing, with momentum going into the suspension with every bump, but, damn, it was smoove on my booty.
Descents were anywhere from comical to dangerous. On smoother sections, it felt like I was on a much-longer-travel bike. But when it came time to hit things in succession, I don’t think I was coming in at anywhere above the last 30% of travel. Far too deep, far too often. There was no pumping transitions, and I ended up getting bucked a lot because I’d hit something and there was just no travel left. Everyone I’d spoken with who had run one of these shocks on a 5.Spot told me to get the small-volume air can, and I now fully understood why.
Once I received the spacers, I went with five bands based on a recommendation from Turner. Much better. As with any coil over-design, getting the spring system dialed (in this case air volume in addition to just sag) is first and foremost. For what it’s worth, I eventually wound up with seven total, and I’ve been happy with that. The bike is balanced between the all-important factors of pumpability, bottom-out resistance, and suppleness.
Regardless of spring ramp, the main reason I was interested in the RC3 was that from everything I’d heard, getting a low-compression tune from RockShox meant a real low-compression tune. DW-link bikes like the 5.Spot have more geekery engineered into their suspension system than probably any other. As such, they tend to work best when complicated compression damping setups take a seat by the side and let the frame do its thing. As I mentioned, even though tuned by Fox to fit these frames, I never felt the RP23 that comes on them really achieve that.
I’m basically ecstatic to report that when you ask RockShox for a low-compression tune, that’s what you get. Even cycling the shock by hand with no pressure in it can give you a hint of just how much resistance is tuned into the damper that Fox provides through the compression damping system, and how much less there is in the RC3.