2014 Giant Trance Advanced SX / fork swap

Having spent a lot of time trying to tune the stock FOX 34 Talas 140-160, it seems it’s always a case of pro’s n con’s. Significantly reduce the preload and it’s reasonably plush at the top of the travel, but with that comes dangerous wallow on low-speed events. Ramp it higher than recommended and mid to high support is there at the cost of a jarring ride. 2014 Talas curves The 2014 fork is a big jump from 2013, but it still is lacking as there is always a compromise. I recently switched the fork over to a Rockshox Pike solo-air 150mm. This necessitated a new headset to bypass the OD2 setup and now brings it back to standard with a 1 1/8 steerer/headset…but well worth it! Forks are normally nasty out of the box and take time to bed-in. However, even with basic settings it was night and day better than the Fox. Rockshox Pike The Rockshox rapid recovery system coupled with the robust the charger damper keeps the oil separate from the air and as in the case of high quality car shock absorbers like Bilstein, this makes for very consistent and fast damping.

Charger damper

A lot of Pike owners on various mtb forums are using dramatically less preload with the dual aims of maximizing (i) high frequency plushness and (ii) usable travel. The Rockshox-recommended sag settings suggested 65 psi was approximate for my riders weight. As this is a trail geometry bike, I measured sag in the seated position and took the average of a few measurements. I was after 25% sag and my Topeak shock pump took 53 psi to obtain that.

Sag/Pressure testing:

sus2

Well under the Rockshox recommendation, but it’s possible that it may have been closer with sag measured in the attack position. Rockshox have the intelligent approach of allowing you to alter the low-speed compression in the OPEN mode, something that Fox’s CTD does not allow. Interestingly, and quite surprising to me was that low speed compression actually made the fork smoother generally. I suspect it keeps it higher in the travel and the rebound displacements are less than might otherwise be the case. I am still tinkering with rebound, it’s a bit tricky given the changeable terrain.

Current suspension settings:

– Riders weight= 72kg (154 lbs) – PIKE 150mm solo air with no bottomless tokens installed. The following fork settings I believe are pretty optimal in terms of overall comfort and performance.

sus

A note on bottomless tokens: I have now tried with none and, with a single token as a comparison. I could not discern a significant difference (benefit) in using a token. I put this down to my weight and the size of the travel. My research leads to me to believe they are probably necessary for a riders weight greater 80kg and/or forks of less travel. I have heard in recent times “Rockshox forks and Fox shocks” and from my experience its definitely the case. The fork and shock are now well balanced and the bike makes for a surprisingly efficient and plush ride. I feel I can ride a lot longer due to this. This is the way the bike should have left factory. The Pike upgrade (?) is highly recommended to make a great bike even better.

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Hand injury, week 34+

This update comes one week shy of 8 months since the accident back in May 2013.

Today, I had an all important diagnosis of a CT scan of the scaphoid (taken only in the days prior).  To my complete shock and happiness the hand surgeon concluded that my scaphoid had not only successfully joined at the fracture site, but there was no signs of avasuclar necrosis at the proximal pole. It has for all intents and purposes, healed. There does appear to be a slight change in density of the bone at the proximal pole, but this is something that he feels will improve anyway. This is an amazing result. I really couldn’t have expected this given an injury whereby my hand was effectively severed and the scaphoid physically displaced in two. This is a happy day, but I feel too numb to appreciate it. Sometimes we dodge a bullet, for me, it feels like such an occasion.

The CT scan also identified a satellite bone (1 cm) that has settled on the top of my wrist at the join. This is superficial and can be removed if it becomes an issue. Also, he noted come calcification of the bones that may cause me arthritis down the track, but this is a long way down the track and even that can be treated at the time should it occur.

As for my hand in general, I feel the last month has brought about a noticeable improvement in the overall feel. A lot of the numbness has subsided and soreness in my knuckles, while still present, has not been as sensitive/painful as prior. There still exits considerable resistance in my hands mobility at critical angles, but maybe the Summer heat is making it hurt less than normal.

I now have permission to mountain bike again, but need a different brace, one that is more strap-up type. For all I know, mountain biking may make my hand ache, I just have no idea and will test on some gentle trails at the outset. But at least now I feel I can live life as I want to.

I am down for another CT scan in 12 months to assess changes from now until then.

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