Within the last decade pushbike suspension technology has been developing to keep pace with the rising popularity of mountain biking. Currently elite downhill mountain bike riders compete internationally in teams that showcase the products of major bicycle manufacturers. These companies own large stakes in the bicycle industry, which is worth $6.1 billion in the United States alone. Despite a large emphasis on equipment performance, vastly different downhill rear linkage designs are represented in competition and in the commercial marketplace. Marketing departments and independent sources both use technical jargon and concepts to promote and discuss the designs. There are very few authoritative distinctions made between the different systems. This report will begin by discussing some of the reoccurring technical concepts and jargon that are important to rear suspension performance. Performance is evaluated in terms of pedalling efficiency, ground tracking ability and rider comfort.
The bicycle suspension simulation software 'Linkage' was then used to compare four production downhill bikes. Attributes of the 'Giant Glory', Orange 322, 'Santa Cruz V10' and 'Specialized Demo' consolidated suspension performance theory and were compared. The Giant exhibited a non-progressive suspension rate and the Specialized demonstrated the most squat.
An accelerometer was mounted to the rear linkage in order to examine suspension behaviour while riding over real terrain. After overcoming equipment malfunctions, testing revealed the system was often subject to large impulses in excess of 550g.
Lastly, recommendations will be made to follow up on pertinent topics that this paper investigates.