If you’re a mountain biker, you know that suspension is one of the most important components of your bike. It can make the difference between a smooth and enjoyable ride and a bumpy and uncomfortable one. Two of the most popular suspension designs are the dw-link and the Horst Link. Each design has its own unique benefits and drawbacks, and choosing the right one for you can be a challenge.
The dw-link and Horst Link suspension designs are both highly regarded in the mountain biking community. The dw-link, designed by Dave Weagle, is known for its excellent traction, efficient pedaling, and smooth ride. It uses a patented system of links and pivots to create a virtual pivot point that moves as the suspension compresses. This design allows the bike to maintain traction on rough terrain and helps to prevent pedal bob.
The Horst Link, on the other hand, was developed by Horst Leitner and is used by a variety of bike manufacturers. It uses a pivot located above the rear axle that is connected to the chainstay and seatstay. This design allows the suspension to remain active while braking, and provides excellent small bump sensitivity. The Horst Link is also known for its ability to provide good pedaling efficiency, making it a popular choice for cross-country riders.
Understanding Suspension Design
Basics of Suspension Systems
Mountain bike suspension systems are designed to absorb impacts from the terrain, providing a smoother ride and increased control for the rider. Suspension systems are made up of several key components, including the shock, suspension platform, swingarm, main pivot, and linkage-driven single pivot.
The suspension platform refers to the overall design of the suspension, including the layout of the pivot points and the shape of the swingarm. The main pivot is the point where the swingarm attaches to the frame, while the linkage-driven single pivot refers to a specific type of suspension layout where the shock is driven by a linkage connected to a single pivot point.
Key Components of a Suspension
One of the most important components of a suspension system is the shock, which is responsible for absorbing impacts and providing a smoother ride. The shock is typically a hydraulic or air-sprung damper that works in conjunction with the suspension layout to provide a smooth ride.
Another important component of a suspension system is the leverage ratio, which refers to the relationship between the movement of the rear wheel and the movement of the shock. A higher leverage ratio means that the rear wheel will move more than the shock, while a lower leverage ratio means that the shock will move more than the rear wheel.
The suspension layout also plays a crucial role in the performance of the suspension system. There are several different types of suspension layouts, including the linkage-driven single pivot, the Horst link, and the dw-link. Each of these layouts has its own unique advantages and disadvantages, and choosing the right one depends on the rider’s preferences and riding style.
Overall, understanding the basics of suspension design is crucial for any mountain biker looking to improve their ride. With a solid understanding of the key components of a suspension system and the different suspension layouts available, you can make an informed decision when choosing a new bike or upgrading your current setup.
The DW Link Suspension
If you’re in the market for a full suspension mountain bike, you’ve likely come across the term “DW Link” suspension. Developed by suspension designer Dave Weagle, the DW Link has become a popular choice among mountain bikers for its efficient pedaling performance and balanced suspension design. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at the DW Link suspension system, its unique features, and some popular bikes that use it.
The DW Link Design
The DW Link is a dual-link suspension design that uses a virtual pivot point to balance pedaling efficiency and suspension performance. The virtual pivot point is located above the bottom bracket and moves in response to changes in suspension compression. This allows the suspension to remain active while pedaling, reducing pedal bob and improving efficiency.
One of the unique features of the DW Link is its anti-squat characteristics. Anti-squat is a measure of how much the suspension resists compression under pedaling forces. The DW Link has a high anti-squat value, which helps to reduce pedal kickback and pedal feedback, resulting in a smoother, more efficient pedaling experience.
Unique Features of DW Link
In addition to its anti-squat characteristics, the DW Link suspension also features a rearward axle path. This means that as the suspension compresses, the rear wheel moves slightly rearward, helping to maintain traction and stability on rough terrain. The rearward axle path also helps to reduce chain growth, which can cause unwanted suspension movement and affect pedaling efficiency.
Another unique feature of the DW Link is its balanced suspension design. The system uses a combination of shock compression and linkage movement to provide a balanced suspension feel, with equal amounts of compression and rebound damping. This helps to improve traction and control on both climbs and descents.
Popular DW Link Bikes
Many popular mountain bike brands use the DW Link suspension system, including Ibis, Pivot, and Yeti. The Ibis Ripmo is one of the most popular bikes with the DW Link suspension, known for its balanced suspension design and efficient pedaling performance. The Pivot Mach 5.5 is another popular bike with the DW Link, offering a versatile platform for all-mountain riding. The Yeti SB130 is also a popular choice, known for its balanced suspension and responsive handling.
Overall, the DW Link suspension system offers an efficient and balanced suspension design that is well-suited for a wide range of mountain biking applications. Whether you’re a cross-country racer or an all-mountain shredder, the DW Link can provide the pedaling performance and suspension control you need to take on any trail.
The Horst Link Suspension
If you are in the market for a new mountain bike, you may have come across the term “Horst Link” suspension. This suspension design was created and patented by Horst Leitner, and it has been used by several bike manufacturers. In this section, we will discuss the Horst Link suspension in detail, including its unique features and popular bikes that use this design.
The Horst Link Design
The Horst Link suspension is a type of four-bar rear suspension design that uses a pivot on the chainstay, just above the bottom bracket. This pivot is known as the Horst Link, and it separates the rear triangle of the bike from the front triangle. The Horst Link design is known for its ability to provide a good balance between pedaling efficiency and suspension performance.
Unique Features of Horst Link
One of the unique features of the Horst Link suspension is its anti-squat curve. This curve is designed to counteract the chain growth that occurs when the rear suspension compresses. The anti-squat curve helps to maintain the rider’s pedaling efficiency by minimizing the amount of suspension movement caused by pedaling forces.
Another unique feature of the Horst Link suspension is the Active Braking Pivot (ABP). This technology is used by Trek Bikes, and it allows the rear suspension to remain active even when the brakes are applied. The ABP system separates the braking and suspension forces, which helps to maintain traction and control when braking on rough terrain.
Popular Horst Link Bikes
Several bike manufacturers use the Horst Link suspension design, including Specialized, Norco, and Pivot Cycles. Specialized uses a Horst Link design with their patented FSR suspension, which stands for “Future Shock Rear.” Norco uses the Horst Link design for their ART suspension, which stands for “Advanced Ride Technology.” Pivot Cycles uses a variation of the Horst Link design called the DW-Link, which was created by suspension designer Dave Weagle.
Overall, the Horst Link suspension is a popular choice for mountain bikers who want a suspension design that provides a good balance between pedaling efficiency and suspension performance. It is a low-maintenance design that is easy to service, and it is known for its ability to provide a smooth and stable ride on rough terrain.
Comparing DW Link and Horst Link
When it comes to mountain bike suspension designs, two of the most popular options are the DW Link and Horst Link. Both of these suspension systems have their pros and cons, and choosing between them can be a difficult task. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at the performance and maintenance differences between the two designs to help you make an informed decision.
One of the biggest differences between DW Link and Horst Link suspension systems is how they handle anti-squat and traction. DW Link suspension is known for its efficiency and anti-squat characteristics, which can help to maintain traction and keep the bike stable during acceleration. Horst Link suspension, on the other hand, is known for its excellent small bump sensitivity and linear suspension feel.
Another factor to consider is the level of progressivity in the suspension design. DW Link suspension tends to have a more progressive feel, which can be beneficial for aggressive riding and hitting big jumps. Horst Link suspension, on the other hand, is known for its more linear feel, which can be advantageous for smoother, more technical terrain.
Stiffness is another area where the two designs differ. DW Link suspension tends to be stiffer, which can be beneficial for more aggressive riding and hitting bigger features. Horst Link suspension, on the other hand, tends to be more forgiving and can provide a smoother ride.
When it comes to maintenance, both DW Link and Horst Link suspension systems have their pros and cons. DW Link suspension has more moving parts than Horst Link suspension, which can make it more difficult to maintain. However, DW Link suspension is also more independent of braking forces, which can help to maintain traction and stability when braking.
Horst Link suspension has fewer moving parts than DW Link suspension, which can make it easier to maintain. However, Horst Link suspension is more susceptible to brake jack, which can cause the suspension to stiffen up under hard braking. This can lead to a loss of traction and control, especially in technical terrain.
Overall, both DW Link and Horst Link suspension systems are excellent choices for trail bikes. The choice between the two designs ultimately comes down to a compromise between efficiency, small bump sensitivity, and maintenance considerations.
Other Suspension Designs
Aside from the DW-Link and Horst Link suspension designs, there are other suspension designs that you might come across when shopping for a mountain bike. In this section, we will briefly cover three popular suspension designs: Single Pivot Suspension, Virtual Pivot Point Suspension, and Maestro Suspension.
Single Pivot Suspension
Single Pivot Suspension is one of the oldest and simplest suspension designs. It consists of a single pivot point that connects the front and rear triangles of the frame. When the rear wheel hits a bump, the shock compresses, and the rear triangle rotates around the pivot point. Single Pivot Suspension is relatively inexpensive and easy to maintain, but it tends to suffer from pedal bob and brake jack.
Virtual Pivot Point Suspension
Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) Suspension is a patented suspension design that was first introduced by Santa Cruz Bicycles. It uses two short links that rotate in opposite directions to create a virtual pivot point. When the rear wheel hits a bump, the shock compresses, and the two links rotate around the virtual pivot point. VPP Suspension is known for its excellent pedaling efficiency and small bump sensitivity. However, it can be more complicated and expensive to manufacture and maintain.
Maestro Suspension is a patented suspension design that was first introduced by Giant Bicycles. It uses a four-bar linkage system that isolates pedal and brake forces from suspension movement. When the rear wheel hits a bump, the shock compresses, and the four-bar linkage system rotates around two pivot points. Maestro Suspension is known for its excellent traction, small bump sensitivity, and efficient pedaling. However, it can be more complicated and expensive to manufacture and maintain.
Other suspension designs that you might come across include the FSR (Full Suspension Rear) suspension design by Specialized, the Split Pivot suspension design by Kona, and the GT i-Drive suspension design by GT. Additionally, there are hardtail mountain bikes that do not have rear suspension, but they are still popular for their simplicity and low maintenance.
Choosing the Right Suspension
When it comes to choosing the right suspension for your mountain bike, there are a few considerations you should keep in mind. The two most popular suspension designs are the DW link and the Horst link suspension systems. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at these two options and help you decide which one is right for you.
Considerations for Choosing a Suspension
- Traction: Both suspension systems offer excellent traction. However, the DW link suspension system is known for its superior traction, especially when climbing.
- Maintenance: The Horst link suspension system is known for its simplicity and ease of maintenance. On the other hand, the DW link suspension system has more moving parts and requires more maintenance.
- Geometry: The suspension system you choose will affect your bike’s geometry. The DW link suspension system is known for its progressive geometry, which provides a more stable ride. The Horst link suspension system, on the other hand, is known for its more traditional geometry.
- Progressivity: The DW link suspension system is known for its progressive suspension, which provides a smoother ride and better traction. The Horst link suspension system, on the other hand, is known for its more linear suspension.
Test Riding Bikes
When choosing a suspension system, it’s important to test ride different bikes with different suspension systems. This will give you a better idea of how each system performs and help you decide which one is right for you.
When test riding bikes, pay attention to the following:
- Size: Make sure the bike you’re testing is the right size for you. A bike that is too big or too small can affect your riding experience.
- Mountain Biking Style: Consider your mountain biking style when choosing a suspension system. If you’re a cross-country rider, you may prefer the DW link suspension system. If you’re a downhill rider, you may prefer the Horst link suspension system.
- Mountain Biking Terrain: Consider the terrain you’ll be riding on when choosing a suspension system. If you’re riding on technical terrain, you may prefer the DW link suspension system. If you’re riding on smoother terrain, you may prefer the Horst link suspension system.
In conclusion, choosing the right suspension system is an important decision for any mountain biker. Consider your riding style, terrain, and maintenance preferences when making your decision. Test ride different bikes with different suspension systems to find the one that’s right for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the advantages of Horst-link suspension?
Horst-link suspension is known for its ability to isolate pedaling and braking forces from the suspension. This means that the suspension remains active while you’re pedaling or braking, resulting in better traction and control. Additionally, Horst-link suspension provides a more active and responsive feel compared to other suspension designs.
What is the difference between DW-link and CBF suspension?
DW-link and CBF suspension are both designed to provide efficient pedaling and active suspension. However, DW-link suspension is known for its ability to provide excellent traction and control in technical terrain, while CBF suspension is designed to provide a more active and responsive feel. Ultimately, the choice between the two will depend on your personal preference and riding style.
Which bike brands use DW-link suspension?
DW-link suspension was developed by Dave Weagle and is currently used by a number of bike brands, including Pivot Cycles, Ibis Cycles, and Turner Bikes.
What is Horst-link suspension?
Horst-link suspension is a type of four-bar suspension system that uses a pivot located on the chainstay to isolate pedaling and braking forces from the suspension. This results in a more active and responsive feel, as well as better traction and control.
What are the types of rear suspension for mountain bikes?
There are several types of rear suspension for mountain bikes, including single pivot, Horst-link, DW-link, and VPP (virtual pivot point). Each type of suspension has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the choice between them will depend on your personal preference and riding style.
What is single pivot suspension?
Single pivot suspension is a type of rear suspension system that uses a single pivot point to connect the swingarm to the frame. This type of suspension is known for its simplicity and low maintenance requirements, but it can also be prone to pedal bob and brake jack.