PROJECT: THE OHLINS MAKEOVER

We have always dreamt of a hardy bike that is easy on maintenance, competently enjoyable at any type of trails wherever we travel and possessing timeless killa good looks that makes us look good all the time. (Ed: Sounds like a dream any mountain biker would have … ) The addition of the Ohlins RFX36 M2 Air Fork and the TTX22M Coil shock to one of our project bikes could be the final piece to fulfil this dream.

OHLINS RXF36 M2 AIR FORK AND TTX22M COIL SHOCK

OHLINS RXF36 M2 AIR AND TTX22M COIL SHOCK with choices of springs.

We have always dreamt of a hardy bike that is easy on maintenance, competently enjoyable at any type of trails wherever we travel and possessing timeless killa good looks that makes us look good all the time. (Ed: Sounds like a dream any mountain biker would have … ) The addition of the Ohlins RFX36 M2 Air Fork and the TTX22M Coil shock to one of our project bikes could be the final piece to fulfil this dream.

THE OHLINS MAKEOVER VIDEO

THE PROJECT BIKE

Original Setup of the Bikezilla Banshee Darkside Project Bike.

Bikezilla have a series of project bikes to date. These “project bikes” are our version of crash test dummies with an added touch of love. (Ed: We are alright with the test team riding hard, but we give our project bikes their well-deserved TLCs after every ride.)

The Banshee Darkside is a 2015 frame design but till date it is our favorite freeride, park, downhill and enduro bike. It may not be the lightest option for long epic rides but it is hardy. Hardy as F*&^. It is one bike that we would trust at any trail around the world.

We often wonder just how much better it would be if we were to swap out the shock bits to something even more “hardcore”.

And so … there couldn’t be a better moment when Ohlins Singapore contacted us for a long term product test. Enter the RXF36 M2 Air Fork and TTX22M Coil Shock!

OHLINS IN MOUNTAIN BIKING

Mention Ohlins and images of advanced suspension technology for cars, motorcycles and many other sports machines comes to mind. It’s no surprise because this name had been unanimous with high-end suspension since 1976. With their headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden, they currently have subsidiaries in USA, Germany, Thailand. In 2017, Ohlins started a new partnership for manufacturing mountain bike products in Taiwan. Since the launch of their mountain bike range of products, they have been partnering with some top bicycle manufacturers matching their range of forks and rear shocks with renowned mountain bike models. The first generation of Ohlin products came with a mixture of hits and misses. Some tweaks and a couple of years later, we are now checking out the improved version of the Ohlins line of shocks.

THE RXF36 M2 AIR FORK

Some quick facts about this stiffy:

  • Available in both air and coil for 27.5″ and 29″ wheel sizes
  • 36 mm upper arm
  • Choice of 46 mm or 38 mm offset
  • Accommodates up to 2.8″ tyre width
  • TTX 18 cartridge kit (Improved 18mm cartridge kit provides more sensitivity for trail and small bumps over previous models)
  • Choose between 150 mm to 180 mm travel for air forks, 130 to 170 mm for coil forks
  • Independant damper system
  • Retuned twin piston three chamber air spring system allows for total air spring tuning from the initial movement through to the bottom out
  • For the air fork package: Options to change between air and coil setup
  • 15 clicks for low speed rebound and compression, 3 clicks high speed compression plus climb mode
  • Suitable for E-Mountain bikes due to the fork arm stiffness

THE TTX22M COIL SHOCK

TTX22M COIL SHOCK with choices of Springs.

Some quick facts about this set of beautiful coil shock:

  • Specially designed for Enduro and Gravity!
  • TTX Damping technology
  • Wide range of shock lengths (including matric, trunnion) to fit most bikes
  • Nitrogen pressurized bladder reservoir system
  • Tuning adjustments for different riding conditions
  • 3 levels high-speed compression adjustment (2 levels plus Climb mode on shocks 8.5″ and under)
  • 16 clicks low-speed compression adjustment
  • 7 clicks low speed rebound damping adjustment
  • DU Bush or Spherical bearing mounting options
  • Specific optimised spring range for each shock stroke to reduce weight

TESTING OUT THE DIFFERENCES

Syafiq entering the trail.

The best way to compare the difference of any part upgrade would be to ride the same bike before and after the parts change on a same set of trails. In our usual test fashion, we got 2 riders with different riding styles to try out the test bike. This would be the first of many more rides to come. For now, this first comparison would give us a good idea of how the upgrades change the performance of the project bike.

FIRST RIDE – THE ORIGINAL SETUP

Dive into the downs – that’s Syafiq’s aggressive style!

The original setup was already good – in our opinion. It was equipped with a 180mm Rockshox Lyrik RCT3 Air Fork and Cane Creek DBAir CS Rear Shock. Considering its freeride and gravity lineage, we would say the original Darkside build was light enough weighing in at the mid 14 kg range. It’s weight make it easy to pop around. At the trail, the Rockshox Lyrik, as with all other good Rockshox forks, feels buttery on its initial stroke and provide a comfortable damping that goes on to a somewhat progressive yet comfortable end stroke should things get a little gnarly. The Cane Creek DB CS Air rear shock was factory recommended. It wasn’t easy to tune it right but once we got it dialled, it was a very competent rear shock.

On the downside, the Rockshox Lyrik had always bugged us a little with its “relaxed” feel. We are not sure whether other users feel this way too but we think it is more of a rider’s preference thing. Sometimes, the buttery feel makes the front end of the bike a little too “relaxed”. It’s not a bad thing actually as it reduces fatigue for long rides. But it’s didn’t really reflect our mood when our adrenaline started rushing and things go a little more exciting. The Lyrik fork arm’s stiffness was within expectation but nothing that really wowed us too. Maybe it was due to the fact that we are too familiar with Rockshox forks’ personalities over the years.

In the later years of ownership, the Cane Creek DB CS Air showered its share of tantrums on us. As such, regular maintenance is a must for this complicated gem. While we are appreciative of the CCDB CS’s long service over the years, we have this secret wish of a hardier shock that is easier to maintain, something more confident inspiring when taking big hits.

ENTER THE BEAST

After swapping with the Ohlins RXF36 M2 Air fork and the TTX22M Coil shock and adding some cosmetic tweaks.

The swap seem to give the Darkside a new life. New looks and all, the new setup gave the impression we are ready for more fun, more gnarl and more rides.

SECOND RIDE – ENTER THE BEAST

Popped off and receive on the rocks? No problem at all for Syafiq and Darkside.

Fresh off the first ride, we went back to the same trails and eagerly tried out the new setup. Imagine the thrill!

FEEL THE DIFFERENCE

Summing up the new setup, the bike is a little heavier now – with the swap to a slightly heavier fork (about 150 – 200 grams more) and the rear coil shock (about 250 – 300 grams more), the bike weighs about 500 grams more. This weight could be felt during pedaling. It could be due to the Darkside being a relatively heavy bike to start with and fitted with draggy 2.6″ Schwalbe Magic Mary at the front and 2.5″ Magic Mary for the rear. (Ed: yes, we mentioned it was considered a light build for its class, but still the absolute weight of 14 plus kg is still heavy compared with other enduro or trail bikes.) A 500ish grams increase on the total build weight would just cross this editor’s “comfortable bike weight” tipping point.

Nothing a couple more rides for the body to adjust to this slight increase in the bike’s weight couldn’t do. And we’ll be back to the sweet “comfortable bike weight” range in no time. Or we could simply change to a set of Magic Marys with lighter tyre compound to give this bike less rotational inertia.

The bike felt as poppy as before, but the front end felt more alert and confident. On first contact with the trail, the bike gives a lot more feedback (maybe too much) when rolling off compared to the previous setup. We remedied this by slowing down the Low Speed Rebound a little more for the fork.

Once off its inertia, the bike comes to life! You know that indescribable feeling that put a smile on your face but you don’t really know why you are smiling? Yes, that euphoric feeling of the trail under your set of wheels, the lively feedback, the confidence you have as you move forward in anticipation of the drops and gnarl to come. This is pure off road riding joy.

Additional bonus: this new setup looks good!!!

Paul lets the bike do the riding while he enjoys the flow.

OHLINS RFX36 M2 AIR FORK

The RFX36 M2 Air Fork is a indeed an improvement from its predecessors. It still felt a little unforgiving on the initial roll-off but in return, it gives us that solid feeling of accuracy and confidence right from the start. The feedback is crisp and to the point. The damping is no-nonsense. Once the rider picked up speed, the fork gets to work in its true territory. And comes alive. Metaphorically, if the previous fork we use is a horse, then this fork is a puma. It has so much stored confidence and power inside. We just need to get to know its true personality.

Project bike with 500 poundage spring. Syafiq said the bike landed without any stress sound and in full cool composure.

OHLINS TTX22M COIL REAR SHOCK

The rear shock convinced us pretty easily. It remains predictable and sure-footed throughout its stroke. No surprises, totally competent. The slight additional weight penalty for using the coil over an air shock is quickly forgiven and forgotten when the bike make its way through the trail. Whatever the trail threw at us, the bike ate them up. The rear shock kept its composure throughout.

Rear shock (OHLINS TTX22M COIL) complementing the frame’s linkage system to assist this rider with the berm transfer.

CLIMBING

Wanna see how we climbed with the new setup? Check out this video and decide for yourself.

PERFORMANCE SUSPENSION SETUP GUIDE

The initial setup guide is easy to use. But it doesn’t advice how to tune the Low Speed Compression, Low Speed Rebound and High Speed Compression on the fork and rear shocks. For those who need help, we advise approaching your Ohlins bike shop for this final touch.

Performance Suspension Guide: Click here.

WHO SHOULD USE OHLINS

Great build quality, easy to tune, performance driven product design and outstanding killer looks. This is a potent combo for any bike build. In our opinion, whether you are a “newbie” who wants a great bike that’s ready for the world, or a racer eyeing podium position, Ohlins fork and rear shocks should definitely be in your shortlist.

WHERE DO I GET THEM?

These are the joints in Singapore where the experts could help you with the installation and tuning. For more information on their full product range, check out their website at www.ohlins.com

Once it starts rolling, it’s pure joy!


REEVOLUTION
16 Morse Rd, Singapore 099228
Tel: 62722629

TIONG HIN CO
Block 28, Sin Ming Lane, #04-133, Midview City Singapore 530108
Tel: 6280 0416

RADICAL VELO
Blk 4003 Ang Mo Kio Industrial Park 1 #01-92 (7.62 km) Singapore 569624
Tel: 9798 6547

NSR BIKES
2 Bukit Batok Street 23 #01-14, Singapore 659554
Tel: 9668 5570

ÖHLINS SINGAPORE (SPORTING MOTORS)
19 Genting Rd, Singapore 349478
Tel: +65 6396 0230

For other regions, please click here for dealers and service centres.

RIDE!

LIKE and FOLLOW us: Bikezilla Facebook Page  • Bikezilla Bikers Group Page • BikezillaWorld Instagram • BikezillaSG Instagram • Bikezilla STRAVA • Bkezilla Cafe Chiang Mai

Photos and video by Bikezilla

SPECIAL THANKS: Ohlins Singapore, NSR Bikes and Bike Suite

Handsome!
Reminder: Never death grip when you ride.
Our lucky voodoo doll.
Swap different springs for different riding styles and experiences.
Matching grips!
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