Until recently, I’d naively thought that coil sprung suspension was just for heavy, hard hitting mountain bikers, and certainly not for a 52kg rider like myself, who struggles to use all the travel in my air sprung fork and shock, even when inflated to the minimum PSI.
Having had various different air forks, including Fox 36 Grip2 and, most recently, Rockshox Lyrik Ultimate, the Lyrik was definitely the best I’d tried, but I was still having to run minimal air pressure, with settings dialed all the way out, so was very conscious of the fact that I wasn’t benefiting from the technology anywhere near the same as a heavier rider.
I was resigned to the fact that this was probably as good as it was going to get, until the good people at Saddleback and Biketreks gave me a Push Industries ACS3 Coil Conversion kit to try.
For anyone unfamiliar with the brand, Push Industries are Colorado-based suspension specialists, and creators of the highly rated Eleven Six coil shock. Suspension supremo, Darren Murphy set up the company with the aim of “providing consumers with the same level of product that is available to world class racers”, with the end product being the Eleven Six shock and ACS3 fork coil conversion.
While there’s no doubt that coils are beneficial to those at the heavier/more aggressive end of the spectrum, they also work extremely well for lighter riders, particularly in the front end of the bike.
The key to a dialed coil suspension set-up, is having the correct weight of spring to suit your weight and riding style. Once you have that, it’s just a case of fine-tuning the set-up, as opposed to trying to tune a one-size-fits-most system, which hasn’t been designed with your size in mind. With the correct weight of spring, a coil will provide all riders with less friction, better small bump sensitivity and greater traction than an air sprung fork.
The Push ACS3 Coil Conversion kit has seven different weights of spring to suit riders ranging from 48kg to 116kg in weight, and their website has a handy widget to help you decide which one you need, taking into account your weight (in riding gear) and riding style.
Swapping from an air to coil fork generally means buying a completely new fork, which can be a very expensive exercise, however, the Push ACS3 coil conversion kit is a very clever solution, which allows you to replace the air shaft in your existing forks (compatible with Rockshox Pike, Lyrik, Yari, and Fox 36) with a coil system. At £375, the ACS3 kit still isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than a new fork.
Best of Both
The one area where coil suspension tends to fall short is with big hits and bottoming out, which is where modern air suspension systems excel, thanks to their progressive rather than linear spring rate. However, to compensate for this, the Push ACS3 coil conversion features an “Air Bump Stop” cartridge, which allows you to adjust the progressiveness of your fork (using a standard shock pump), without interfering with the first 65% of the travel, and thus offering the best of both coil and air sprung suspension.
The ACS3 coil kit has been designed to be easy to install, and anyone who’s comfortable with carrying out a lower leg service on their forks should be more than capable of the task, particularly with guidance from their handy instructional videos:
Biketreks’ mechanic Sam fitted mine for me, so I’m unable to comment on whether or not it’s fool proof, but Sam certainly found it very straightforward.
One thing it’s worth noting is that once you’ve fitted the ACS3 kit, it’s not really possible to reverse the process, as the coil contacting the inside of the stanchion can compromise the air seal. However, (spoiler alert!) once you’ve tried it, I really don’t think you’d want to.
Another big selling point of the ACS3 coil conversion is that it requires much less maintenance than air suspension systems, which can need servicing as regularly as every 50 hours. I haven’t had to service my forks since installing the ACS3 over a year ago, and there’s been no deterioration in performance whatsoever.
I’ve been riding my Lyriks with the Push ACS3 conversion for over a year now, and can honestly say that it’s been a revelation. For the first time ever, I have a fork that’s set up for my weight and riding style, rather than just the closest I can get it, and the difference is huge.
My fork feels super smooth over small to mid-sized bumps, nice and poppy on smaller hits, and absorbs bigger jumps and drops like a dream. While bottoming out isn’t something I have to worry about too often, when I do get into the deeper end of the travel on bigger hits (something that’s a treat in itself!) I definitely feel well supported.
The only disadvantages to the system are a slight weight penalty, which, to be honest, I haven’t noticed, and the fact that there isn’t as much adjustability as there is with a standard air fork. For someone like me, who has limited scope for adjustment with an air fork anyway, it makes little odds, but for a more average sized rider who likes to play around with rebound and compression settings regularly, it might be of more consequence.
Whether you’re a rider who sits at either end of the weight spectrum, or just an average-weight rider seeking super-plush suspension, the Push ACS3 coil conversion kit is an extremely worthwhile investment that will transform your suspension fork into the smoothest and most confidence-inspiring set-up imaginable.
If you’re a serial settings tweaker then a coil’s probably not for you, but the best-of-both combination of air and coil systems that the ACS3 conversion offers, makes it a real game changer.
- Tailored set-up for any weight of rider
- Less friction, better small bump sensitivity and greater traction than an air sprung fork
- Best-of-both coil and air suspension systems – also good support in deeper end of travel
- Slight weight penalty
- Not as much adjustment – can’t adjust for riding different terrain, or carrying more weight
If you’re interested in a Push ACS3 coil conversion, you can order one from Biketreks, who will also happily install it for you.
If you have any questions at all, please feel free to comment below 🙂