The Mountain Bike Life

PUSH industries have been specializing in making other companies gear better for the greater part of two decades. Shocks from the factory are made for the masses. Averages are accepted to manufacture the fewest number of production units that will work for the greatest number of applications. As a result, you may or may not fit into the factory spec. If you’re much bigger or smaller than around 165lbs, more or less aggressive than most, or ride a specific type of terrain, your stock Float CTD might not be optimal. Your Monarch might be straight up wrong. Damping, spring rate, performance of an air spring at varied pressures all conspire to produce drastically differing experiences for riders on the exact same bicycle.

PUSH employs a different model. By designing, prototyping, testing, and manufacturing this new Elevensix entirely in-house in small production runs they are able to build shocks to order for their customers. I have been to the PUSH Industries facility in Loveland, CO. The unassuming warehouse exterior hides what is in reality, comparable to Tony Stark’s (aka Iron Man’s) in-house production facility- minus the Hollywood effects. The super-genius brainstorms of Darren Murphy and his small army of Engin-gnars are transcribed into 3D digital form on desktops and sent over to his giant robot minions in the next room to sculpt into aluminum reality. Under this one roof PUSH is able to find a problem, design a solution, prototype, and begin manufacturing- sometimes in less than one day. They are able to supervise and control every aspect of production.

Photo by: Chad P. Christian

Photo by: Chad P. Christian

It was in this environment that the Elevensix was born. After years of refining other products, of compromising, of finding solutions to problems it became clear that if they wanted something done right, they’d have to do it themselves. And so PUSH began the tireless work of designing a shock of their own. A shock that they had been dreaming about. A masterpiece. A symphony of bests. The shock that they themselves had always wanted to ride, but had never been available.

Burning the midnight oil while product testing | Photo by: Chad P. Christian

Burning the midnight oil while product testing | Photo by: Chad P. Christian

But all of that is really just academic compared to how it performs. I tested the Elevensix at home on Colorado’s Front Range, in Moab, UT and finally on some flow trails in Salt Lake City’s Corner Canyon. These trails offered the whole spectrum of the trail conditions I generally ride from smooth and flowy with buffed kickers and little doubles to the chunky, ledgy, techy fast schizophrenia of Captain Ahab. Smooth prolonged climbs and dry, loose, chundery ascents that made me blind with lactate.

Planning the next assault on the Elevensix | Photo by: Chad P. Christian

Planning the next assault on the Elevensix | Photo by: Chad P. Christian

I wrote a previous review of my Nomad and lamented a number of rear-shock related problems. I never could get the shock pressure right. Enough pressure to keep from bottoming all over the place and I lost small bump sensitivity. Low enough pressure to get the small bump performance back and I’d bottom harshly. With this deadly mid-stroke wallow, I was constantly banging my pedals. My Crank Brothers Mallets have needed straightening on my bench vice a number of times. Worst of all was this general sensation that the bike was constantly trying to use all of its travel all of the time. I felt like it took a lot of ” body English” to wrangle the Nomad, especially at low speeds and the suspension would frequently stall the bike out and get hung up in holes and between rocks when climbing.

The coil spring on the Elevensix is a more reasonable user of travel than the Monarch. It seems programmed to use only the necessary amount of travel for a given bump. The Monarch seemed to really love the wallowy mid-stroke of its travel, shying away from those first inches and either blowing into or completely avoiding the last inches. The Elevensix deploys its travel judiciously. With the Elevensix my Nomad rides higher in its travel, and this ride height is functionally adjustable using the HSC compression adjustments. I have dramatically fewer pedal strikes with the Elevensix . I tried to find the bottom of this shock. I expected to be able to bottom it out. Without the natural progression in spring rate of an air shock to ramp up the ending stroke I figured I’d hit hard somewhere. I didn’t. In fact although I’m sure I used all the travel at some point, the bottoming was so smooth and so controlled that I literally never noticed it, even when I started attacking squared-off rocks with the rear wheel and awkwardly plunging into g-outs.

Photo by: Chad P. Christian

Photo by: Chad P. Christian

Multiple Personalities:

Unique to the Elevensix, and its most readily apparent feature are the patent pending Dual Overhead Valves. This is a pair of user selectable valves, each with independent High and Low-Speed Compression Adjustments. No other shock on the market allows the user to select via a simple flick of a lever, completely different and completely independent compression damping circuits. This isn’t just a lockout or a platform switch in bypass fashion. It is two completely adjustable modes that are user-configurable using bare hands. Furthermore, the range of settings built into each of the valves is bike and rider-specific. All the settings on this shock are applicable to the shock and the intended use. This shock comes programmed for the rider and begs to be played with. Turn the dials. Experiment. Tune to your heart’s content. Or don’t. The Elevensix comes with a tuning guide with PUSH’s recommended settings for each individual rider and a detailed manual for each of the knobs.

Darren knows best | Photo by: Chad P. Christian

Darren knows best | Photo by: Chad P. Christian

Though the LSC and HSC adjustments steal the show, the Elevensix is also equipped with an external rebound adjustment tweaking a dual-stage high-flow damper with a parabolic needle which ensures consistent difference in damping adjustment from one click to the next.

Rebound knob on underside of shock | Photo by: Chad P. Christian

Rebound knob on the underside of shock | Photo by: Chad P. Christian

Also unique to the Elevensix is a perpendicular IFP. According to PUSH, this configuration is optimal in terms of oil volume, pressures, and it reduces the amount of travel, mass, and inertia of the IFP which all ups small bump performance and shock sensitivity.

Performance:

Small Bump:
PUSH has refined everything they could think of to contribute to enhancing small bump performance and stroke initiation. From the radical IFP, to the premium shaft coatings, to full-capture spring retainers, to Optimum Body Diameter springs, and multiple other innovations, no stone of friction or bind was left unturned. This shock will compress under a heavy sigh, and under body weight settles perfectly into a sweet spot of traction and grip without being bouncy.

Bigger Hits:
When landing this shock brings the bike back to the ground and sticks the tires there. It feels like there’s an extra few feet of suspension travel available and the wheels never actually leave the ground. In medium to large high-speed, successive hits; when shit really starts to get interesting is when the Elevensix really starts to shine. In wicked, rowdy terrain the Elevensix brings the bike back to neutral much faster after each hit, which means it’s more ready to take the next one. Imagine getting back all the fractional seconds lost after each bump and applying that time directly to your ability to control the bike. It’s like a magic stopwatch that pauses time bump after bump and gives you an extra blink to recover. It might actually be some sort of time machine. The faster you go, the faster you go. This shock dares you to go faster, push harder. I’m sure there’s a limit out there somewhere. Good luck finding it.

Climbing:
Flipping the lever upward to valve 2 completely changes its character. I wanted a “Climb” mode that was adjustable. Most platforms and lockouts are factory set and make compromises in efficiency and traction for simplicity’s sake. In the Climb setting with the blue Low Speed Compression knob dialed full-clockwise the shock is almost immune from pedal input and is ready for a long slog up a non-tech fire road. When things get chundery, techy and loose like the baby-head waterfalls of Colorado’s Front Range the LSC knob can be dialed back out to increase traction. At 4-6 clicks out it is an all-out traction-monster, and some extra clicks on the HSC keeps me upright, tall, and geometrically superior for climbing. I’ve always known that a custom tune on a shock could improve descending characteristics, I am blown away with how much it can improve climbing too.

Finish and Details:

Photo by: Chad P. Christian

Photo by: Chad P. Christian

From a finish standpoint the attention to detail is significant. The shock is clear anodized to keep it looking sharp and finished off with laser-etched graphics. PUSH even changes the orientation of the graphics to account for the mounting position on different frames.

Price:

This is the elephant in the room. It is expensive. Sorta.
At $1200 it is about the most expensive rear shock on the market today. It’s gonna hurt. But I did find some pretty sound financial justifications once I got over the initial sticker shock. To do what I want this shock to do, I had considered several other shocks, none of which have the capabilities of the Elevensix by themselves. The nearest plan I could come up with was to buy a Cane Creek Double Barrel for $560 and outfit it with a titanium coil for $200 AND a Cane Creek Double Barrel Air Inline for $500 for a grand total of $1260 and I still have to switch the shocks back and forth. Not to mention that while Cane Creek makes great shocks, having ridden them on the Nomad, they are not as good as the Elevensix. $1200 may seem expensive for a typical rear shock. However, this is an upgrade of magnitude similar to the upgrade from a hardtail to a full suspension frame. It is truly that profound. This is a bespoke product engineered by complete shredder-geeks, built by hand by people who intimately understand it, and produced with the philosophy of creating the most functional, advanced, user-friendly yet performance-oriented suspension component in the world without compromise.

Summary:

This shock is the difference between the bike I bought, and the bike I dreamed it would be. It has fixed everything I hated about the Monarch, but accepted because I loved the Nomad. The Elevensix a no-compromise, no-holds-barred, nothing held back and no expense spared, high-performance suspension system. There will be those that scoff at the price, or who aren’t able to push their bikes hard enough to test their limitations and understand how this shock could make such a difference. But for those who are looking for the next evolution of their bike and their riding, the PUSH Industries Elevensix is calling.

PUSH Industries Elevensix
MSRP $1200
Weight: 835 grams complete with hardware
Awesomeness: 11 (1-10 scale)
www.pushindustries.com
(970) 278-1110
sales@pushindustries.com

Photo by: PUSH Industries

Photo by: PUSH Industries

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