[Tested] PUSH Industries ELEVENSIX Shock

[Tested] PUSH Industries ELEVENSIX Shock

13/09/2016
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13/09/2016

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Back in December when the trails California were just becoming flawlessly tacky for a perfect, memorable winter we reached out to Push to review their Elevensix rear shock.  At that point, we’d only ridden our Evil Insurgent with its standard RockShox Monarch Plus Debonair and to be quite frank we had no complaints with the shock and certainly not the bike.  Given the bikes aggressive attitude, we quickly became curious about how capable it would become after mounting a coil shock.  At the time that the shock arrived, it was the only coil on the market with any sort of lockout.  Actually, it’s a bit more complex than that; to mitigate the lever on the Elevensix to a “lockout” just doesn’t do it justice.  Read along to see exactly what’s going on inside the most well thought out shock on the market.

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So what’s the story behind this shock?  What drove Push to design a $1200 custom tuned, ultra premium coil shock with parts sourced entirely from the US?  Well, since they began, Push operated as a high end suspension tuning/service company mainly performing work on Fox products.  So, they’ve already been in the business of custom tuning since day one and at some point, owner Darren Murphy decided to take everything he’s learned and pour it into his own no holds barred, incredibly advanced rear shock.

One might ask, why coil as opposed to air?  Because at the end of the day, despite a bit of added weight it provides peak performance; largely due to less heat and resistance (in the form of seal friction).  More traction, better consistency and lower operating pressures are just a few of the many reasons that coils are supreme.  There is a great deal of information to cover when discussing this damper so we’ll do our best to leave no stone unturned.  Let’s dive in…

Details

  • 100% Manufactured in Colorado at PUSH from only the finest domestically sourced raw materials.
  • Each unit is hand assembled, vacuum bled, and dyno tested. Built custom to rider specification based on rider weight, riding style, and frame application
  • Patent Pending Dual Overhead Valve design offers two completely decoupled ride characteristics that can be toggled between on-the-fly. For the first time riders can have ultra plush and ultra firm suspension characteristics without compromise.
  • Tool free external adjustments for Low Speed Rebound, Low Speed Compression, and High Speed Compression.
  • Parabolic Low Speed Needle design for both compression and rebound eliminates the “gap” found in production MTB shock external adjustment.
  • Exclusive HyperCo Ultra Light Suspension Spring available in 25lb/in increments. Made from High Tensile spring alloy and featuring Optimum Body Diameter technology eliminating spring deflection and body wear.
  • Next generation Digressive Damping characteristic from compression valves provides incredible traction and control while allowing for through travel on square impacts.
  • High Volume Oil and Nitrogen Reservoir for fade-free performance.
  • Built using premium Maxima rear shock fluids.
  • Exclusive 360 degree spring capture and bump stop cup eliminates extrusion of bumper under extreme bottoming loads and ensures proper spring alignment.

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There is a lot going on both inside and outside of the ElevenSix, some of which are industry firsts.  You can dive in deeper here as well.   Starting with the simpler external bits, Push use a steel alloy spring that isn’t quite as light as titanium but is substantially lighter than your run of the mill OEM steel spring on Fox, RockShox etc.  What’s most special about the spring however isn’t solely the weight, but its consistency and shape.  Available in 25 pound increments and accurate within a 2 pound margin, you’re guaranteed to never compromise or find yourself in between rates.  Push employed USA based Hyperco to customize their springs actual shape to eliminate scraping on the shock body.  At one end the lower collar hugs the spring at tight tolerances to keep it from shifting around and on the other end, a polymer bearing (pictured below in red) allows the spring to rotate freely as it is compressed.  This ensures great linearity in the spring’s rate and enhances small bump performance.  The upper spring collar can also be secured via a 2mm allen set screw.

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Our Elevensix, in a slightly dismantled state.

Looking at the bottom out bumper, Push offer varying densities to best suit to your weight and riding style as well as your frame’s kinematics.  For example, a frame with a linear rate will require a bigger, denser bumper while a more progressive frame won’t need as much bottoming support and will likely be mated with a softer, smaller bumper.  While no one else in MTB suspension even offers anything like this, it’s actually a feature that’s borderline rudimentary compared to the inner workings of the Elevensix.  One last note on the bumper is that it it sits in a retaining cup in the lower spring collar.  That cup prevents the bumper from completely losing its shape on full bottom out, thus further aiding in providing a bottomless feel.  Wrapping up the external bits; even the shock hardware is no holds barred.  Each eyelet is comes with a 5 piece, dual sealed system where type 3 hard anodized axles roll on advanced polymer bushings fitted to sealed spacers.

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Getting into the heart of the shock, the main features that set the Elevensix apart from everything else on the market : the dual valve system in its side by side reservoir.  As we mentioned earlier it doesn’t exactly have a lockout; it’s much more advanced than that.  The lever actually toggles between two completely separate compression valves, choosing which valve the oil flows through.  Sitting above the high volume oil/nitrogen reservoir, both valves feature 16 clicks of independent low speed and 20 clicks of high speed compression.

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The most brilliant design element of this shock is that each of those valves can be set up differently (or the same if you choose).  Let’s say you’re heading to Whistler with just one bike : One valve can set up a bit lighter feel a bit more plush and provide gobs of traction on steep, rooty technical trails.  What happens when you want to go blast down a jump trail?  Well if you had the other valve set up to be firmer and more supportive you can flip the lever and your bike won’t dive or wallow as you blast off of a big lip, thus giving you the best of both worlds.  If you’re riding anything other than a full on DH bike in a bike park this becomes increasingly beneficial.  You can also instruct Push’s technicians to set the second valve up to work as a lockout/climbing switch.  Even better still, you can have the second valve set up for jumping, but make a point to remember exactly how many clicks it takes to work effectively as a climbing switch.  By the way, the detents are super easy to count and all of the clickers are sealed off from the elements so they’ll stay that way.

When you order your shock, you fill out details about yourself : height/weight, riding ability level, etc.  In that same form, you tell Push a bit about what you want the shock to do and how you want it valved.  They then customize an Elevensix for you and your bike.  This is where the $1200 price tag starts to seem more reasonable…

First Impressions

The first thing we noticed when we pulled our shock out of its packaging was that for how big it is, it really wasn’t all that heavy; less than a pound heavier than your average air shock.  After that – all we could do for a few minutes was sit back and appreciate its incredible attention to detail.  We’ve literally never seen anything like it.  The machining is all pristine and there is an incredible amount of relief throughout to get the weight down.  That takes time and “time is money.”

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The shock arrived with notes on where it was set from the factory.  Our 185 pound rider was set up with a 550 pound spring.  Out of the gate it felt spot on, but the rebound seemed too slow in the parking lot so we sped it up a bit.  Hmmm…

Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 3.58.14 PMBecause Push tunes each shock for the bike and rider, they can use a much better, more focused rebound system.  Why?  Because unlike the large companies who have to set up rebound to work on a bicycle for everyone from a 120 pound grom to a 280 pound gorilla, Push sets an Elevensix up to work for riders within a 15 pound range.  You won’t see that anywhere else in the bike industry.  Anyhow, comparing the charts above shows you how their parabolic needle give you consistent, incremental change from one click to the next.

On the Trail

As mentioned earlier, we hastily sped up our rebound before actually trying it on the trail.  It turns out that you should run the Elevensix rebound a bit slower than you might actually think.  We were scratching our head wondering why faster rebound seemed to make the bike pack up a bit.  For our second ride we put the rebound setting back to where it was when we unboxed it.  Lo and behold, it felt just right.  Here’s why : The rebound adjuster meters the low speed circuit where oil is just passing through one orifice.  As you slow your rebound down, it becomes harder for oil to bypass said orifice and flow through the high speed circuit.  The high speed circuit is a higher flow piston where 3 larger orifices are metered by a shim stack, therefore it’s better suited to manage successive fast hits without packing up.  In any case, we realized the shock was actually bang on straight out of the box.

Once we got past our preconceived notions we were literally flabbergasted.  Words simply cannot describe how incredibly well the Elevensix performs.  We understand that for the price it had better be amazing but we can’t emphasize how much our expectations were exceeded.  It’s one of the few products that we’ve tried that we would say is truly transformative.  This shock is capable of fully morphing a bike into a completely different animal…an obedient, highly competent one at that.  The most outstanding attribute is just how much more control it provides in each and every situation you will encounter; particularly in those situations where you need it the most.

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We really didn’t expect that the Elevensix (much less any coil shock for that matter) would outperform an air shock on the climbs.  Depending on how many mid travel bikes you’ve ridden that were spec’d with air sprung shocks, you most likely noticed that when you put them in the climb mode they can become harsh and a bit bouncy.  Quite often they seem to climb better in a middle “trail mode” setting simply because they shore up more traction and seem to give a bit.  At least on technical climbs.

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What makes the Elevensix so unique on the climbs is that it feels incredibly firm, yet somehow manages to offer a very subtle bit of compliance at the top of the stroke.  Not only does it aid in providing extra traction, but because the shock acquires its firm feel from the low speed compression when “locked out” it’s still relatively easy for it to open up for harsh, square edged hits.  For example, you’re climbing up a hill and the closed off low speed compression prevents excessive chassis movement ensuring efficient climbing, great…You enter a steep punchy climb and partway up you hit a ledge, a big root or rock.  With most other shocks we’ve ridden to date, the bike is harsh and unforgiving but with the Elevensix, it opens up just enough that it doesn’t throw off your composure and it provides amazing traction.  To explain how this is working, when you toggle to your “climb mode” it’s basically just diverting oil through the valve that you’ve chosen and have set with the low speed compression nearly bottomed, but your high speed is still relatively open so it can react to harsh hits.  The closed off low speed prevent movement under mass transfer, pedaling, etc.

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The descents are where the Elevensix is flat out untouchable.  Our bike was instantly quieter, more easily controlled and handled better.  This shock manages huge hits better than anything else we’ve ever ridden, under massive impacts it doesn’t slap back at you, the high speed rebound is brilliant. In rough chatter the tires are glued to the ground.  It feels soft and endless, yet when you bury the bike deep in a turn it doesn’t wallow.  The list goes on but this is far and away the best shock we’ve ever ridden; as we said before it truly is transformative.

So how is the Elevensix this this good?  If we’re going to make a claim like that we have to back it up, right?  Well, unlike most suspension companies, when Push wants to set up tunes for a bike they physically bring that bike to their headquarters in Colorado, build it up and begin developing specific tunes with their testers.  This isn’t as simple as just coming up with a few different pre set configurations with varying shim stacks and a range of internal floating piston depths.  Push go a step further and utilize an array of pistons with a multitude of flow rates as well.

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So how has it held up to 9 months of abuse?  Incredibly.  It functions exactly as it did when it was new.  We haven’t developed any play in the shock hardware, the seals are all perfect and we don’t have even the slightest hint of oil degradation.  Push uses the highest quality materials in their seals and bushings and it definitely shows.  Because the Elevensix is a coil, it also doesn’t require any routine maintenance as there aren’t any  transfer ports or air spring seals to get gummed up.  While chatting with Push a while back, they told us that upon cracking one of their original shocks open after about a year of abuse, they poured the oil out only to find it was the exact same color as fresh oil.  Impressive.

Overall

So this is generally the part of the review where we evaluate a product’s value.  Most consumers would define value as how a product’s price : performance ratio shakes out.  In Push’s case the Elevensix is the most expensive shock on the market but it’s also the best – hands down, it’s truly is one of a kind.  Some of this is due to the fact that it is tuned specifically for you and your bike.  However, a large part of its flawless performance is also attributed to innovations that are specific to Push and this particular shock.  In other words you can’t just buy a Vivid or an X2 and send it to TFTuned, Mojo (or even Push for that matter) and end up with a shock that works this well.

_IMC1610So how does one justify the cost?  For lots of consumers it’s simply out of the question and that’s understandable, but there is one major factor to consider which we haven’t touched on yet.  Push offer full conversions for $150 to $250; the price varies based on how many parts need to be swapped.  Let’s say you splurge and buy an Elevensix for your Santa Cruz Nomad.  The next year you decide that you want to buy a Yeti SB-6.  You mail them the shock, they rebuild it for the standard $125 fee which also covers replacement of all wearable parts.  While doing so, they swap the necessary parts and re-tune according to your bike and your specifications.  So while the best shock on the market is unsurprisingly the most expensive, it also happens to be a safe, personalized investment that’s well thought out to be future proofed and built to last.

 

www.pushindustries.com