Last time I promised a history of suspension but i’m more interested in the history of bicycle suspension, and even more interested in some modern history. This is not to say i’m skipping or avoiding any particular design, the modern era of cycling has covered about every variety of suspension from telescopic to linkage, to a BMW branded Telelever bicycle, its all been done.
So here are a few of my favorites in no particular order and with little regard to the redundancy shared by many of their designs.
1. Girvin Vector
One of my earliest memories being captivated by a product was the Pro-Flex, and specifically any model with the Vector. Unfortunately I was never able to ride a Vector among its period correct colleagues as my first ride on one was post 2000 when the geometry on any frame the Vector would fit felt too outdated to properly judge. One thing I do know, avoid elastomer dampers, find one with springs.
2. Whyte PRST
I have never seen this bike in person but it seems like an interesting two linkage frame integrated design. Having no experience in the saddle I was forced to read reviews and simulate. BikeMagic said:
Thankfully the fork reduces the problem by the way it behaves through it’s travel. As the shock compresses, the steering angle hardly alters which means no steepening tuck or dive like a long travel telescopic unit, but the same smooth arc carving round the turn whatever the terrain is doing. It feels curious to begin with but as one of our feedback riders says, the more you get used to it the faster and faster you can rail through corners as conventional bikes judder sideways into the rough all around you.
3. Hossack Suspension
Norman Hossack is an inventor, engineer and designer who’s linkage front suspension and its original patent have long since been imitated and duplicated but only recently has it been executed in a bicycle form by Mr Hossack himself.
The most interesting iteration of the Hossack front end comes in the form of a handbuilt touring bike from Germany. The individual who built this has some strong machine shop chops and whenever I find their website I will post it here.
4. Lauf Trailing Link
Although a modern and currently available offering, the Lauf has made a splash. Simple design utilizing carbon springs which also act as links makes for a compact form factor and lightweight package. Immediately this design gained favor with fat bikes which offered lots of clearance with low weight without any cold weather related damper problems.
5. Amp Research… everything they made.
These lustful aluminum monsters really popped in the 90’s b&w advertisements. I hear they were even better in real life and on the trail. We likely owe most of modern suspension development to the founder of Amp Research, Horst Leitner who also helped Specialized dominate with their 4 bar FSR suspension. So much more could be said on this subject but as the patent has expired I believe I will leave the trolling alone.
6. USE SUB
I don’t know much about the USE SUB but I can say I admire the design and wish it were currently available. Here is the best resource I have found. https://bikemagic.com/bike-components/use-officially-launch-sub-fork.html
No idea the history on some of these. I admire the designs, ideas and execution.