Suspension setups vary from brand to brand. At the end of the day, performance geared towards a rider’s particular style is always the main objective, and preferences can be very subjective. If the latest climate for cycling components has taught us anything, it is to be open to other brands and what is being produced to meet demands.
There are the usual big-name brands that come to mind for suspension, but we found ourselves in search of something different. More often than not, we see riders associating SR Suntour with entry-level and mid-range products. While a portion of its products are city/comfort suspension components, Suntour has a completely different attitude when it comes to its high-end mountain bike category. SR Suntour supports big-name cross-country teams, world-class free-riders, downhill superstars, an array of EWS racers, and, as it happens, earned an Olympic gold medal with Tom Pidcock’s win in Tokyo. Eager to put SR Suntour’s latest products to the test, we got our hands on a fork and shock set up for a custom Giant Reign the wrecking crew frequently uses as a test subject.
Durolux features: Swapping out the fork on the Giant Reign, we went with the 170mm Durolux 36. This model comes in either 29- or 27.5-inch options and is intended for heavy-hitting terrain that a rider would encounter on an enduro course. The Durolux can be configured with 170mm, 160mm or 150mm of travel by changing the negative support assembly. The lowers of the Durolux fork are made with a magnesium casting. Adding strength to the upper assembly is the hollow-forged crown with 36mm, aluminum, black-anodized stanchions.
Unlike other brands where zip-ties are commonly used to run a front fender, the Durolux has a sleek fender that bolts right to the lower and contours to the design without sacrificing tire clearance. Also unique to the Durolux is SR Suntour’s Q-Lock 15x110mm titanium axle. This system works with an expander design that allows the axle to smoothly pass through and latch securely once in place.
SR Suntour currently offers several options for internals. For our Durolux test, we used the RC2 (low/high-speed compression with rebound adjustment) PCS (Piston Compensator System) damper cartridge. There is also the R2C2 PCS cartridge with high/low rebound and high-/low-compression dials, along with the RC PCS cartridge that has just one rebound and one compression dial. On the left side, there is an air-spring system that uses SR Suntour’s Equalizer (EQ) System. This system is intended to match the rider’s weight to the spring curve. By design, the EQ system should result in the ideal setting to support the weight of a rider without extra fine-tuning. Of course, the idea is to find harmony with the EQ system and use the external damping adjustments found with the PCS cartridges to tune the suspension as desired.
TriAir features: Changing out the shock, we went with the TriAir 3CR. This model comes in metric, imperial and trunnion mounting options for use on trail, all-mountain or enduro bikes. The TriAir 3CR is an air-shock system that uses a traditional IFP (Internal Floating Piston) that is adjustable from 180 psi to 240 psi to modulate initial stroke support. While the spring is controlled by air, tuning can be further refined by installing volume reducers in both the positive and negative springs.
The “3C” in TriAir stands for the external compression switch with three-position adjustment: Open, Medium and Firm. The “R” in 3CR stands for the single rebound dial with 10 clicks of adjustment. Similar to the technology on the fork, the TriAir also uses PCS technology for the damping cartridge. This simple shock construction is a great example of SR Suntour’s intention to produce a product that has long-term consistency and reliability, as well as easy-to-follow service steps.
The Durolux is certainly not the lightest option out there. While that might be a miss for some, being heavier makes the Durolux more robust and durable. Dialing in settings and even rapidly changing the Durolux is as simple as can be. Our main test rider is on the lighter side, so he bounced between one and two volume spacers depending on the progression desired for the type of terrain. Suntour recommends the Durolux be set with a minimum of 20-percent sag and no more than 30 percent. We found a balance for our trails right at 25 percent, 5 psi over the recommended starting point. The compression dials make a solid clicking sound and are easy to operate with gloves on. The rebound knob is a completely different story and can be tough to feel by hand or even identify unless it’s dead silent. As with anything, it took a bit of adjustment to get the suspension to perform to our liking.
Even with no spacers, the air spring can ramp up quicker than some might be used to. The Durolux responded great in higher-speed chatter, but we would prefer that the progression happen at a more uniform rate. Overall, it performs well once adjusted to your riding style. It is easily maintained with simple instructions/tutorials and will likely save you some cash. Still, there are other brands in this price range that offer a better-performing damper system.
Our experience with the TriAir shock ultimately took us by surprise. Our big takeaway is the ability to service and make adjustments without necessarily having to unmount the shock from the frame. For example, to add and remove volume spacers while the shock is mounted only takes a few minutes. Just as with the fork, we ran the shock at 25 percent. Our main tester focused on the volume spacers, the compression adjustment and rebound speed while utilizing the IFP pressure to make micro-adjustments when applicable. We wound up with a single spacer on the negative spring and two in the positive chamber. Spacers were mostly left alone at this setting while we used the IFP pressure to make subtle changes for the terrain we planned on riding. For more traction, we went with less air. For smooth flow and bike-park days, we ran higher pressures to provide the support needed.
At the end of the day, the TriAir shock performed excellently in most situations. We had plenty of compliance over terrain to give us the traction we needed, yet the system was progressive enough to provide a predictable response out of the end stroke. The 3CR adjustment was typically left in the open setting for more technical and lower-speed trails. The medium setting felt best on smoother trails with rollers and jumps in the bike park. The firmest setting doesn’t lock the suspension entirely; we found this most useful on completely smooth fire-road climbs. Noteworthy is that the compression adjustment lever is quite large and can be easily switched on the trail.
Marketing slogans and claims of countless tuning options may send you down the rabbit hole trying to figure out what suspension you should get next. With the TriAir 3CR shock and Durolux fork, SR Suntour’s slogan of “refined Simplicity” rings true. While we found some room for improvement, the adjustability of the shock was better than we expected. Riders who tend to simply check air pressure and start pedaling will appreciate the ease of use on both of these products. So far, the simplicity of service, digestible maintenance manuals, and continued reliability of this combo have us out on the trails and our bike spending less time in a repair stand. This SR Suntour suspension combo has shown us that achieving suitable performance doesn’t always take an elaborate system.
• Both are easy to service and maintain
• Excellent small-bump compliance
• Shock does not need to be removed to adjust volume spacers
• Tuning can take time but is simple once understood
• Straightforward cartridge systems
• It’s hard to identify clicks on the rebound knob
• Some riders want additional tuning options
FORK RATING: ★★★½
SHOCK RATING: ★★★★
Fork Weight: Starting from 2117g
Shock Weight: 403g
Price: TriAir 3CR shock, $424.95; Durolux 36 EQ fork, $749.95