Adding a third damping option wasn’t as simple as modifying the existing damper. They needed to create a new compression valve, making three different oil flow paths so that each position is distinct without cross-talk. Open allows as much oil to pass through the valve as possible, Pedal constrains the oil a bit to create more pressure and damping, and Lock prevents the oil from flowing except in blow-off situations (like an unexpected drop). While making changes to the damper, the team also looked into improving seals within the damper system. Due the smaller 8mm rod and the high lock force, Charger Race Day dampers can see pressures up to 2000 PSI, especially in those blow-off instances (you know, when you forget to unlock your suspension before dropping into the descent). The team knew they wanted to update some of the seals to handle those higher pressures better, so they redesigned the seal head and included new SKF seals, which can take a beating while still maintaining very low friction. Naturally, the team wanted to test this new seal head and lockout design, so they smashed the locked-out dampers in 81 different sample forks at 85 in/second—the force of a simulated drop to flat. The below graph shows that the damper maintained a solid lockout over 50,000 test cycles without degrading.
Another significant change they made for softer initial travel was tossing out the rubber Top Out Bumper and replacing it with a coil spring. Teachout explains: “In those situations where you’re encountering a lot of small bumps in quick succession, you can get a lot of harshness from bouncing along top out, as rubber tends to have more hysteresis. The idea behind the coil spring is that it has less speed sensitivity and responds faster than rubber can, reducing harshness and increasing traction while riding at the top of travel."
Photos by Callum Wood and Anthony Smith. Words by Sarah Walter.