With Rockshox announcing an updated DebonAir spring, we chat to Jon Cancellier about developing it for the new Pike, Lyrik, Yari and Revelation forks.
Rockshox have released an updated DebonAir air spring for the Lyrik, Pike, Yari and Revelation forks that promise a taller ride height and a more supple starting stroke.
Pete caught up with Rockshox’s Jon Cancellier to chat bringing the new spring to market.
What was the impetus for updating DebonAir?
It was a combination of feedback on the current DebonAir from a lot of different groups, internal test riders, our athletes and our OEM customers.
Once you’d decided to update the air spring, what happened next?
We sat down and discussed what characteristics we were looking for from the update then set our design engineering team to work on a solution to meet those needs.
How many people are involved in that process and what do they do?
For this project, two. 1 Design Engineer and 1 Test Engineer. Plus the team in Taiwan who walk the design through the process from concept to production.
What did you know you wanted to keep from the original spring, and what needed to change?
In this case, we wanted to keep as many of the existing parts as possible to ensure we had as much backwards compatibility with our current forks already in the world as we could.
How do you balance making a spring to sit higher against a damper designed to compress?
Thankfully, from an engineering standpoint, it’s easy to separate those two as they have different roles. We are able to modify the air spring characteristics while still having it work in harmony with the damper regardless of its settings.
Does it take long to get a working prototype in-hand?
In this case, if I remember right we were able to make a prototype in our shop in Colorado Springs within a week of deciding on a first concept.
Piston in relation to the dimple. What does that mean in layman’s terms?
The dimple (basically a small cut-out in the inside of the upper tube) is what allows the air to pass by the air piston and fill the positive/negative air chambers. In this case, we moved the physical location of the air piston relative to that dimple. This basically means we change the timing of when the two chambers are working within the fork which allows us to alter the spring curve.
How many prototypes did you make before settling on what would be the production model?
We went through two different prototype concepts on this one.
Beyond prototypes, what form did your testing take?
Lots and lots of test riding, the majority of it blind so people didn’t know what we changed. We followed this up with validation in our test lab as well as testing with athletes and our OEM customers.
How important are athletes to testing new product?
I’d say it’s important, but it’s just one part of the puzzle. We need to be able to make sure our designs work for everybody. Sam Hill to the weekend warrior riding his Lyrik at his local trail center.
Is modularity with older models important when designing new internals?
I’d say it’s a goal, but not a requirement. We always like to make our new designs work with product already in the field when we can. In this case, it’s an easy upgrade for not a lot of cash.
Did you have a Eureka moment when you knew you’d got it right?
As I mentioned above, we did a lot of this testing blind. When we talked to riders at the bottom of whatever trail we were riding, and you hear “I don’t know what you did, but this fork is working sweet and giving me a ton of confidence in the front end of my bike” you know you did it.
Check out the new DebonAir-equipped suspension forks on Rockshox’s website here.