First Ride : Formula Mod Coil Shock Review.

Formula release the Mod shock to compliment their Selva fork, promising massive friction reduction and easy compression customisation.

Pete was lucky enough to get a run out on the Formula Mod shock back in February before the pandemic took hold, and was seriously impressed by the amount of control, grip and ease of changing the compression tune.

Photo by Roo Fowler.

Key features:

  • Compression Tuning System
  • 30mm internal piston
  • Large volume bladder
  • Moto-derived bottom-out bumper
  • Ti and steel spring options
  • Lockout lever
  • Standard sizes: 210 x 55mm, 230 x 65mm
  • Trunnion sizes: 185 x 55mm, 205 x 65mm
  • 670g (210 x 55mm, 300 spring)
  • £643.00 RRP

Photo by Luigi Sestili.

Gone are the days where decent suspension was a two horse race, with plenty of companies now offering solid, reliable and tuneable dampers to suit your budget and your damping preferences.

Recently, top end coil shocks offering mind-blowing performance have made a resurgence but are somewhat hampered by hefty price tags. There’s a very real possibility that Formula’s Mod shock might help bridge the gap between cost and performance.

Prior to swinging a leg over a bike fitted with the new Formula Mod shock, my meeting at Bike Connection Winter with industry legend and Formula’s marketing wizard, Vittorio Plattania, showed just how simple the CTS (Compression Tuning System), introduced on their forks, was to change out on the new shock.

Photo by Roo Fowler.

Fine-tuning of the compression stroke is one of the key parts of the new shock, and as a small, light rider, being able to throw a light compression tune into a coil shock from the get-go is something that made my eyes light up. On pretty much any other coil shock, I would need a lighter spring and more than likely, a lighter compression tune to get the most out of a coil damper, but the Mod was ready to go within a few minutes.

A large internal piston, oversize bladder rather than an IFP and large oil passages are designed to reduce friction in the shock, while the CTS aims to give you more control over how the shock performs. The moto-derived bottom out bumper is designed to let you use all of your travel without harsh bottom-outs. The proof is in the pudding though.

The bike I’d be riding would be a size small Geometron, and the Mod was mated to a Selva fork out front, the trail would be Bennedetto in Massa Marritima on the Tuscan coast. This 4km trail had pretty much everything you’d need in a trail and just keeps on giving. The ideal way to see how a damper performs.

Merida Big.Trailtea

Photo by Roo Fowler.

After wheeling the bike out of the pits, I never felt like I needed to touch the adjusters, and on the climbs, I didn’t ever feel the urge to lock the Mod out. From the off, grip and control were high despite the trail being blown out in spots from the heavy traffic. After a sighting run, I started to turn the wick and the Mod really came into its own.

On more than one occasion, often in the same spot on Bennedetto, I was convinced I had a flat rear tyre. I’d use the short, punchy climb mid-way to pull over to check the tyre pressure only to find it fully inflated. Bemused, I’d crack on, wary of losing the wind from the back wheel. In reality, it was the complete lack of any breakaway force on the shock that left me with the feeling of a soft rear tyre.

So supple was the opening portion of the travel, and so high was the grip offered, that I upped the rear tyre pressure to try and make the most of what was on offer. Even with 10psi (I usually run 17-19psi) more in the rear tyre, the Mod wasn’t phased despite the rolling speed jumping considerably.

As the speed increased, the Mod stayed composed, despite me now trying some suspect lines and starting to overcook compressions. It seemed nothing I could do would fluster the Formula unit, and despite hammering out multiple 20 minute runs of Benedetto, it never skipped a beat and grip and control were always available in spades.

What do we think?

I can honestly say I haven’t ridden a rear shock this good in years. If I was building a bike tomorrow, I’d buy a Formula Mod. The performance is that good, I’d overlook the weight penalty over any air shock.

It’s hard to get across just how much grip this shock offers, and the tuneability for those at extreme ends of the weight range, or those who like to tinker, is a real bonus.

If I was going to be really picky, it would be nice to have separate high and low speed rebound adjustment to put the shock in a class of its own.

We love:

  • Easy tuneability
  • Grip. So much grip.

Could do better:

  • Purple spring might not suit everyone

Check out the Formula Mod shock and the rest of the Formula dampers on their website here.