Links Landing In-Depth
Why would I want a different link?
There are many, more aggressive, riders out there that ride past the level most stock bikes were designed for or riders that simply have a different preference when it comes to how their suspension feels. A new link changes the feel in a way that volume spacers, shock tunes, pressures, or spring rates can’t mimic. If you’ve been endlessly tinkering with your rear suspension to no avail, this may be exactly what you are looking for. If you have to over-spring your bike, cram your shock full of volume spacers, or run an amount of damping that makes the bike a little harsh over things like roots and rocks this is the ticket.
Now that doesn’t necessarily mean a link is for everyone. If the things described above don’t seem relevant to you then you won’t get the most out of a link.
What does a Cascade Components link do?
Replacing the stock link with one of ours changes the kinematics of the frame itself. By modifying linkage dimensions, sometimes on a very small scale, our links are able to increase the amount of progression and/or travel a frame has.
What exactly is progression?
Progression is simply a ratio of change in leverage ratio to initial leverage ratio and is defined as:
Final Leverage Ratio
1 - --------------------------------
Initial Leverage Ratio
Progression is good for comparing the amount of ramp and bottom out resistance for a fixed amount of travel and shock stroke, but is not the whole picture so when those pieces are changing more has to be considered and we’ll get to that in a moment.
What exactly does the link do to the leverage curve?
Generally speaking, all our links function by increasing the initial leverage ratio while maintaining a similar final leverage ratio. Leverage ratio and travel are directly linked, so when the leverage curve is changed like this the amount of travel usually increases as well.
A lot of people look at the increased initial leverage ratio and assume it’s a bad thing because they will have to increase pressure or spring rate. Increasing pressure or spring rate is actually exactly what you want. The easiest way to think about it is that the link makes the stiffer shock feel more supple at the top of travel than the stock set up did and then it ramps up to feel like the stiffer spring that it is at the bottom of travel. For example, a WC DH racer would want a bike that can track really well through roots while also being able to take massive impacts at speed. As such, many of them are on custom linkages. Now while we aren’t all WC DH racers, there’s a massive gap between where people can benefit from that level of kinematics tinkering but don’t have access to that kind of factory support.
Beyond this, increasing the initial leverage ratio and the required spring rate is allowing you to change the balance between spring rate and damping when it comes to absorbing an impact. Think about those times you go to increase compression damping but know the bike won’t feel as good over chatter. This is how you avoid that scenario. Instead of increasing the amount of energy that’s dissipated by the damper, you are increasing the amount of energy stored in the spring, so the shock is able to respond to high frequency impacts better.
Can’t I achieve the same results through shock tuning?
Simply put, no. No combination of volume spacers, progressive springs, and custom tunes can do the same thing.
Adding volume spacers or progressive springs tend to make the bike want to sit up against an end-of-travel wall where the spring rate is increased. This is why everyone assumes more progressive means the bike will ride deeper in its travel. With volume spacers and progressive springs this is often the case. With a progressive linkage, the bike will actually be less prone to diving into its travel, which leaves more room to absorb impacts as you charge through rough terrain. The end of travel wall also make bikes feel harsh as the shock hits that point. With a linkage, the ramp is smooth over the entire stroke of the shock so a more bottomless feel is achieved.
Custom tunes are beneficial just about any rider, but there isn’t a magic tune that can address everything. If you add compression damping the bike won’t respond to high frequency impacts as well. If you decrease compression damping it will move through travel more easily. This is the case regardless of how much high and low speed compression can be changed. Adding a linkage into the equation, it’s easier to balance how a bike handles high frequency impacts and single large impacts.
What all is involved in installation?
Installing a link is quite easy and the same as installing a stock link. All stock pivot hardware including spacers and axles is reused.
Do you sell a link for my bike?
Browse our current link selection by choosing from the list of brands below, or use our website's search feature!