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RELEASE & REVIEW

Riding the New Vorsprung Secus

Words AJ Barlas
Photos AJ Barlas
Date Aug 4, 2020
Reading time

Since Steve Mathews started Vorsprung, mountain bikers have been treated to several interesting aftermarket suspension options. Steve and his team are driven to rectify what they see as shortcomings with some suspension products. First was the Corset, then the Luftkappe and their Smashpot coil spring conversion. But this time, Vorsprung's outside the box thinking is more literal than ever. Introducing their new Secus.

The Secus expands the air chamber of your favourite fork, giving the air more room. This minimizes the aggressive build of pressure associated with an air spring going deeper into its stroke, especially in the fork lowers. Steve informed me that pressure build-up in the lowers can be quite severe for some forks, but all air-sprung forks have it and the Secus aims to remedy this too.

Features:

  • Available for most Fox forks with Float NA2/Evol air springs, with exception to StepCast options or forks with recessed foot bolts.
  • Options for 32, 34 and 36 forks are available (38 and 40 fork options coming soon).
  • Fits most RockShox Debonair forks from 2019–2021 or earlier models updated to the 2019–2020 Debonair air shafts.
  • Now available for Pike, Revelation, Lyrik, Yari (Boxxer fittings will be coming soon).
  • MSRP: 425 CAD / ~320 USD at time of publication (Free shipping anywhere in North America.)
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Is that a Secus or are you happy to see me?

What is the Secus?

The Secus provides three stages of control over the air spring.

Initial stroke: An enlarged negative air spring chamber delivers a soft, supple initial stroke for improved small bump compliance.

Mid-stroke: Where traditional air spring rates drop off in the mid-stroke, a proprietary Mid-Stroke Support Valve technology boosts the mid-stroke spring rate to maintain linearity. This improves support, predictability, ride height and compliance.

End-stroke: An enlarged lower leg volume reduces overall progression even at higher pressures. This allows a wider range of end-stroke ramp options to be utilized with standard fork volume spacers.

The Secus looks to combine the best characteristics of an air spring with those of a coil. An enlarged negative air spring provides a softer initial touch and while this probably isn’t something new to most readers, Vorsprung's change of approach has opened up greater potential. The Luftkappe does similar but is limited by the space available within the fork. Vorsprung says that while the Luftkappe works well, whenever the initial stroke is softened, the end stroke progression increases. This results in many riders installing a Luftkappe needing to remove at least a token/spacer from their air spring. In some cases moving to zero tokens is possible. Vorsprung also notes that this effect eventually creates a “practical limit on the negative chamber size.”

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The 2021 Fox 36 without the Secus…

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...and with it installed.

Where the Secus begins to differ more is how it affects the mid stroke. Reaching a soft initial touch can result in a lack of mid stroke support and even the new 2021 Fox 36, while very good, still has the characteristics of an air spring here. The Secus utilizes a proprietary Mid-Stroke Support Valve technology that provides additional control of the port during this portion of the stroke. This maintains the linearity that coil springs have where a typical air spring would ramp up. This results in more support, increased ride height and better grip on the trail.

As the fork reaches full travel, the Secus provides a gentle end stroke progression – something a coil spring can't do – thanks to the enlarged lower leg volume. Volume spacers/pucks/tokens can still be used to customize the end stroke feel. This makes it possible to get a comfortable, supportive fork with the first two-thirds of the stroke acting like a coil spring, without the harsher feel in the end stroke often encountered with an air spring.


"For the first time, we created an air spring with a truly better spring rate curve than a coil, without it actually being worse in any part of the travel.” – Vorsprung
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The stock air spring foot stud (left) is removed and replaced with the appropriate Secus foot stud.

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The Secus foot stud (silver) and the valves that help make the magic possible.

Below are Vorsprung's positives and negatives of the system.

Secus Advantages:

  • Distinctly improved small bump compliance, particularly in the early travel (yes, even compared to the Luftkappe).
  • Midstroke Support Valve improves predictability and support beyond the sag point.
  • Reduced lower leg pneumatic ramp means better scalability of the air spring, particularly for light riders who previously struggled to use full travel.
  • Plush and predictable like a coil, bottomless like an air spring.
  • Allows full use of travel in both directions – fully extends to top out without any quibbles (including on Debonair B1 air springs) and fully compresses without an excessive ramp.
  • Considerably lighter than coil conversions - adds approximately 130g.
  • Allows more lower leg bath oil to be used for superior lubrication.
  • Simple setup – inflate fork, bounce on it a few times, press MSV charge button, go ride.
  • Compatible with OEM volume spacers for end-stroke progression adjustment.
  • Compatible with other aftermarket top-cap systems such as DSD Runt and MRP Ramp Control.
  • Lower compression ratios mean a more consistent spring rate.
  • Transferrable between any Secus-compatible forks with only a foot stud to change at most.

Secus Disadvantages:

  • Costs more money than not having it.
  • 130g is still more than 0g.
  • Can be damaged if you have it, can’t be damaged if you don’t.
  • Still has seal friction like any air spring – since we use the factory moving seals, friction is unchanged
  • Bottom out control is not externally adjustable - need to use volume spacers which still entails removing the top cap.

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Looking down on the Secus from the handlebars. It was impossible to see when properly positioned on the bike.

Riding the Secus

I first spent a day testing the Secus in Whistler on AM/PM. It’s a short section of trail that’s been raced in the EWS and involves plenty of twists, turns, a few rock rolls, compressions and some chatter from roots. Conditions were hot – in the mid 30s Celsius – and it was hardpack with a thin layer of dust on the surface. I began the day with a couple of runs on my bike with the Öhlins m.2 I’ve been riding all year. After those, a stock 2021 Fox Factory 36 was fitted to the bike. It took two runs on that to get to a happy place before tearing down the fork and fitting the Secus.

Looking at the Secus mounted to the fork, it’s clear that some riders will be concerned about its durability. It’s a large metal can, added to the backside of your fork’s lower on the air spring side. Measuring the overhang, we found the Secus protrudes 15mm from the fork leg. That’s less than most derailleurs protrude from the rear stays of our bikes. The system has been designed to sit within a few millimetres of the front brake calliper on RockShox and Fox forks and has flex engineered into it. This flex allows it to move rather than break and the setup sees it stopped by the caliper or fork leg if it takes a knock. But to show confidence in the design, Vorsprung is offering a twelve-month crash replacement guarantee. Let’s see that from our favourite derailleur brands, hey?

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It's the external nature of the Secus that makes its benefits possible as an aftermarket option.

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The fixture for the Secus has been engineered to give and flex.

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With correct installation and the flex, the fork lower or brake caliper prevent it from moving to failure.


"We will replace any damage to your Secus in the event of a crash or accident for the first 12 months of ownership - no questions asked. Just email us a photo of what’s damaged and your proof of purchase and we’ll do the rest." – Vorsprung

With the Secus fitted, while seated on the bike I couldn’t see it. Peering down over the handlebars, I had to cock my head or tilt the bike in unnatural ways to get a glimpse. Its effects on the fork were clear though, and despite the initial setup sitting taller than my preference, the fork still rode comfortably. The 2021 36 provides more mid stroke protection than previous models and that required lower pressure to adjust it to my liking. With the Secus installed there was even more support, raising dynamic ride height again.

Although the Secus setup was on the tall side during the first lap, I was pleasantly surprised. The bike remained manageable and I enjoyed the more direct response from the front wheel as I whipped through turns and across chatter. Grip was high in the loose dust and I didn’t experience any discomfort. However, I prefer my bars lower than they were dynamically sitting thanks to the supportive mid-stroke, so I lowered pressure from the initial 95psi to 92psi the following lap.

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Whenever the pressure in the fork is changed a significant amount (more than 2 or 3psi) it's necessary to depress this valve on the Secus' underside.

Vorsprung recommends ~20% more pressure than without the Secus. For the first lap on the stock 36, the fork was set to 80psi as per Fox recommendations. It rode tall and my hands felt more of the trail, causing fatigue toward the bottom of the run. I ended up at 78psi and one token with the stock air spring.

Dropping the Secus setup down to 92psi put me just under the recommended 20% and it felt great. It maintained an excellent dynamic ride height thanks to the supportive mid stroke and progression was gentle throughout the latter part of the stroke. On my final lap, I dropped it down to 90psi. This made the initial part of the stroke lighter again and the wheel was glued to the ground. At this pressure the fork laboured in the mid stroke, delaying response through short, snappy corners. Despite this, reaching the bottom of the stroke didn't produce a harsh feeling as air pressure built up.

During those first runs, the damper settings weren’t changed from my final lap on the stock 36. Vorsprung kindly loaned me the fork with Secus installed for more testing and to tweak the damper to see what can be achieved. After more time riding the Secus 36, I’ve found 92psi to provide the perfect mix of support, grip and comfort. At static sag, I’m sitting deeper into the fork than usual; a touch more than 23% sag. This is possible because of the high level of support offered by the Secus through the mid-stroke yet despite sitting deeper, there’s no sign of the pronounced wall at the bottom of the stroke. Combine this with the light initial portion of travel and high grip, and it makes for a great ride.

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With more time on the Secus, I’ve adjusted the damper to suit my preferences. More control was achieved by closing the compression a touch and I opened the rebound up compared to the initial runs. I’ve found with the current settings the fork can take anything I throw at it. The wheel tracks the ground wonderfully and the support promotes aggressive riding. I've especially enjoyed the dry, loose conditions on the Secus and it's been allowing me to comfortably smash into chopped out and rooty sections of trail. It's remained comfortable when banking through choppy arcs and rarely gets unsettled. Retaining bike shape in such situations allows for more focus down the trail rather than battling with body position to maintain control. This has promoted continued momentum down the trail despite the currently tough conditions.

I’ve used full travel once but it was controlled and the bike pulled out of the compression with no more than a slight hesitation – a touch more involvement from my upper body was required but I almost didn't realize it happened. I had to check the fork to confirm it was full travel being achieved that caused the delay. Poor line choice and missed brake points usually mean the bike needs to make up for it, or we crash – thankfully the bike kept me going.

The gradual progression through the bottom third of the stroke feels great too, with the Secus changing the end stroke to be calmer than the stock token system employed in Fox and RockShox forks. It’s tunable, with the tokens still usable to fine-tune how the last portion of travel is engaged, though I didn't need them for my setup.

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Vorsprung can fit the Secus to your fork for you, or the do-it-yourselfer can do it at home.

Verdict

As with other aftermarket suspension offerings from Vorsprung, the Secus has a notable effect on performance. Even with the latest Fox 36 providing more mid stroke support than previous models, the Secus improved it even more and the lighter initial stroke and gentler final portion of travel overall made the fork more comfortable and capable on the trail. The large external air can won't be for everyone but if increased performance with an air spring sounds like your jam, the Secus is worth a serious look.

For full compatibility and more information, head to the Vorsprung website.

AJ_Barlas
AJ Barlas

Age: 39
Height: 191cm/6’3"
Weight: 73kg/160lbs
Ape Index: 1.037
Inseam: 32”
Trail on Repeat: Changes as often as my mood.
Current Regular: Every test product spends time on Entrail

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Comments

neologisticzand
0
Chad K  - Aug. 4, 2020, 11:22 a.m.

In theory, would it be possible to run the air and damper sides swapped so that the Secus can be placed on the side that does not have a brake caliper? Having pulled forks apart, I would think this answer is yes, but maybe there is a small difference that I am not considering?

Reply

Vikb
+1 Tjaard Breeuwer
Vik Banerjee  - Aug. 4, 2020, 11:38 a.m.

>  VorsprungSuspension (1 mins ago)
>  Generally speaking no - the lowers (and sometimes stanchions) in many forks are of differing lengths, and the air side of singlecrown forks has an equalization dimple that the damper side doesn't. Fox also use different size footbolts for the damper side and spring side.

From PB ^^^^. Vorsprung's words not mine.

Reply

Vorsprung-Suspension
+3 AJ Barlas twk Cory Booker
Steve Mathews  - Aug. 4, 2020, 11:53 a.m.

This is correct. There are a couple of forks where that could be possible, but as a general rule it isn't.

Reply

kyle-doherty
+1 Greg Bly
Kyle Doherty  - Aug. 5, 2020, 10:41 a.m.

Why not just have a shock pump style hose connected to the footnut valve? This would enable a greater variety of positions. For example, you could have a custom brake bracket with a position to mount the Secus above the caliper, and aligned with the lateral axis of the caliper so that it is good and protected?

Reply

kyle-doherty
+1 FudgeDredd
Kyle Doherty  - Aug. 5, 2020, 10:49 a.m.

You could also envision custom lowers with space for this device, though I hear that the magnesium casting is the most costly component to manufacture?

Reply

Greg_M
+1 FudgeDredd
Greg_M  - Aug. 5, 2020, 11:38 a.m.

Steve answered on PB that they'd need 2 air hoses and that doing that would make it bigger, heavier and possibly more likely to get damaged

Reply

ehfour
0
ehfour  - Aug. 4, 2020, 2:14 p.m.

At 1/3 the cost of the fork, does it offer 30% better performance?  IE will riders who are under/over forked get the benefits of this? or is this really a racebred product

Reply

Vorsprung-Suspension
+4 Tjaard Breeuwer Cooper Quinn AJ Barlas hotlapz
Steve Mathews  - Aug. 4, 2020, 2:55 p.m.

How would you quantify 30% better? You definitely won't be 30% faster, you probably won't have 30% more fun (well, maybe - if your hands hurt less), but if you were to compare it to dropping 3-8x the money on a high end carbon wheelset for example it'll have way more of a positive impact on your riding experience. It's not a race-only product at all, the improvement in initial sensitivity is immediately noticeable to anybody just pushing down on the fork. Whether you're over/underforked (not sure whether you mean in terms of travel or in terms of fork stiffness?) isn't really directly relevant there though, unless I'm missing something.

Reply

andy-eunson
+2 Steve Mathews Tjaard Breeuwer
Andy Eunson  - Aug. 4, 2020, 3 p.m.

At around 140 pounds this might be in my near future.

Reply

flattire2
0
Brian Tuulos  - Aug. 4, 2020, 5:18 p.m.

So let me get this straight....   Secus doesn't even tie in to the standard fork air spring (or even negative spring).  Rather it piggybacks onto the fork lowers, which isn't even commonly considered a part of a forks air spring system anyway?

Just a place where lowers splash oil goes.  So... the dust wipers are now sealing in the 90psi the secus has charged the lowers to?    ??   Fill me in here...

Reply

Vorsprung-Suspension
+7 Tjaard Breeuwer Cooper Quinn Marc Fenigstein AJ Barlas Bogey hotlapz Dustin Meyer
Steve Mathews  - Aug. 4, 2020, 5:37 p.m.

Current fork air springs utilise the air shaft's internal volume as part of the negative spring volume. The Secus connects to that AND to the lower leg volume, separately, by replacing the footstud at the bottom of the air shaft. The dust wipers aren't subject to any more pressure than before - in fact, quite a lot less because the ramp up in the lowers is significantly reduced.

Reply

Repsej84
+1 FudgeDredd
Jesper van den Adel  - Aug. 6, 2020, 7:57 a.m.

Great write up! always enjoy them

How would you rate the performance against the smashpot? 

I have been riding smashpot forks on 2 different bikes and they been amazing, as well as the Luftkappe. Vorsprung has done some amazing stuff that greatly improves any stock suspension product without breaking the bank. 

So far (maybe Secus challenges this) I'd take the weight hit and hassle of changing spring rate of a of smash pot over any air spring.

Reply

FudgeDredd
0
FudgeDredd  - Aug. 6, 2020, 12:24 p.m.

I'm right there with you on that question. I've used an PUSH ACS3 and a Luftkappe as well. Interested in the trade-offs between Secus and Smashpot for my 2021 Fox 36 (what was tested with Secus). At the moment, no Smashpot is ready for the 2021 model. So I'd have to go with the Secus (which looks pretty darn amazing) for immediate customization. Not terribly happy with the new 36 tune yet. Hasn't quite paired with the Push ElevenSix in the rear. Secus certainly looks promising.

Reply

AJ_Barlas
+1 FudgeDredd
AJ Barlas  - Aug. 6, 2020, 1:28 p.m.

I quite like the Smashpot, but I'm a sucker for a coil spring. If the weight of coil or the Smashpot is a problem, riders now have an option to get a great feel while sticking with air. I didn't test them back to back but the mid-stroke support from the Secus felt more pronounced than I recall the Smashpot. But I still feel the Smashpot is more sensitive. It's great to have options!

Reply

FudgeDredd
0
FudgeDredd  - Aug. 6, 2020, 1:50 p.m.

That makes sense. Plus... There is the argument for easier transfer from fork-to-fork with Secus, between brands and it doesn't void warranty from potential coil rub. Vorsprung is a really great innovative company.

Reply

Xorrox
+1 Jesper van den Adel
Brad_xyz  - Aug. 6, 2020, 8:45 a.m.

Really curious to know how this would interact with a 2019 Fox 36 Grip 2 29'er fork at 170mm that has a DSD Runt installed. 

I actually removed the LuftKappe in my fork to run the Runt which was definitely a trade off.  I lost some small bump sensitivity but gained gobs more mid stroke support.  On steep, tight, rough downhill tech where you are hitting things with the brakes on the DSD Runt is a game changer for an air sprung fork. Since the fork stays higher in its travel there is still a lot more compliance / travel available in these conditions, hugely enhancing the controllability of repeated big hits and compressions.  It also helps by reducing fork dive while hammering on the pedals and while pumping through rollers.  It provides a generally racier, more efficient but rougher and less planted feel.   Where the DSD Runt is not so good is on high speed, less steep but still rough terrain where you don't need to brake.  Here it can really beat your hands up and feels jittery and lacking traction because the fork is 'less willing' to get out of the way of fast small and medium sized hits and just tends to bounce off things.

I'm always wanting to have my cake and eat it too, but am I asking to much to hope that combining Secus with my Runt will give me the best of both worlds???

Reply

FudgeDredd
0
FudgeDredd  - Aug. 7, 2020, 10:53 a.m.

Says Runt is compatible with Secus: https://vorsprungsuspension.com/collections/all/products/secus-air-spring-upgrade?variant=35413054455959

Looks like a pretty killer combo perhaps... Hmmmm

Reply

jaks5
0
James Lee  - Aug. 21, 2020, 2:38 p.m.

I'm interested in the Runt too.  Do you feel like the mid-stroke can't really be tuned lower because then you run out of bottom-out resistance?   Have you tried tuning it lower in combination with more HSC?

Reply

paul-watt
0
Paul Watt  - Sept. 2, 2020, 7:57 p.m.

I've got the Runt as well, and love it. I've taken to changing settings a bit depending on the trail. If it's a faster rougher lower angle trail, as you're describing, then I let out 10-15 lbs from the runt, so it blows through the middle a bit easier. Then back to higher pressure for steeper rides with lot of g-outs or jumping.

Reply

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