TEARDOWN | REVIEW
The SR Suntour Edge Rear Shock
It's been pretty thoroughly reported that Tom Pidcock didn't ride a stock SR Suntour Edge rear shock to his gold medal victory at the Tokyo Olympics. Based on the larger chassis and some electric wire-sized protrusions it's assumed that SR Suntour has some sort of Live Valve wizardry equivalent in the Werx. It should come as no surprise that they pulled out all the stops for the biggest event in mountain bicycle racing of 2021, but I think it's important to start here for two reasons.
First off, SR Suntour athletes are racing the World Cup XC circuit this year on the same Edge series shocks that I'm testing here (take for example the awesome club, team, trail building association and cycling school in one: Creuse Oxygène). That's amazing given that these shocks sell for 350 CAD | 280 USD.
Also, having seen a fair few SR Suntour Werx products on athlete bikes, the build quality is always a match for what we're buying. Like a first production run versus a prototype. So, without seeing the Olympic-winning shock, I'd surmise that what Mr. Pidcock rode to gold is very similar to what I'm looking at here. Just add a servo motor, speed sensor, and battery.
I mention the racing pedigree of the SR Suntour Edge shock because the early premise of this test had nothing to do with high-performance applications. When I looked at the Edge shock, I was straight up blinded by its potential as an inexpensive replacement option for the myriad of used bikes on the market with blown and unsupported rear shocks. Whether it's a 5th Element on a 2003 Santa Cruz, a RockShox SID on a 1999 Giant, or a Fox Float on a 2001 Trek Fuel, there's a limitless supply of used bikes - some barely ridden - with blown dampers that are no longer supported.
The Edge comes in an assortment of eye-to-eye lengths in trunnion, metric, and legacy imperial sizes and the stroke lengths are adjustable by adding spacers for those chasing a close-enough fit for a frame with a proprietary shock size. Further, like any air shock worth buying, they have the option to add or remove air volume spacers so it's easy to tune around a lighter or heavier weight rider; for example if the Edge is being installed on a kid's bike, or for a big fella getting back into mountain biking on their 2002 Rocky Mountain Pipeline that just won't die.
It's all well and good to talk about the relative performance of a lower budget suspension product but, to me, the most exciting aspect of the Edge is the manufacturing quality. SR Suntour builds a lot of suspension components as well as complete forks and shocks for other manufacturers in addition to their own budget and high-performance product lines, and my expectations are very high, despite the relatively low cost of the Edge. Furthermore, let's not forget that even at 350 CAD | 280 USD these shocks still represent a real investment. Just because they're 'cheap' relative to a top-end PUSH or EXT shock, and half the price of an awesome damper like the Cane Creek Inline series, that doesn't mean it isn't a lot of money.
It could be someone upgrading an older bike that probably needs other work as well or it could be a company min-maxing a budget full suspension build, like the 1500 USD Marin Hawk Hill I tested in 2017, where a rider is trying to get the best experience for their money and that includes suspension performance and longevity. To that end, there's no rocket science happening inside this Edge LOR. It has a lockout, which I used once on a road climb to see that it works, and a large range of rebound damping adjustments. It's very simple to add or remove volume spacers as well.
Still, getting right down to the metering rods, and putting a shock back together to work as intended, is beyond my suspension servicing skillset, so thank you to my friend James at SuspensionWerx for making time during the busiest spring ever for his mountain bike and moto suspension service and tuning business to tear this SR shock down with me.
Trail Time on the SR Suntour Edge
When I first started down the path of reviewing the Edge shock I was solely envisioning it as a replacement unit for the blown, broken, and unsupported rear shocks on the myriad of old bikes I see around town. Then, I spoke with a couple of folks who had bought older kids' full suspension bikes only to find the rear shocks had to be replaced along with other major components that could easily add up to the difference between their used purchase and a new bike with better geometry. Essentially, a min-maxed replacement shock delivering near-universal fitment options for XC, Trail, and All-Mountain bikes that are being asked to deliver a few more years of riding.
My opinion of the shock after riding it is quite different. I regularly see bikes only a few years old where the rear shocks are roached to the point of being more expensive to fix than replace and frankly if it's an inline shock that's coming off I'd put the Edge up against most any simple shock I've ridden. The performance, never mind the limited tuning options, doesn't match my experiences with the Cane Creek IL Air and if running a reservoir is an option I also wouldn't put the Edge up against SR Suntour's own TriAir. But a TriAir is 450 USD and the CCDB IL Air runs 500 USD and that's a substantial extra investment over the Edge.
I asked a heck of a lot out of the little Edge shock. First off, it was going on a new to me bike I'd never ridden in stock form that represented a creative stew of sorts as I combined my interests in used bikes, mullets, and 4x bikes of old. My first ride, with no volume spacers in the shock, and far too little air pressure for the application, resulted in more bottom-outs that I care to recount. Often my bash guard or pedals would hit the sports surface first but then I used the full stroke on the Edge plenty of times.
After that, the combination of significantly more air pressure and a mid-sized volume spacer kept all the travel usable but with no unduly harsh treatment for the rear shock itself. Compared to my setup on similar inline air shocks from Fox, RockShox, and X-Fusion, I found that I preferred to run the Edge a bit on the slower side at first in terms of rebound because the damper opened up quite considerably taking larger hits and with the shorter 4" application and limited sag, that Yeti was still very playful.
I like to climb out of the saddle a lot, regardless of what bike I'm riding, and the support from the Edge didn't disappoint. If it was the LOR8 version, with the reduced lockout pressure, I may have made use of the lockout on some steeper gravel climbs; as it was I only used it on the road, and even then, just because it was there. One advantage of a true lockout over a switch that simply firms up the compression damping is that I was never going to accidentally puzzle my way down the trail without remembering to open the shock.
I'll sum up the SR Suntour Edge this way:
It's simple to set up.
It's easy to add, remove, or change volume spacers.
It reflects SR Suntour's quality manufacturing.
And its performance is beyond acceptable for the purchase price. I also think it's sweet that such a budget-friendly shock has had ample testing time on the World Cup XC race circuit. It's not the lightest inline rear shock, at about 290 grams for this example, but just like performance versus price, I think reliability versus weight is a key metric for most riders.
I have another project planned for this shock, so I suspect it will show up on these pages again. In the meantime, whether it's a mandatory replacement for a used bike or a budget choice for a new bike, I'd have no second thoughts about running the 350 CAD | 280 USD SR Suntour Edge shock for any inline shock application just as, SR Suntour's TriAir would be an easy choice once my frame's travel and heat management biased me towards a reservoir shock.