Vorsprung Launch Tractive Tuning and New Luftkappes
The Vorsprung team, led by Steve Mathews out of Whistler, B.C. has steadily been increasing its offerings over the few years that they've been around. Steve, a rider that has a background in engineering, was continually looking to improve the suspension available and eventually opened up a shop in Whistler with a goal to service suspension and create aftermarket parts that they hope will improve riders experiences on their bikes.
The first product that put Steve and Vorsprung on the radar of the wider audience was the Corset, which sought to improve the rear suspension of bikes with an air shock, originally the Fox CTD and Float models. Now they're offering a new tuning option for rear shocks and their popular Luftkappe for Fox 34 and 36 forks.
"Begin with the end in mind." – Stephen Covey
In 2011, before the company even officially existed, Vorsprung founder Steve Mathews had begun work on what went on to become the Tractive Valve Tuning System. Rather than being a single physical part or mechanism, Tractive encompasses the single most comprehensive and consistent method of damper tuning ever seen in the mountain bike world. Working with engineers from one of the world's foremost mathematical computing companies, we have developed a true one-of-a-kind system—and this particular kit is only the beginning. Big claims, we know. What sets Tractive apart?
Tractive is a process, not just a part.
What is the process?
The process begins with the end result that we are trying to achieve with a particular damper curve—it must provide sufficient, but not excessive resistance to compression and extension, in proportion to the rider's demands.
How do we define and measure this correct amount? It needs to be measured at the wheel—the only place that matters. But direct measurement of forces and velocities at the rear wheel are very difficult to make—especially when the leverage ratio between the axle and the shock is constantly changing. And is the rider a timid 45kg (100lbs) woman, or a hard-charging 140kg (300lbs) hulk of a man, or someone more "average" in stature?
Our Elite Partner Tuning Centres around the world now have access to our proprietary, cloud-based Tractive Valve Tuning System calculation software. This software lets the tuner observe the true response at the wheel when considering the rider's weight, the bike's leverage rate and the damper curve generated by a specific tune.
Unprecedented Tuning Advantages:
- Direct comparisons can be visualised between any riders, on any bikes, with suitable benchmarks established and repeatably matched—an industry first.
- Our ever-growing database and the ability to directly compare two scenarios like this gives us an unparalleled ability to analyse and summarise feedback over time.
- Benchmarks are able to shift locally to reflect the different terrain demands in different parts of the world.
- The combined experience of your local suspension tuner and Vorsprung's own expertise can be leveraged to get the best out of your shock.
With Tractive, you directly benefit not just from Vorsprung's knowledge, but from the collective experience of all of our partners around the world.
Tractive Valve Tuning Systems are built with the following approach:
- Damper architecture weaknesses and problems identified and improved upon with upgrade parts
- Damper tunes selected to be the most suitable custom valving for the rider, frame and terrain
- Damper adjustment ranges and modes altered if necessary
The first shock to receive the Tractive treatment is the RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 (the "R" model is not compatible)
Tractive Tune Features and Benefits:
- Improved support
- Superior stability and predictability
- Improved compliance
- Improved traction
- Upgrade compression base valve assembly with triple circuit technology
- More usable 3-position compression adjuster with evenly spaced settings
- Pressure-balanced valving to provide sensitivity and support without cavitation
- Low friction Acetal IFP to replace the stock metal IFP which scores the reservoir bore
- Custom Tractive Valve Tuning System tune selection for each rider based on frame, weight, terrain, aggression, and preference
- Customised rebound valving to replace the stock non-functional rebound shim stack
- Over 140 possible valving combinations for this shock alone
- Nitrogen charged via low-profile reservoir end cap
- All upgrade parts developed, tested and machined by Vorsprung in Whistler
- Internal alterations to reduce the typical knocking during direction changes
- Recommendations on spring pressure and volume spacer alterations if necessary.
Who is the Tractive Valve Tuning System with the Monarch Plus not suited for:
- Riders who already exceed the maximum rated air pressure of their shock. You need a different shock, sorry.
- Riders who want a firmer-than-stock lockout. The Tractive system offers a firm compression mode rather than a lockout for climbing traction, but if a near-rigid lockout is non-negotiable, look elsewhere.
- Riders who want to service their damper at home. The Tractive kit for Monarch Plus is not available for self-install or self-service as it requires both a vacuum bleeder and a nitrogen charging system to install.
- Riders who are using the Monarch Plus on a frame that is excessively progressive or otherwise completely unsuited to air shocks. These will work better with a coil shock.
Pricing & Availability:
Tractive Valve Tuning for Rockshox Monarch Plus RC3 – $310 CAD (approx $242 USD at time of writing) plus shipping.
Available as of today.
How do I make my Monarch Plus a Tractive?
The Tractive kit for the Monarch Plus is not available for self-install, so you'll need to send your shock into Vorsprung in Whistler or to one of our Elite Partner Tuning Centres.
The Tractive kit for the Monarch Plus works only with the RC3 variant (not the "R" variant which has no compression lever), model years 2014 to current (versions B1 to B3 in Rockshox nomenclature). These are distinguishable by being all black (damper body/air shaft and air can). Earlier models with the grey air shaft/damper body are not compatible. No other Monarch variants (R, RL, RT, RT3, XX) are compatible.
Vorsprung is actively seeking elite-level partners around the world, as well as dealers for user-installable parts—if you're an experienced, high-level suspension professional and you'd like to work with us, get in touch.
What's next with Tractive?
More tuning systems for shocks and forks. Here's a little teaser of some Fit4 kits which will be available mid-January.
Luftkappe Line Grows
When we launched the Luftkappe for the Pike, Lyrik and Yari 12 months ago, we were floored by the response—the entire first run sold out within 48 hours of release, and we've battled just to make enough of them over the last year. The overwhelmingly positive feedback received, along with customer demand, pushed us to offer the same kind of upgrade for other forks. We now have four new Luftkappes on offer, all of which are available for self-install. As always, the goal for these was simple: the biggest improvement in how much fun your bike is, per dollar spent.
Luftkappe options now also available for 34 Evol, 34NA2, 36 Evol and the 2018 Pike.
The New Kits shipping immediately:
- 36 Float Evol (2018+): includes Luftkappe piston assembly. MSRP $105 CAD ($83 USD approx).
- 34 Float Evol (2018+): includes Luftkappe piston assembly. MSRP $105 CAD ($83 USD approx).
- 34 Float NA2 (2016–17): includes Luftkappe piston assembly and new low-friction, low-profile seal head. MSRP $130 CAD ($103 USD approx).
Shipping as of December 15th:
- Pike Debonair (2018+): includes Luftkappe A1 piston assembly + adaptor for 2018 Pike forks (except 29+ wheel size). MSRP $100 CAD ($79 USD approx). Referred to as A2 variant. Available for pre-order immediately.
- Pike/Lyrik/Yari A1 version: fits 2014-17 Pike Solo Air, 2018 Pike 29+ Solo Air, Lyrik/Yari 2016-18+ Solo Air and Debonair. MSRP $85 CAD ($63 USD approx).
Optional tools are also available for self-install.
Unfortunately, we do not currently offer a Luftkappe for the 2015–17 36 Float NA.
What The Luftkappe Offers:
- Softer initial stroke
- Larger negative air chamber
- Increased sag without the associated diving
- Coil-like initial and mid-stroke spring rate without the excessive bottoming of a truly linear spring
- Increased sensitivity
- Improved mid stroke support and control
- Superior bump compliance and traction
- Reduced hand fatigue
- Reduces required compression damping
- Retains volume spacer compatibility
Be sure to check out the Luftkappe product page on the site for answers to our frequently asked questions about the use of the Luftkappe.