Project 525EXC - Novation Update Adjustable Progressive Dampening System

Sep. 01, 2004 By Eric Tabb
We last reported that Pete Russell from Novation had a new 3 way adjustable system for the PDS shock he calls the APDS (Adjustable Progressive Dampening System). Upon hearing about the available update we couldn't resist and sent our shock was off to Novation for a rework. For the last few months we have been testing with the updated shock and finding settings for the desert, rocky singletrack and even on a few motocross tracks. It is amazing at just how adjustable the suspension system is with the S.S. valves in the forks and the new in the shock.


 Novation Adjustable Progressive Dampening System

The APDS shock mod replaces the stock EXC single compression adjuster with a three-way adjuster. The new system has a low-speed, mid-speed and a high-speed adjuster. Understanding what each adjuster does is just the start of finding settings that are ideal for your riding style and the riding conditions.

The low-speed adjuster can be thought of as an overall initial plushness adustment and is adjusted with a flat-blade screwdriver. It reacts mostly to objects that don't require the shock shaft to move very quickly in the initial part of the travel.

Next is the mid-speed adjuster that is adjusted with an 8mm allen wrench. This adjustment is useful for braking bumps and other small to mid-sized square edged terrain that causes the shock shaft to move rather quickly but not necessarily all the way through the available travel.

Lastly is the high-speed adjustment, which is changed by a using a 17mm wrench. The high-speed is for G-out hits or those conditions in which the shock shaft speed is very high and the shock is using most, if not all of its travel.

 Dialing It In

With the above information you would think that it is very time consuming to dial in the shock. In the beginning it seems overwhelming to those that haven't played with suspension settings but after spending some time testing you quickly get a feel for what feel you can get with each adjustment. Once comfortable you can judge what area isn't reacting you want it too and make a quick change. A quick example would be if you feel the bike is not absorbing braking bumps into a corner but yet the bike is bottoming from a jump then you could soften the mid-speed while firming up the high-speed.

After talking to other Novation users, we discovered the real beauty of both the APDS system and the S.S. valves in the forks is that you can make the suspension perform in two very different ways. For motocross and higher speed terrain where you want to keep the bike up in the travel and ready for the next obstacle you can run the mid-speed in

the forks at 10-12 while leaving the high-speed down around 2. The shock is a little different but for the same result you would firm up the high-speed while running the mid-speed at almost full soft. These settings are still plush but the bike really holds itself up well and doesn't blow through the travel or feel too loose.

On the other hand if you want to ride singletrack with a lot of rocks, roots and square edged terrain you can set the high-speed on the forks to around 12 and keep the mid-speed light around 2. The shock would be firm on the mid-speed, say 2 in, and softer on the high-speed, maybe ?-1/2 out depending on the bottoming control needed. What you get with these settings is a high-flow suspension that feels like it is stuck to the ground and absorbs trail hack with tremendous plushness. This setting also works great for slippery hardpacked terrain where there are isn't a lot of G-out conditions and where you want the bike to stay planted.

After nearly a year with riding the Novation suspension we couldn't be happier. Being able to take your bike on a trail ride one day and then to a real motocross track the next day and have great suspension in both conditions is now a reality. Being willing to take the time to test the different settings to find out what works for you is crucial. Once you put that time in however you are rewarded with personalized suspension tuning that you actually tuned in yourself. There is no need to ship your suspension back to a tuner and have him try different shim stacks and oil heights, simple change the clickers and ride again until you get the feel you are looking for. If this type of setup sounds like it might be something you could benefit from then give Pete a call.

Eric Tabb

Phone 509-879-3751
Fax 509-891-5346
6911 E. 9th Ave
Spokane, Washington 99212 Newsletter
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