GROUND TRACING AND FORWARD PROPULSION “I wanted to look at designing a bike from the ground up instead of the top down. I wanted the wheel to trace the ground and be able to move up, out of the way while driving back down on the backside of obstacles, which will accelerate the bike and rider,” Voss told me. He continued, “Others have used sliding systems like Maverick, but ours differs as it uses a single stanchion rather than modifying the front triangle to move the sliding portion of the ‘links.’ We placed the sliding element within the swingarm, this provides improved stability of the IC, better stiffness transfer between front and back frame structures while generating a fulcrum with the link that acts like a control cam throughout the travel.
“The primary link, which in my definition, is the link that is primarily in alignment with chain load throughout the range of motion, is like a Canfield, DW and many other type links as it travels in motion with the chain. My secondary link in this case, is connected below the primary link, whereas most are above. In my opinion, when you put the link above, there is tension on the link while pedaling, but when you brake it pulls apart. It’s a varying tension-compression system. Think of it like electricity, all bikes are currently Alternating Current (AC) where my bike is Constant Current (or DC). Naild bikes keep compression loads stacked in the same direction so you never have one side of the frame under compression while the other is under tension. Think of your links when you enter a turn hard on the brakes, one side is pushing and one is pulling. The Naild system has eliminated that with this design.”
KINEMATICS When we moved on to the next topic of kinematics Darrell opened up with a rhetorical question – “Do we need expensive parts on our bikes to have fun? Absofuckinlutely not!” He said. “We need to address this because so many people are trying to make up for shitty kinematic design with expensive shocks and tunes. The big reason testers are loving these bikes so much is that we are able to run almost zero damping in the mid stroke and just let it do the resistance work at the end of the travel!” Voss explained. Darrell views kinematics as the most important part of designing a properly balanced bike and that means using stored potential or active energy and converting it to forward propulsion. What this could mean for end-users is a cheaper and better performing bike—two things Darrell is passionate about. By creating a bike with superior kinematic design Naild is able to get the bike to perform incredibly without a thousand dollar shock.
DAMPING One of the most interesting parts of the R3ACT-equipped bikes is that the shocks have greatly reduced damping needs. They are able to operate with much less damping resistance in the initial 75% of stroke while not blowing through the travel or bottoming out harshly. The design uses shocks that are wide open through the mid-stroke but maintain factory end-of-travel damping. This is achieved through design, and the benefits I felt on trail were very real. I’d never ridden a bike that let the rear wheel get out of the way so quickly. Voss had a theory he shared regarding damping and it’s something he followed while developing the squat and other performance curve of his bikes. “Dampers equal restriction. Restriction equals resistance. Resistance equals friction. Friction equals loss of energy,” he proclaimed. In summary, if people are making up for poor designs by putting more damping into the shocks, all we’re doing is creating more friction, which slows down the rear wheels ability to move out of the way and therefore the rider’s forward momentum.
FUN ON BIKES Over and over throughout the course of this project Darrell has been consumed with how much fun people will have on these bikes. After one of our test sessions when I was trying to put words to the experience I just had he interjected, “Words can never replace the tactile feedback that one experiences on a ride. We will not even try, but my dilemma is how do we let people know what you’re feeling right now!?” This is where my job got even harder.