Cascade Components V4 Nomad LT Link Review
Tested by Alex Moschitti
What started as a side project one year ago has evolved into a slightly more time consuming endeavor for Cascade Components founder, Jimmy Davis. After breaking a rear triangle on his Santa Cruz Nomad, the mechanical engineer found himself with a bit of downtime while he waited for a replacement. As any engineer would do, Jimmy began to make parametric equations for leverage ratios, wheel travel and axle paths. After doing this, Jimmy came up with a hypothesis and set out to see if he could tweak the dimensions and accommodate a longer stroke and coil-sprung rear damper to customize the ride of his bike. After great success on the trail, Jimmy founded Cascade Components and began selling his LT Nomad link to the public. Since then he’s been hard at work and has also added Bronson and Megatower LT links to Cascade Component’s menu.
Jimmy sent us two links, one for the Megatower and another for a Nomad. We asked around and found two riding acquaintances with bikes that fit the bill and we passed them off. Over the last several months the riders have randomly texted us words of praise and thanks for their new upgrades. Here’s what you need to know.
Founder Jimmy Davis’ day job is a mechanical engineer at ClaroWorks, a short run production firm that specializes in mechanical engineering design services and part production. By having access to CNC and molding machines, Jimmy was able to take his Santa Cruz Nomad suspension theories, and start acting on them by machining links to tune the rate and travel of his Nomad.
Cascade Components’ V4 Nomad link is a CNC-machined piece and adds a nice industrial look to the otherwise rounded carbon tubes of Santa Cruz Bicycles is known for. Cascade Components offers the links in a few different color options should you like to add a little more flair to your ride.
Along with changing the look of your Santa Cruz Nomad, the Cascade Components link will provide a more progressive leverage curve, increase travel and lengthen the chainstays. By installing the link, Nomad owners also have the ability to increase the travel of their bike to 177mm or 190mm. Doing so requires running a 230mm x 60mm shock or 230mm x 65mm shock, respectively. It goes without saying that those looking for a bit more travel for big hits or bike park days with their Nomad will certainly see the value here.
*It is worth noting that owners need to understand by modifying their bike can come with repercussions, which we’ll address below.
Typically I’m not one to modify geometry or other factory settings on my mountain bike. I usually find factory flip chips offer me a pretty good overall feel and I can learn to ride anything with the right bars and stem. However, I recently had the opportunity to test the Cascade Components link on my Santa Cruz Nomad and I will never go back to the standard link, which I’ve ridden on for two years.
Installing the link took five minutes and was not overly complicated at all. I instantly felt a noticeable difference in the first 30mm of travel. The link firmed up the top end of my Fox Coil compared to the stock Santa Cruz OEM lower link. Another thing that I’ve been very pleased with is the single through-bolt on Cascade Components link. I’ve bent several shock bolts over the years and haven’t bent any since switching over.
Stability is the one word I would use to describe the benefits of changing my stock set up to the Cascade Components lower link. It lengthened my chainstays 6mm, which aided in high-speed stability. I chose to keep my stock shock to see if just the link alone would change the on-trail performance without bumping up the travel to 190mm.
I felt a dramatic difference in several aspects of my riding. First I noticed a big change in smaller washboard bumps and while cornering. The link helps keep the bike riding higher in its travel. I felt more confident as the terrain was smoother with the new link. I kept my compression and rebound the same and only added two clicks to my low speed compression. Like the George Foreman Grill, I set it, forget it and then, I sent it! Along with smoothing out the chatter on washboard trails and square-edge hits, I was really impressed with how well the bike helped prevent bottoming out. Whether it was landing a drop, casing a jump or major G-out compressions, I no longer felt that bottom out feel I’d grown used to. Once again, by remaining higher in the travel, I could ride faster and more confidently, which are things I am constantly striving for.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Learning how to set up you suspension and adjusting what isn’t right about your set up takes years for some racers. After testing the Cascade Components link, I think the average weekend warrior to the most seasoned pinner would benefit from the upgrade. Not only do I recommend using the Cascade Components link, but I would never go back to riding my bike without it.
More Progressivity Over Stock Link
Ability to Add Travel
Could Void Warranty
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