Before we changed anything on the T8, we had a couple riders spend some time on the stock build. As we said above, the bike rode well but had some major issues that we believe stemmed from the rear shock.
On the climbs, the T8 has a slight amount of pedal bob that is solved with a flick of the climb switch. The 65-degree head tube and nice seating position allow the rider to navigate both steep switchbacks and long road climbs comfortably but it’s certainly not a high performance climbing machine. Descending is balanced and the geometry makes the bike feel confident and stable, but we found the end of the suspension very quickly and felt that the rear end was harsh on square-edge hits and roots. We set the suspension up with 28-30% sag, which is usually the sweet spot for our whole test crew, but we could never seem to dial the Siskiou T8 in to balance big hits or high speed chunder.
While the suspension feedback and harshness gave us concern on rough trails, we enjoyed the stability and balanced feel of the Siskiou T8 on faster flow and jump trails. It was here we realized that this bike had the potential to be a lot more, it just felt constrained by the rear shock tune. All of our testers enjoyed jumping, manualing and slashing the bike around, so we reached out to SR Suntour to see if they’d be interested in joining our experiment.
Many times when people upgrade their bikes they feel they need to go all out, or spend a lot of money to get performance gains. Having spent a lot of time on SR Suntour products, we knew that we could get a solid upgrade without spending Factory Kashima money. The theory was that a cost effective SR Suntour Auron fork and TriAir shock would save us hundreds of dollars and still offer better performance than the stock Fox Float dampers and leave us cash to upgrade the brakes, another Achilles heel of the bike.
The change was instantly noticed as we tackled rocks and roots with the SR Suntour TriAir rear shock. We have positively reviewed the Auron and TriAir before and this experience reinforces our suggestions to not discount SR Suntour when it’s time to upgrade your ride. The Auron fork gives a much more supported feel with a proper 30% sag dialed in, kept calm on the rough and reduced our divey 34. No harsh bottom out is felt even when taking it into steep and big terrain. Similarly, the TriAir woke the rear end up, allowing the rear tire to move out of the way of obstacles without that harsh feedback we had with the Fox. The feeling of overdamped rebound to make up for sub-par compression was gone. The TriAir with three volume spacers is the ticket to make the T8 compete with bikes that cost twice as much. It pops off jumps, handles high frequency bumps with ease, and even takes drops without a hiccup.
What would be our next upgrade? The brakes. While the Tektro four-pistons have plenty of power, the levers are reminiscent of 80’s cantilever levers, making lever feel non-existent. On top of that there’s a lot of dead stroke where you’re pulling this big, long lever and nothing happens. We found ourselves riding with the brakes half in just to feel the bite point. While they are rideable, we would most definitely opt for another four-piston trail brake with some more modern levers.