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My 5th Element coil shock died - replacement options?

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My 5th Element coil shock died - replacement options?

Old 11-12-08, 03:27 PM
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My 5th Element coil shock died - replacement options?

I have a 5th element coil shock on my dual-suspension MTB. I got the bike used so the shock came heavily abused. It is leaking oil now and looks like it needs a rebuild. Since Progressive Suspension is no longer making the shocks and has a limited stock of discontinued replacement parts, a rebuild would cost at least as much or more than simply buying an identical shock. So, I'm trying to find a good replacement. The 5th element coil is the 2nd most-reviewed shock on MTBR and has a decent 3.91 rating, so I may just get a new or lightly used one and keep the old one for parts. It's also relatively cheap, say between $70-$100.

What are some other good options in the same price range for a rear shock? I need something with around 2.75" travel and 7.5" end-end.
EDIT: Actually it's 2" travel. I think...

Also, the guy at my LBS told me that the shock I have is "not the right type" for the frame I have, which seems weird. I have a faux-Horst link frame almost identical to this Kona bike except it has 3 shock attachment holes to allow for different travel on the shock. He said I might need an air shock because it is stiffer than a coil shock and would fit my frame better. Does that sound accurate or is he just making it up?

EDIT: Is it OK to mount a shock that is slightly longer than what the old one is? My old one measured 190mm eye-to-eye. Would a 200mm eye-to-eye shock fit on there and work OK?

Last edited by kmart; 11-12-08 at 06:07 PM.
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Old 11-12-08, 03:34 PM
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Haha one of my friends was riding and his frame shock mountings blew out half way. He wedged a piece of slate where the shock was and rode home. Hardtailing with class.
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Old 11-12-08, 05:08 PM
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Dhx5.
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Old 11-12-08, 05:58 PM
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The things that count with a shock are eye to eye and stroke, not whether they're air or coil (I'd stop going to that shop for any suspension advice). Personally I'll stay with coils for now, they're just superior. I don't know about buying a used 5th at this point since they've been out of production for quite a while now, might just be asking to pay for the same problem you've got now. I happen to have a fairly freshly rebuilt 5th coil on one of my bikes, but it's not the right size for you (7.875 x 2.25).

I've got DHX 5 coils on my two mainly used mountain bikes, think it's a better shock than the 5th, unfortunately I don't see a 7.5 x 2.75 listed for it. You might get away with a longer eye to eye, but it could cause problems or changes in the bike you might not like but with the multi position mounting maybe... What bike do you have?

ps On the air/coil thing there are some shocks with piggybacks that don't fit some bikes where a smaller air shock can...but that doesn't seem to be an issue for your bike...

pps There are some bikes that have a shock valved or developed specifically for them, but again doubt that's the case with your bike.

Last edited by bikinfool; 11-12-08 at 07:10 PM.
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Old 11-12-08, 06:12 PM
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Thanks for the advice. I think I mismeasured things so please tell me if I'm doing this wrong. I haven't removed the shock from the frame. For eye-to-eye, I measured the shock as it is mounted on the bike. There doesn't seem to be any sag from the weight of the bike so 190mm is pretty accurate. It's 187.5mm and 192.5mm measured to the other two mounting hole positions on the swingarm. For the travel distance, I just measured from the base of the hydraulic chamber to the washer that is keeping the spring attached and it's very nearly 2". If I loosen the coil preload I am able to bottom the shock out to the point where the foam washer on the piston is just beginning to be compressed. So that gets me 7.5"x2". Does that seem like a common pair of numbers for shocks?

The "what bike do I have" question is difficult: it's an unlabeled frame made by Astro Engineering of Taiwan (they make a lot of OEM frames). The only "name" it has is stamped on the BB and it reads LKFRF. Here's a pic.

Last edited by kmart; 11-12-08 at 06:20 PM.
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Old 11-12-08, 06:15 PM
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It is really too bad you don't need an 8.75x2.75 - - Santa Cruz Bikes is blowing out yet more of their stock of brand new 5ths (air and coil) cheap. Unfortunately they all seem to be sized for the VP Free and V10.

EDIT: If you were handy, you could fashion a little dogbone/extension plates out of some 6061 to bolt to the end of your walking beam to make one work (and for $99 you can bet I would try to) but you did not hear me say that.
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Old 11-12-08, 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by dminor View Post
It is really too bad you don't need an 8.75x2.75 - - Santa Cruz Bikes is blowing out yet more of their stock of brand new 5ths (air and coil) cheap. Unfortunately they all seem to be sized for the VP Free and V10.

EDIT: If you were handy, you could fashion a little dogbone/extension plates out of some 6061 to bolt to the end of your walking beam to make one work (and for $99 you can bet I would try to) but you did not hear me say that.
That's not a bad idea - the 3 mount holes would provide very secure attachment points for the plates. I am handy but unfortunately without access to a nice machine shop.

I have a dumber idea though: Can I mount a 7.875" air shock in the frame even though it needs 7.5"? Since it's an air chamber, I would just compress it a bit more and adjust the preload accordingly. I know this would not work with a coil shock because the coil would need to be trimmed somehow or preloaded excessively to the point where it would bind, but wouldn't an air shock be more forgiving about eye-to-eye length?

Last edited by kmart; 11-12-08 at 06:32 PM.
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Old 11-12-08, 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by kmart View Post
That's not a bad idea - the 3 mount holes would provide very secure attachment points for the plates. I am handy but unfortunately without access to a nice machine shop.

I have a dumber idea though: Can I mount a 7.875" air shock in the frame even though it needs 7.5"? Since it's an air chamber, I would just compress it a bit more and adjust the preload accordingly. I know this would not work with a coil shock because the coil would need to be trimmed somehow or preloaded excessively to the point where it would bind, but wouldn't an air shock be more forgiving about eye-to-eye length?
The DHX 5 does come in a 7.5 x 2.0. I'm not sure about what characteristics of an air shock you'd lose, but I'd think some small bump sensitivity and it'd ramp up sooner, and if it had a propedal or similar valving then maybe that might be compromised...but maybe not enough to matter. Then there's the matter of the air not being as good as the coil in the first place...
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Old 11-12-08, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by bikinfool View Post
The DHX 5 does come in a 7.5 x 2.0. I'm not sure about what characteristics of an air shock you'd lose, but I'd think some small bump sensitivity and it'd ramp up sooner, and if it had a propedal or similar valving then maybe that might be compromised...but maybe not enough to matter. Then there's the matter of the air not being as good as the coil in the first place...
Air is lighter.

That said I'm partial to coil anyway.
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Old 11-12-08, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by kmart View Post
I am handy but unfortunately without access to a nice machine shop.
A drill press, Dremel, burr bits, flat and rattail files can often get you farther than you might think .
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Old 11-12-08, 07:40 PM
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The specific problem I am having with the shock is that when the piston is fully extended, pressing down on the seatpost moves the shock about 3mm with almost no resistance, and only after that does the oil/air damping system really kick in. Compressing the shock and then releasing, it quickly rebounds to 3mm of being fully extended, and then slowly rebounds the rest of the 3mm in about 2-3 seconds. Bouncing the bike on the rear wheel lightly, there is a noticeable knock sound because of this 3mm of play.

Compression and rebound seem to work fine after that, except in addition to the usual "weezing dog" sound from the air piston, there is a squishy sound that I didn't notice before. It sounds like there is an oil and air mixture in the cylinder or the oil/air chamber that sticks out of the side. There is no oil leaking from the air input shrader valve, but there is sometimes oil leaking from the top of the main chamber that the spring is on.

I think that's bad because the oil and air are supposed to be on opposite sides of a floating piston in the damping chamber. I guess it just needs an oil change and some new seals, assuming the piston and stuff aren't worn, but as far as I know you cannot just pick up and random Oring from the hardware store and stick it in there right?

Last edited by kmart; 11-12-08 at 07:46 PM.
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Old 11-12-08, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by kmart View Post
The specific problem I am having with the shock is that when the piston is fully extended, pressing down on the seatpost moves the shock about 3mm with almost no resistance, and only after that does the oil/air damping system really kick in. Compressing the shock and then releasing, it quickly rebounds to 3mm of being fully extended, and then slowly rebounds the rest of the 3mm in about 2-3 seconds. Bouncing the bike on the rear wheel lightly, there is a noticeable knock sound because of this 3mm of play.

Compression and rebound seem to work fine after that, except in addition to the usual "weezing dog" sound from the air piston, there is a squishy sound that I didn't notice before. It sounds like there is an oil and air mixture in the cylinder or the oil/air chamber that sticks out of the side. There is no oil leaking from the air input shrader valve, but there is sometimes oil leaking from the top of the main chamber that the spring is on.

I think that's bad because the oil and air are supposed to be on opposite sides of a floating piston in the damping chamber. I guess it just needs an oil change and some new seals, assuming the piston and stuff aren't worn, but as far as I know you cannot just pick up and random Oring from the hardware store and stick it in there right?
I just consider that a sign of needed maintenance, but didn't try it myself, sent mine off to Progressive when it started doing that, and with more than 3mm (but that was a while ago, don't use that bike/shock much now).
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Old 11-12-08, 08:26 PM
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Originally Posted by dminor View Post
A drill press, Dremel, burr bits, flat and rattail files can often get you farther than you might think .
Aint that the truth.
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Old 11-12-08, 10:27 PM
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I forgot to mention that, although they have gotten out of manufacturing bicycle shocks, Progressive is committed to servicing existing product out there. Contact them and I'm sure you can get an estimate for rebuilding it for you.
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Old 11-13-08, 01:08 AM
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Originally Posted by bikinfool View Post
. Then there's the matter of the air not being as good as the coil in the first place...
Why not?
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Old 11-13-08, 02:05 AM
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Originally Posted by mtnbiker66 View Post
Why not?
PV=nRT. As the air in the shock is compressed rapidly during rough riding, it heats up. Volume stays constant in the air chamber, so the pressure goes up and the shock becomes stiffer. This process doesn't take very long because the chamber is at high pressure and small. Next time you use your minipump to fix a flat on the trail, notice how hot it gets.
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Old 11-13-08, 02:20 AM
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Originally Posted by mtnbiker66 View Post
Why not?
I like kmart's answer, better than my "just 'cause it is". Seriously, the air shocks just can't match the performance of a coil, let alone exceed. Yet. Someday they might. Sure, they're light for the weight conscious, and they do work much better than they have in the past, but the best shocks and forks still are coil. Somewhat depends if performance is your most important criteria, though.
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Old 11-13-08, 06:31 AM
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I just ask becuse I sure do see a lot of high volume air shocks on long travel bikes now days and I didn't know if was better or not.
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Old 11-13-08, 09:32 AM
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There's a push on to save weight on some of the big rigs now from what I've seen. I've met some really great riders and when weight's not an issue, coil is their first choice. I've tried several of each and I keep staying with coil. I currently lust after a Cane Creek Double Barrel (which does not come in an air version, which says a lot, too).
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Old 11-13-08, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by bikinfool View Post
I currently lust after a Cane Creek Double Barrel (which does not come in an air version, which says a lot, too).
Are those good?
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Old 11-13-08, 05:53 PM
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Pretty decent, what do you have on your bikes?
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Old 11-13-08, 05:56 PM
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Originally Posted by bikinfool View Post
Pretty decent, what do you have on your bikes?
You must be new here.
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Old 11-13-08, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by bikinfool View Post
Pretty decent, what do you have on your bikes?
I'm just playin'. I've had several different shocks on different frames. Right now I have a 5th coil on my Bullit. I'm getting ready to build an EnduroSX with a Fox air shock on it. It's an older propedal prototype with a long and short travel setting on it. I like coil shock as well but if a air shock is tuned right it gives a nice ride too.
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Old 11-13-08, 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by ProFail View Post
You must be new here.
Yessir. Looked at mtnbiker66s profile and saw that coil while he's playin' on the stunts, so figured he was just leading me on....

Originally Posted by mtnbiker66 View Post
I'm just playin'. I've had several different shocks on different frames. Right now I have a 5th coil on my Bullit. I'm getting ready to build an EnduroSX with a Fox air shock on it. It's an older propedal prototype with a long and short travel setting on it. I like coil shock as well but if a air shock is tuned right it gives a nice ride too.
I did like some of the air shocks, but didn't love them. I'd like to see an air shock make me eat my words. Both air shocks and forks have come a long way, no doubt there's room for improvement still.
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Old 11-14-08, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by bikinfool View Post
I did like some of the air shocks, but didn't love them. I'd like to see an air shock make me eat my words. Both air shocks and forks have come a long way, no doubt there's room for improvement still.
Some frames, e.g. Banshee V4FB, are specifically designed around the damping characteristics of air shocks. There's no way you could tune a CCDB to perform as well as a Fox RP on that platform.
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