While in the Philly area I swung north to Abington to pick up my Bianchi SRAM SOK from Abington Wheel Wright Bike Shop or AWWBS for short.
Aside from the outside of their building being a cool shade of Bianchi Green (celeste), they have a ton to offer their mountain biking customer base. One service that stood out during my first visit with Miko, the shop's service and retail manager, is their suspension tuning services. RMT Suspensions.
I explained to Miko the issues I was having with the fork, the brakes and what I ultimately wanted to achieve with the mods I was requesting. AWWBS works on forks and I mean works on forks. I'd say 95% of the shops I visit throughout my vast territory would send the fork to either QBP or BTI for a rebuild, not these guys. In my shop days, I would have done the work myself but being a father of two and a rep, I didn't hesitate to give the business to the LBS.
Here is a mod I did on my own time. After converting the 29r to tubeless last June, by recommendation of Marshall at Youngblood Bicycles, I down sized the rear tire from a 2.3 to a 2.1 Prowler from WTB. Lighter, faster, better rubber.
With the heavier 29r wheels (verses a traditional 26in wheel) and the fact that I'm 6'5" at 180lbs, you can never have enough braking underneath you. I upgraded the front rotor from a 160mm to a 185mm by Avid. The rear rotor is still the stock size- 160mm. New sintered pads were installed on the front and rear of the bike in addition to bleeding the lines and lubing the plungers at the cylinders. (Contaminants had entered the cylinders when I had the bike on top of the Element; during a rainy-several hour drive to Williamsburg, VA last summer.)
Here is where the magic begins. It's not fair to criticize/compare the performance of this fork when I'd been on long travel, light duty freeride bikes prior to getting this steed. None the less, with the top and bottom air chambers set to where I felt they should be according to my riding style and trial conditions, the 100mm fork dove too much under braking and couldn't keep up with high speed, baby head rocks that litter the local trails. Miko listened and delivered.
The blue wipers are a wiper/seal kit from Enduro. The stock wipers are good with preventing stiction at low speeds but potentially won't seal out the contaminants as well as the ones from Enduro. Enduro's lip sealing technology is top shelf for keeping oil in and dirt out. However, these seals are TIGHT on the stanchions. To combat this, the stanchion tubes where treated with a coating of a liquid Teflon® fluoropolymer. This polymer bonds to the aluminum tubes and make Teflon even slipperier. One application lasts about 6 months on the trails under normal_non muck riding.
The stock 5wt fork oil was removed and a combination blend of 5wt and 7wt where installed. This will reduce diving during hard braking when the PopLoc is wide open. A full dose of 7wt would be a bit too thick for my body weight and could compromise low speed dampening.
I'm still running the stock PopLoc set up for now. This lever is an open compression or closed compression selector. The fork will not have an in between compression adjustment with this type of PopLoc. Once I get some months of riding on the bike, I'll probably upgrade to the PopLoc Adjust. This system will allow me to adjust the compression of the fork for either rocky terrain or flowing/no rocks-just roots, type of trails.
Now if only the snow would go away...