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EXT Storia Lok v3 Rear Shock

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Italian Suspension for Your Enduro Bike: EXT Storia Lok v3 Reviewed

EXT's latest enduro coil shock delivers a smooth and controlled ride.

Rating: Vital Review
Italian Suspension for Your Enduro Bike: EXT Storia Lok v3 Reviewed

Extreme Racing Shox or EXT is an Italian suspension supplier, primarily known for its rich motorsports history which includes working with legendary racers like Sebastien Loeb who dominated the World Rally Championship for years aboard his Citroens. In 2014, EXT decided to try its hand at making products for mountain bikes as well, and brought over many of the technologies and the expertise it had developed over the years. Intended primarily for enduro and gravity riding, the Storia and Arma have been well-received and are now onto their third generations, respectively. We’ve put the latest version of the Storia to the test, watch the video below or keep reading to find out how we’ve been getting along.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Smooth and controlled on the trail
  • Effective damping adjustments
  • Hydraulic bottom-out control is transparent and very effective
  • Effective climb switch
  • Custom built to order, allows for near-endless tuning opportunities for the individual rider
  • Noisy

EXT Storia Lok v3 Highlights

  • Metric and Imperial sizing – Standard or Trunnion mount
  • 4 way adjustable (LSC-HSC-LSR-Lok proprietary system)
  • High flow Ø29 mm main piston
  • Ø24 mm valve piston
  • Ø14 mm shaft
  • New Lok Technology – Progressive opening – Silent working
  • Engineered rebound circuit to separate bump and rebound oil flow
  • Ultra low-friction coating
  • Factory tuned HBC technology
  • Very low reservoir pressure for maximum sensitivity (55 PSI)
  • Full custom hydraulic setup available
  • No cavitation
  • Very low hysteresis for high dynamic response
  • High turbulent flow for very low temperature depending
  • Low friction Energize seal
  • Thinner bottom-out bumper
  • New rebound knob for easy spring swap
  • MSRP: 799 EUR + VAT

Initial Impressions

The Storia Lok is a mono-tube damper equipped with a number of external adjustments – high and low speed compression, a single low speed rebound adjuster as well as an external “climb switch” called, you guessed it, Lok. Flipping the Lok lever engages a separate compression circuit which has been tuned to provide a strong pedaling platform – it also features a blow-off valve should you forget to open it up again after the climb. The Storia makes use of a relatively large pistons and a short and wide external reservoir, which EXT says allows them to run very low internal pressure behind the internal floating piston for maximum sensitivity with very low risk of cavitation and very low hysteresis for high dynamic response.

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One of the unique features of the Storia shock is the hydraulic bottom out control. The last 15% of the shock’s travel are controlled by a hydraulic bottom-out piston which increases the force required to compress the shock by 50%. As a result, the shock does not need a big external bottom out bumper like those generally found on coil shocks, it makes due with just a thin washer to absorb that very last contact. The HBC behavior is tuned from the factory on the Storia (whereas it is externally adjustable on the downhill-oriented Arma).

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On The Trail

Every EXT shock is built specifically to order. The customer fills out a detailed order sheet with information that will allow EXT to tune the shock specifically for that rider and the bike in question. The shock arrives with two different springs to allow the rider to test and choose the rate best suited to his or her real-world requirements. EXT also provides the hardware needed to install the shock in the frame, so it’s a simple plug and play deal when the shock arrives. For the v3, EXT has also made changes to the physical aspects of the rebound knob to make swapping springs easier than before.

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Accessing the external compression adjustments requires tools, a 4mm hex key for low speed compression and a 12mm open wrench for high speed compression, something to consider if you like making trailside adjustments as your multitool is unlikely to feature the open wrench. Rebound can be adjusted by hand. All the clicks are well-defined, and provide a broad “usable range” of settings for each adjustment. None of those fully open or fully locked settings at the extremes which serve no other purpose than to convince the rider that the shock is working as intended.

On the trail, the Storia provides a sensitive and controlled ride. Small-bump compliance is excellent and the shock provides a general feeling of comfort and security when you charge a rough trail. Paying attention to the smaller details it’s easy to feel the effect of the different adjustments, and we arrived pretty quickly at settings we were happy with. Our test bike features a progressive rear suspension linkage which develops a very low overall leverage ratio, this works well together with a coil shock to retain both sensitivity and support. The hydraulic bottom out bumper of the Storia works really well in real life, and we particularly appreciate just how smooth the transition is as it activates. Coupled with the high degree of control provided by the rebound circuit, the Storia is very well behaved in jumping scenarios where it again promotes a sense of calm and security. On the way back up the hill, the Lok lever makes a marked difference to how the bike feels. The bike used for this test only suffers from a moderate amount of bobbing to start with, but the Lok lever still makes life easier on the climbs. It not only removes any remaining bobbing, but it also holds the bike up higher in its travel, which improves the seat tube angle and provides a more lively response to the pedals when climbing. If you forget to flip the lever for the way back down, the bike is of course noticeably harsher but the blow-off valve still makes it rideable.

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To compare the Storia to some of its competitors, we did a day of back-to-back testing against the FOX DHX2 and the Öhlins TTX 22 M. Because our test bike features a particularly long eye-to-eye measurement on the shock, we were not able to source a version of the DHX2 with a climb switch, so we couldn’t compare that particular function. All three of these shocks are high-end products that work very well out on the trail. We found that the FOX feels a little bit livelier than the other two. Both the Öhlins and the Storia provide a very calm feeling under the pedals, while the FOX offers a little bit more pop. The hydraulic bottom out feature of the Storia really sets it apart from the others, with unrivalled smoothness as you hit the last portion of travel. You can feel the rubber bumper on both the Öhlins and the FOX as you hit it, whereas the HBC on the Storia is completely unnoticeable. This feature is particularly fun if you run a spring rate on the lower end of the spectrum for your weight, to increase sag and small bump compliance without compromising too much on bigger hits.

To conclude our riding impressions, a couple of words on noise: the Storia is not a particularly silent shock. It produces a bit of a whooshing sound when it rebounds, and you can also hear the check valves working as the shock transitions from compression to rebound. Some riders will absolutely love this aspect, while those looking for a completely silent ride should probably look elsewhere. Additionally, the thin bottom out bumper is not secured and can rattle around a bit on rougher trails (not enough to be a real nuisance, but we’ve heard of riders securing it with a drop of super glue to make this issue go away completely).

Long Term Durability

When it comes to longevity, we’ve had the Storia running for well over three months by now without any performance degradation whatsoever. Three months is not a particularly long time of course, but all signs point to a smooth ownership experience ahead.

What’s The Bottom Line?

In conclusion, there is no shortage of good coil shock options for your enduro bike today. EXT’s Storia Lok v3 checks in at the higher end of the market in terms of pricing, but it delivers the features and the performance to justify the expense. EXT does a good job of tuning each shock to the rider and the bike, and the Storia delivers a smooth and controlled ride even on the roughest trails. The lock-out circuit works really well for climbing, while the unique hydraulic bottom out system is a boon, especially for those looking to run a little lower spring rate.

More information at: www.extremeshox.com.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord - Age: 47 // Years Riding MTB: 15 // Weight: 190-pounds (87-kg) // Height: 6'0" (1.84m)

Johan loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.

Video by Nils Hjord and Johan Hjord // Photos by Johan Hjord

A new level of suspension! EXT

Rating:
The Good:

Amazing performance!
Low weight
Fit and Finish

The Bad:

Noises
Order wait time
Hard to adjust

Overall Review:

I purchased the EXT Storia V3 Lok for a V3 Bronson. The shock arrived 2 months after ordering from suspension syndicate. The shock is extremely light compared to other coil shocks. I mounted the shock to the Bronson using the EXT hardware and Fox roller bearing mount. It took a few shuttle runs to get the settings where I felt were comfortable. The adjustments are harder to make than a normal shock as it needs a socket to turn the knobs. Once dialed, the shock absolutely eats all chunk and roots. This coil shock works great with bikes that have a linear suspension curve as the hydraulic bottom out truly works to create a bottomless feeling. The rebound circuit can be heard doing work (swoosh and swishing sounds), this did not bother me. However the noises that did bother me came from the spring making tinkling noises when the bike was unweighted, the preload was set correctly and I wasn't able to completely remedy this. Overall I highly recommend this shock to anyone that is interested in bringing their bikes suspension to peak performance while not breaking the scale. - SH

Specifications

Product EXT Storia Lok v3 Rear Shock
Riding Type Enduro / All-Mountain, Freeride / Bike Park, Trail
Spring Type Coil
External Adjustments
  • High and Low Speed Compression
  • Low Speed Rebound
  • Spring Preload
  • Climb Switch
  • Available Sizes

    Imperial:
    190 x 51mm, 200 x 57mm, 216 x 63.5mm, 222 x 67mm

    Metric Standard:
    210 x 50mm, 210 x 52.5mm, 210 x 55mm, 230 x 57.5mm, 230 x 60mm, 230 x 62.5mm, 230 x 65mm, 250 x 67.5mm, 250 x 70mm, 250 x 72.5mm, 250 x 75mm

    Metric Trunnion:
    185 x 50mm, 185 x 52.5mm, 185 x 55mm, 205 x 57.5mm, 205 x 60mm, 205 x 62.5mm, 205 x 65mm, 225 x 67.5mm, 225 x 70mm, 225 x 72.5mm, 225 x 75mm

    Weight 1 lb 6.4 oz (636 g)
    Miscellaneous
  • New Lok Technology – Progressive opening – Silent working
  • Engineered rebound circuit to separate bump and rebound oil flow
  • Ultra low-friction coating
  • Factory tuned HBC technology
  • Very low reservoir pressure for maximum sensitivity (55 PSI)
  • Full custom hydraulic setup available
  • No cavitation
  • Very low hysteresis for high dynamic response
  • High turbulent flow for very low temperature depending
  • Low friction Energize seal
  • Thinner bottom-out bumper
  • New rebound knob for easy spring swap
  • Weight listed is for a 200 x 57mm Standard mount shock with a 375-lbs spring
  • MSRP: 799 EURO + VAT as applicable
  • Price $950
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