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Öhlins TTX Air Rear Shock

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Öhlins TTX Air
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Tested: Öhlins TTX Air Rear Shock

Öhlins finally delivers the air shock we were expecting from them.

Rating: Vital Review
Tested: Öhlins TTX Air Rear Shock

At the end of 2018, Öhlins released a pair of updated products that we discovered during a launch event in Sweden. The RXF m.2 fork and the TTX Air were both wholesale redesigns of previous offerings in this category, and we came away from the launch feeling like Öhlins had really hit the mark. More long-term testing was needed to know for sure, and we spent quite a lot of time on the updated fork which confirmed all the good things we thought about it at the launch. The TTX Air shock took a little longer to actually become available for testing, but we’ve now got about 5 months on it as well and we’re ready to report on our findings.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Smooth damping feel
  • Highly usable range of damping adjustments
  • Easily configurable air spring
  • Consistent, reliable performance
  • Large volume air spring may not suit linear frames (a smaller air can is available for Specialized bikes)

Öhlins TTX Air Highlights

  • TTX-technology (twin tube damping)
  • Adjustable low speed compression
  • Adjustable rebound
  • High speed compression adjuster
  • Air spring volume spacers included in kit
  • Metric 190/210/230 mm // Metric Trunnion 165/185/205 mm
  • Climb mode
  • Weight: 498 grams (210x55, verified)
  • MSRP: $780 USD

Initial Impressions

Öhlins entered the world of mountain biking with the TTX 22 M coil shock, which has proven itself many times over both in regards to performance and longevity. Their first air shock, the STX Air, was a bit more troublesome with reliability issues clouding the horizon as well as mixed reviews on the damping tune. With a twin tube design and a number of design decisions aimed at improving reliability, the TTX Air presents itself as the true heir to the TTX 22 M coil shock, although Öhlins does not make it available in the longest sizes which means that many DH bikes will have to “make do” with the coil option.

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Öhlins told us they were somewhat surprised to learn that on many mountain bike frames the shocks are a structural part of the rear linkage, and that as such they absorb quite a lot of side load and bending forces. The STX longevity issues were partly caused by this phenomenon, and as a result the new TTX Air has been designed specifically to deal with these types of situations, with increased bushing overlap, improved wiper seals, and a more robust construction of the air spring.

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In developing the TTX Air, Öhlins focused heavily on friction, and how to reduce it. They’ve introduced a new lubrication and grease, as well new dynamic seals from Trelleborg with optimized seal preload. The result of all the design changes and new features is a significant reduction in friction and an improvement in service life. When it comes to tunability, the TTX Air offers external high-and low-speed compression adjustments, low-speed rebound adjustment, and adjustable air volume. The standard version of the TTX Air can take up to ten “tokens” while the smaller air can developed specifically for the Specialized Enduro can manage four (the Enduro is a very linear bike, so it requires a smaller overall air volume which explains the special version). The tokens mostly affect the ramp up at the end of the stroke.

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On the damping side, Öhlins says that the twin tube layout removes the risk of cavitation and allows the shock to work with the lowest possible internal oil pressures, with isolated control over the different compression and rebound circuits. Ultimately, the goal of the damping technology is to provide improved grip, tire feel, and wheel control. Independent adjustment of high- and low-speed compression as well as low-speed rebound should allow most riders to tune in the feel and the performance they like. As they are known to do, Öhlins aims to provide a fully usable range of tuning, so that even if you twist the knobs all the way open or closed, you should still have a rideable product. The high-speed adjustment lever on the shock features a climb or lockout position which actually closes off the low-speed circuit as well (a little bit confusing to get your head around at first, but it works well enough and removes the need for another dedicated lever).

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On The Trail

We decided to install the TTX Air on the new Nukeproof Reactor 27.5 RS, a bike that we have been testing since last year (with excellent results). The Reactor is quite a progressive bike, which means that it should pair up well with the standard TTX Air and its large air can. Öhlins supplied the shock with the lower “puck” as well as a couple of “bands” installed (there are two different types of tokens used in different parts of the aircan). We kept the rest of the bike set-up consistent when swapping shocks during the testing period.

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Dialing in the basic handling characteristics didn’t take all that long. The adjusters are easy to use, although you’ll need an allen key handy as aside from the hi-speed compression dial there are no external knobs. As stated in the previous section, Öhlins always aims to provide a wide “usable range” of tuning, and that left us with our settings pretty much in the middle. 6 clicks out from closed on rebound (out of 14), 5 clicks out on low-speed compression (out of 12) became our baseline. The damping is very smooth in action, with super-consistent transitions from compression to rebound. The clicks have a notable effect, but you won’t find the super-slow rebound that many other shocks have when fully closed, for example. Öhlins doesn’t believe in providing a click that renders the bike pretty much unrideable.

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On the high-speed side, there is a simple 3-position switch which provides two different high-speed compression settings and a third, semi-locked out mode. This third position actually closes off the low-speed compression circuit as well, to provide a pedaling platform. It’s a little bit confusing at first but in reality the system is easy to use and because there are so few clicks, it doesn’t really matter that you have to change the high-speed compression each time you want to use the pedaling platform. The platform slows the shock down considerably which all but eliminates pedal bob, while remaining active enough that you can still use it for technical climbing (and it won’t kill you if you forget to open it for the descent, either).

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All in all, the TTX Air is an excellent choice for those looking for an aftermarket upgrade that opens up a lot of tuning possibilities out of the box.

That leaves us to discuss the airspring. This can take the most amount of time to dial in, simply because it's a bit more involved if you need to change the number of tokens. In this test, we were comparing the TTX Air to the stock RockShox Super Deluxe that came on the bike and trying to get it to feel as close as possible. Nukeproof went with the “MLs1” tune which provides medium rebound and low compression damping, and they ship the bike with a token in the shock as well. We found this set-up exceptionally well suited to the bike and we really enjoyed it in action. By comparison, the Öhlins has a slightly smaller negative air spring volume compared to the Super Deluxe, which leaves the bike feeling like it rides a bit higher in the travel on the parking lot. Out on the trail however, the TTX Air is very compliant and offers a great mix of sensitivity and control. It is not afraid to use all the travel if you drop the air spring pressure a bit, while still handling bottom events like a champ. Getting the Öhlins TTX Air to feel exactly the same as the Super Deluxe it replaced took quite a lot of experimenting, which landed us with the max amount of tokens and a slightly reduced main air spring pressure. The amount of adjustability on offer is quite impressive and this is perhaps the main party trick of the TTX Air. Those who appreciate a little extra support from their shock will also appreciate the characteristics of this air spring. Note that we are talking about quite small differences here, really only obvious when riding the two shocks back-to-back on the exact same track.

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To summarize our findings on the trail, the TTX Air offers exceptionally smooth damping and a very useful range of adjustments. The shock is also highly versatile and can be configured to suit a large range of frames and riding conditions. Basic air sleeve service and changing the number of tokens/pucks/bands is easy to do without any specialty tools. All in all, the TTX Air is an excellent choice for those looking for an aftermarket upgrade that opens up a lot of tuning possibilities out of the box.

Things That Could Be Improved

The negative air spring is quite small, which may or may not be a negative point depending on your preferences and your frame. It might suite a wider range of frames with a slight reconfiguration of the air springs (positive vs. negative), but we are digging pretty deep here to come up with something for this section of the article.

Long Term Durability

We’ve been testing the TTX Air for five months now, and we have yet to notice any kind of performance degradation whatsoever. The damping is super-consistent, and the shock feels every bit as smooth as it did on day one. Based on other recent Öhlins products we’ve tested, we expect the TTX Air to perform very well over time.

What’s The Bottom Line?

Öhlins needed to bounce back (pun fully intended) from the STX Air, and they have certainly done so with the TTX Air. The twin tube damping is smooth and effective, and the highly configurable air spring lends itself well to advanced tinkering for those looking to really squeeze the most performance out of their ride. If you enjoy a shock with a bit more initial support or if you struggle to use all your travel with your current set-up we imagine you’ll love what the TTX Air can do.

More information at: www.ohlins.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.

Photos by Nils Hjord and Johan Hjord

Specifications

Product Öhlins TTX Air Rear Shock
Riding Type Downhill, Enduro / All-Mountain, Freeride / Bike Park, Trail
Spring Type Air
External Adjustments Rebound, Hi/Lo Speed Compression, Air Spring
Available Sizes Metric: 190/210/230 mm
Metric Trunnion: 165/185/205 mm
Weight 1 lb 1.6 oz (498 g)
Miscellaneous Weight: 498 grams, 210x55 (verified)
Price $780
More Info

www.ohlins.com

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