Project Frankenbike PT 1 | Longterm

March 30th, 2016

By Andrew Dodd in Features

Project Frankenbike PT1  – Fork tune by TF Tuned Shox

TF Tuned were established in 2004 by the infamous Tim Flooks, and since then have grown to become one of Europe’s leading mountain bike suspension specialists.

They are the only European company to offer custom Push tuning as well as servicing and repairs on nearly every brand of fork or shock you can think of.

Based in the little rural English town of Westbury and consisting of a small team of passionate bike lovers, they’re a humble close-knit business with achievements to be proud of.

Project Frankenbike

A mixture of biking memorabilia, and forks spanning over two decades combined with the most accomplished new equipment, tools and flat screen TV’s. TF Tuned is quite literally a bike geek’s ultimate man cave – only far cleaner!

The work shop is meticulously cleaned, and each work station has it’s own complete tool set for all the jobs at hand – no borrowed tools in this set up.

Considering the fact it’s essentially a massive garage full of mechanics, there’s a real warm and welcoming feeling about TF’s workshop. They’ve got the welcoming, yet professional and productive feel down.  Everywhere you look is cool memorabilia – framed anecdotes; signed T-shirts and cool one-off randoms every where.

Project Frankenbike

This is Huxley. He’s the TF Tuned hound and is the size of a small pony. Such a lovely Great Dane – though you’d get a shock if you walked in the front door and he was stood there, as you’d pretty much see eye to eye!

I’ve been using TF for years, long before I ever started racing or scribbling my ramblings on paper and tapping them out for Factory Jackson.

I’ve used them since back when I knew nothing about MTB suspension – other than that it went up and down, in and out and stopped me killing myself when I ran out of talent. Which was quite often! I regularly sent my forks and/or shock to them for basic servicing and repairs, something that would be fair to say is any suspension company’s bread and butter.

However whilst TF will happily take care of these more basic tasks with consistently great customer service and utmost efficiency, their expertise enables them to offer way more – should you want to get more out of your bike and have something truly bespoke.

Project Frankenbike

My Project Frankenbike. This thing is SO much fun!

So, now slightly better on a bike and with a more informed opinion on the aforementioned bouncers, I’m back to see the guys at TF.  And what better time to do so than with my new Mondraker Crafty r+ – the Factory Jackson Project Frankenbike.

Let the fettling begin!

Once I’d spent some time chatting with Murray (one of TF’s senior technicians) and describing the shortcomings I could feel with the Crafty’s stock set up, his eyes lit up and the black nitrile gloves were donned.

It’s immediately clear how passionate the team are here – they’re basically bike geeks themselves and quite literally love what they do. Each technician is contactable directly should you need to speak with them in person about your suspension – a small yet undeniably rare option in today’s ever-increasing automated world of answerphones and emails.

Project Frankenbike

The Project Frankenbike is a Mondraker Crafty r+, which comes with the Rockshox Yari. Although it felt good, I was looking for more support and a smidge extra height in the front end. Here the lowers are removed and the oil drained out before Murray gets to work on them.

Project Frankenbike

Unfortunately for Murray, despite my ability to talk incessantly (I’m fluent in jibbering shit-talk), my proficiency at talking tech is somewhat limited! Fortunately for me, Murray is patient. This dude has even tattooed his own feet. Patient and secretly gnarly.

With a little Murray magic, the Rockshox Yari’s Motion Control damper gets a slight modification to improve the feel throughout it’s range of adjustment. My front end was a little lower than I liked, so we swapped the air shaft to raise travel by 10mm to offer 150mm. Subtle, but makes enough of a difference for me.

Project Frankenbike

Although pretty good, the Yari has a slight top out clunk. Murray made a slight modification to reduce the slight inherent knock. Again, subtle little things that all add up to make my good fork feel great.

I don’t think I’m alone in saying as a mountain biker who just likes to get out and ride, I’m guilty of ignoring the finer details at times. Sure, I love to talk graphs, angles and figures but I’m often making educated guesses at what I’m trying to describe.

However, the beauty of using a company such as TF to tune the two main components keeping your bike’s wheels in contact with the ground, the guess work gets removed. They literally obsess over the finer details to get your suspension feeling how you want it. Which is an important point here often overlooked in an industry of should haves and should do’s. 

TF will advise you based on their experience, but the unequivocal motivation within TF is crystal clear – to get your suspension feeling how you want it and to enable you to have the most fun you can on your bike.

Project Frankenbike

There’s not a huge amount of tuning that can be done with the basic Rockshox Motion Control damper, but Murray fits a few different sized shims to help with high speed rebound control.

Project Frankenbike

Uppers and lowers cleaned and draining, almost time for the Project Frankenbike rebuild

Project Frankenbike

Another volume reducing token installed to increase progressivity of the Yari’s stroke and help prevent a harsh bottom out on big hits.

Project Frankenbike

Reassembled and looking shiny – that’s my happy face, believe it or not!

Project Frankenbike

Give a ginger bearded bloke a hammer and he’ll likely hit things with it – in this instance, a persuasive stem nudge!

TF Tuned really is a well-oiled machine. It oozes a sense of calm and efficiency – which is why they generally turn your forks or shock around within 3 days. Even if you don’t actually need to employ their services directly, they’ll be more than happy to have a chat with you on the phone and advise you best where possible.

Keep your eyes peeled for part 2 of the TF Tuned meets the #frankenbike dropping soon where we’ll be talking shocks and push tuned goodness.

For more info on TF Tuned and their associated services and sales, check out TF Tuned here*




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