Explained: Aftermarket Links & Tractive Tunes
What is an aftermarket link?
There are now a range of aftermarket links from manufacturers like Cascade Components that change a frame’s kinematics to alter the leverage rate curve. In most cases, their links give more progression and more travel.
While the effects and results do vary from frame to frame and link to link, their aim is often to increase travel, and increase progression in order to increase initial sensitivity and bottoming resistance.
What is a Tractive tune?
A customised damper characteristic based on rider weight, frame kinematics (leverage rate), terrain and riding style. Changes in performance include improved support, compliance, traction and predictability.
Both can improve the performance of your bike, but they address different aspects and in different ways.
Changes the leverage curve of the bike, which in turn affects your wheel rates (spring and damping curves as measured at the wheel). This can make the start of the travel softer (or firmer) relative to the end of the stroke, and/or adjust how much travel you have.
Changes characteristics of damping in shock based on the leverage rate of the frame, which controls the suspension motion throughout the travel.
(Graph: Cascade Components Hightower LT link)
Spring rates (air pressure or coil choice) for a given rider weight and sag are dependent on the leverage rate curve. Damper tunes are also dependent on the leverage curve because they’re related to the spring rate.
Tractive tuning is performed with the leverage curve and the rider in mind. Because of this, if you’re planning to change the leverage curve of your bike with an aftermarket link, you should have the shock tuned to the new leverage curve.