The Golden Wrench

A blog about bicycle repair and maintenance by the mechanics at Freewheel Bike.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

If a grenade went off...

Shockspital/Freewheel helped make history this week, taking part in the first-ever gathering of suspension gurus from across the country.

Get a bigger truck!
SRAM Technical University (STU) pulled together a veritable who's-who of suspension service shops at their facility in Colorado Springs for a two-day master class in being awesome. Pick any legend in the MTB suspension service/tuning industry who isn't currently working for one of RockShox's competitors, they were probably there.

And this wasn't your average Chuck & Dave's Comedy Hour kind of STU (okay, yes it was, but...). Instead of the usual pair of instructors--who do fine job on their own--SRAM threw everything they had at us. In the room at any given time were product managers, lead technicians, race mechanics, engineers, marketing staff, the folks behind the technical documentation, you name it. At several points there were as many SRAM/RockShox employees in the room as there were "students." Clearly there was something special going on here.

The group gathers for knowledge absorption
And in many ways what RockShox was doing is unprecedented. Not only had the attendees never all been in the same room together, we had never been treated to such unguarded candor from a major manufacturer before. Typical tech trainings are informative but very by-the-book; we learn the official way of doing things and don't get to see behind the curtain, to hear about the product eccentricities that often we have already discovered for ourselves, but have had to develop our own techniques for dealing with. But at this event we were treated like trusted insiders. RockShox was more interested in knowing how they could make our lives easier as suspension techs rather than getting us to toe the line and promise never to take apart their dampers.

Come in close, kids! Don't want to miss anything...
Our time, as usual, was split between the classroom and the lab. But again where this STU session differed from the norm is that the classroom time was a big group discussion, with equal amounts of information coming from all corners of the room. And in the lab, taking apart Boxxers, Monarchs, Vivids and Reverbs under the tutelage of an impressive team of experts, we got into such detail that the STU instructors were asking questions along with us. We now know things about RockShox rear shocks that are so privileged that I'm not allowed to blog about them! But rest assured that it's information that helps us do our jobs better.

Our friend Luby expertly attends to a Monarch
The best part is that this wasn't a one-time deal. The idea is for this first meeting to develop into a long-term relationship between us and SRAM. This has the potential to benefit everyone involved, not least of whom is you, the customer!

And though the folks from SRAM treated us very, very well, and are clearly very serious about this venture, don't forget that the first company to bring us into their trusted circle was Manitou!