Preview: Elka Stage 5

Elka Suspension might be new to the mountain bike arena, but they’re no stranger to suspension, as they have been making customized suspension for the last 10 years in the powersport business. Their shock absorbers have been designed specifically for the rigors of DH racing but also caters to All Mountain riders. Each shock is custom-tuned for the bike’s design to maximize performance and optimize the adjustment range. Out of the box, they are preset so every customer will have about 80% of the tuning already figured out, the remainder being easy and intuitive to achieve. Read the details on their Stage 5 damper inside.

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All Elka Suspension products are hand-built in Canada. The company is currently establishing a mountain bike-specific sales network. Elka prefers to sell directly to shops first to ensure good communication and verify technical information. They are able to sell directly to customers when no local shops are available to carry their products.

  • Elka Suspension shocks are custom-tuned for several bike designs and geometries. They have an application list of bike-specific shocks (available here)
  • They also offer 3 standard aftermarket tune’s for compression and rebound (soft, medium, hard) that have a wider range of adjustment. Those can cover most other applications with leverage ratios from 2:1 up to 6:1
  • Shock sizes are available ranging from 7.5″x2.0″ up to 10.5″x3.5″
  • Shocks can be purchased without spring or with Elka’s proprietary hi-tensile alloy springs, which are 10% to 15% lighter (depending on rate and length) than typical chrome-silicon steel springs
  • Elka shocks feature a microcellular (MCU) bottom-out bumper that can compress down almost completely with a very progressive feeling, so riders typically won’t ever feel a harsh bottom

Elka Stage 5 in a Santa Cruz V10 (click to enlarge)

Features a tuned MCU bottom out stop and a CNC’ed rebound knob

MCU bottom out stop and rebound detail (click to enlarge)

The Elka features one of the biggest reservoirs we’ve seen yet. The shaft size is also quite large at 14mm. Elka says the combination of both allows massive oil flow and displacement that provides better control of the damping and more adjustment possibilities. It is important to note that the reservoir is charged with nitrogen instead of air, which provides a more consistent damping during hard or long riding. The reservoir pressure is preset during assembly and unlike other shocks, IT IS NOT AN ADJUSTMENT.

Elka also tunes the floating piston’s position and reservoir pressure to achieve either a linear or progressive shock, depending on what the bike design needs. Their goal with this is to have a bottom-out adjustment that is preset perfectly straight from Elka.

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Shock sizes start at 7.5″ (eye to eye) and go up to 10.5″ (eye to eye)

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The compression circuit on the Elka shock is somewhat unique on the market when you compare it to other more popular dampers. It is a concentric speed-sensitive design where the high-speed compression is actually an adjustable blow-off valve, so a rider can run much more low-speed compression without affecting bump compliance and absorption. The rebound valving is speed sensitive and Elka tunes it to be fast and lively but also slower on major impacts.

The Elka is designed to provide a very smooth transition between low-speed and high-speed damping. According to Elka, the feeling of their shock is like riding a bike with firm damping that provides additional plushness as needed upon impacts but still “feel” bottomless.

The adjustments on the Stage 5 include

  • High-Speed Compression (black knob on top of the reservoir); used to adjust the threshold of the blow-off to prevent bottoming or help restrict using too much travel upon impacts
  • Low-Speed Compression (red knob on top of the reservoir); used to adjust the overall feeling of the bike, between plush and firm
  • Rebound (red knob on the eyelet side); used to adjust the overall strength of the rebound damping to help keep the rear wheel on the ground for optimal traction
  • Spring Preload (threaded ring on the body); used to adjust preload to set the sag.

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The product name Stage 5 refers to the number of variables the shock offers that can be manipulated to suit every rider, the 3 adjusters above (compression, rebound, preload) plus the linearity/progressiveness and finally the spring rate.

Elka attended Interbike and we shot some video of their booth. We got some details on the Elka Stage 5 shock. Watch Patrick explain some of the features of the shock below.

If you’re looking to put a titanium spring on your Elka, Elka uses springs with a 35mm min. ID and 55mm max. OD. The following springs will work properly on the Stage 5 according to Elka.

  • Diverse Suspension Products (DSP-Racing) – available through Elka
  • Renton (RCS) – available through Elka
  • Fox
  • Marzocchi
  • Manitou
  • Cane Creek
  • Nuke Proof (UK)
  • Stendec (UK)

Rebuild / servicing can be done through

  • Hippie Tech Suspension in Idaho
  • Fast Suspension and Texam in France and Europe
  • Most U.S. Elka Authorized Service Centers for ATV and Motorcycle products (soon)
  • Elka Suspension factory in Quebec

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Pricing

  • $450 damper only
  • $45 high tensile spring (rider-specific rate)
  • $10 2 piece shock hardware, $15 3 piece (steel sleeve). All shock hardware is custom made so they can custom tailor to your needs easily.
  • Du is ½” (Also can use RockShox, FOX, or Progessive shock hardware)

Weights:

Manufacturer Model Year Real(g) Pic.
Elka Stage 5 damper 8.75″ x 2.75″
2009
455g
Elka 350lb 2.75″ high tensile spring
2009
444
Elka 400lb 2.75″ high tensile spring
2009
546
Elka 8 x 22mm 3pc shock hardware
2009
31
.

We’ll be trying out the Elka Stage 5 out a bit more so stay tuned to learn more about it. If you’ve got any immediate questions about anything Elka related, feel free to contact Patrick at Elka Suspension via phone (1-800-557-0552 ext.227) or email (pat@elkasuspension.com)

[Elka Website] [Elka Stage 5 Gallery]