Remember Fiziks frames? What about Kizer suspension frames? These were concepts that were heralded as a new solution to rough surfaces and many other claims. Neither of these products lasted long but now the guys from Create Originals are stepping up to the plate. In this Kickstarter project they are looking for backers to help them progress their ideas from prototype into production.
The new concept comes in the form of the Custom Ride System (CRS). Put simply, each frame spacer can move up and down in the frame, limited by a “spring”. These can vary in hardness from a super soft 60a to a stiff 120a, or even just a plain rigid spacer. Not only this but you can flip the rigid spacers over giving custom ride heights like back in the day. It sound comlicated but really it’s no more difficult to set up than a standard frame. This, in my view, gives it a huge advantage over previous suspension frames that were not only difficult to set up, but also lacked reliability as a result. For example, check out the video produced by Fiziks explaining the system they used. Now compare that to the video below to see how simple this new solution is:
So, is this the frame of the future? Well, much like the Bake Frames that I looked at before, they are a compromise. In this case they are balancing comfort against speed. This is not unique to Create Originals though, but a feature of all suspension frames. The issue is that compressing any sort of spring is not 100% efficient. Some of your energy is lost. This means that whether pumping a ramp or pushing off to skate up to a rail some of the force is lost. Is this going to effect you? That’s down to personal style and feel. What it will do however is even out the rough surfaces and hard impacts.
There are claims that it improves grip and cornering but on this one I’m not so sure. On rough surfaces I can understand the claim. Good suspension should mean more contact when the surface is rough. On smooth surfaces like skate parks however I see no benefit. In fact, the reduced stiffness will give less control in these cases, not more. It’s like comparing a street car to a race car. Each have their suspension set according to how they are to handle. The street car will wallow in track corners, but will ride better on a rough road. The race car will stick like glue to the track, but bounce all over your standard highway.
This is why I think that this really is an alternative for street alone. This is where the compromise really favours the skater. More comfort vs speed. Taking the edge off big gaps at the cost of a little responsiveness.
Will it work though? As you’ve seen above, they have addressed the issue of complexity. Will they also have the durability? Any frame that has moving parts is going to wear faster than a solid frame. That’s just physics in action. With the metal spacers sliding in plastic grooves, will this design hold up to the stresses that skating over a period of time puts in skate components? I don’t think anyone can tell yet. This is where good testing is going to really matter. Similarly, with having separate “springs” on each side of the wheel, will the wheels twist in the frame? Will they rub or jam on hard landings? Again I expect testing will really show how they stand up to normal use.
The other major obstacle that has to be overcome though is the price. At the start of the project ordering directly through the Kickstarter you could get a pair of complete frames for $50 but that was strictly limited to early adopters and is already unavailable for new backers. There are however unlimited pre-orders up for $80 also which is “lower than retail price”, so what is the retail price going to be, and will skaters be willing to pay it? This may ultimately be the most important question for most customers.
What price would you pay for this level of innovation?