The hype surrounding our new air shock has been brewing for quite some time and we are happy to announce the wait is over! Due to the reputation of EXT’s current line up, it has been highly anticipated that this would be a revolutionary project—and the final product does not disappoint. An air sprung rear damper has been the missing piece in EXT’s already extensive line-up of high performance suspension products, entrenched in years of research and development.
As this is the first air shock from EXT, it is called the ARIA, “air” in Italian… which is saturated in novel technology and design approach. Though the EXT brand has become synonymous with unrivaled performance of coil shocks, their knowledge of air spring technologies actually began in the Williams Formula 1 program developing products for the highest forms of racing. Early on in the project it was clear to EXT’s team that they wouldn’t be satisfied with simply adding an air can to their existing coil-shock structure– high performance necessitated a complete ground up re design Thus, EXT took the innovative dual-positive air chamber concept made for the Era fork and formatted a new version of it to fit the unique needs of the Aria application. From this groundwork they have created a shock featuring a noticeably improved air-spring able to reach high levels of sensitivity and support that are currently only achievable with coil sprung shocks.
The Aria’s hydraulic damping system is based on the E-Storia circuit design but implements architecture specific to the demands of an air shock. Excellent tunability of the damper is achieved by maintaining independent high- and low-speed compression circuits, as well as isolated rebound circuits. These damping adjustments have been designed to give the user a discernable change between clicks while maintaining enough granularity that the rider should be able to find the perfect setting.
To complete the package, the proprietary LOK 2.0 system and externally adjustable hydraulic bottom-out control (HBC) were integrated into the Aria as well. Plainly put, EXT’s Aria is not your conventional air damper. The combination of many of EXT’s proven features and a revolutionary air spring make it stand out from anything else on the market. Let’s take a deeper look inside the technology of this unique air shock.
AS3 technology: the dual positive chamber featuring only 2 dynamic seals to separate the 3 different chambers. (EXT unique patented design)
Positive chamber +/++ (low/high) with endless adjustment potential via 2 separate air valves to finetune the spring characteristics.
Negative self-activating large volume chamber.
Unique air seals design based on aerospace technology.
Lok 2.0 technology.
14 mm superlight weight internal shaft
Large 28mm hydraulic main piston
Adjustable Hydraulic Bottom-Out Circuit (HBC)
Proprietary “Super Finish” surface treatment on sliding parts
AS3 technology – Dual Positive Air Chamber
Aesthetically, it might seem a typical air shock, but the new EXT Aria goes beyond the common shocks we see every day. The core of the Aria is in the innovative dual positive air chambers and a large negative self-equalizing chamber. This system allows for extensive control over the shock’s air spring curve characteristics, giving you fine tune capabilities throughout the entire stroke. The dynamic nature of EXT’s twin positive air chambers virtually eliminates all negative aspects intrinsic to the volume spacer systems of competitors.
Volume spacers reduce the volume of a single chamber in a static fashion, affecting air’s natural progressive compression sooner into the stroke, making the suspension more progressive near the end of its travel. Making set up changes this way affects the entire travel range of movement, meaning if more elastic support is needed earlier in the travel range, it will affect the ramp up towards the end of the range. Therefore, if less ramp up is needed towards the end of the travel range, it will negatively affect the early to mid-body support. The installation of volume spacers also requires more time and expertise because it requires removing the shock from the bike and removing an air can. This scenario is less than ideal for fine tuning because it often has to be done multiple times to find the perfect setting.
EXT’s AS3 technology, as previously mentioned, works with two main positive chambers:
The + chamber, characterized by the black color valve, provides the primary support for the system and controls the sensitivity of the top and mid stroke, also called, dynamic sag position.
The ++ chamber, characterized by the nickel color valve, controls the sensitivity of the mid-end stroke and final ramp up characteristic.
The control and adjustability given by the dual positive chambers is more accurate and precise than volume spacers, allowing the rider to focus on just a specific part of the stroke. Additionally, this dynamic system does not force the rider to compromise mid-stroke support and initial sensitivity in favor of end stroke ramp up or vice-versa. It makes possible to modify the stiffness across the whole length of the stroke rather than just the last part of it, as volume spacers do. The rider will feel more support in the middle part of the stroke, without having the typical excessive force increase of the single chamber air spring.
In these force graphs presented, we can see that pressure increase inside the + chamber sets and defines the sag dynamic position and controls the average behavior of the shock. The higher the pressure in the + chamber, the stronger the force throughout the whole stroke..
This is why, the + chamber pressure is associated to the rider’s weight and riding styles. A better and further tune of the shock’s progression can be achieved by the adjustment of the ++ chamber. Simply adding or removing pressure on the ++ chamber gives the rider the option to have a more linear or progressive air spring curve.
Increasing the pressure on the ++ chamber will lead to more mid-end stroke support and higher end-stroke force without compromising riding dynamic and sensitivity. Starting from the base air settings, a rider can increase the ++ pressure to adjust and smooth out the air spring curve of the shock according to specific terrain conditions. The result is a more controlled and supported ride at high speeds..
If the rider is looking to have more grip or better small bump sensitivity, pressure can be released on the + chamber while adding more pressure in the ++ chamber. This offers support in the mid-end stroke, as well as protection near the end-stroke. Close to the last 15% of the stroke, the hydraulic bottom-out control (HBC) is engaged. This gives controlled support through the end stroke helping the shock to avoid harsh bottom-out situations.
The ability to adjust the two positive air chambers separately allows for improvement of mid-stroke support while giving a more linear progression characteristic to the shock.
The AS3 means that the progressivity of the shock can be adjusted quickly with a shock pump; there’s no need to take the shock off the bike and remove any volume spacers, saving loads of time. The use of a dual positive chamber makes the shock more versatile to adapt to any leverage ratio and frame geometry.
EXT Aria gives the same level of damping control that only coil shocks provide, and it’s truly unique. The suppleness of a coil shock damper with the endless adjustability of an air shock was arguably impossible to reach until the introduction of the new EXT Aria.
Adjustable Hydraulic Bottom-out Circuit(HBC)
The HBC system is a position sensitive damper valve comprised of a secondary piston assembled below the main one, and an inner tube near the bottom of the damper. When you get close to the end of the stroke, the secondary piston goes inside the inner tube, forcing the oil flow through a calibrated orifice that characterizes the end stroke ramp up. EXT’s HBC system engages in the last 15% of the stroke and is externally adjustable, to match your weight, riding preferences and style. This system, when implemented into the Aria, makes the compression progressive, allowing for lower air pressure settings inside the chambers to give better traction.
The Aria shock features the LOK 2.0 proprietary EXT technology, (aka pro-pedal switch), already well-known throughout the product line up. This known system uses an independent circuit valve that produces the support needed for ideal pedaling efficiency. In open mode, the LOK circuit is excluded, and when closed, the oil must flow through a preloaded shimmed valve increasing compression force. This shim-based design provides enough sensitivity and support to increase overall traction on rough terrain. This LOK system can also be custom tuned, based on rider preferences.
New EV2S damper oil, the “Super Thinner”
The Aria is going to be the first shock using the brand-new EXT EV2S oil: we’ve called it the “Super-Thinner”, due to its very high viscosity index, and an unbelievable viscosity ratio. Developed for off-road/rally WRC programs, the EV2S oil is arguably the most stable damper oil ever manufactured! The EV2S oil’s anti-foaming properties and indisputable low stick-slip effect help to reduce friction in direction changes. As the temperature rises, the operating characteristics of the damper do not change, providing consistent damping performance during a rider’s longest run. The Aria, like all other EXT products, can be adapted to different bikes, letting the rider take their new favorite shock with them, bike after bike.
Here you can find all the available sizes for the shock:
METRIC STANDARD METRIC TRUNNION
210 / 50 mm 185 / 50 mm
210 / 52.5 mm 185 / 52.5 mm
210 / 55 mm 185 / 55 mm
230 / 57.5mm 205 / 57.5 mm
230 / 60 mm 205 / 60 mm
230 / 62.5 mm 205 / 62.5 mm
230 / 65 mm 205 / 65 mm
250 / 67.5 mm 225 / 67.5 mm
250 / 70 mm 225 / 70 mm
250 / 72.5 mm 225 / 72.5 mm
250 / 75 mm 225 / 75 mm
The teasing and refinement of this shock over the last few years only illudes to the fact that EXT is very proud of this new damper, and for good reason. This is a product that will sit as a crown jewel in the already very well-appointed EXT line up of dampers. Its wide range of air spring curve adjustability makes it a good option for both end users and OEM partners alike.