Benefits of titanium coil spring?

Hi Lee,
I have a couple of questions about titanium springs for your rear shock. How much weight savings do they provide over a steel spring? and do they feel “plusher?” also, If i have a 500 lb steel spring and i wanted to get a ti spring, would i need to get a 500 lb ti spring? or do ti springs require a heavier or lighter “lb”. than steel?

Thanks, Matt

Hey Matt,

Great question.

If you’re looking to upgrade from a steel spring to a titanium spring, these are your potential benefits:

Lighter weight
Titanium springs are definitely lighter than steel springs of the same length and stroke. The bigger the spring, the more weight you’ll save.

According to the sweet chart on’s Nuke Proof Shockwave Titanium Spring page:

– Ti springs are 29 to 46 percent lighter than comparable steel springs.

– That translates into weight savings of 126 to 345 grams, which is 4.5 to 12 ounces.

– The smallest savings is on a 2.25×550 spring. The biggest savings is on a 3×500 spring (to take 3/4 pound off your DH frame is a pretty big deal).

– With ti springs running about $300, that’s a dollar per gram rate of $67 to $25.

If your bike already has light wheels and other components — and you have money to spend — I suppose this is a good place to save weight. And: A ti spring is one of the few weight savers that doesn’t compromise durability.

Longer life
Given enough cycles, a steel spring will get tired and take a set (remain partly compressed). You must dial in your preload collar to compensate. The spring’s stroke is reduced by the amount of added preload. Given enough fatigue, a steel spring will become unusable. This reminds me of my 1978 Chevy Nova.

Ti springs supposedly last much longer.

I have no idea whether anyone rides one DH bike enough to experience coil spring fatigue.

Better feel
According to ti advocates, ti springs deliver a better ride for two reasons:

1) Ti springs are lighter than steel springs. You’re essentially reducing the unsprung weight of the bike, which should theoretically make your suspension more responsive.

2) Titanium is about twice “springy” as steel (RCS). In theory, a ti spring should respond more quickly to bumps. People say ti springs feel “livelier,” and they deliver better traction and control. That sounds good but:

I wonder how much of that feeling is psychological. You pay $300 for an upgrade, you love it. Call it the Porsche effect. No 911 driver sort of likes his car.

By the time you factor in tire compound, tire casing, tire pressure, inner tube, tubeless sealant, rim, spokes, axle, swing arms, bearings, links, more bearings, pedal platform, compression damping, rebound damping, bottom bracket spindle, cranks, pedals, shoe soles, stiff joints, tired muscles, work stress, family stress, self doubt, sand, dirt, gravel, rocks, roots, logs, etc. how much can a typical rider feel that the ti spring’s mass and elastic modulus are only about half that of steel?

I dunno. I’d have to run a blind test to make a solid judgment. That would be fun. Maybe when I get my new Demo 8 built up!

Wondering: Since ti is springier than steel, would a ti spring require more damping than a steel spring? That might explain that lively ride.

About spring rate
A 500-pound spring is a 500-pound spring, no matter what it’s made of. When you buy that sweet new ti coil, get the same spring rate as your yucky old steel coil.

What I think
– If you’ve been hunting grams, and the last survivors are hiding in your steel coil, ti is a good way to eradicate them.

– If you ride so much DH that your steel springs are fatiguing, ti will last longer. But remember you can buy five steel springs for the price of that upgrade. If you have this problem, you’re probably not buying your bike parts.

– From a ride feel standpoint, can you actually feel titanium’s reduced inertia and elastic modulus? Unless you’re super pro, I doubt it.

I would love to test this theory, but I have to think:

1. The ride benefits of a ti spring are much more subtle than the benefits of properly tuned suspension. If you’re throwing down on ti, and your spring rates and damping aren’t dialed, you’re being foolish. Tune first. Ti later.

2. All this is a total waste if you lack the fitness and skills to control your bike.

3. If a ti spring gets you extra stoked and gives you the confidence to rip, then get one.

Psychology is just as important as equipment, skills and fitness. Call it the Porsche effect. People love driving those things.

— Lee

Know more. Have more fun!

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