Perfect roads don’t exist – at least not for very long. Unless you consider gravel to be perfect! Even then, there are rough roads ahead! As cyclists, we know this better than anyone. We have an acute awareness of each crack and every small rock because we feel each crack and every small rock. Vibrating up through the bike to the rider, rough roads take a toll on you. Specialized developed the Future Shock to help soften bumps in the road and to keep your front wheel firmly planted on the ground. This lightweight suspension system placed above the head tube absorbs vibrations and impact, making you more efficient – because Smoother Is Faster.
Future Shock delivers 20mm of travel without degrading the speed, handling, or comfort of a bicycle. In fact, it does quite the opposite! Through a focus on axial compliance, it breaks the mold of what bikes could ever be!
For many riders, the concept of “smoother” is synonymous with “comfort” and written off as being detrimental to performance. You can have a fast bike but that bike has to be stiff to get all of the performance you need. This is just not true! And Specialized proves this with the Future Shock. Quite the opposite, Specialized has proved through testing and racing that “smoother” is indeed “Faster”!
Fatigue is an obvious factor in speed and performance. If you are comfortable, you will be faster. This is true on the pavement and in the gravel; if the conditions that you are riding in are traveling through the bike and to your body, you will get beat up and your performance will deteriorate. If you don’t feel these vibrations and impacts, you will stay fresher for longer!
Smoother also means that your wheels are always in contact with the ground. If your wheel is constantly bouncing around, you don’t have full control over your bike. If the bike is able to move up and down under the rider it can stay in contact with the ground instead of constantly fighting the ground for control. This compliance results in a more stable and confident ride!
When it comes to compliance, there are two different ways to achieve the goal – Splay movement or Axial Compliance.
Splay is the fore and aft movement of the front axle, relative to the frame. When a suspension component is placed below the frame, as traditional suspension fork systems are designed, as the wheel encounters an obstacle it compresses towards the frame to soften the impact. As the wheel goes through this path of movement, the wheelbase of the bike lengthens and shortens while the bike is moving forward. This movement causes a loss of forward momentum and it causes you to have to work harder to maintain your forward motion. These changes and loss of force are minuscule but, over time, they add up!
When the suspension component is placed above the frame, it delivers vertical compliance, allowing the rider to move up and down in a straight line without having any impact on the wheelbase of the bike. By suspending the rider and not the bike, the bike can stay in contact with the ground while the rider “bounces” through the suspension travel, resulting in a smooth ride while maintaining forward momentum.
Specialized spent many hours testing both systems. They found each suspension system worked for the specific conditions that it was designed for. For mountain biking, splay works great! It’s comfortable, it can absorb more and bigger impacts, and the change in wheelbase isn’t as impactful because the bike is being ridden in widely varying conditions. However, for road and gravel riding, the vertical compliance delivered from Axial systems was off the charts in relation to performance and comfort. Riders were able to move these bikes forward with less resistance while still being in full control and staying comfortable over the long haul.
Using Axial Compliance for road-style bikes is just as important to the handling of the bike as it is to the comfort and performance. Because the suspension is above the frame, the front wheel is almost pushed down toward the ground, keeping it in firm contact. And, because the wheelbase doesn’t change, the bike will handle more stability and predictably.
There are two different types of Future Shock found on certain Specialized models – Booster Spring and Hydraulic.
Future Shock 1.5 uses mechanical springs to suspend the rider. The main Future Shock spring is located inside the cylinder and a booster spring is used to support the rider. These booster springs can be swapped out to fit the rider’s preferences. These come in light, medium, and firm and change how much pressure it takes to compress the spring. Contrary to what you may think, choosing which booster spring to use has nothing to do with the rider’s body weight. The determining factor to consider while deciding which firmness to use is the riding conditions. If you are riding on smooth surfaces, you will be best served by the lightest booster spring. If you are riding on rougher surfaces then you will want a higher level of firmness.
Future Shock 2.0 features a hydraulically damped circuit that uses a single circuit damper that simultaneously controls both compression and rebound.
Future Shock 2.0 also features a compression knob that allows riders to easily adjust how much or little compression the shock provides, making it more or less difficult to activate the shock.