Push Industries is a team of mountain bike nerds who love to tinker, engineer and make some of the best mountain bike suspension available. The best part is their high-end products are available to all of us consumers, and not ridden only by the pros. While they do make their own very nice custom-tuned rear shock called the 11.6 Coil, most of their products are made to be used with existing suspension products like the Push ACS3 coil conversion that we are looking at here. One of my favorite reasons why Push Industries rocks is all of their products are made in their Colorado facility. I love supporting USA made goods that are as good or better than an overseas product.
If you are not familiar with the Push ACS3 coil conversion, it is a conversion kit to change your current Rockshox or Fox fork into a coil smashing suspension fork. Yes, coil forks. And no, we are not going back in time. Practically all new suspension product releases all contain the phrase “coil like feeling”, but it’s air. This is because the suppleness and small bump compliance of coil suspension is almost always better than air when set up properly. One of the downsides of coil suspension has always been the linear compression, meaning that there is no ramp up, and often leads to lots of bottom out with no end stroke support. Push has managed to get the best of both with their Air Bump Stop cartridge, which is an air bump stop that starts to make contact 65% into the travel. The idea is to have coil beginning and mid-stroke with a natural air ramp up in the last 35% of travel, and let’s just say this idea works well!
The ACS3 coil kit is available for the Rockshox Pike, RockShox Lyrik, and Fox 36. The ACS3 coil kit replaces the entire airside internals of your fork and converts it to a coil. There are three main pieces of the kit. Depending on where you buy, sometimes the conversion kit is sold separately from the coil. The conversion kit is made up of what replaces the air shaft, which will determine the desired travel of the fork. Our test fork is a Rockshox Pike fitted with a 150mm travel shaft. This will sit at the bottom of the CSU. Next, you have the Air Bump Stop cartridge. This will thread into the top of your CSU and take the place of your air cap and bottomless tokens. Last is the coil, which is offered in seven different spring rates, and on our 150mm travel Pike, those spring rates support riders from 115 lbs to 240lbs. Needless to say, this covers a very large range of riders.
Installation is straightforward. Push even has great videos for each model fork on their site to aid with installation. Follow your manufacturer's instructions to remove the lowers, then switch to Push instructions for installation of the conversion kit. If you have ever swapped in an air shaft on a fork, then you have all the experience to install the Push ACS3 kit. We also used the Push dust wiper seals and foam rings, as they suggest to use them. The result is a very plush, amazing feeling fork that is ready for the trail.
**Note: Once the conversion kit has been ridden on trail, you are no longer able to go back to air. This is caused by the coil making contact with the inner stanchions creating small dimples that will not hold air the same as the smooth stanchions once did.
For a long time, I only rode air suspension. I came from an XC mountain bike racing background and always had short travel air suspension equipped bikes. I'm not going to lie, once I rode coil I fell in love and realized what all the hype is about. While there aren’t very many coil forks to try on the market currently, I have had two other coil forks to try before I rode the Push ACS3. I liked the feeling of the other coil forks, however, I love the combination of the Push ACS3 coil plushness combined with the air ramp. It really is the best of both worlds.
Setup is quite easy as I went with the slighter higher spring rate and found my initial sag at about 27%, very common for my riding style. I decided to try the fork with a start of 15 PSI in the air bump stop and quickly realized that was not enough ramp up. I continued to go up in 10 PSI increments until I stopped at 45 PSI. This gave me the end stoke support I wanted so that I wouldn’t bottom out unless there was a big hit.
Immediately noticeable is the small bump compliance and how supple the beginning of the stroke is. It’s matched by no other fork I can think of and is a very comfortable ride. I was pretty much sold after my first run down the trails. The coil suspension gives me the traction I desire up front and really does a great job at smoothing out the trail. When you come into fast chunk, the fork does a great job staying consistent and predictable with multiple compressions. Once you get that big hit and the air bump stop has a chance to really do its job, you start to feel the ramp up. If you’re coming from an air fork, this will be a familiar feeling, but nonetheless is crucial to not bottom out too quickly. At 65% the air bump starts to engage, but similar to an air fork, it starts off easy and continually ramps up taking more and more force to compress. The updated rubber tip on the bump stop has made it so you don't feel the bump stop engage the lower shaft, meaning you don’t feel the transition of the coil supporting the fork to the combination of coil and air supporting it.
One thing I would say is the conversion kit really made my front end feel like it had more travel than 150mm. It gave me the impression that my 150mm Pike feels more like a 170mm Lyrik since it was so supple yet had a perfect amount of ramp up.
If you are a light rider you might really enjoy how the coil spring rides, as it does a great job of creating traction where it might not have been before. As I am a lighter rider at 150lbs, I often find suspension set up hard to get both small bump compliance and end stroke ramp. This leads to low pressures and volume reducers with a balance of high-speed compression. With the ACS3 kit, I found I got all of my preferences covered without much setup and tinkering. I would go as far to say this is the best fork I have felt. With the Rockshox Charger 2 damper and the ACS3 kit, it really is a high performing fork that gives you the best of new technology. You get amazing traction with a very smooth feel.
As a drop in product, the Push ACS3 does an amazing job converting your current air fork into a coil fork with air style ramp up. Able to be used in the Rockshox Pike, Lyrik and Fox 36, you now have the ability to ride a high-end coil fork that gives you the best of both worlds. At $389 for the ACS3 kit, it's not cheap, but if you want high-end performance, it's a small price to pay when looking to get every bit out of your current Pike, Lyrik or 36. With seven different spring weights to fit a wide range of riders and all the parts being manufactured in Colorado, USA, the only negative we could think of is the inability to revert back to air. That being said, I highly doubt you would want to. After riding the ACS3 kit in my Pike, I am completely sold and will have a hard time to not buying one of these kits for all my forks.