Posted on February 09 2021
Specialized's Brain shock
The Specialized Brain shock came to market in the early 2000's (approx 2002), and was revolutionary. It featured an 'inertia valve' that effectively allowed the shock to be active over rough terrain, yet diverts to a neutral 'lock' feeling over smooth terrain. The Inertia valve consisted of a spring backed brass weight, that closes off the valve, subsequently blocking oil flow and preventing small vibrations from activating the shock. On the flipside, when a hard bump is received, the valve unseats and opens, allowing the shock to operate 'open' and freely. More modern versions of the Brain system have incorporated further adjustability that would allow the rider to tune in or out the desired degree of 'bump threshold', effectively allowing the user to control how big of a hit is required to 'open' the shock's valving.
The result? An incredibly efficient ride that really suits the demands of XC riders around the globe, whether that be for chasing victory on race tracks, or for efficient all-day pedalling back country.
Fast forward almost 20 years to now, the Brain technology has evolved, but has not been 'revolutionised' in it's latest version. The basis on the concept remains, the execution has become far more aesthetically pleasing, better integration and improved serviceability... Sort of.
The servicing of the Brain systems is a little more involved, but in concept - It's the same as many other platforms from Fox and Cannondale for example. We service any of the brain rear shock systems that show the Fox logo. Over the years, there have been a few different models creeping into the line up, some of which are either no longer supported, or only supported by Specialized directly (AFR 2007-2009, and 2018+ Epic with Rockshox Brain shock).
Here's a little timeline of the Brain:
- 2002 - Brain is introduced into Specialized range, in collaboration with Fox - Serviceable by Cyclinic
- 2002-2008 - Brain, Brain Fade, Brain R (Various versions, made by Fox) - Serviceable by Cyclinic
- 2009 - Brain with remote reservoir via hose (Fox) is introduced on several Epic and Stumpjumper models. - Serviceable by Cyclinic
- 2007-2009 - Specialized introduces AFR Brain on higher specced models - NOT Serviceable by Cyclinic
- 2010-2017 - Brain with remote reservoir via hose (Fox) is re-introduced and specced on all several models. - Serviceable by Cyclinic
- 2018-2021 - Brain with remote reservoir via hose (Rockshox) - NOT Serviceable* by Cyclinic.
*Must be sent to Specialized for service. See below for the upgrade option.
Not interested in servicing? Here's a guide on upgrade suitability:
- 2002-2008 - Models that featured the Brain shock within the rear triangle on the non-drive side, are NOT upgradable in any way. If the shock is a Fox shock, then service is the best option for long term use and reliability.
- 2007-2015 - Models that feature the brain shock with standard bolt-through eyelets at either end can likely be upgraded with a new shock (Rockshox Monarch, Fox Float DPS or even the FOX Float DPX2 in some cases such as 2009 Stumpjumper with AFR brain shock). For some models this may require a Bikeyoke, a custom built DPS strut mount, or an off the shelf option. Contact us with specifics about your Specialized model and we can provide options to suit.
- 2015-2017 - Models with the Fox Micro Brain with mini strut mount eyelet at rear, cannot be upgraded.
- 2018+ Models with the Rockshox Brain, can have the brain removed and upgraded with a custom built 190mm Fox DPS (SV Eyelet) shock. Note, a new Yolk (Bikeyolk EP02) is required for this conversion. Pics below.