Some products just look the dogs bollocks. The EXT Arma HBC is certainly one of them. Designed and made in Vicenza, Italy by a company that are experts in automotive suspension; making shocks for everything from F1 cars, snowmobiles to rally cars and everything else rowdy in between. The Arma HBC is EXT’s dedicated DH shock, they also offer the “Storia” for Enduro duties.
In the box you are provided with the shock complete with a “Super Alloy Racing” spring and a 25lb lighter spring for wet conditions. The spring is “a new high tension spring material” with a comparable weight to a Titanium spring.
Attention to detail is second to none, both in the machining/build quality but also in the level of information they require to make the shock custom to the riders needs. EXT ask for rider weight, height , bike make/model, wheel size and whether you ride with flats or clips. All of this information is taken into account when creating your shock tune. Most importantly , they create the shock tune custom to your bikes suspension design and leverage ratio.
Adjustments – The Arma features high and low speed compression in addition to rebound and “external Hydraulic Bottom-out Control” , hence the “HBC”.
The technology used in the Arma HBC is unlike anything available on the market and it borrows from EXT’s extensive knowledge gained from F1. Inside, the shock runs an extremely low pressure nitrogen chamber that backs up the damping fluid, supposedly creating an extremely sensitive and supple action with very little force required to get the shock moving.
The use of 7075 aluminium and titanium makes for a visual beauty a shock; industrial yet perfectly refined.
Weight wise the Arma HBC is on the light side, 690gr with coil for 241/76 mm. For comparison, the air sprung Fox Float X2 is 515g and a Fox DHX2 is 784g with spring and a Ohlins TTX22/Cane Creek DB weigh over 900g with spring.
Dave Garland at Stendec are the UK distributors for servicing, advice and backup. The Arma HBC is €725+VAT (approx £750) with two springs. So you are paying a hundred quid more for the EXT than most competitors but this isn’t some mass produced Taiwanese job, and the level of input EXT offer with their shock tuning and extra spring does add value for money. We are looking forward to seeing how this custom Italian gem translates to real life gains in performance on track.