Building & Tuning Axial Icon Shocks

By AR on May 01, 2018


In the world of RC racing, driver’s won’t hesitate to pull their suspension and shocks apart to rebuild or tune them in order to achieve better performance. But in the trail truck and rock racer segment, many think, you just add some oil to the shocks and go. This is far from the truth. Just like any RC vehicle that you want to perform better, shock building and tuning is a crucial part in having a great handling machine. Lucily in the Axial array of option parts, there is an available shock upgrade that will give you all the tuning options you need to get your Axial rig dialed in to the specific terrain you run on. Let’s go over your options, how to build the shock and tuning suggestions.

Axial Icon Shocks

Icon 7mm and 10mm Piston Shock Options

Icon 87-125mm Aluminum Shock Set – 10mm Piston (2pcs)
Fits: SMT-10, RR10 Bomber, 1/10 Yeti, Wraith

Icon 72-103mm Aluminum Shock Set – 10mm Piston (2pcs)
Fits: SMT10, RR10 Bomber, 1/10 Yeti SCORE, Wraith

Icon 67-90mm Aluminum Shock Set – 10mm Piston (2pcs)
Fits: RR10 Bomber, 1/10 Yeti & Yeti SCORE

Icon 93-137mm Aluminum Shock Damper Set – 10mm Piston (2pcs)
Fits: SMT10, RR10 Bomber, 1/10 Yeti & Yeti SCORE

Icon 61-90mm Aluminum Shock Set – 7mm piston (2pcs)
Fits: SCX10 & SCX10 II

SHOCK SETS INCLUDE: All parts necessary to build two complete shocks; Shock bodies, caps, spring collars, ball ends, pearches, o-rings, bladders, pistons, machined pistons, bushings, pivot balls, washers, nuts, shock shafts and limiting spacers.

Icon Shock bags

Building A Better Shock

Assembling a shock properly is critical to achieving maximum performance. For tips to build the Icon shocks, we enlisted the help of Axial component guru John Schultz. John has discovered a number of tips to building the perfect shock and we’re passing them on to you:

1. Seat the bladder in the cap. Place the bladder inside of the cap and screw the body in place before building the shock. This will ensure it’s in the perfect position later during shock assembly.
2. Install the spring collar. Place a small drop of oil on the outer shock body threads before installing the shock collar. This will allow the collar to move easier later for spring preload adjustments.
3. Grease the shock o-rings with a o-ring specific grease to ensure they work smoothly when the shock is assembled.
4. Place the o-ring on the cartridge. Make sure the o-rings are seated flat on the cartridge before installation to ensure proper seating and reduce the chances of leaking.
5. Install your selected piston on the shock shaft and tighten the nut down until it’s tight, but you can still turn the piston on the shaft. You don’t want to overtighten the piston nut to where it can crush and warp the piston.
6. Before slipping the shock shaft in the body/ cartridge, place a drop of oil on the end of the shaft to allow it to slip through the o-rings without catching or possibly tearing them.
7.When screwing the shock end on the shock shaft, hold the shock shaft securely by placing needle nose pliers on the shafts flat spot or use a specific shock shaft plier to secure the shafts.
8. Now you can fill the shock with oil. Fill it about ¾ full and cycle the shock shaft to allow any trapped air to escape. Wait for the bubbles to pop before moving on.
9. Fill the shock body up with oil so it is level with the top of the body and then push the shock shaft up so it is about 90% of the way in. The piston nut should be just below the oil. Now you can screw on your shock cap with bladder already installed. Tighten the cap firmly.
10. Wipe off any excess oils.
11. Check your shock movement. The shock should compress easily and the full length of the shaft should go into the body. Once you release the shaft it should “rebound” or push out on its own slightly. If the shock shaft does not go all the way in, you may have “hydraulic lock” and you will need to bleed some oil out of the body
12. Slip your spring onto the shock followed by the perch. Pull the shock shaft all the way out and screw the spring collar down so it just touches the spring. This is a good starting point for future tuning adjustment.
13. Finally check your lengths. Using a Caliper, make sure your shock lengths are the same at full extension. If they are not the same, loosen or tighten the lower ball end on the shock shaft of one shock until the lengths of both shocks match. It’s also a good idea to make certain the spring pre-load collars are in the same position. Measure from the bottom of the shock cap to the top of the collar to make sure they are even.

Icon SHock Pair

Starting Set-Up Tips
-Across the board in the RC world, whether you’re running a 1/10 basher truck to a ⅛ off-road buggy, it is often recommended to start with a 2-hole piston and 30wt shock oil. This is also a great set-up for your initial Icon shock set-up. From here you can determine if you need a shock oil weight change, a piston change or even a spring change.
-The Icon shocks come with a number of pistons which allows you to tune the shocks to the handling capability you need. For most, the included machined pistons are the best option. These precision pistons work smooth and only require oil changes for tuning.
Molded pistons are included as well. The A piston is a 2 hole piston with 1.3mm hole for soft damping, the B piston is a 1.2mm 3 hole for firm damping and the C is a 1.1mm 3-hole for firm damping. The hole size and number of holes changes the feel of the shock.
-Now to give you even more tuning options, a molded variable rate piston is included as well. This piston can be installed in either direction but depending on how you install it changes the way the shock reacts. The variable piston in one direction will have faster rebound with slower compression and vice versa when flipped.
-Choosing the piston and oil set-up; this isn’t a simple topic. It all depends on the surface you are running on. So we’ll break it down as basic as possible to give you a starting point. Let’s say you are running on a surface with a lot of jumps. You probably want a shock with more “pack,” a slower compression feel so when the vehicle lands the shocks absorb the impact and the chassis doesn’t slap the ground. This may mean you would want to try a 2-hole machined piston with 35wt oil or a C-piston with 30wt oil or a variable piston in the slow compression setting with 30wt oil. Another scenario is rough bumpy terrain. Here you may want a softer set-up or less pack to allow the shock to react quicker. Here you might want to try the 2-hole machine piston with 25wt oil or the A-piston with 30wt oil or the variable piston with 30wt oil in the faster compression setting.
-Oils change the feel of the way the shock reacts, keep in mind that a lower weight oil will allow the piston to move through it faster while a heavier weight oil will slow the piston down.
-Springs! Springs are included with the Icon shocks and there is a full range of optional springs available at different spring rates. In general, stiffer springs make your rig respond quicker and reduce chassis roll, but will not work well on bumpy terrain. Stiffer is better on smooth or high traction surfaces. Softer springs are better on slippery surfaces or bumpy terrain.

Icon shocks

Hit the off-road
Now that your shocks are properly built and installed, it is time to take your rig out for testing. Take your rig to the area you will run on the most and work on your set-up for that type of terrain. Transitioning to other types of terrain should be a bit easier once you find a base-line set-up. Watch your vehicle as you go over rough terrain. Is the rig landing and hitting the chassis hard? Is the chassis rolling too much? Is it too slow to rebound? Start you changes small, don’t make drastic changes to the shocks. If it’s too slow to rebound, start by switching to a slightly lighter weight oil. Go from a 30wt oil to a 27 ½wt oil. Is the rig rolling too much in the corners, perhaps go with a firmer spring. Again, the best place for a starting set-up with the Icon shocks is the 2-hole machined piston, a 30wt oil and the stock springs. From there, it’s up to you for testing and tuning.

Keep In Mind
The ability to tune your shocks will result in you being able to dial your rig into your specific terrain and driving style. Keep in mind that shocks during their life can take a lot of abuse and the shocks used in rock racing or trail truck driving are among the most abused shocks in the industry. This can even lead to the shock leaking after extended use. When you install your shocks, allow them to move freely on their mounts; don’t pinch them! The excess movement will give them the wiggle room they need to do their job while taking less abuse. More abuse leads to more wear which leads to leaks. But in any case, the Icon shocks are among the best options available to obtain a better handling rig.


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