RockShox recently hosted media from around the world in Durango, Colorado, to get the low-down on their 2011 forks, shocks and highly anticipated adjustable seatpost. Highlights from the few days spent in Durango, include: the new Vivid downhill and Monarch Plus all-mountain air shocks, the SID fork which gets bumped up to 120-millimeters of travel and receives a thru-axle, a World Cup-level and adjustable travel Revelation fork, running changes to the Boxxer downhill slider, the Reverb adjustable seatpost, plus the addition of what is bound to be RockShox’s most popular fork yet?the Sektor.
THE NEW SHOCKS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
RockShox had their entire shock line on display; however, the majority of the buzz surrounded two models, the Vivid Air and the Monarch Plus.
Vivid Air: RockShox set out to create a “true” air-sprung downhill shock, and to accomplish their goal they built an air spring around their popular Vivid coil shock damper. The Vivid Air ($630) will be available in two versions, the R2C (beginning and ending stroke rebound, and low-speed compression) and the R2 (beginning and ending stroke rebound only), and despite the optical illusion of the larger diameter air can, RockShox says the outer diameter of the Vivid Air is the same as their Vivid coil shock with the largest spring they offer. Therefore, the Vivid Air is expected to fit practically ever frame design on the market, and to help achieve fitment on the most models, eight different air valve positioning options will available.
The Vivid Air prototypes. The current version is on the top, while an early Dual Air spring version on the bottom. Photo: Cleek
How much weight savings does the Vivid Air save over a Vivid coil shock? Holding the Vivid Air feels about the same as just holding a steel coil spring. By going to the Vivid Air, you’ll shave about a half pound on simply the shock alone.
RockShox says the Vivid Air has a very linear feel, but uses slightly less shaft travel to absorb the same amount of energy, leaving you with more available wheel travel. The air spring artificially raises your spring rate as you ride faster. The shock might feel too soft in parking lot, but at speed it feels like a properly setup spring. Photo: Cleek.
Did you know about a year ago Santa Cruz Syndicate rider Greg Minnaar qualified for the South African World Cup downhill on a prototype Vivid Air shock? Despite an air downhill shock being on RockShox’s radar as product they wanted to produce for many years, there was no single “magic bullet” that allowed them to be able to now produce a shock they felt could handle the torture of a World-Cup-style terrain. Rather, it was a culmination of new technologies and refinements on the Twin Tube Solo Air spring, the Hot Rod thermal compensating needle and also r the Monarch trail bike shock’s new air chamber negative spring bypass to help the shock feel supple off the top end of the stroke.
The Hot Rod is a thermoplastic resin core designed to keep the air temperature consistent throughout several runs at the bike park.
Monarch Plus RC3: RockShox has had their Monarch cross-country shock on the market for a few years now. The evolution of aggressive, all-mountain trail riding has pushed conventional air shocks beyond their capabilities. RockShox fused the weight of their Monarch air shock with the new Solo Air spring system found on the Vivid Air, to create a package lightweight enough for climbing but has the damping capabilities to handle long descents. The new piggyback reservoir allows for more IFP volume and additional valving and heat dissipation.
The Monarch RC3 has three low-speed damping positions, and rebound adjustment, and will be available in tuning options for practically every suspension design out there. Decals on the shock body will explain how the shock is valved for each design (L=low, M=medium, and H=high leverage ratios).
Like the Monarch, the Monarch Plus will also be available in a large diameter volume air can, which also allows savvy rides desiring more or less air volume to customize their ride by adding or removing tuning bands. (Although it sounds complicated, it’s actually rather simple.)
REVERB ADJUSTABLE SEATPOST: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
There’s not been a more widely accepted new product in mountain biking in the last 5 years than the adjustable seatpost. From four-inch-travel machines, to seven-inch long-travel rigs, adjustable seatposts have found a home on bike for every mountain biker.
The RockShox Reverb ($295) is designed to be a reliable and efficient adjustable seatpost that lets you get the saddle out of your way quickly and maintain control. Being able to drop the seatpost for aggressive cornering and descending, isn’t only more fun, it’s safer. RockShox was not the first to make an adjustable seatpost, but they wanted to address the faults of the other models on the market. Riders familiar with many of the current options are privy to the reliability issues found in those designs.
The alloy Reverb has four inches of adjustment, and is operated by a combination air spring and hydraulic Xloc mechanism.
The Reverb is available in a remote version only, and a saddle return speed adjustment is found on the handlebar. The Reverb will be sold in 30.9-and-31.7-millimeter diameters, and two lengths, 380 and 420 millimeters. A custom sealing system is designed to maintain the seatpost’s smooth and consistent feel. RockShox says the Reverb weighs 1.13 pounds with the system fully bled, and will be available in September.
NEW AND IMPROVED FORKS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Although every fork in RockShox’s line was on display in Durango, our test rides focused on their premium single-crown forks, like the SID, Revelation, Reba and Lyrik.
Revelation World Cup: For the first time, the popular RockShox Revelation will see a World Cup model ($922), like the SID and Boxxer forks, and include numerous new features. For example, a carbon fiber steerer tube, that is only available in tapered (1 1/8-inch-to-1 «-inch) versions, and is said to shave about 3.6 ounces. The Revelation WC gets what RockShox is calling the Dual Position Air travel adjust system. Basically, by flipping a switch you can go from 150 millimeters (5.9 inches) of travel to about 120 millimeters (4.7 inches). The Revelation will see a lighter and stiffer 20-millimter Maxle Lite, and also now be available in the popular 15-millimeter option. To save even more weight (.8 ounces), the Revelation World Cup features a new gray finish borrowed from aerospace industry called Keronite, which is then clear coated for a finished look.
Sektor: The Sektor is a new trailbike fork emerging from the Revelation family. The Mr. Potato head of mountain bike forks, the Sektor can be built up with numerous damper, spring and axle options. The Sektor ($365) has 32-millimeter stanchions, U-Turn adjustable travel up to 5.9 inches, is available with 1 1/8-inch aluminum, 1 1/8-inch steel, 1.5-inch aluminum and tapered aluminum steerer tube options. We expect to see this fork on several mid-level trailbikes in the coming months.
Reba 29: SRAM’s number one selling product, the Reba cross-country/trailbike fork, is now available in a 130/140-millimeter (5.1 and 5.5 inches) 29er version, and features the new Maxle Lite. The Reba is synonymous with versatility, and is now available in XX-Motion Control, BlackBox Motion Control, Air U-Turn adjustable and a five-inch-travel 29er model.
The 4.7-inch-travel SID with the Maxle Lite thru-axle. Photo: Cleek
SID: A cross-country staple, and RockShox premiere cross-country racing fork, the SID (starting at $633) now is bumped up to 120 millimeters of travel (4.7) inches, and with two chassis options depending on fork travel. The SID features new Power Bulge placement in the fork lowers for better busing durability, and the hollow bottom leg design uses less oil to save weight. Like the Revelation, a Keronite version is available, and is now available in both 20-millimeter and 15-millimeter Maxle Lite thru-axles.
Boxxer World Cup: The Boxxer is the winningest downhill fork on the market, and last year’s 2010 version created a buzz in the fact it was the fork’s first major redesign in years. In addition to novelty, additional buzzing among riders was about the fork’s reliability, temperamental air spring and inconsistent damping. The 2011 Boxxer isn’t so much of a complete redesign as it is a culmination of running changes, many of which were tested by the BlackBox racers late last World Cup season. RockShox has addressed the air spring issues with an all-new Solo Air spring that features a self-regulating negative spring. RockShox gives the Boxxer World Cup ($1700) an updated Maxle Lite thru-axle, and also shifted the air spring assembly lower in the fork to prevent it from being damaged by over tightening the fork crowns on the stanchions.
The new Solo Air spring inside the Boxxer World Cup. When the fork is at full extension an air valve is compressed allowing air to transfer between chambers.
The Boxxer World Cup’s new compression adjuster, DropStop and air spring valve.
Riding a Santa Cruz Nomad on some sweet trails in Durango, Colorado, May 2010. Using the RockShox Lyrik fork and Vivid Air shock. It was dusty, so I kept a good distance and not just record a dust cloud the whole way down the trail.
By Ryan Cleek