RockShox Base Camp 2010

RockShox recently invited the mountain biking press to Durango, CO for Base Camp 2010, where the suspension-maker unveiled their 2011 product line. Over the course of two action-packed days, I absorbed product information in classroom settings; rode selected 2011 product on the sweet Durango trails; and racked up hang time with the product managers, engineers and other "tech" types from RockShox. We covered a lot of ground, figuratively and literally, but I’ll do my best to share the highlights from my camp experience.

Hang time at BaseCamp.

Before I talk about the specific "new and improved" 2011 products that I had a chance to see and ride, I want to talk briefly about the engineering that goes on "behind the scenes" at a company like RockShox. Throughout the presentations, and in personal discussions with the RockShox engineers, it became apparent that a "continuous improvement" culture permeates RockShox. Unfortunately, small, incremental changes do not always produce the sexy, breakthrough advancements that make for titillating press. However, I’d like to recognize that continuous, incremental improvements often add up to a cumulative "whole" that is greater than the sum of the parts. Improve a seal here, decrease the friction there, shave few grams on various bits, increase the stiffness on key components—and you end up with noticeably improved performance. *Hops off soapbox.*

Without further ado, I’ll now fill you in on some key changes and product highlights for RockShox in model-year 2001. Generally speaking, 2011 RockShox products will start hitting showroom floors sometime in September of 2010, with some appearing sooner and some later. For model year 2011 RockShox rolls out a simplified naming convention for the models within a product line. The product line will forgo the heritage of “performance” oriented modifiers (Team, Race, SL), the “engine size” modifiers (454, 409, 335) of the all-mountain and freeride offerings, and the rear shock adjustment modifiers (2.1, 4.2, 5.1) and communicate a standard “feature” based identifying system. RockShox has left a few modifiers intact like “World Cup” which will always mean the "top flight" offering. The new naming system is based in the abbreviation of “features”. This new system is consistent across RockShox’s entire product range and is designed to help the end-user easily understand the product features.

RockShox model year 2011 product naming.

I rode the all-new 2011 Revelation World Cup fork with the new "Dual Position Air" spring that allows you to cut the travel down from 150mm to 120mm—with a twist of a knob on top of the left-side fork crown (will be available on all Revelation models in 2011). During my test ride, I took advantage of the reduced-travel setting during steep climbs (to keep the front end from wandering), and through some twisty-fast sections (to liven up the handling). With the Revelation on the front-end of my Cannondale RZ140 test bike, I had the confidence to rip through unfamiliar trails—whenever the dusty duff was too thick (I’m not used to that powdery, loose stuff, and it freaked me out to the point that I had a hard time letting the bike run through the loose stuff). Fortunately there were plenty of rocky, hardpacked trails to get a good feeling for the Revelation’s bump-eating performance, and it was, indeed, a good-feeling fork. Additional Revelation updates for 2011:

  • RL and RLT models upgraded to Dual Flow rebound damping.
  • Now with detents on the compression adjuster of RTL model.
  • Available in conventional QR and both 15mm and 20mm Maxle Lite.
  • New carbon fiber tapered crown/steerer on World Cup model.
  • New clear coated graphics and available SRAM X0 color matched decals.

2010 RockShox Revelation with Durango dust.

Features for 2011 Revelation models.

The 2011 SID platform will come in an all-new 120mm version with a redesigned chassis to support the increased travel. Tapered steerers will be offered in all models. Both the 100mm and 120mm SID will be available with in 15mm Maxle Lite versions. I test rode the 120mm SID RLT on a Cannondale RZ120 with a 2011 Monarch rear shock, and found myself dreaming of racing 100 milers and 24 hour events on just such a rig. After riding this lightweight 120mm fork with its stiff chassis and race-tuned feel, I figure that the longer-travel SID would be a great choice for longer-travel XC racers, or tail riders looking for a weight-shaving fork option.

2011 SID, 120mm version, with Durango dust.

I had a chance to ride the all-new 2011 "Reverb" adjustable seatpost with 125mm of hydraulic height adjustment, actuated by a push-button Xloc handlebar remote control. I started using an adjustable seatpost a few months before the RockShox camp, and have realized that lowering my seatopst and having my center of gravity lower offers control and cornering advantages under many circumstances, not limited to steep downhills. I felt no perceptible "side play" in the Reverb—it’s triple-keyed to keep it tight. The hydraulic remote has a "return speed" adjustment—to keep your saddle from smacking you in the butt. Slowing the return speed also stiffens up the "compression" of the post, which helps avoid "overshooting" your desired saddle position when lowering it. With the seatpost in the "compressed" position, I could lift my bike by the saddle, and the seatpost would stay compressed, for easy portaging (the other adjustable post I’d been using would slip upwards when portaging). Reverb msrp is $295.

RockShox Reverb adjustable seatpost.

Xloc remote control for Reverb seatpost.

RockShox Reverb specifications.

There are a few products that I did not have a chance to ride, but are worth mentioning. First, the Reba fork platform gets a new 140/130mm 29" model that comes in one flavor: tapered aluminum steerer and 20mm Maxle Lite. Big wheels, more travel, mmmmm.

RockShox Reba RLT Ti 29"

Features for 2011 Reba models. Click chart to enlarge.

Vivid Air is an all-new rear shock platform that shaves 400g from the Vivid coil, and has a spring curve that is virtually identical to the coil version. The shock features the Solo Air spring which fills both the positive and negative chambers through a single Schrader valve. RockShox’s new Hot Rod feature automatically adjusts the rebound circuit as the system heats up, to prevent the rebound force from fading on long downhills. The 58mm diameter air can is designed to fit as easily onto frames as the coil version. RockShox’s top athletes have been testing and developing this shock for the past two years, and I’m told that they all are sold on the Vivid Air for competition use.

RockShox Vivid Air R2C.

Click chart to enlarge.

Monarch Plus is a "brand new for 2011" all-mountain rear shock that builds upon the Monarch platform, sprinkles in a new Solo Air system, and sports a damper design similar to the Vivid Air. The piggyback reservoir incorporates Dual Flow rebound and compression damping circuits, which should raise the performance a notch.

Monarch Plus RC3.

That should give you a good idea of what RockShox has in store for the 2011 model year. If you have any comments or questions, please use the "Leave a Reply" form below, and I’ll do my best to come up with an answer.

As I mentioned above,  hang time—including a bonfire/party that Greg Herbold  (a.k.a. HB) hosted at his ranch—and riding was a big part of the Base Camp agenda. Check the photos/captions below for the rest of the story.
 

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