Dirt Rag Magazine

RockShox Reba 29

By Justin Steiner

Travel: 120mm, Internally Adjustable to 100mm and 80mm
Weight: 3.9 lbs.

Stanchion Diameter: 32mm

Steerer: Aluminum
Spring Type: Positive and Negative Air
Damping: Oil

External Adjustments: +/- Air Springs, Low Speed Compression and Rebound Damping, Flood Gate
Compression Lockout: Not full lockout, but very firm low speed compression.
Disc mount: 74mm Post
Price: $701
Country of Origin: Taiwan
Website: www.sram.com

With the 2004 introduction of the Reba, RockShox helped to legitimize the 29er movement by offering a relatively affordable, mass-produced 29″ suspension fork. For 2009 RockShox has given the entire Reba family a makeover, including a 20mm thru-axle option for 29″ wheels.

This 2nd generation Reba is essentially an entirely new fork. Chassis highlights include a re-engineered hollow crown, and re-designed magnesium lowers with post-style disc brake mounts. The “Power Bulges” of the new lower add stiffness to the bushing interface by adding material only where needed to support the bushings, maximizing stiffness while minimizing weight. Three models of both the 26″ and 29″ forks will be available: SL, Race, and Team models. The high-end Team models are available with a traditional QR, or RockShox’s Maxle Lite 20mm thru-axle (50g lighter than the regular Maxle) for both wheel sizes. The new Reba has an offset of 46mm, up from 38mm on the old fork, which will shorten trail (~0.84%, assuming all other factors stay the same) and correspondingly quicken steering just a touch.

As for internals, Race and SL models use an updated Motion Control damper, while Team models receive the new Black Box Motion Control (BBMC) damper. This new two-stage rebound and compression damper has separate circuits for high and low speed compression damping, as well as separate circuits for beginning and end of stroke rebound damping. RockShox’s Dual Air system (positive and negative air spring) has additionally been revised to reduce internal friction, and provide a more linear spring rate.

While I’m spouting technical mumbo jumbo, I’ll also state that all of the Reba family of forks can now be run in 80mm, 100mm, and 120mm travel modes. The fork must be disassembled and spacers added, or subtracted, in order to adjust travel—easy work for anyone with suspension experience. Complete service instructions can be found at SRAM.com. My Team 29er test fork, with Maxle Lite 20mm thru-axle, was delivered in the 120mm travel setting.

Right off the bat, this fork felt fantastic, with no discernible stiction. Simply set your positive and negative air pressures based on the air pressure chart on the fork, and dial in your rebound and compression damping to taste. I quickly settled on two clicks, of 20, from full fast for beginning stroke rebound, and two clicks, of seven, from full open on the low-speed compression damping. End stroke rebound damping and high-speed compression damping are set at the factory and are non-adjustable.

Stiffness of the Maxle Lite version of this fork is pretty incredible, for sure. Just point and shoot, didn’t much matter what I was hitting. Lateral stiffness and twisting are the strong suit, as I could get just a touch of fore-aft flex under extremely hard braking.

Being a 1st generation Reba owner, I can say the 2nd generation Reba is a huge step forward in terms of the quality of the suspension action. This Reba has a much plusher, far more bottomless feeling than the old fork, thanks in large part to the more linear air spring. Dare I say, this fork feels eerily Fox-like in terms of the bottomless quality of the suspension. By separating the high- and low-speed compression damping circuits on the BBMC damper, RockShox was able to vastly improve both the small bump performance, and the large hit capabilities of the new Reba.

The original Reba was a solid fork, and the new Team model by far eclipses its performance in every way, though the performance gains of the SL and Race models remain to be tested. Heavier riders and hucksters will definitely want the 20mm thru-axle version. Prices for the new Rebas range from $475 to $741, with my 29er Team fork with Maxle Lite coming in at $701. Made in Taiwan.

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