By Vernon Felton
SRAM, RockShox and Avid have been trickling out news of their new offerings for weeks now. The return of Pike? We covered it here. The new Roam and Rail wheels? Yup, we did that new wheel story too. SRAM, however, did show off a few new pieces of gear at Sea Otter. Here's a quick recap of the highlights.
XLOC-FULL SPRINT—DUAL HYDRAULIC LOCKOUT
Suspension "lock-outs" are the kind of thing you think are over-hyped until you find one on your handlebars and you suddenly wind up using them all the time. It's a Kevin Costner/Field of Dreams kind of phenomenon: if you put a lock out within fingers' reach, riders will use it.
Last year Fox debuted their handlebar-mounted CTD remote and while it looks clumsy, anyone who has one on their bike can attest to the fact that it works well (we have an online review in the works). This year, RockShox brings their own version to market. The XLoc Full Sprint enables riders to simultaneously lock out their front and rear suspension with just the push of a button. At this point, the dual hydraulic lockout is restricted to pairings with the SID and Revelation XX forks and RockShox's Monarch XX rear shock.
SID AND REVELATION GET TWEAKED
RockShox covers a lot of ground with its SID and Revelation models. The SID is geared to the XC crowd with its 80 to 120-millimeter travel range and the Revelation picks up where SID leaves off, thanks to its 120 to 150 millimeters of travel. Both forks are available in configurations that will fit every wheel size (26, 650b and 29er).
This year, SID and Revelation both get a noteworthy tweak that, according to RockShox, should improve their ability to smooth out the trail. Both fork lines get the "Dig Valve"; an addition to the damping circuit on both SID and Revelation. The revised damping circuit should improve both the fork's high and low-speed compression damping. On shorter travel forks, like the SID, riders should be able to ride a bit higher in the travel than on past iterations.
While they were at it, RockShox redesigned the rebound piston as well, which allowed them to also incorporate their Rapid Recovery tune in both the new SIDs and Revelations. According to RockShox, Rapid Recovery allows the fork to recover more quickly between consecutive bumps for better traction and control.
We'll see. I never thought that either of those two RockShox forks packed up on consecutive hits (assuming, of course, that you didn't dial in the rebound damping too aggressively). Time and testing will tell…
MONARCH GETS BETTER ON THE SMALL BUMPS
If there has ever been a product from RockShox that we have not historically been over the moon about, it’s probably the company’s line of Monarch shocks. Monarchs ride nice and high, but rarely feel as smooth over small bumps as Fox’s Float shocks (the exception to the rule being the company’s larger-volume Monarch Plus units, which just tend to kick arse across the board).
Well, it looks like RockShox is taking steps to improve the Monarch’s small-bump compliance. To that end, they’ve reconfigured the volume of the negative air chamber. That bulging bit at the bottom of the air can? That’s what we’re talking about here. .
On top of that, Monarch RT3, XX, RL, RT and R now feature a high-volume eyelet option called HV-i. It allows for a higher volume, less progressive shock without the bulk or weight of the Monarch Plus’ full High Volume air can. According to RockShox, “HV-i couples perfectly with bikes that need a little less progression, but don't need the full High Volume air can system.”
RockShox is also touting “new and improved” seals on their Monarch shocks. Anything that keeps your air shock out of the shop and out on the trail is a good thing in our book.
Seb Kemp did a fine job of fleshing the Pike story out in full, but here’s a quick recap….
When Fox debuted the 34 a few years back, it highlighted a gaping hole in their competitors' fork line-ups. RockShox, for example, had the burly Lyrik and the much lighter Revelation, but the company needed something that cut the difference between the two and that's where the Pike fits in. The Pike features larger stanchions (as well as a stouter crown and lowers) than the Revelation, which was undergunned at the 150-millimeter travel setting when it came to particularly technical trails.
Weighing in at just a hair more than four pounds, the Pike should be popular with riders looking to add a bit of brawn to their bike's front end without also adding much in the way of weight. Since all-mountain bikes now come shod in every conceivable wheel size, the Pike is also available 29er, 650b and 26er-compatible versions.