Words by John Watson / Riding photos by Adrian Marcoux
It’s safe to say that Rock Shox was going for a bit of a throwback with the new RS-1 inverted fork. Other companies have tried the inverted platform, to no great success, yet motorcycles have widely adopted the design. In mountain biking, just about every new leap comes from motos, so why has the inverted fork not taken off? There have been a few reasons, the most glaring being stiffness. There’s no bridge, like there is on a traditional suspension fork. No bridge means the fork lacks lateral stability. That’s a big problem, especially when cornering.
Rock Shox’s new RS-1 fixes that problem with a concept they call Predictive Steering. Marketing jargon? It may seem like it, but Rock Shox is onto something, albeit with a bit of a sacrifice. In brief: the RS-1 requires a proprietary hub, which uses a new 15mm Maxle skewer. Why? Because this hub has a massive 27mm axle that slides into the hub body, essentially, or reportedly solving that lateral stiffness issue.
So, is this marketing voodoo magic, or does is actually solve the problem?
While in Moab, I got to spend a few hours on the RS-1 and I have to say, the feel of the fork was incredible, once I dialed it in. Initially, I started at 120psi, then went all the way down to 80psi before felt like it should. Another nifty by-product of the design is that the seals are always lubed, since it’s inverted, keeping it nice and smooth.
The most noticeable difference I felt was cornering. The 32mm tubes felt more than stable when tucking into rocky corners. If you did take a big hit, there’s a nifty little bottom-out bumper to soften the blow and protect the fork’s internals. Another feature is how well the fork locks out. The mandatory remote switch will add yet another doo-dad to your bars, but it’s worth it.
So, this RS-1 must be made from angel farts and unicorn horn or something, right? Well, there are a few qualms: the technology is reliant on a new hub, that means you’ll lace a new wheel. And at the moment, Rock Shox isn’t opening the hub platform to other manufacturers, which means your rasta PAUL, purple King or pink Industry Nine won’t have a matching front – This opens a can of worms when it comes to professional racers who need to be riding their sponsor’s wheels… Maviiiiic
Then, what about those exposed stanchions? Well, just be sure you’re mindful of your lines. If you do clip a rock, or a rock “clips you”, like all Rock Shox products, they are serviceable. I didn’t run into any issues during the ride in Moab, and it’s probably safe to say you wouldn’t either on your home trails. Just don’t wreck in that rock garden, bro.
Overall, I liked the fork – I like the look, I like the concept and I like the execution. People complain that it’s a couple grams heavier than the other XC racing fork, but I don’t really care about weight. For me, the feel is most important and the RS-1 feels damn good.
I don’t want to bore you with technical jaw flapping, there’s plenty of it over at Rock Shox, I just wanted to say that I’m eager to try out this fork on my home turf…
The RS-1 will be available in 29′r only options later on in June for $1,865 with 80, 100, and 120-millimeter travel options. It comes in red and black with a final weight of 1666g… \m/
Moab was the spring product locale of choice for this year’s new product lineup across the MTB realm. Here’s Borealis‘ new Echo hardtail fat bike, using the new Rock Shox Bluto Fork.
Paul Sadoff is a character. His personality has a patina. One that’s formed over years of racing pedigree and loud music. The name of his company was derived by the B-52′s billboard hit but before Paul would name his brand Rock Lobster, he had to have built a MTB first. “I couldn’t call it Rock Lobster if I didn’t have a MTB” Paul said when asked about the origins of his namesake… Then he built a MTB and the world changed for the frame builder.
The logo was even derived from MTB riding. Those blocks holding the letters represent rubble falling down the trail as you’re riding…
His frames have always been some of my favorite in the industry. These no-nonsense bikes are straight-forward, tig-welded masterpieces. Yes, utilitarian art – I’m standing by that phrase. Paul builds each frame in an industrial building within the Santa Cruz city limits. His own space is literally littered with cycling memorabilia from the past twenty years (even longer?) and is a gold mine of interestingness.
From track to TT, each of Sadoff’s frames bear some uniqueness and have a story to tell. Even the various crash-replacements…
While I was in town for the Giro #SantaCruzEffect, our group of 10 journalists swung through Rock Lobster to see Paul and his space. It was probably one of the most rushed Shop Visits I’ve done to date, but I managed to gain some understanding as to how Paul works and what makes Rock Lobster tick… Check out a narrated Gallery for more!
ENVE has developed the M-Series rims. Made in the USA, with a profile to fit any rider’s style. See more at ENVE.
Well, this morning we saw the Rock Shox Bluto fat bike suspension fork, with its tapered steerer and ample clearance. Problem is, a lot of the available fat bikes have traditional 1 1/8″ steerers. Although, over the past year, a lot of the fat bike offerings have converted to tapered steerers but the Salsa Bucksaw is the first to be designed around the Bluto. To add to the radness, they’ve added a rear shock too. That makes it the first full suspension – using Salsa’s Split Pivot™ system – fat bike in production.
Available in the fall of 2014, the Bucksaw 1 will be $4,999 and Bucksaw 2 will be $3,999, and both will come with the RockShox Bluto fork.
See more at Salsa and make sure you read the Developing Buchsaw post!
Wait. Huh…? Why on earth would you need to do that? Head over to Chris King to find out.
Ace from the Sleepers took some of Ty’s footage from his Mojave Road trip and made a quick video. While GoPro footage is typically boring, this is actually a really great watch.
Out of all the new tech we got to ride in Moab at SRAM’s Trail House, the RS-1 was my favorite. Later this week I’ll go into a more in-depth review, but for now, check out this press-release on this innovative suspension system:
“When it came time to best our XC platform, it meant reevaluating every element that defines the most winning XC fork in world cup history. A ruthless approach to material optimization, an ultra efficient energy saving lockout and quite possibly the world’s lightest air spring – all designed to enable riders to find their next line.
The outcome was something unexpected. A fork that ushers in a new-generation philosophy to XC rider efficiency, packaged in a chassis design never before seen by RockShox. RS-1 harnesses 25 years of creativity, refinement, and the courage to tackle the biggest engineering challenge of mountain bike suspension to date: the inverted chassis.”
If you’ve seen the newest issue of Bike Mag, then maybe you noticed the large-format poster featuring the above artwork by Chris McNally – which you can coincidentally pick up at Yonder Journal in a nice, flat poster for your wall. But what exactly is it? Who are these strange men and what are those bigfoots (bigfeet?) doing with those rocks?
Last summer, Yonder Journal got the hair-brained idea to follow mule tracks from the Mythical State of Jefferson to the coast on packed-out mountain bikes and using the new Acre Hauser packs.
When excerpts from a ride report begin with:
“It was decided early on that Daniel would be the first one we would eat. He is a fleshy nutrient-packed individual with a penchant for sweets and he was, by being the organizer and de facto Captain of this expedition, the reason why we were all here. So it only made sense that if the fate of our group lead to cannibalism, he would be the first to go. We had come to Northern California to attempt bikepacking.
More specifically we had come to ride to the sea. All of us had backpacked before and all of us were cyclists, but how the integration of the two would work was based on assumption. Most of us could only think about it, like we were trying to imagine orange when our experience had been strictly limited to yellow and red. Fortunately Daniel had selected a group of people who, for this adventure at least, were able to rein in a modicum of our typical hubris, to the point that important questions were deferred to the couple of group members who had prior bikepacking experience.” -Kyle von Hoetzendorff
Then you know it’s gonna be good. See the whole (it’s a big one) MSOJ MTB shit-show (MSOJMTBSS) at Yonder Journal and check out some sample photos below!
Winning best finish at NAHBS seemed to be a shoe-in for Indy Fab at this year’s NAHBS. Especially when PPG gave them access to their newest color: Sun Kissed Orange. I posted the most obscure photo, because you’ve really gotta go over to IF’s Blog to see the photos NotStock Photography took in the woods outside their New Hampshire shop!