No one ever said “a fork is a fork.” Well, maybe they did but I doubt they were talking about suspension and in the case of the Rock Shox RS-1, this is unlike any other fork on the market today. Before I get ahead of myself here, I’ve struggled with how to address this review. Without sounding like a copy and paste of marketing jargon, it really is the best fork I’ve ridden, for my specific type of use: XC riding with a bit of rowdiness.
I’ve ridden my share of 29’rs and up until recently, I was sold that the Tallboy and Tallboy LTC had the market cornered as far as geometry is concerned. Now, let me say that I’m an enthusiastic reviewer and that can be a double edged sword at times. I’d also note that I don’t particularly like doing reviews, not because they’re not fun, but I couldn’t really care for technical adverbage.
That said, I can tell naunces in geometry and component groups quite well and when something’s good, it’s good. Also, believe me, when it’s bad, it’s bad.
Luckily for me – yay new review bike – I’ve been in absolute love with the new S-Works Stumpjumper FSR EVO 29 – which has been replaced by the standard FSR 29 – and who wouldn’t be? This is a 29’r fans dream bike. Once you strip away the plush, crispness of XX1, the tunability and stability of the Rock Shox PIKE and the Fox Float rear shock, you’re left with one crucial element: geometry…
In the world of custom hardtail mountain bikes, there exist a few key factors that determine shredability. The most important, at least in my opinion, being the head tube angle. Next, is the rear chainstay length and both of which, affect wheelbase and thus how flickable the bike is. I knew I wanted Seth Rosko to build it…
Follow the key measurements, or increments with a solid build kit and you’ve got a hardtail that can behave like a trail bike, under the right rider of course…
Oh man. Those Baum Extensas are so nice. Especially kitted out in XX1 and RockShox. See more of this Assos blue 27.5 shred sled at the Baum Flickr.
This video needs very little explanation, but here ya go!
“Troy Brosnan walked away from the last round of the UCI World Cup Downhill as the new Overall leader going into the recent month long break. He has spent that last month having nothing but fun on his bike. Exploring new terrain, challenging himself to new environments and conditions, pushing harder than ever…all in the sprit of fun. As Troy enters the next round of the World Cup this weekend in Mont Saint Anne, he will do so for the first time with all eyes on him – as the leader, not a follower. A leader who has been out having nothing but fun doing what he loves on two wheels. But fun can’t make you faster.”
I love long-term reviews. “Here, take this bike, travel with it and shred it for around six months, then send it right back to us.” Pretty ideal, huh? Especially when there’s a no-strings-attached policy. If you like it, do a review, or don’t, no big deal. Just get out and ride it. For The Radavist, that’s how I like to do product reviews: honestly and with no commitments. The problem is, you’ve got to be really stoked on a bike to want to ride it a bunch, and then photograph it / write about it.
Reviewing bikes is something I don’t often do, partially because I rarely get the chance to ride anything else besides my own bikes but mostly because so few companies contact me to review their bikes. One of the companies that has embraced what I’m doing over here is Santa Cruz and I can’t complain. Great company, great bikes and as I said before, no strings attached.
When Santa Cruz offered to send me out a Tallboy LTC with SRAM’s new – at the time – XX1 groupet back in December, I obliged! Who wouldn’t? I traveled with it, raced it a few times and rode the shit out of it for half a year.
While the world of the $8,000 – $10,000 MTB is certainly saturated at this point, I’ve ridden a few of them and yet I keep wanting to come back to the Tallboy and its unique riding characteristics. The best way I can describe the way this bike rides is solid. There’s no “plastic feel” to the frame, no annoying resonance when you hit technical sections and when the bike tells you to go in a particular direction, it’s usually on point… What often requires honing are your own skills and your confidence on that bike in particular.
Utah is a strange place, coming from someone that lives in Texas, but there are so many incredible places to shred there. During my recent trip to Moab, I opted for my Yashica T4 one afternoon, instead of my bulky 5Dmkiii. When I found out we were going to be riding singletrack all day on the RS-1 fork, I wanted to see how it felt without a backpack on, so I threw my point and shoot in a fanny pack and smashed onward.
We began in Grand Junction, ColoRADo and headed to Fruita for pizza at the Hot Tomato – from there, it was off to Utah and the SRAM Trail House.
Look, Moab is awesome. The trails are incredible and even super easy singletrack blew my mind. Oh and dinosaurs.
Tools of the trade:
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 stanchions 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/
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.
Yep. I thought this was going to be on the April Fools list for sure. Turns out, the Rock Shox Bluto is a fat bike suspension fork, slated for release in June. If you’re out at Sea Otter, Rock Shox has a whole fleet of these for you to try out.
Check out more below.
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.”
“Different dudes. Same agenda. At least sort of, anyway. Bring XC champ Russell Finsterwald and weekend-warrior champ Chris Dewar together to some posh digs in Palm Spring, California, and some stuff is going to happen. Late-morning shuttle or pre-dawn pedal, it doesn’t really matter—although the dawn-patrol, uphill, asphalt commute to the Idyllwild trails deserves a nod—when two like-minded mountain bikers come to check out some exciting new trails, limits are pushed and some dirt is sure to fly.”
Rock Shox’s new RS-1 is getting tons of love over at their video department.
See some photos from this video shoot below!
Photo by Adrian Marcoux
Here’s a feel good flick from Rock Shox, featuring that RS-1 inverted fork:
“They’re the future of XC mountain biking—in more ways than one. Kate Courtney and Russell Finsterwald are classic overachievers: She’s a NICA alumnus gone World Cup hopeful (and is a Stanford undergrad in her spare time), and he’s a former U23 National and Pan Am champ ready to compete in 2014 at the pinnacle of our sport. Stripped of team logos, and outside the boundaries of course-marking tape, however, both are simply mountain bikers with a passionate penchant for new trails and eye-opening adventures.”
Basically, this video makes me want to go ride some more desert.
In the world of high-end, performance mountain bikes, Santa Cruz wears a crown. Maybe not as a ruler of all, but most certainly the world of the 29’r. When the Tallboy was first released, it was widely praised as the first 29’r that actually exceeded expectations.
I’m not a jealous person, but I must say, Lyle’s Tallboy LTC is one balleur bicycle. With a component list like Chris King, SRAM XX1, Rock Shox 150mm Pike and even that stubby Thomson MTB stem, this bike has seen it all. Well, as far as the Trans-Provence, Swiss Alps, Chamonix and riding in Åre, Sweden for the whole summer shooting the Acre line is concerned. The dude and this bike are living the dream.
After quite a few emails, requesting detail shots of this bike, I took a few minutes to shoot some photos prior to our ride in Glarus… Check out more in the Gallery!