SRAM held their annual product launch at the Sea Otter Classic last week, where we had a sneak peak at fork and rear shock updates from RockShox, as well as their new Avid disc brakes.
But there’s nothing that beats riding the new equipment on offer, which is why our sister publication Mountain Biking UK magazine’s technical writer Ian Collins and features editor Andrew Dodd spent a day riding the new kit at the world-renowned Afan Argoed mountain bike trails in Wales. Here’s what they had to say:
RockShox Revelation Team
We’ve been riding the current Revelation 426 Dual Air U-turn for an age now, and have come to rate it among the very best if not the best 140mm forks available. For 2010, the Revelation has been beefed up a bit, and has a new lower, upper crown and internal valving.
The most significant change is the new Blackbox Damper as seen on the top notch Reba fork, and it really does make a difference when out on the trail – the compression is very predictable and allows the fork to track fantastically. The new brace and lower leg design is a little more mud friendly than before, and promises added torsional rigidity.
The Revelation Team has a new Blackbox Damper
The modified crown, along with the relevant extra sag for the longer travel, means the fork is only about 4mm longer in use than its 140mm travel predecessor, keeping the front end low and the handling unaffected.
The excellent Maxle Lite makes an appearance on this model, but other versions including 9mm quick-release will also be available, along with an air U-turn model which sticks with the 110-140mm option. The new 150mm travel fork is internally adjustable from 120-150mm.
The final difference is the dual flow rebound damping, which puts this fork in a different league for its sensitivity on both small and large hits.
RockShox Revelation Race
The base model Race fork shares the same chassis as the Team – a modified profile crown, beefier brace with better tyre clearance and PowerBulge at the lower bushes. All of this improves the torsional rigidity of the fork, which is needed as the travel has crept up from 140mm to 150mm.
Like on the Team fork, the modified crown, along with the relevant extra sag for the longer travel, means the fork is only about 4mm longer in use than its 140mm travel predecessor; keeping the front end low and the handling unaffected.
The Revelation range has been improved
Internals, although updated for 2010, keep the same functionality of the hugely tuneable Dual Air spring. The external rebound damping adjuster tunes both low and high speed damping in both beginning and end stroke with one simple knob.
The Revelation Races on Ian's Cannondale
Out on the trail the fork doesn’t feel hugely different to the 2009 Revelation 426 Dual Air we have been using for some time now. And that is a good thing.
Despite the extra length and travel of the fork, tracking is still just as precise and the action is just as natural and superbly controlled as ever. So often we get great products that are watered down with their evolution, but with the Revelation, that is definitely not the case.
RockShox Dual Air shock
The RockShox Dual Air spring on their forks is a favourite of ours, and it made perfect sense to use it in a rear shock. With positive and negative air cans being independently adjustable the shock is massively tuneable for all rider weights, riding styles and frame designs. The shock also runs the switchable and adjustable Floodgate platform, for added pedalling efficiency.
From the first spy shots, we knew this Dual Air Shock was going to be a great product
We ran the shock over two rides with a couple of tunes as a direct swap for the very capable Fox RP2 shock we’ve have been running. Setting the bike up with the independently adjustable positive and negative air cans allowed us to tune in maximum small bump sensitivity, to the point that the shock really did feel like a coil shock. As the pressure was increased in both chambers that small bump sensitivity was retained, but the ramp-up of the shock could be tuned too.
The Dual Air shock on Ian's Cannondale Rize – he reckons it feels just like a coil
Out on the dry and dusty Welsh trails it was immediately noticeable that rear wheel traction was superbly controlled, with that super plush initial travel, yet the shock only hit full travel when we asked far too much of it, and even then there was no noticeable bottom-out.
Torben Borowy from SRAM did a great job of setting up the shock, but we felt it was slightly over damped on low speed compression hits.
The SRAM technicians at work on Doddy's Turner
He re-shimmed the shock for the second ride to alleviate this and the shock was a lot more active. This was particularly noticeable when climbing in the saddle. That said, with the Floodgate activated, this didn’t detract from pedalling efficiency, it just allowed the bike to carry speed better through seated, rough climbs.
As the shock is still in development it unfortunately had to be un-bolted and snaffled back into the SRAM van. Thankfully as soon as production spec is finalised we’ll be getting one of these on long-term test. Can’t wait!
Elixir CR Mag brakes
We've been using the Elixir CR Mags for some time now – they have some great features
The Elixir CR Mags get a new bar clamp design which is smooth and simple looking, and to save weight this particular brake has reduced features, but retains the pad contact point adjustment.
Power is great – the same punchy feel with a lot of modulation, although we barely used the brakes at the Afan trails, so it’s probably not the best test for what is potentially a very good brake.