RockShox’s new Sektor RL Dual Position Coil offers an active – i.e super-fun – ride with an added bonus feature: the ability to drop the fork’s travel by 30mm for climbing. It provides a pretty darn high fun-to-dollar ratio, in a package that'll take a severe beating on the trail and can be easily rebuilt, and it only shows its mid-level price when the terrain gets burly.
What you pay for in weight compared to an air-sprung fork – our Sektor weighed 1,925g (4.24lb) with a 205mm steerer and star nut, plus the 15mm Maxle Lite axle adds 72g more – you receive a healthy return on, both in terms of value and the sensitivity of the fork’s stroke. (An air version is also available, if you really can't put up with the extra grams.)
The Sektor offers a super-active, very supple beginning stroke that ramps up nicely at the end so that it almost never bottoms out harshly. On most trails its suspension performance kept up with the $7,000 Turner we had it bolted to for a portion of our testing, despite its mid-range price.
The Dual Position Coil system is made up of two springs. The larger, seemingly firmer, lower spring remains active at all times but flick the switch at the top of the left leg and compress the fork, and the upper, seemingly softer, spring compresses and locks out.
The result is 30mm less travel, and a correspondingly lower ride height, which makes a huge difference on tip-of-the-saddle climbs, along with a firmer spring rate that also seems to benefit climbing performance, by firming the fork without need to employ the Motion Control lockout.
Even when not using the travel adjustment, this combination of two different springs seems to benefit the ride of the fork, giving a soft feel off the top and a slightly more progressive feel throughout the rest of the stroke.
So, it's all good?
We love this spring setup, to the point where we’re pushing RockShox to put it in a Lyrik chassis for us. Just imagine: superbly plush coil feel, travel adjustment, a meaty chassis and an RC2 DH damper. Now, that would be an amazing fork... Which brings us to some of our qualms regarding the Sektor.
Firstly, the spring begs for more sophisticated damping, specifically on the rebound side. We found we had to run slightly less rebound damping than we'd have liked in order to keep the fork from packing up after repeated hits, especially when those hits came deep in the travel. In contrast, the Dual Flow rebound found on RockShox's pricier Revelation and Lyrik allows for a slower feel but higher flow in the deep stroke, which keeps the forks from packing up.
We were fairly content with the Motion Control compression damper, though we did run it half-closed for most terrain, which seemed to give the fork more support in the mid-stroke on high-speed hits and helped with dive on nose-heavy landings.
We ran the Motion Control damper adjustment half-closed for most of our riding
Secondly, the 150mm travel figure gives you the confidence to take this fork pretty deep into some burly terrain, where the chassis stiffness – or rather, lack thereof – becomes apparent. When charging through rocks that require full travel, the Sektor at times seemed excessively soft and vague when compared to higher-end 32mm or 36mm stanchioned forks.
While we tested the fork with a straight 1.125in alloy steerer, a tapered version is available at no extra cost. RockShox say this offers 20 percent greater bending (fore-aft) stiffness and five percent percent greater torsional (twisting) stiffness, so if your bike will take a tapered fork, that’s the one to go for. There’s a 20mm axle option to add further stiffness, if you’ve got a compatible wheelset.
Not only does the coil spring massively benefit the ride feel of Sektor, it also massively benefits the price, as wound steel is a lot cheaper to produce than air springs with their high-tolerance seals. It should also prove more durable, never needing more than a bit of grease, and should be easier and cheaper to service, which gives added peace of mind.
Our Sektor sample wept oil on the damper side
Our fork wept oil during our two months of testing, mainly from the right leg, but RockShox say this is normal (the left leg houses the spring so oil is only needed for lubrication and is able to flow freely, while the right leg houses the damping so it needs a greater volume of oil, which is forced upwards under compression). The weeping didn’t degrade performance; if anything, it helped break the fork in and make it even more supple.
RockShox product manager Fritz Hoff tells us: "My trick when I ride with DPC is to move the adjuster back to the long-travel position as soon as I’ve activated short travel – that way, anytime the trail points down all I need to do is compress the fork for long travel. I don’t have to reach for the knob and turn it first."