The Vivid Air shock is one of RockShox’ flagship products, and it shows that they were capable of pushing technology forward before many others had decided that lightweight air shocks were even usable for serious downhill.
The top-of-the-line Vivid Air R2C shock has a five-click compression adjustment, as well as beginning- and end-stroke rebound adjustments. Our 9.5x3in sample weighed 590g, which is a fair chunk lighter than the coil shocks that are generally found on downhill rigs these days.
Once it’s bolted onto the bike, it doesn’t take long to get the shock set up. The air-spring is adjusted through a valve on the side of the air can. You’ll need a RockShox pump or similar though, because pumps with thicker valve heads foul against the air can.
Once we’d set the correct pressure, the first thing we noticed was that the shock felt linear, with a noticeable progression from around 70 to 75 percent of the stroke, similar to most recent coil-sprung shocks. The adjustments cover a usable range and are easy to dial in, simple enough for even the least technically minded riders.
On the track, the Vivid Air feels remarkably like riding a coil shock. It’s incredibly plush and free of any friction or stiction at the beginning of the stroke, and the air spring feels the most coil-like of any we’ve tested.
The shock’s damping does a top job too. Compressions of any size were dealt with in a very controlled manner with no nasty traits or quirks. Just a solid, controlled feel with a huge amount of support, only using the travel it needs to and keeping you well in control.
Even riding long alpine descents when the shock was almost too hot to touch, the damping remained consistent – a characteristic that has eluded many air shocks in the past on such demanding terrain. This consistency in damping, overall control and significant drop in weight over a coil unit really is what makes the Vivid Air shine for us.