SRAM test sessions

Getting to test brand new kit is one of the most exciting things about working on a mountain bike magazine- so when the weather was blisteringly hot yesterday and we headed over Afan Forest Park for a SRAM session, there were grins all round. Hungry for new product? Take a bite of this lot…

New for 2009 are the Rockshox SID, Reba and Revelation, as well as the swanky new Avid Elixir brakes.  We didn’t get to ride the SID on this opportunity, but we have one in the post as I write this, so I’ll start with the Reba…

Essentially, the lightweight Reba is the fork that really put Rockshox back on the map again for the mass market- and it’s certainly been one of our favourites over the last couple of years.. For 2009 it’s been souped up with a stiffer lower and two-travel options- 100 and 120mm of travel. There are also options of the Maxle Lite system or regular QR dropouts. 

The Maxle Lite is still a 20mm system, and the unit itself is compatible with other 20mm Maxle forks such as the Pike, but it’s substantially lighter. And if you’re being finicky about things, then we’ll even argue that the action is quicker than a regular ‘quick’ release anyway.

Maxle lite: looks the same as maxle, except lighter...
Maxle lite: looks the same as maxle, except lighter...

Internally, the Reba forks feature new Motion control damping- and the Team model gets an upgraded Blackbox damping unit with a titanium spring tube. Like the far bigger brothers ‘Lyrik’ and ‘Totem’, the Reba now utilize the power bulges in the lower leg to stiffen up the fork.

The Reba also comes with an improved Dual Air spring, Post mounts, a trick Carbon compression knob, and on models featuring the Push-loc handlebar lock-out system, a new Nip-tuck system to tuck the cable end away, avoiding annoying frayed cables that too many of us are familiar with.

Initial impressions are very good- the Dual Air feels very good- and is very adjustable- and the increased travel on the 120mm version could be a perfect trail fork for the UK, especially when clamped up with the Maxle Lite system.

Most that rode the fork mentioned how much stiffer and more positive it felt- but you’ll have to wait for a more extensive review once we prise a few pairs out of SRAM

A lovely view over the valley..: no riders even in sight. wicked.
A lovely view over the valley..: no riders even in sight. wicked.

Before now, the Revelation had 120mm travel and was a great fork, but with the influx of 140mm travel bikes, the time came to upgrade it to 140mm and beef it up a little. Note that the Pike is still available and also features 140mm of travel, but the Pike is a different fork- it’s for hardcore riding. When first released, the Pike was misunderstood, but it’s survived the test of time as one of Rockshox’ most popular forks.

The Revelation however is still a lightweight ‘Trail’ fork and comes in various options to suit different types of rider- there are Dual Air versions, U-Turn versions and of course options with regular QR dropouts, or the new Maxle Lite system.

I rode the 426 Air U-turn QR- which is their top model that sits along side the 20mm version. Weighing in at 4.05lbs, it features Dual Air, Motion Control, external Rebound and low speed Compression adjustments via the Floodgate system. Unlike the Reba, the Revelation uses international standard disc mounts.

The simple u-turn lever: twist and go
The simple u-turn lever: twist and go

In use, I found the feel very similar to the burlier Pike, which at first took some getting used to seeing as I was riding Elmar’s Sunn Kern frame, which encouraged me to ride at idiot speed both up and down. It took me a while to get the Rebound just right- at first the fork felt so light that when pinging out of turns the front wheel would get air-born. With too-much, it felt dead so I backed off to where I first started and continued.

I guess I was expecting it to feel more like a Pike- which it isn’t supposed to, but once I’d got it in my head I found the fork performed remarkably. It made me ride as fast as a bigger fork would allow- so it wasn’t the fork feeling odd, it was the fact that you can ride it so fast you’ll be out the depth of what the bike you’re riding can take!

Warning- if you want to ride trails blisteringly fast, then this is the fork you need. But you must tame it- otherwise you’ll be riding faster than you and your lightweight bike can deal with! It’s that good, and I am all over it- my name is down for a pair of the 20mm versions already!!

Finally, the other thing SRAM were showing off was the brand spanking new Elixir brake. With the Code and the Juicy covering the two ends of the market, people have been wanting a halfway house that allows them immense braking power, but light weight and sleek looks.

So here it is…

Lever overview: tidy?
Lever overview: tidy?
Remember the name- it will be everywhere: behold- here lies power.
Remember the name- it will be everywhere: behold- here lies power.

From the caliper up you can see the differences from the Juicy and Code callipers. With bigger bore pistons, more pressure is applied to the pads giving a mechanical advantage over the smaller pistons of the Juicy. The Caliper itself is very minimal and light- unlike the Code, but uses simiar technology by bolting the two parts together, which offers a better feel compared to one piece callipers that can flex. Also, the brake pads are top loading now, which creates a huge open space in the top of the calliper, which allows plenty of ventilation to keep the pads cool.

Easy pad access: and plenty of venting
Easy pad access: and plenty of venting

The lever too is completely redesigned and now uses a bore to push the fluid to the pistons, and an internal bladder that squashes allowing for lever modulation and more power. The Lever feel still has that sharp feel that Avid are know for, but the power gets noticeably more powerful the harder you pull the lever. Although we need to spend substantial time on them to see how they perform in the long term- a couple of laps of White’s Level where you only dab the brakes isn’t enough to see the brake’s full potential.

SRAM getting the kit ready to rock: you should see the goodies they have in the back of that van...
SRAM getting the kit ready to rock: you should see the goodies they have in the back of that van...

The lever itself has a tool free lever reach, and the blade has that same comfy feel of the juicy. A twin bolt clamp is used, and is compatible with SRAM’s Matchmaker system that can mount SRAM shifters directly to the brake levers.  Disc sizes range from 165 to 203mm.

Well, we’ve already been nagging SRAM to get production versions of these products in for review ASAP- so keep an eye out in MBUK soon for more gossip. But my money is already on the Revelation as being one of the best trail forks for next season…

Over and out. Doddy.

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