Its carbon fiber crown and tapered steerer make RockShox's latest Revelation XX World Cup one of the lightest options available in the versatile and highly competitive trail fork market. Our sample weighs just 1,610g (3.55lb), plus 70g for the 15mm through-axle, but there's been no sacrifice in chassis stiffness as a result.
In fact, our in-house torsional stiffness tests confirm on-trail rider accounts that it's one of the most rigid 130-150mm forks currently available – and noticeably more solid than Fox's equivalent 32mm chassis. As a result, test riders were able to hold a more tightly controlled line through rock gardens, netted more consistent outcomes after tricky landings, and noted a more predictable feel overall than some spindlier competition.
The giant carbon crown and steerer of course deserve credit, but refinements to the rest of the chassis merit attention too, including the reinforced upper and lower bushing areas on the cast magnesium lowers, the heavily bolstered dropout areas with near-circumferential contact with the expanding wedge-type axle, the stoutly squared-off arch that generously wraps with each lower leg, and the minimally exposed 32mm-diameter straight-walled aluminum upper legs.
Despite some initial resistance, RockShox have succumbed to the public embracing of the 15mm through-axle design pioneered by Fox and Shimano and, if only to ease compatibility issues with the growing collection of hubs and wheels, we're glad they have. The Maxle Lite skewer on our Revelation test fork is easy to use and improves on the original with truly one-handed operation and a set-and-forget indexed tension adjuster. Exercise care not to overtighten the thing, however, as the thin aluminum edges that the lever braces against when screwing and unscrewing can crack if mishandled.
Overall chassis strength is good despite the composite construction – something unfortunately discovered first-hand very early on in testing after a surprise two-meter nosedive/faceplant off of a much-bigger-than-anticipated log drop in Ashland, Oregon. Aside from a nicely cracked helmet, bike and (thankfully) body emerged unscathed and later inspections proved no damage to the front end. More than nine months and countless hours of riding later, our test fork is still going strong, though it's required one or two oil bath services in our unusually dry and dusty test environment to maintain its buttery feel.
Highly tunable guts but you'll need to invest the time to extract the best performance
Housed in the left leg is RockShox's familiar Dual Air spring system with opposing air chambers that allow an extraordinarily wide tuning range. A higher pressure differential (as in lots more positive than negative air) yields a distinctly firm feel off the top that more cross-country oriented riders might prefer while setting the two chambers closer to equal – or even slightly more negative than positive air – produces a far more supple ride. It still doesn't quite match the ultra-lively ride of a coil (and is maybe just a slight tick behind the best air-sprung systems with coil negative springs) but it's not far behind and the composed and overall well-planted demeanor lends lots of confidence on rougher ground.
Unlike the set-and-forget nature of those other spring systems, be prepared to spend some time on the trail tweaking those air settings. While Dual Air offers a wide tuning range, it does require a good amount of experimentation before you get things exactly where you want them. "Dual [Air] is the most adjustable air spring system in mountain bikes," says RockShox product manager Jeremiah Boobar. "One thing you don’t hear us talk about is putting the negative pressure above the positive pressure. On a Revelation you can put more negative than positive pressure and get the fork to feel extra plush. We don’t talk about this much because it’s a really hard story to tell."
"The pressure differentials created by different surface areas in both the positive and negative chambers are such that you can have the negative be slightly above the positive without pulling the fork into its travel," he continued. "The challenge here is that the amount of negative pressure above the positive is different depending on the positive pressure. Basically you can’t say, “go 10psi your positive”, because at lower pressures you would lose travel. On my personal bike I run about 5psi more negative than positive."
Even so, we still found the spring rate to ramp up a little too aggressively, making it tough – though not impossible – to eke out the last few millimeters of travel even when pressures were set significantly lower than recommended (we eventually settled on a full 20psi below the printed guidelines and a +5psi pressure differential in the negative chamber) to get our desired level of sag.
BlackBox vs XX Motion Control – choose your weapon carefully
Tucked within the other leg is one of the most highly anticipated features of RockShox's new 'XX' fork variants: the slick XLoc hydraulic remote lockout. This neatly integrates into compatible Avid brake levers and uses oil instead of a conventional steel cable and housing to operate the valve inside the compression assembly.
The plunger is smooth to operate and lies naturally within thumb's reach (be sure to get the correct left or right variant for your preferences), while the integrated nature makes for an ultra-clean appearance. Side benefits include lighter weight than RockShox's PushLoc configuration and fully sealed protection from dirt and water contamination – something we've definitely noticed to affect some remote-equipped RockShox forks in our long-term fleet.
We're not quite as keen on the damper itself, though. Rebound is especially well sorted even after hard landings and overall control is very good in most situations but the fork struggles a bit to keep up during more rigorous beatings. RockShox say the hydraulic design necessitated some internal simplification to the compression side – namely the use of a single-channel damping circuit instead of the dual-channel one in the RLT Ti – confirming our feeling that the XX damper just isn't as lively on the trail as our preferred BlackBox Motion Control assembly.
"The XX damper was designed for cross-country racing," says Boobar. "Making the lightest fork we can with the world’s first hydraulic lockout actuation, we chose to make the damper as simple and elegant as possible while maintaining great performance for the racer. To pull this off we couldn't put in all the same valving that the BlackBox Motion Control has.
"The BBMC is our most refined damper in terms of damping performance for our cross-country/trail forks; XX is our lightest and most efficient. It isn’t that one is better than the other; they're for different users. Trail riders don’t feel the need to have lockout at the push of a button over having a great working damper. The user group for an XX Revelation is pretty small – really it’s people who are racing on a Revelation."
Thankfully, the units are easily swappable (you don't even need to play with the oil if you're careful) but it's not a cheap retrofit. If you need a remote but still want the best overall performance in a trail fork, we'd suggest sticking with the standard World Cup with the mechanical PushLoc unit. Otherwise, the standard RockShox Revelation World Cup with manual lockout is the lightest option available, with its carbon fiber knob, and while still very expensive, it's just a bit cheaper at US$967.