The 2018 RockShox Lyrik is no bad fork. Bikeradar’s sister title, MBUK, recently tested it against 14 other forks from 14 other brands, and it found it to be among the very best. But in other tests, I found the Lyrik couldn’t match the performance offered by Fox’s 36 FIT4.
As if to answer this, RockShox has made a few updates to the Lyrik for model-year 2019 (the '2019' Lyrik will be available from April 2018). As well as the obvious lick of paint, an updated air spring is claimed to significantly reduce friction for the benefit of sensitivity.
By hollowing out the spring shaft, the new DebonAir spring boasts 42 percent more negative spring volume than the old.
This is intended to more smoothly ease the fork into its travel, softening the beginning stroke, while building support gradually through the mid-stroke rather than ramping up suddenly towards the end. In other words, it should feel more like a coil fork.
There’s a new RC2 damper option offering both low-speed and high-speed compression adjustment, but no lockout or pedal modes. The high-speed adjuster has just five positions, where according to RockShox, the middle setting offers a similar feel to the existing RCT3 Charger 2 damper, which will still be offered.
There are also two fork offset options per wheel size to choose from: 37mm and 46mm in 27.5in, and 42mm or 51mm in 29in. This allows frame designers and aftermarket customers to choose a slightly livelier (longer offset) or steadier (shorter offset) steering feel. Otherwise, the 2019 fork uses the same chassis as the old.
Compared to the old Lyrik, I needed 10psi more in the spring to achieve similar sag and support, but removed one volume spacer to allow access to the end-stroke. The low-speed compression range mirrors the 2018 Lyrik, I stuck towards the open end for the most part, but found the middle-setting on the high-speed dial resulted in a firmer feel than the 2018 fork.
This could be due to the updated air-spring providing a firmer ride in the middle of the travel. Going one click more open offered plenty of support without feeling harsh.
Many riders find Fox’s dampers work best when set fully open on compression (the RC2 version especially), but the Lyrik offers a more useable range of compression adjustment.
Hard chargers with fresh hands will still find ample support towards the firmer end, but for longer descents the Lyrik affords the option of greater comfort when left fully open than either version of the Fox 36.
Each click of high-speed makes a noticeable difference and neither end of the range is unusable, so it’s hard to go too far wrong.
Once my setup was dialled, the performance was sublime. In back-to-back tests, the Lyrik offered a smoother, calmer ride than my benchmark fork, the Fox 36 FIT4.
Admittedly, this was not an ideal test as I had the 42mm-offset Lyrik and a 51mm-offset Fox 36. But purely in terms of suspension performance, the Lyrik’s beginning stroke felt slightly softer, making it feel more sucked down onto the ground.
The overall ride was slightly smoother and less busy, allowing me to look a little further down the trail. It’s a relatively subtle difference, but in my opinion the new Lyrik has the edge in terms of performance.
The contrast between the 2019 and 2018 Lyrik fork is more pronounced. The latest version offers appreciably more off-the-top sensitivity, traction and comfort, while staying higher in the travel and diving less readily.
The best news? The 2019 air spring, which is probably the biggest improvement over the 2018 Lyrik, can be retro-fitted to older Lyrik, Yari, Pike and Revelation forks. It costs £42 / $42 / €47.
But if you’re lucky enough to have the best part of a grand to spend on a new enduro fork, this is the one I’d go for.