RockShox Monarch DebonAir shock sleeve upgrade review£100.00

Is there something magical up this sleeve?

BikeRadar score5/5

Increased volume air spring sleeves aren’t new. The clever bit about DebonAir is that rather than a single chamber design that just adds volume to the positive (impact absorbing) air spring, the retrofit sleeve also increases the volume of the negative (stiction fighting, initial movement helping) air spring.

This is beneficial to RockShox Monarch and Monarch Plus shocks, which have always had great damping but suffered with a comparatively sticky, wooden feel at the start of the stroke.

The larger volume negative chamber reduces the load needed to start an upgraded Monarch or Monarch Plus shock moving by up to 25 percent. That’s a big difference in small bump absorption and the responsiveness of ground following compression and extension movement. This increases comfort when you’re cruising but also boosts traction in the first 30 percent of the stroke.

The larger main volume also means a more gentle spring progression rather than a sudden ramp up towards the end of the stroke. That’s caused mid-stroke wallowing problems with other increased volume shocks, but RockShox’ damping balance still keeps the shock impressively on point.

This screw-on sleeve increases traction and sensitivity without overwhelming the damper’s ability to control it. the result is a new benchmark for all-round rear end control:
This screw-on sleeve increases traction and sensitivity without overwhelming the damper’s ability to control it. the result is a new benchmark for all-round rear end control:

The screw-on sleeve increases traction and sensitivity without overwhelming the damper’s ability to control it

This means great corner railing support and successive hit absorption without the shock having to return to higher in the stroke to regain meaningful control. It’s also improved the comfortable big hit appetite of our Giant Trance 27.5 host bike.

The result is a more supple, high traction start, better-balanced mid-stroke and long drop composure than any other air shock we’ve tried, including Fox Float and Float X units.

The sleeve refits to any 2014 Monarch (RT3, RT, R, RL, XX) or Monarch Plus (RC3, R) shocks as well as 2013 Monarch RT3 shocks. Most of the volume increase occurs at the seal end so it doesn’t affect shock/frame fit as much as Fox’s Large Volume eyelet design can. You can buy pre-fitted Monarch RT3 or Monarch Plus RC3 with similarly great performance.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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