RockShox’ Lyrik has been our top-rated enduro fork for the past two years, but with a questionable update to this year’s model and stiffer competition, it’s no longer the most composed on rough descents.
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The 2021 Lyrik’s air spring has been updated so the transfer port (which allows air to pass between the positive and negative chambers) now sits right at the top of the travel, instead of a few millimetres into the stroke.
This simplifies set up because both chambers inflate simultaneously, meaning there’s no need to manually equalise the pressures by pushing down on the fork after making an adjustment.
It also means the fork always extends fully, so it can use every millimetre of travel advertised and stands a few millimetres taller when unloaded. Some people complained the previous air spring (2019–2020) caused the fork to sit a few millimetres into its travel when unweighted, and when you measured the travel it could be a few millimetres less than advertised.
But on the trail, I don’t think it’s an improvement. Even at a slightly lower air pressure, the new spring is stiffer at the start of the stroke.
When off the brakes, it’s keener to reach the top of its travel when rattling across rapid-fire bumps and is slower to settle back into it, so doesn’t track the ground quite as well.
It’s a subtle change, but the latest Lyrik feels fractionally less ground-hugging than the old one, and certainly so when compared to the new and improved Fox 36.
At 85kg, I set the air spring to 95psi (around 5 to 10psi softer than the old spring to improve sensitivity), with a few clicks of compression from open, to regain support. The rebound was six to eight clicks from open – any faster made it feel too lively and even top-out if set very fast.
However, while the Lyrik has made a step backwards in my view, it’s still a great fork. The difference is subtle and not something you’re likely to notice unless you’re making a direct comparison to the old one – I say this because I didn’t notice much of a difference until I performed the back-to-back tests.
Sensitivity once into the travel and long-run hand comfort remain among the best in class, though. It’s very easy to set up and the range of damping adjustment is ample and intuitive, where the middle of the damping range is a great starting point.
It’s impressively light, too, and it’s worth remembering that although the 2021 Fox 36 is a superior fork, it costs considerably more.
Personally, I’d suggest hunting around for a 2020 Lyrik and, if you’re concerned it won’t offer quite as much travel as advertised, get a version with 10mm more travel.
How we tested
We tested seven burly enduro forks, and to make it a fair test, all forks had 170mm travel, around 42mm offset and were fitted to a 29in wheel. The same bike was used (a Privateer 161), with an identical setup and tyre pressures throughout.
We worked hard to optimise the setup of each fork by experimenting back and forth with all the available adjustments. Then they were tested back-to-back on the same familiar trails and in the same conditions, using an uplift to minimise the time between runs so the previous fork’s performance was fresh in our minds. Only when testing like this do the differences between forks stand out.
The standard of forks on test was considerably higher than 2020, and some new or upgraded models have seen firm favourites tumbling down the rankings.
Also on test:
- Fox 36 Factory GRIP2
- Fox 38 Factory GRIP2
- Intend Ebonite
- Marzocchi Z1 coil
- RockShox Zeb Ultimate
- SR Suntour Durolux36 EQ R2C2
|Price||AUD $1430.00EUR €1039.00GBP £929.00USD $949.00|
|Weight||2,019g (170mm travel on 29" wheels) – 29", 170mm|
Adjustments: low- and high-speed compression, low-speed rebound, air spring pressure and volume spacers
Travel: 140-180mm (27.5” and 29”), travel change requires separate air shaft
Offset: 37, 44 or 46mm (27.5”) / 42, 44 or 51mm (29”)
|Damper adjustments||Charger 2.1 RC2|