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RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate rear shock review

New features and promise of independent compression adjustments make the Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate a promising prospect

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
GBP £530.00 RRP | USD $549.00 | EUR €594.00
2023 RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate mountain bike suspension fitted to a Marin Alpine Trail XR mountain bike

Our review

The shock's hydraulic bottom out opens up coil-spring performance to a host of linear bikes, while damping support and adjustments are impressive – at a reasonable price
Pros: HBO feature fantastic; adjustment ranges supremely functional; mid-stroke support excellent; lots of tuning potential; price
Cons: Rebound damping tune too firm; spring weight increments too big for fine tuning
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RockShox’s enduro-focused Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate rear shock has undergone a complete redesign for the 2023 update.

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The all-new shock gets some neat new features, including an adjustable hydraulic bottom-out system, masses of low- and high-speed compression adjustment from the RC2T damper that’s also claimed to eliminate ‘cross talk’ between adjustments, and a chassis redesign to accommodate the new tech.

Retailing for £530 / $549 / €594, the new Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate is significantly cheaper than Fox’s DHX and DHX2 Factory shocks, making it an interesting proposition for performance-focused riders.

The launch of the 2023 Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate comes at the same time as a RockShox refresh, where other models of the Super Deluxe and Deluxe shocks, and Pike, Lyrik and ZEB forks have been updated.

2023 RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate rear shock specifications and details

The ‘threshold’ or lockout adjuster sits opposite the LSC compression adjuster.
Mick Kirkman / RockShox

The all-new Super Deluxe Ultimate rear shock is fitted with RockShox’s RC2T damper, with both low- and high-speed external compression adjustment, along with external low-speed rebound adjustment.

It also has a lock-out lever, known as ‘threshold’ in RockShox’s terminology.

RC2T damper adjustments and tunes

The LSC adjuster has five positions.
Mick Kirkman / RockShox

RockShox claims the new damper’s valving system – where oil flows first through the high-speed compression circuit then the low-speed circuit – means it has managed to “eliminate… cross-talk – that little overlap in adjustment functionality that ties HSC and LSC… together.”

In addition, this new design has allowed RockShox to create a broad range of external damping adjustments where the fully closed or fully open positions of the compression adjusters are so broad, they put the shock’s damping in the middle of the next tune up or down in the five-tune range.

This means any of RockShox’s base tunes is highly adaptable and suitable to a multitude of bikes and riding styles.

The new Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate features five clicks of high-speed compression adjustment, five clicks of low-speed compression adjustment and 20 clicks of low-speed rebound adjustment.

Hydraulic bottom out

Adjustable hydraulic bottom out is available only on the coil-sprung Super Deluxe shocks.
Mick Kirkman / RockShox

The adjustable hydraulic bottom out (HBO) system on the latest Super Deluxe is a first for RockShox.

The system uses a secondary piston and cylinder within the shock’s main units to ‘trap’ oil that is pressurised as the shock compresses, operating in the last 20 per cent of the shock’s stroke.

The Coil version of the Super Deluxe has an adjustable hydraulic bottom out.
RockShox

A needle adjuster – with five points of adjustment – controls how much and how quickly the trapped oil in the HBO cylinder can be displaced into the piggyback by the piston during compression. This changes how much bottom-out resistance there is.

Testing the RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate rear shock

The 2023 Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate is a marked improvement over the outgoing model.
Mick Kirkman / RockShox

I tested the RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate rear shock on a Marin Alpine Trail XR enduro bike, back-to-back with Fox’s Factory Float X2 and DHX2, and the old RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate the 2023 version replaces.

The shock I tested has a linear rebound tune and the L1 compression tune (the second lightest in a five-tune range).

This setup, according to RockShox, was best suited to my Marin test bike’s four-bar suspension design, which is around 17 per cent progressive. This level of progression is usually better suited to air shocks with adjustable spring volumes so that more end-stroke progression and bottom-out resistance can be added via volume-reducer spacers.

The 2023 Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate was tested on a Marin Alpine Trail XR.
Mick Kirkman / RockShox

However, I was keen to find out whether the HBO system on the new Super Deluxe meant I could have my cake and eat it by giving me coil-like suppleness, and air shock ramp up and bottom-out support.

How we tested the 2023 RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate rear shock

Alex tested the shock over a period of several gruelling weeks in Scotland’s Tweed Valley on a wide variety of trails. These included long, punishing descents used for the UK’s round of the Enduro World Series through to loops around the famous Glentress trail centre.

Thanks to the familiarity with the test terrain and test bike, Alex was able to get a firm understanding of how the new shock performs.

2023 RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate setup

RockShox’s coil springs are available only in 50lb/in increments, which limits tuning potential.
Mick Kirkman / RockShox

I fitted a 450lb/in spring to the shock, my preferred spring rate for this bike, and the same spring rate I’ve used on the previous-generation Super Deluxe and current Fox shocks.

The 450lb/in gave 15mm or 23 per cent shaft sag, identical to the setup on the other shocks mentioned above. Knowing that sag was identical to those other shocks affirmed the accuracy of the 450lb spring rate, alleviating the concern that some spring rates vary by up to 20 per cent of their claimed rate.

I initially set the HBO to fully closed (5/5) given my experience with coil shocks on this bike needing additional bottom-out resistance. I dialled both low- and high-speed compression adjustments to their middle, stock positions (3/5).

After experimenting with the rebounding damping adjustments, I found it felt best in its fully open position (0/20), which is where it stayed for the duration of the test period.

The HSC adjuster has five positions.
Mick Kirkman / RockShox

After further experimentation, I ended up opening the HBO to 2/5 clicks, one fewer than the middle, stock setting. I also opened the low- and high-speed compression to 0/5 clicks after testing out a wide variety of damper-setting combinations.

2023 RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate adjustability

The RC2T damper performed best on chunkier, rougher terrain.
Mick Kirkman / RockShox

The range of adjustment on the 2023 Super Deluxe is vast, where, true to RockShox’s claims, each click of the LSC and HSC dials has a noticeable effect on the shock’s behaviour.

High-speed compression dilemma

Increasing HSC compression damping firms up the rear end, making the bike use significantly less travel on high-speed mid-sized hits, such as braking bumps or webs of roots.

However, I found the usable range of adjustment quite limited. Once I’d increased HSC by two clicks from fully open, the rear end began to feel choked and harsh on successive hits. The shock began to feel over-damped and didn’t use enough of its travel, which limited comfort and traction.

Low-speed compression adjustment

The new shock has external low- and high-speed compression-damping adjustment, low-speed rebound adjustment, a hydraulic bottom-out adjuster and a climb switch.
Mick Kirkman / RockShox

Similarly, adjusting the LSC from fully open to fully closed changed the shock’s character. However, after crossing the mid-point of the adjuster’s range towards closed, the shock provided too much low-speed compression damping.

I found setting the adjuster towards fully closed propped the bike too far up in its travel, reducing dynamic sag and upsetting its chassis and geometry.

I much preferred the shock’s feel towards the more open LSC and HSC damping settings, where there was more than enough low- and high-speed support provided.

Fine tuning

The mid-stroke support on the RC2T damper was impressive.
Mick Kirkman / RockShox

This hints at two problems, neither of which I was able to address during the test period.

Firstly, I believe I could have gone down a spring rate and started to rely on the compression damping to give me the support I was after.

However, RockShox’s springs are only available in 50lb/in increments and reducing the rate to 400lb/in could have been too much. I would have preferred to try a 425lb/in spring to minimise the steps in spring rate.

Because sag was comparable to other shocks I’ve tested using 450lb springs, what I felt on the bike is an accurate and contextualised report of how the shock performs.

Secondly, the L1 tune could still have been too firm for my bike and the requirements of the terrain I tested the shock on. Dropping to the lightest LC compression tune could be a way to begin to use the damping adjustments to tune ride feel.

However, RockShox installed the L1 tune knowing the rear shock was going to be fitted to the Alpine Trail, and it’s likely this is the tune it would recommend to customers looking to upgrade their shocks on the same bike.

Rebound damping

I found the low-speed rebound damping to be quite firm, and the shock felt best with the adjuster to fully open. The shock is offered in both progressive and linear damping tunes and within each of those rebound types are multiple tunes ranging from light to heavy.

My shock came supplied with the mid rebound tune which was too firm for my tastes. However, RockShox has said they will retune my shock with the lightest one available and I will update the review once I have spent some time testing it.

Overly firm rebound damping is a fairly common problem I’ve noted before in reviews of other shocks, and appears to be shared across current Fox and RockShox dampers.

2023 RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate on-trail feel

With the compression damping open, the new shock was smooth over choppy terrain.
Mick Kirkman / RockShox

Out on the trail, the real star of the show is the HBO.

This addition transforms and extends the scope of the coil shock, making it suited to bikes with more linear leverage rates.

Set fully closed, the HBO’s pressure build-up is progressive but quick, and accessing full travel is borderline impossible except on the harshest and largest drops to flat.

At just over halfway open, the ramp up is less sudden with a more gradual rate of progression. I found this setting the most comfortable, and it meant I was still able to use all the bike’s travel regularly without harsh bottom outs.

The HBO system is a no-compromise affair. It was possible to have the air-spring like ramp up and bottom-out resistance with the super-sensitive initial stroke that coil shocks are renowned for.

The initial portion of the 2023 Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate’s stroke was smooth and fluttery. This meant it absorbed trail chatter and provided plenty of comfort on worn-out trail centre surfaces or fire roads.

The Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate’s HBO meant heavy landings weren’t harsh.
Mick Kirkman / RockShox

Mid-stroke support was also commendable. The relatively damped tune meant the shock stayed well propped up in high-load situations, helping to maintain the bike’s geometry, improving control and increasing speed.

Pumping the terrain to generate speed or railing turns in a hard and aggressive fashion didn’t overwhelm the damper or cause it to blow through its travel.

Its support and HBO were a formidable pairing on demanding tracks, both lending themselves to hard-charging riders.

Does the 2023 RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate live up to RockShox’s cross-talk claims?

We were impressed with the levels of adjustment on the shock.
Mick Kirkman / RockShox

The answer to this question came to me during a test session on a particularly fast and rough track with lots of high-load corners in quick succession.

I was looking for slightly more mid-stroke support for the turns to maintain the bike’s geometry, but wanted the rear wheel to track the ground and absorb bumps to provide comfort, traction and control.

To a point, yes, RockShox has managed to reduce LSC and HSC damping-adjustment cross talk.

However, during that test ride, once I’d increased the low-speed compression damping beyond 3/5 clicks, the rear end began to feel harsh, unable to efficiently absorb the high-speed hits as well as it could when it was in a more open setting.

The new Super Deluxe’s chassis is larger than the outgoing model.
Mick Kirkman / RockShox

The same was true for the HSC. Closing it beyond 2/5 clicks made the bike feel as though it was riding higher in its travel compared to when it was fully open.

Providing a definitive, scientific affirmation or rebuttal to RockShox’s claims would require a dyno, and unfortunately, this isn’t something I have access to.

Out on the trail, it felt as though beyond a certain point the adjustments were still affecting one another, but the point at which they begin to interfere is much more extreme than on previous iterations of the Super Deluxe.

How does the 2023 RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate compare to the outgoing RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate?

The previous iteration of the Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate rear shock felt harsher more quickly once the compression damping was closed.
Russell Burton / Our Media

The outgoing shock’s lack of HBO was noticeable. It frequently used more of the last portion of its travel, and bottomed out quicker and more often than the 2023 model.

Gone is the knock or click as the base valve opens when the shock enters either its compression or rebound stroke. This is most noticeable when you compress the bike by its saddle with your hand. As the old shock enters its compression stroke, or switches to the rebound stroke after compressing, it knocks or clicks.

The old shock lacks hydraulic bottom-out control.
Steve Behr / Our Media

The new shock doesn’t do this, and although the change doesn’t appear to improve on-trail performance, it certainly increases refinement.

In terms of damping adjustment compared to the old shock, the 2023 version can be closed further before harshness and compression spike or choking creep in. This means it’s got a wider range of usable adjustment, and will be better suited to more types of bike-suspension design.

2023 RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate rear shock bottom line

Given the affordable price of the 2023 Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate, it’s a true contender for people looking to upgrade their rear damper.
Mick Kirkman / RockShox

The 2023 Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate’s hydraulic bottom out is perhaps the biggest and most important feature RockShox has added to its enduro-focused shock. It provides supple coil-spring performance to a host of more linear bikes that would previously have had to run compromised setups.

RockShox has also managed to increase the amount of usable adjustment on the LSC and HSC dials, where interference between the two feels as if it happens only at the extreme ends of the adjustment bell curve. The low-speed rebound tune supplied in my test shock felt over-damped for my preferences, and once RockShox has installed a lighter tune in my damper I will report back and update the review.

As ever, making sure you select the correct tune and spring weight for your bike and riding style is essential for top performance.

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The 2023 Super Deluxe is a marked improvement over the outgoing model and costs less than its direct competitors from Fox. This makes it a serious contender in the shock upgrade market for those looking for more performance.

Product Specifications

Product

Price EUR €594.00GBP £530.00USD $549.00
Weight 486g (205x65mm) – 205x65 with 25mm hardware, without spring
What we tested RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate 205x65mm. Linear rebound and L1 compression tunes
Year 2023
Brand Rockshox

Features

Features Low- and high-speed compression, low-speed rebound, hydraulic bottom out, climb switch, RC2T damper
Damper adjustments Low- and high-speed compression, low-speed rebound, hydraulic bottom out, climb switch
Lockout Yes
Spring type Coil
Travel 65mm