- Not many companies are adapting air-spring technology to the realm of downhill racing. Hopefully Rock Shox's work will result in better air shocks for the average trail bike and perhaps lighter, more tunable downhill suspension. Photo: SRAM
- Are you worthy? The new Vivid R2C shock is only available to top UCI pros for the time being, but we're guessing that won't last forever. Photo: SRAM/RockShox
BOULDER, Colorado (VN) — After six years of development, RockShox unveiled the new Vivid RC2 and Vivid Air rear shocks on Friday. There’s only one catch: You can’t buy one unless you’re one of the world’s best pro downhillers.
In a twist of marketing creativity that’s been unpopular on Facebook and the like, RockShox announced that only top-ranked UCI professional downhillers are eligible to purchase Vivid rear shocks.
However, even if you don’t share rarefied air with the likes of Greg Minnaar, Aaron Gwin and the Atherton family, you are likely to benefit from this new technology once it trickles down to the masses. Here’s a quick rundown of the latest from RockShox.
Essentially a negative spring, this feature reduces the shock’s initial inertia — to the tune of 60 times better than the old Vivid — for a stroke that’s highly responsive on small bumps. Lighter riders will appreciate this, especially if it can be adapted for use in a suspension fork.
Dual Flow Adjust Rebound
The difference between small, rapid braking bumps and a massive drop-off is significant. With two rebound adjustments (presumably position-sensitive), RockShox lets the rider tune the top end of the stroke to be faster and more responsive, while slowing down rebound after a big hit. This way you don’t end up feeling like John Travolta in “Urban Cowboy” — no one likes getting bucked in the middle of a rock garden.
RockShox wasn’t detailed about how Rapid Recovery damping actually works, but in theory, it should go a long way to remedy issues that arise when a shock gets packed up and rides low in its stroke. When this happens, the spring curve stiffens, reducing responsiveness. Further, it affects the bike’s geometry and bottom bracket height. If you’ve felt your fork dive and headtube angle steepen under heavy braking, you know what this feels like.
Also of interest is a new, as-yet-unnamed treatment to internal parts that purports to reduce friction by counter-intuitively making the surfaces more porous. RockShox claims this encourages a thin layer of oil to reduce friction and noise.
The new Vivid shocks sound great. True, the demand for aftermarket downhill shocks is small, but these innovations could be a big step forward for us all. Down the road, RockShox is likely to incorporate some technologies into forks and shocks throughout their range.
To an extent, RockShox already offers a version of the Counter Measure negative spring in other products, notably Dual Air forks, but it’s likely that this project will help refine the technology to further reduce suspension inertia.
The Dual Flow Adjust Rebound may not be necessary for bikes with less than 140mm of travel, but considering the number of longer-travel trail bikes on the market, you might find yourself with more adjustments on your next full-suspension bike.
As for Rapid Recovery, bring it on! Forks and shocks alike would benefit if they could sit higher in their travel in anticipation of the next bump.
Controversial marketing campaigns aside, RockShox offers some interesting technology with the Vivid RC2 and Vivid Air. Here’s hoping that we won’t need to chase UCI points to earn a shot at riding this suspension once it is adapted to other products beyond downhill rear suspension.