RockShox's BlackBox racing program serves as a development tool to test products on the race course, allowing them to provide their top level athletes with the latest technology that is likely still a ways off from being available to the consumer. It isn't uncommon to see sponsored BlackBox riders running components that you may have never spotted before, and that is exactly the case with the two prototype Vivid shocks, one air sprung and one coil sprung, that are being tested between the tape this weekend at the Pietermaritzburg World Cup.
RockShox BlackBox boss Jon Cancellier holds up Monster Energy / Specialized team rider Troy Brosnan's Vivid Air prototype. There is a new volume adjustment dial on the piggy back, but our sources also tell us that both air and coil BlackBox Vivids feature heavily reworked internals.
Many RockShox sponsored riders are likely to be running the lighter and more tuneable Vivid Air shock on the relatively smooth and pedal-heavy Pietermaritzburg track, but only a lucky few select BlackBox racing program members will be allowed to use the prototype shock shown above. The most obvious update is the additional dial at the end of the shock's piggy back that likely serves to adjust the volume of the chamber, thereby allowing riders to tune the shock to be more linear or progressive. It isn't entirely clear from the photo if RockShox also allows a shock pump to be fitted to make further alterations, but we'd be surprised if this is the case. It also appears to now feature a proper dial for the ending stroke rebound adjuster, no longer requiring a hex key to make changes.
The coil sprung BlackBox Vivid also features the new volume adjustment dial that adds another tuning option, as well as changes to its top out spring assembly.
RockShox tactfully dodged most of our questions about the two new shocks, simply stating that Hill and other BlackBox riders have played key roles in the the shock's tuning. Having said that, we have solid information that significant changes have been made to the internals of both, including a completely altered top out assembly. Why does that matter? The top out spring can also be utilized as a negative spring, helping to push the shock into its travel ever so slightly at the top of the stroke. Many of RockShox's air sprung forks feature adjustable negative pressure for this very reason, allowing the suspension action to be either more supple or slightly firmer at the top of its stroke. While the negative springs on both of the prototype Vivid shocks don't look to be adjustable, we can only assume that the internal changes have been done to further increase suppleness, an especially important trait on any air spring shock. www.rockshox.com