Ridden to World Championship Overall Titles in 2001, 2002, 2003 and now 2004, there’s no denying the Rock Shox
BoXXer, first introduced to consumers in 1998, has an impressive racing pedigree. In fact, according to an informal survey at the 2003 Downhill World Championships, the BoXXer outnumbered all other suspension forks added together, gracing an impressive 58% of competitors’ bikes. This is even more telling when you consider that only about 20 riders were directly sponsored by RockShox and a large number of racers at the World Champs are privateers, who foot the bulk of their own product costs.In the short history of mountain biking, suspension has evolved at an exponential rate. (though that rate seems to finally be slowing somewhat) Some may view the BoXXer platform as stale and out of date. I’d tend to disagree (strongly), I’ve said before change for the sake of change is just plain stupid. Using feedback from their racers, RockShox engineers have wisely chosen to evolve the platform in order to suit the needs of today’s riders, rather than taking the other (less desirable) option of completely redesigning the wheel in an effort to boost sales. *Unless otherwise noted, all forks get the additions mentioned below*
One of the first things that will be noticed by consumers is the increase in travel to 203mm (8 inches for the metrically challenged) in all models but the new Ride (more on individual models later). This increase was made possible thanks to the improvements given to the BoXXer's lowers, including a beefier arch with greater tire clearance, recessed seals and a new lower bushing that is 200% larger than pre-2005 models. In-house testing showed the early generation lowers were capable of up to 5mm of deflection at the arch. This flex resulted in leaky seals, a wandering front end and, in worse case scenarios, a broken arch. For 2005 the arch wraps further around the casting, is much thicker across its width, has room for large volume tires (the Michelin Comp 32 - 2.8 inch meat for instance) and the recessed seals make for a much easier job of cleaning out dust and crud. The larger bushings finish off the package nicely and in addition to making 8 inches of travel possible (with no decrease in stiffness) make the fork much more sensitive to small hits (more on the ride later) Not content to stop there, the BoXXer's arch also gets some sweet zip tie detents to ease front brake routing.
earlier, the 2005 BoXXer also gets the new integrated-stem crowns that give a small increase in turning radius (22% claimed) and a lower profile saving knees somewhat. As a bonus, they have eliminated the use of multiple size hex wrenches; all bolts are now 4mm and are easily accessed from the side, eliminating the need to remove number plates when make crown adjustments. The platform's troublesome rebound adjuster has been replaced for 2005 and its stripping problem should be non-existant on future models.
Finally, since the BoXXer is using the same platform as earlier models, current BoXXer owners can upgrade lowers, bushings and crowns (and associated small parts) to the 2005 versions in most circumstances. Contact RockShox
directly for more information on upgrades. BoXXer Ride
Probably the most talked about fork in the 2005 BoXXer line, the Ride features the aforementioned improvements and RockShox' U-Turn travel adjustment. Travel is easily adjusted between 133mm (5.25 inches) and 178mm (7 inches). This is accomplished through the use of a single sided spring and the new, stiffer lowers. The Ride also gets external rebound adjustment and claimed weight of the Ride is 7.2 pounds. BoXXer Race
As in previous years, the Race can be adjusted (internally) between 2 travel modes, only it too has been upgraded to 178mm and 203mm. Weight of the Race is a claimed 7.4 pounds.BoXXer Team
The ultimate BoXXer for the privateer racer, the Team fork gets external rebound, separate low and high speed compression adjustment. Travel is set at 8 inches, and the fork is said to weigh in at 7.45 pounds.BoXXer World Cup
The mac-Daddy of the family, the BoXXer World Cup gets the same internals of the Team, titanium springs and slippery silver upper tubes. The titanium springs bring weight of the WC to an impressive 7.1 pounds.
At the launch in Whistler over the CrankWorx weekend, I was lucky enough to try out various models, in particular, the Ride, Team and World Cup versions. Here's what I thought...
This is one stiff mother, especially when run in the lower travel modes. I especially liked the ability to adjust travel (on-the-fly) to suit terrain and riding style. On one particular test bike that was sprung a little to stiff for me, I was able to weight the front end by turning travel down to 6 inches, making my Garbanzo descent much more palatable. This fork was perfect for the burly freerider who still finds time to ride up as well as down. In 5.25 inch travel mode on my hardtail KeeWee, the fork was easily as stiff as a Monster T. Up, down, skinny, fast or any other style of riding that whets your whistle, the Ride is easily adjusted and well suited for the gravity gang.
Supple. On A-Lines wretched braking bump infested sections, the Team fork was uber-active and ultra-sensitive to the small stuff. Through Garbanzo's tightest root sections, the fork was noticeably stiffer than my own 2004 World Cup. I liked the additional travel, bottoming resistance and found myself running at least three quarters of an inch more sag allowing the bike to "hug" the ground at race pace. At high speed, I preferred the Team and World Cup versions (and their double-sided springs) to the Ride thanks to their additional and active travel and tuning capabilities. I also liked the fact that even with a full 8 inches of travel, the fork retains a more "conventional" axle to crown measurement. In fact, the BoXXer is a full 32mm shorter than the 2004 888, and is only 4mm taller than the Dorado. I'm sure you'll see many BoXXer Teams gracing the front of racer's rides in 2005, and the World Cup will be found on those lucky (or fast) enough to get a break on its additional cost.
Pricing is still yet to be firmly set in stone, but I have it on good authority that the new models will be priced at or below 2004 MSRP's. With all the additional features and improvements, that's pretty amazing stuff. Forks should be hitting dealer floors in the next couple weeks, and if the models I got to play on were any indication, RockShox is back baby!!!
For more information on the BoXXer, RockShox' other forks or the SRAM family, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit www.sram.com
Please accept my humble apologies for the lack of in-action photos. I was too damn busy trying to keep up with the likes of HB and Tyler Morland to snap any shots of the forks in use.