Since its release two years ago, the RockShox Pike has been become a benchmark in the all-mountain category, a fork that forced other manufacturers to sit up and take notice. But the longest travel Pike currently has 160mm of travel, a number that left riders interested in a 170 or 180mm single crown fork looking elsewhere. That void is what the new Lyrik
is intended to fill, taking the proven technology found in the Pike and packaging it in a fork that's claimed to be stiffer and plusher, as well as offering up to 180mm of travel.
To find out more about the newest addition to RockShox's suspension lineup, we headed to Retallack Lodge, a remote mountain bike paradise located 1.5 hours north of Nelson, British Columbia. Surrounded by the Selkirk Mountains and with a growing network of trails, including a 6,000 foot descent that's accessed by helicopter, Retallack is becoming a well known destination for riders seeking something different than the norm, a departure from the hustle and bustle of a bike park.
Revamping the Lyrik
Development of the new Lyrik began even before the Pike was officially released, but RockShox took their time and watched the market to suss out the direction that the sport was taking before committing to beginning production. While bike parks used to be the sole domain of downhill and freeride bikes, there's been a shift over the past few seasons, and it's becoming increasingly common to see riders getting in the lift line with their all-mountain rigs. Rear travel numbers have gradually gone up as well, with more and more 165 or 170mm 27.5” bikes hitting the market, a shift that helped convince RockShox that the timing was right to unveil a longer travel single crown fork.
• Intended use: enduro / gravity
• Travel: 27.5": 160, 170, 180mm, 29": 150, 160mm
• Charger damper with new SKF seals
• 35mm stanchions
• 15x100 or Boost 110 options
• Weight (27.5"): 2005 grams (4.42 lb)
• RCT3 Solo Air MSRP: $1030 USD
The Lyrik isn't a dramatic departure from the Pike - as the saying goes, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' – but there's more to it than just increased travel and a different sticker on the arch. The two main differences, the ones that should be noticeable out on the trail, are the increased chassis stiffness and the larger negative spring that's designed to improve small bump compliance.
RockShox stuck with 35mm stanchions for the Lyrik, which means the Pike, Lyrik, and BoXXer all share the same external stanchion dimensions, but the walls of the Lyrik's 35mm stanchions are thicker than that of the Pike, and the arch has been beefed up as well, measures intended to increase the overall stiffness of the fork. The legs are tapered and asymmetrical (the left leg, where the air chamber resides, is longer), and are compatible with RockShox's Torque Caps, oversized end caps designed to increase the amount of contact between the hub and the fork legs, a concept similar to what Specialized introduced a number of years ago in order to add stiffness to quick-release equipped forks.
Standard 15mm end caps work with the design as well, although it does take an extra second or two to get the front wheel lined up during installation, since the top of the hub end cap doesn't reach the upper lip of the dropout. Currently, Torque Caps are a SRAM product, and it's not clear if any aftermarket hub manufacturers will be offering them as an option.
When the news first broke about the new fork, there was a dull roar from riders wondering why there wasn't a 20mm thru-axle option. RockShox's reasoning was that they see 20mm axles as being reserved for downhill bikes, and didn't want to reintroduce the size for all-mountain bikes when there haven't been any issues with the current 15mm option. That may not make everyone happy, but realistically, at this point in time the vast majority of all-mountain and enduro bikes come specc'd with 15mm thru-axles, which means riders won't need to change their hub configuration if they purchase a Lyrik.
Internally, the Lyrik uses the same bladder-based Charger damper found in the Pike, but now uses SKF seals on the cartridge and for the fork's dust wipers. The rebound shim stack can now be adjusted as well, an option that was previously only available on the BoXXer. This allows lighter or heavier riders to alter the position of the shims to fine tune the range of adjustment to their liking. On the air chamber side, Bottomless Tokens can be added or removed to increase the amount of end stroke ramp up. The dimensions of the Tokens in the Lyrik are slightly smaller than those found in the Pike due to the fork's thicker stanchion walls, but in the near future all Tokens will be the same size to simplify things.
Back to Back Testing
Quantifying the stiffness of a fork out on the trail can be difficult, especially when there are wide tires and 160mm of travel between you and the ground. In order to more clearly illustrate the difference between the Pike and the Lyrik, I spent my first morning at Retallack on a 160mm Pike RCT3, cranking out a total of four laps on two different trails in order to get a base line for comparison.The Trails
Retallack's trails were purpose built for mountain biking by a dedicated crew of builders, and their dedication to perfection shows. If I was was to sketch out my dream trail network, it would look very similar to what the crew at Retallack have created. Berms, roots, rocks, jumps, tight turns, high speed straightaways – they're all there, perfectly placed for maximum enjoyment. They're not overly steep, but they pitch downward at just the right angle so that minimal pedaling is required, and going faster is simply a matter of letting off the brakes, turning off your brain, and hanging on for the ride. Ride Impressions
After those first four laps, the Pike was swapped out for a 160mm Lyrik RCT3. Setting up the Lyrik is done in the same manner as the Pike – air it up to the recommended settings, adjust the rebound and low speed compression to your liking, then hit the trails. I ended up running 62 psi for my 155lb weight with two Bottomless Tokens installed, which is slightly more pressure than I usually run on a Pike.
I'd been skeptical about whether or not the Lyrik would actually feel any stiffer than the Pike, but as soon as I rolled through the first high speed corner my doubts disappeared. The difference was immediately noticeable – the front end felt more planted and locked into the turn, and was less likely to get deflected off course when plowing through the chunder. It's a feeling akin to switching to a carbon handlebar from an aluminum one – it's not a night and day difference, but it is significant. Of course, it is possible to have a fork that's too
stiff, but RockShox seem to have achieved the right balance with the Lyrik, and I never felt any excessive feedback or harshness, even when picking the worst line through a rock garden, or pushing through a line of chunky roots. It's worth noting that some of this additional stiffness could be due to the Torque Caps, and further testing will be required to discern just how much of a difference the end caps actually make.
The Lyrik's more supple beginning stroke was apparent as well, which goes a long way to keeping the front wheel glued to the ground. The fork does seem to naturally settle slightly deeper into its travel than a Pike, but it never felt excessive, and there was still enough support to prevent it from diving. There were a number of short, steep sections that fell away into deep berms on the trail, features that had the fork using all of its travel, but there was no harshness when this happened, and the Lyrik felt composed the entire time. The fork was set up with two Bottomless Tokens, but it's a quick and easy affair to add more if additional bottom out resistance is needed.
|For riders seeking something more robust than the Pike without reverting to a dual crown fork, the Lyrik fits the bill. It's plusher and stiffer, and imposes a minimal weight penalty for those benefits. The Pike will remain the do-it-all option in the RockShox lineup, but for those who constantly find themselves pushing the envelope, riding on the ragged edge between success and disaster, the Lyrik is going to be an appealing option.- Mike Kazimer |
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