The details of RockShox's 2021 Lyrik, Yari, Pike, and Revelation were announced today, and while the chassis and dampers are unchanged, all of the forks received a subtle but significant update: a new DebonAir air spring.
An updated air spring may not cause the same level of drooling as a completely new fork, especially one with oversized stanchions, but the fact that the new air spring makes a noticeable difference in performance, and can be retrofitted to previous RockShox forks, makes it worthy of closer look.
DebonAir Air Spring Details
• Compatible with Lyrik, Yari, Pike, and Revelation forks
• Updated seal head and foot nut
• Improves ride height and initial support
• MSRP: $42 USD / $25 USD for seal head & nut
When the old and new air springs are placed side by side the differences are clear. The new version has a taller seal head, as well as a longer foot nut. Those changes were made to move the spring higher in the stanchion; it now sits on the dimple that allows air to move from the positive to the negative air chamber. That 10mm change in height makes the fork sit higher in its travel then before, and it no longer feels like it wants to suck down into the first 5-10 millimeters of travel.
The complete air spring assembly can be purchased for $42, or riders with model year 2020 forks can purchase just the seal head and foot nut for $25. It's a pretty simple procedure to pull out the old air spring and install the new one, and realistically, now is probably the perfect time to perform a lower leg service. Budget around 30 minutes for the entire procedure, more if you're still trying to figure out the whole "lefty loosey, righty tighty" thing.Ride Impressions
In order to see how much of a difference the new air spring makes I headed out for some back to back testing. I had two Lyrik Ultimate forks, both with 160mm of travel, and both with similar amounts of ride time on them before the back-to-back comparison began. Air pressures in both were set exactly the same, as were the rebound and compression settings.
On the trail, the increased ride height was much more noticeable than I'd anticipated. Yes, part of that ride height change is due to the diminished positive air chamber volume, which means that running the same air pressure as before will result in slightly less sag, but there's more to it than that.
With the new air spring, the fork no longer sinks into its travel when there isn’t any weight on it. It stays closer to the proper amount of sag on smoother sections of trail, which means there was more travel available when an obstacle was encountered. The fork was still nice and supple off the top, and its behavior at the end of the stroke was the same – the fun-o-meter was in the same location after bigger hits on both forks. The extra support is especially beneficial in steeper terrain, where the last thing you want is fork that's riding too low in its travel and steepening the bike's head angle.
Overall, I'd say that making the switch to the new air spring is a highly recommended upgrade. There aren't too many things you can do to your fork for less than $50 that will result in such a noticeable, and beneficial change.