Pinkbike Awards: Suspension Product of the Year Nominees

Dec 12, 2018
by Mike Levy  


Suspension Product of the Year Nominees


There's certainly an argument to be made that modern suspension is so good, so refined that all we're left with these days are minutely small baby steps forward in performance, and you wouldn't be all that wrong for taking that stance. I mean, the good stuff is good, but is it really getting all that much better? If you've spent any time on our three Suspension Product of the Year Nominees, you might answer that question with an emphatic 'yes.'

Fox features heavy yet again, first with the impressive, four-way adjustable GRIP2 damper that's employed inside their high-end 36 and 40 series forks. Today's top dampers provide incredible control, but the conclusion around these parts is that the GRIP2 unit is the one to have. Fox gets the nod again for their electronically-controlled Live Valve suspension that uses fast-reacting sensors to allow the system to adjust itself to suit the terrain; firm when you need to put the power down, but it'll open up the split-second it senses an impact. Is the future now? Maybe.

Last but not least is RockShox's new Lyrik. This heavy-hitter is available in 150, 160, 170, 180mm travel options and all the offsets, but the real news is the new Charger unit inside of it. The Charger 2 RC2 damper brings high-speed compression adjustment back to RockShox's front suspension, and you also have low-speed rebound and compression as well.











Why it's nominated

If damper technology stopped evolving a year or two ago, it really wouldn't be the end of the world. I mean, aside from every brand being touched by the creaky CSU curse, things were pretty damn good in 2017, right? Of course they were; no one was being held back by their FIT4 or Charger dampers. But things can always be better, and Fox re-worked the first GRIP cartridge, something that was originally intended for so-called budget-minded forks, into something that truly does offer the rider more control. Oh, and you can tinker with high-speed rebound now as well.

It's not just that they added external HSR control to their fork - that's been done before - but it's how they did it. It'd take a few zillion words to explain it here, but Fox's Variable Valve Control (VVC) system is a more usable and effective way to tune HSR than has ever been done before, and it makes for a fork that offers even better action. Want to know more? Check out our in-depth GRIP2 breakdown to see how the VVC design works. The only downside is that you can only get it inside of Fox's high-end 36 and 40 forks. For now.

From the review:

bigquotesIt's a tough one to call, but if I had to choose I'd go with the Fox 36. The extra adjustability is a plus, but it's really the top-notch performance of the GRIP2 damper that gives it the edge over the Lyrik. The difference is slight, though, and both forks are at the top of their class, extremely capable options no matter if you have your sights set on EWS glory or just want something that can handle those after work hot laps. Mike Kazimer






Why it's nominated

Levers of lies that firm up your suspension, anti-squat, platform damping, and inertia valves are all coping mechanisms, while mountain bike suspension kinematics are designed to sit somewhere between good pedaling and a good ride. A rider thinks about what's coming up and then makes their best guess - maybe some damping gets added, maybe some spring rate gets wound off - and then they settle on the results until the terrain warrants a change.

First, some perspective: The average human reaction time is .25 seconds for visual stimulus and as short as .15 seconds for tactile stimulus, which doesn't exactly sound slow. It is slow, though. Fox's Live Valve uses two accelerometers (one in the fork arch, the other near the rear axle) to sense and measure the velocity of vertical movement to register impacts. That information is sent through wires to Live Valve's microprocessor, and the system can respond in a mere .003 seconds. The premise is simple: Live Valve turns on your bike's suspension when you need it, and turns it off when you don't. Electronics get us riled up, with most of us not exactly eager to be putting batteries and whatnot on our bikes. Sure, I get it, but Live Valve, while complicated, should make getting the most performance from your rig more simple than ever before.

From the review:

bigquotesFox was right to wait until Live Valve was thoroughly proven before they released it. I imagined that I'd be concluding with a carefully scripted paragraph that weighed its astronomical retail price against its potential benefits. The bottom line is that Live Valve represents the most useful and important suspension innovation to emerge during a decade of boring gradual improvements. It works great, and I don't want to ride without it. RC








Why it's nominated

The big news from RockShox in 2018 was the return of externally adjustable high-speed compression damping, now found on both the Lyrik RC2 and BoXXer World Cup DebonAir. That dial had been absent for a few seasons as part of RockShox's 'less is more' take on things but now it's back. And instead of a zillion clicks that might be overwhelming, there are just five possible HSC settings; the middle said to be identical to the amount of HSC damping found on last year's model. Let me take off my Pit Vipers and flat brim hat for a second to admit that yes, a lot of dials and a lot of clicks can end up being confusing, so the Lyrik's (and BoXXer's) new damper having a straightforward five options should make things simple.

From the review:

bigquotesAt no point during my rides on the Lyrik did I find myself thinking “If only I had adjustable high-speed rebound and more clicks of high-speed compression...” It's also hard to make the Lyrik perform poorly - even with both compression dials turned all the way in, the fork still remained rideable, although it was certainly much firmer than my normal settings. Mike Kazimer




Last year's Suspension of the Year battle turned out to be a David versus Goliath affair, with David (MRP) managing to sneak off with the trophy thanks to the impressive (and, if I'm honest, surprising) performance of their Ribbon fork. This year, it's down to just the two big players, and the question is this: which suspension product offers the best performance advantage, and which one will have the biggest effect on what we'll be using in the future: GRIP2, Live Valve, or the new Lyrik?







125 Comments

  • + 77
 No fork cork??
  • + 2
 They were really hung over the idea to include it, and it seems like a wasted opportunity, but these other items are more buzz worthy. Damn I need a beer now.
  • + 35
 My vote is for Dave Weagle's new linkage contraption...
  • + 9
 I'm with ya. It may look odd, but it's out-of-the-box thinking that drives progression. Interested in the review
  • + 13
 I'm shocked it wasn't nominated
  • + 2
 @kramerica5000: They got forked! Frown
  • - 1
 well...no, because there are forks linkage forks out there which actually work aaand look decent! www.motion-ride.com/en
  • + 5
 Gotta be honest here, something priced two to three times more than other high end, vastly capable, questionably improved upon alternatives on the market simply cannot be considered a PRODUCT of the year. Technical demonstration? Sure, but people are already doing amazing things on bikes of all kinds and sizes with traditional suspension forks (or without them) so, I digress...
  • + 0
 @themountain: Look decent?! Those things are fugly...
  • + 0
 @millsr4: your Mom is ugly....innovative things need time to get used to. Wink
  • + 3
 @themountain: maybe his mom is also innovative and you need time realize?
  • + 3
 @themountain: 1) Go f*ck yourself. 2) Innovation has no correlation with aesthetics.
  • + 0
 @millsr4: wow...classy ! Congrats.
  • + 0
 @themountain: I'm the classy one?! Right... Next time don't go talking shit on people's mothers... oh, and go f*ck! yourself! Wink
  • + 0
 @millsr4: Must be hard to be a teenager these days Big Grin
  • + 1
 @themountain: You are the one who threw out an unprompted "your mum" joke. You are not in a position to call anyone childish.
  • + 25
 Rockshox and FOX are OE suppliers of course. Cane Creek, Ohlin's, DVO, MRP? Remove all the stickers out and black out all the forks for testing, the results might say otherwise.
  • + 22
 Did any of them come out with anything like g2 or livevalve? Nope. Recalls though... and cool paint.
  • + 15
 MRP won last year for the ribbon.
  • + 1
 Not sure how forks that creak weeks after install can be nominated. The Ribbon doesn't creak and the coil will outgun the Fox and Lyrik.
  • + 3
 @mellowxc: and the ribbon coil could win again, as well as ACS3....
  • + 8
 @onemanarmy: MRP just kept making a kick ass fork in 2018...
  • + 3
 The 2019 Lyrik is a helluva fork. Mainly because i have one, but also because I have not been able to mis-tune it into a condition where it still isn't the best single-crown endurobro fork I've ever ridden. Nothing stops it.
  • + 20
 I'd say there's an... Avalanche of better options out there
  • + 8
 My Fox 36 with an Avalanche open bath is the suspension product of the decade.
  • + 15
 Where is the new Lefty?
  • + 11
 Yeah I mean regardless of how anyone feels about the lefty in general, it does seem like it deserves to be nominated. Entirely new chassis, single crown, fits any bike, new damper and much improved brake mounting system. That seems like it warrants more consideration than just a evolved damper from one of the big two.
  • + 44
 The whole lefty debate is a little one-sided...
  • + 6
 Hopefully in the bin....
  • + 7
 @stumpymidget: hate for the lefty is a pure manifestion of unfounded prejudice. I'm surprised Trump hasn't branded all Lefties as rapists.
  • + 0
 @BamaBiscuits: Every Lefty Build had to be warrantied. Not reliable!
  • + 10
 Devoid of any brands other than the big 2. Would be nice to see some of the smaller players at least get a nomination.
  • + 11
 MRP won last year. So there is that. DVO, MRP and other didn't do much different this year.
  • + 16
 @bman33: We (MRP) just barely started production of the Hazzard shock and our Progressive Springs are just hitting shelves, so I understand not being included. Watch this space next year though!
  • + 4
 @NoahColorado: I gotcha Noah. I was actually meant that as defending you guys (and DVO). I am thinking I will hit you guys up for a Ribbon on my next build. Sold the Stage I got from you when I sold my Patrol in Brazil. The new rear shock looks promising. I had an Elka on the Jedi I got form Pete a few years ago...really liked that one.
  • + 6
 @NoahColorado: MRP Bartlett should be suspension product of the year-hands down!

I'm surprised this product was not even on the radar..especially considering it's not just an improvement of an existing category but the creation of an entirely new category.


You guys filled a missing niche and brought the dual crown to the enduro/all mt. realm.
-15mm thru axle and 170, 180, and 190 travel options to 27.5 and 29r...just too awesome!
I've put 8 rides on mine and it's a game changer..no loss to flickability and gained tons of stability and monster tuck charging ability-Fun meter pinned!
I can't wait for the Hazzard!..Keep up the amazing work and everyone should buy a Bartlett!..I've never
had a suspension product so drastically change/improve the riding experience like this one.
BTW..MRP's customer service was fantastic!!!
  • + 4
 @bikeblur: MRP customer service is top notch for sure.
  • + 1
 @NoahColorado: When are we getting an air shock that I can pair with my air ribbon? I really need it.
  • + 6
 @Unrealityshow: TWOTHOUSANDNINETEEN BABY!
  • + 3
 @bikeblur: That's awesome! It was kind of a pet project of mine, glad others "get it." My own time on it was cut short this year due to a ruptured spleen at the end of July, but I'm stoked to put on the Firebird 29 I'm getting next month! That combo will be amazing!
  • + 2
 MRP forks don't creak like the others as well. More presence in Canada would be nice.
  • + 2
 @NoahColorado: Sorry to hear about your injury-that's brutal.
And yes I certainly do get it..I've been blathering on about the "one bike" thing forever and you made it
a reality..No need to switch back and forth between a single and dual crown AND a different wheel with a 20mm axle hub, and cockpit..just a direct mount stem and Boom!..one bike bliss. It climbs just as well as the single crown it replaced with the lower axle to crown height.
Mine is mounted to a 2019 Carbon Patrol and currently weighs 33lb 11oz. I still have plenty of weight to drop with Carbon wheels a much lighter cassette and carbon bar..target weight is around 32lbs ish-don't want to go any lighter as I think It would be diminishing returns in respect to high speed stability, etc.

Your Firebird combo will be ridiculous!!! will be sick!
Shoot me a pick when your bike is built.
Cheers!
  • + 1
 @NoahColorado: Noah, just how progressive are the progressive springs? Can your quantify that at all? Also, what's the fatigue life on them? I seem to remember them being done in the past but wearing out much sooner than expected.
  • + 4
 @dirtnapped: We'll have a new website launching next week that'll have the spring curves for each rate. In a nutshell, they're very close to high-volume air springs.

As for fatigue life, nothing to worry about there. It's comparable to standard springs.
  • + 1
 @NoahColorado: Especially if you make a long travel 29 low offset fork. Hint, hint...
  • + 1
 @NoahColorado:
Why no love for the Specialized Enduro with the Hazard?
  • + 9
 I thought the DT Swiss fork might be up here, or isnt it out yet?
  • + 3
 I think it's soo underrated. Wasn't there a review earlier this year?
  • + 2
 Cause this awards may should be called product advertisers nominees of the year... give them plenty just make sure anyone gets offended...
  • + 2
 @emptybox: yes you're probably right there were issues although the last quote was: "While the chassis and air spring are good, what they have achieved with the damper in this fork might just be the most important step in suspension performance since we ditched the elastomers." Inclined to agree with @PauRexs here!
  • + 2
 @adclarke: ^^^^That ^^^^Thanks for recalling this... It was in my subcouncious somewhere still since I read this I still knew in my mind was so good... but then just been thrown like everyone a bunch of aritcles (advertisers) and awards like this, and our minds mostly forgot the true again... good brainwash PB! We lucky there is still the voice of the arena here.
  • + 4
 Suspension product? Vorsprung's Tractive Tune pretty much transformed my ride and showed me the meaning of "chassis stability" and "traction". screw wide tires and wide rims... proper (custom) suspension tuning is revolutionary.
  • + 4
 Deff thought Lefty Ocho would be on here. It won tons of XC world cup titles in its first year out and Mike Levy said himself that he preferred it over the Stepcast and Sid. I would understand an XC product not winning an award on a gravity oriented site, but I just can't see how the lyric made the list and Ocho didn't.
  • + 1
 Second!
  • + 3
 "The only downside is that you can only get it inside of Fox's high-end 36 and 40 forks"
uh, FAIL!
Just a quick google search would've shown PB that you can, indeed, purchase the G2 cartridge by ITSELF.
I upgraded my '18 36s with the G2 cartridge for I wanna say around $200
Oh, and the G2 damper is HEAD AND SHOULDERS above ANYTHING SRAM has(and even the previous Fox RC2 cartridge for that matter) and it has NOTHING to do with it having HSR. The G2 damper provides a MUCH smoother ride that anything else on the market, and you'd have to be tripping on LSD not to notice it
  • + 1
 I read that as can't have it in a 34 or smaller. True?
  • + 4
 Marzocci should take the credit for the grip dsmpee, it's been around for longer than some want you to believe, but who gives a damn, keep up the good marketing boys!
  • + 5
 What about how you can transform an Ohlins fork into a mortar? That deserves to be nominated.
  • + 2
 gdnorm-
or how Ohlins transformed their fork(s) into a paperweight/boat anchor(take your pick) with one fell press release
  • + 6
 I'm getting a 404 error on the 'judging and selection criteria" link...
  • + 4
 I put the Grip2 damper in my 2017 36. Very impressed. That said, the new RS Lyric looks solid. Good time to be and mountain biker. So many solid options
  • + 5
 i vote for the formula selva! thank you PB for not mentioning just the giants ;-)
  • + 1
 I scecond this. The selva is honestly and objectively better than the lyrik
  • + 1
 Fox’s Live Valve has to take the win here. Sure Rockshox added HSC and Fox added HSR but it’s not a mild blowing step forward in suspension technology. Yes batteries suck and wires crowd up your space and can look ugly, but this is something new and very impressive feat
  • + 1
 "Levers of lies that firm up your suspension" - nope, can't work this one out. Unless Mike Levy somehow desecrated this sentence when no one was looking.

Come to think of it, did you have to talk about live valve when Levy was out of the room? Because given his views on tiny propedal levers (read "crutches") I can imagine him turning into a big green raging muscly fella at the thought of an electrical circuit spewing out of a shock. Or is something actuated by a finger more worthy of disdain than something controlled by a CPU. I vote for the finger.
  • + 2
 My suspension of the year would be a fork that doesn´t develop a creak after 6 weeks of riding. But maybe I´m being delusional.
  • + 4
 MRP or Formula
  • + 1
 @jaydawg69:
Or manitou, CC, SR suntour, DVO or even Ohlins, only RS and FOX seems to be dumb enough to produce longer an longer versions while also making them lighter at the same time in every model year. But yes, light weight sells stuff, so people who buy their stuff are the one to blame.
  • + 1
 @Mondbiker: i know people who are buying the ebike fork for Fox due to the creaking issues.
  • + 2
 Its weird some known issues never happen to my bikes, i am not light on bikes and regularly things give, but if have yet to own a creaky fork, even after 3 years my not so loved pike does not creak. The new bike with a formula is coming in a month so i guess ill also miss out for the future.
  • + 1
 @optimumnotmaximum: you have 3 year old pike (maybe even more I don´t know what model rear it is) and that´s perhaps the reason, if you check how Pike weight changed over those 3 years, you will get it, maybe. Also maybe you don´t have the longest travel version possible, which is most creak prone.
  • + 1
 @Mondbiker: thanks, its possible that it even was produced in 2014 (i did not check) and yes i run it now with 140mm travel, on the previous frame with 130mm.
  • + 4
 MRP hazzard w/ the progressive spring???
  • + 2
 Trust performance the message and Motion e18 should be on here. But what do I know. Linkage forks ftw.
  • + 3
 Wheres DVO and Cane Creek? The big guys are always ahead.
  • + 1
 Meh category seeing these 2 brands again. I have owned both brands but i would like to try something new if I can. Too bad they dominate the OEM market.
  • + 3
 Live valve my ass. These awards get more ridiculas every year.
  • + 3
 My vote will forever be with DVO.
  • + 1
 Electronic suspension has been late to MTB tbh. I work on racing motorcycles and it's amazing what can be achieved.
  • + 1
 Yeah but motorcycles have real engineers designing them, ha ha
  • + 1
 Anything but live valve because 1. You cant get it yet 2. Its not very clever. Its only an automatic climb switch
  • + 3
 EXT Storia LOK with HBC
  • + 3
 MRP for the win.
  • + 1
 Came Creek’s Helm is kick ass as well. Coil or air, fast damper, tons of adjustment.
  • + 1
 I vote for the new Cane Creek Helm ????????
  • - 3
 I'm sorry but GRIP2 is a total con and a step backwards from the bladder system. GRIP2 is only a slightly modified Marzocchi damper that is basically a spring loaded blow off valve - ie you can't get real compression damping from it, no matter how much you turn those dials, cos when you hit it hard it just opens the blow off and you plummet to the bottom of the fork - just like Bombers did.
Feels great in the car park and is ideal for people who want "comfy" suspension, but that fact is that the FIT bladder damper is superior - it just costs more to produce.
  • + 5
 You definately don't own or haven't riden a grip2 fork.
  • + 1
 @panaphonic: I'm a brand rep. I've ridden plenty
  • + 1
 Do you even know how suspension works? The grip (1) was a high-speed blow-off valve by using preloaded shims, but the grip2 uses an LSC and HSC circuit. There is a small hole and a needle at the top for LSC and preloaded shims for HSC, which believe it or not provide damping. PB even did a tear-down eplanation of the grip2 www.pinkbike.com/news/inside-foxs-new-grip2-damper.html
  • + 0
 "which provide damping"...until the blow off valve opens
  • + 1
 @IllestT: Retard spotted. The only blow off valve is the HSC which works at higher velocities and oil pressures, meaning you don't need a big hole to generate damping. Did you not even look at the grip2 teardown link? There are 3 valves in total - LSC (hole and needle up top) midvalve (shims in the piston to provide damping) and HSC (preloaded shims up top which open SLIGHTLY at high shaft speeds)
  • + 1
 @IllestT: Also you claim that because of the switch to an IFP, we can't get damping. The purpose of an IFP is to compensate for the added fluid volume displaced by the shaft. The purpose of a bladder is to....... compensate for fluid displacement caused by the shaft. They don't affect compression damping.
  • + 1
 Formula 3 chamber dh fork ?
  • + 1
 Lyrik on my Wreckoning....causes wet dreams, so good.
  • - 1
 Fox Live Valve is it for sure!!! At least in my honest opinion. It’s the most innovative of them all, and to be frank, i would LOVE to try it out
  • + 1
 Ohlins with a torque wrench?
  • - 1
 I'm not shocked at all with these big company nominations, but my mood got a bit dampened by the omission of all smaller brands.
  • + 1
 Wait, No Trust Message here?
  • + 1
 That narrows it down..........
  • - 3
 So many unnecessary gadgets for the average everyday person who rides for fun. I think the industry wants so much Tech in their products that it scares 99% of the customers away.
  • + 2
 And there are plenty of non top-end forks /suspension options for riders like you out there who don't want to mess with tuning options. Options are great. Don't like them, don't buy them
  • + 1
 @bman33: don't be upset that I could outride you on a Walmart rig bro. When you have skills you don't need to spend all your money for parts that will perform the skills that you could learn on your own easily. Keep drinking that Kool-Aid bro
  • - 1
 @stinkbikelies: Such a mature comment. I am sure you could outride all of us here on Pinkbike with that kind of keyboard courage. We all understand you are just waiting for YT to call you up to replace Gwin on the WC DH team. I never mentioned your riding but hey, glad you cleared that up for everyone
  • + 1
 @bman33: YT already sent me a bike bro I sent it back because everyone knows mom don't want you hanging out with the mob
  • + 1
 Boring
  • + 1
 Get the Fork outta here!
  • + 0
 Weak af
  • - 1
 Livevalve: something nobody wants, and nobody has ridden. Sweet product
  • + 2
 I didn't want your opinion but I still got it...
  • + 2
 Hey Eurobike gave an award to the Cannondale integrated bar/stem that never came out. We all make mistakes. It does seem a bit like a product that came about during a NPR brainstorming session with Elon musk.
  • + 1
 @raditude: I'd say most of Musk's stuff has turned out pretty cool. LOL!

As for LV... they exist. They're in the wild. They're being ridden. So far most of what I've read has been positive. So it's not some make believe product. It's real. Bike Co's are building frames for it. it'll be on the aftermarket soon, etc.

Seems like a reasonable time to have it up for this type of award.
  • + 2
 @onemanarmy: DI2 XTR exists, and sells too but I'm gonna say 99% of the bikes I work on aren't XTR Di2. I saw Livevalve in CB for the EWS race maybe 4 years ago? When Gravey was still on Yeti IIRC. I have zero interest in replacing a climb switch with a 4x more expensive solution.

Just like 6 days KTMs indeed sell, but when you go to the track its all YZ450F, and 2 strokes
  • - 1
 @onemanarmy: I mean technically, there's a price for the space shuttle too. But there are just as many of those as there are live valves out in "the wild" you refer to.

For the price, i think LV falls significantly short of what features it should deliver to justify the costs, especially when you stack it up against the competitors in this category for what it is offering to riders at a much lower pricepoint.
  • + 0
 @raditude: Like anybody gives a f*ck about livevalve besides some gaper turd and a guy who is paid to be excited about it
  • + 1
 @kmg0: what does that have to do with the parameters of this?
  • + 1
 @raditude: elaborate...
  • + 1
 @onemanarmy: Well, for one thing, the forks can go on most bikes on most travel ranges, so instantly you've opened up the benefits to a whole plethora of riders. LV won't, and even most inline bikes of lesser pricepoints aren't equipped to receive it. LV is only the LSC, which sure has its benefits, but it doesn't help with things like brake dive. If it were like a BMW system where it was able to assist in cornering traction, brake dive, maximizing traction through more situations, then i could absolutely see the benefits of it and would say it is totally worth the increase. As an automatic replacement for LSC levers, i don't see that yet. Sure it is where the system has to start, but again to the first point, those forks are bringing more features to more people and are making a bigger impact right NOW. Suspension product of the year, not most innovative suspension product.
  • - 1
 Whoever is giving money to PB will usually win!
  • + 0
 Hahaha
  • + 1
 yup
  • + 1
 Really? Last year MRP won. Not sure that those guys arrived with a suitcase of unmarked bills...
  • + 2
 @NickBit: You're right. It was a fanny pack.

Post a Comment



Copyright © 2000 - 2019. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv56 0.074259
Mobile Version of Website