Suspension Product of the Year NomineesThere'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: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: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:
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?