The SID has been in RockShox's catalog since 1998, long enough for most of us to forget what those three letters stand for. It's 'Superlight Integrated Design,' an appropriate name for suspension that's meant to weigh as little as possible. For 2021, RockShox is debuting two all-new and completely different SID forks that are more worthy of the name than ever, as well as the SIDLuxe shock to complete the cross-country focused package.
With 35mm stanchion tubes and a burlier chassis, an all-new damper and air spring, and a weight of 1,537-grams, could the fresh SID be the fork for riders who like a bit of down in their cross-country? I've spent the last month riding a Mondraker F-Podium DC with the new $899 USD SID Ultimate to find out.
SID Ultimate Details
• Intended use: Cross-country / trail
• Travel: 120mm
• Wheel size: 29" only
• Offset: 44mm only
• New Charger Race Day damper
• New chassis
• Stanchions: 35mm
• Weight: 1,537-grams
• MSRP: $899 to $969 USD
The other new fork is the race-inspired SID SL that offers 100mm of travel and weighs just 1,326-grams. That makes it the lightest cross-country fork on the market, but it's the stouter, 120mm-travel standard SID Ultimte that's reviewed below.
If all you're seeing are two cross-country forks with not enough travel, think of it like this: Are you the type of rider who only wants 100mm, and you want that 100mm to be really firm because you don't shave your legs and wear a skinsuit for nothing? And would you rather save 200-grams and be okay with having your seat in your ass than having fun on the descents? If you answered 'yes' to any of those, you're probably a SID SL kinda person.
Or are you the type of rider who only wants 120mm of travel, but you still enjoy a dumb line every so often or jumping off something that scares your poor trail bike? And would you rather not ride at all than high-post an otherwise fun descent? If any of those had you nodding, you're probably a normal SID kinda person, just like me.
The 100mm-travel SID SL Ultimate weighs just 1,326-grams thanks to an all-new chassis and a new damper that weighs only 88-grams. It goes for $799 to $869 USD.Two New SID Forks, One New SID Shock, and All the Tech The Lighter SID SL:
The race-focused SID SL sticks with 32mm diameter upper tubes to save weight, but the chassis is completely new. Judging by the scooped-out arch and Step-Cast-esque dropout areas, it's seen some serious paring down. RockShox has also moved away from the previous version's one-piece carbon fiber crown and steerer, with the new machined aluminum version said to weigh even less - my math tells me they shaved around 68-grams from the chassis alone.
The SID SL's new chassis is 68-grams lighter than the previous version.
RockShox cut even more weight by designing an all-new damper, the Charger Race Day, that weighs just 88-grams. That's an impressive 98-grams less than the previous SID damper, but minimal weight means minimal adjustments: You can turn your lockout on or off via a tiny lever at the crown or by their TwistLoc remote, and low-speed rebound is at the bottom of the same leg.
It's not often that a new, high-end product is less adjustable than its predecessor, but RockShox feels that when it comes all-out cross-country racing, dropping a dial or two is worth it to drop some grams.
The SID's carbon fiber crown and steerer has been retired, but RockShox says that the new aluminum version is even lighter.
All of that adds up to just 1,326-grams for the top-tier $799 to $869 USD SL Ultimate, making it the lightest telescoping cross-country fork on the market. Well, at least until someone else does all of the above and then drills a few more tiny holes to top it off.
Going for $599 to $669 USD, the 1,468-gram SID SL Select uses the same lightweight chassis but with the heavier, older Charger RL damper inside. Both models are available with only 100mm of travel, and only for 29" wheels.
The 120mm-travel SID Ultimate gets 35mm stanchion tubes, weighs 1,537-grams, and costs $899 to $969 USD.The Stouter SID:
The 120mm-travel SID (the fork tested below) gets a stouter chassis with a similar mega-light aluminum crown as the SL version, but with a bit less material removed and 35mm stanchions fitted. That tube diameter is the same as what you'll find on the Boxxer, Lyrik, and Pike, by the way. It also has a wider stance than its skinny-boy SL brother, and it skips the stepped-shape down at the dropouts.
The idea is short-travel and relatively low weight for riders who like those kinds of things, but also to improve steering precision for riders who like to have a say in that kind of thing.
You'll find the same silly-light Charger Race Day damper in the SID Ultimate that's used in the SL Ultimate, only a bit longer to match the extra travel. That means it gets the same crown-mounted lever or TwistLoc lockout controls, and the same removable hex key to adjust low-speed rebound.
The 1,537-gram SID Ultimate goes for $899 to $969 USD, but $699 to $769 will get you the SID Select that uses the heavier Charger RL damper and weighs 1,671-grams.
The SID's 88-gram Charger Race Day damper on the top, and the older damper on the bottom. The difference is nearly 100-grams.All-New Charger Race Day Damper:
I was surprised to learn that the lion's share of the weight savings on both the SL and standard SID comes from an all-new Charger Race Day damper that weighs, get this, just 88-grams. That's with the oil in it, too, although there certainly isn't much of it.
The new damper is a whopping (in this world) 98-grams lighter than what was employed inside the previous SID, and it's obvious to see how they did it: Make it really fricken small. Everything has been shrunk down; the damper body and its internals, the damper rod, the expanding bladder, and especially the oil volume. There isn't even a knob to adjust the rebound anymore, with a clip-on hex key thingy doing the job instead.
RockShox's weight-saving efforts can be seen at the SID's top cap, with speed holes through the side of it (left) and minuscule amounts of material removed elsewhere - spot that groove on the wrench flat? The older SID's long aluminum rebound dial has been ditched, too, with a clip-on hex key doing the job instead. Remove it for all your KOM attempts.
RockShox even added some Drillium, with holes through the circumference of the top cap's threads, and there's metal removed from the lockout lever, seal head, and even a tiny groove cut into the wrench flats. You'll also spot a tiny bleed screw at the topcap that will let you burp air from the system if needed, making maintenance easier.
There are changes to the damping, too, with a lighter overall compression tune compared to the old unit. The goal is to provide a bit more suspension compliance, something intended to work well with the firmer spring-rates that cross-country racing and having less travel in general requires.
Less oil volume meant RockShox could go with a smaller expanding bladder, saving even more grams.
I've got both the new and old cartridges in front of me as I type this, and the difference is almost comical. RockShox says that size doesn't matter, though, at least in the cross-country world where grams count for a lot. Such a small damper probably wouldn't be appropriate in a Pike where there's much more demanded of it, but inside of a cross-country fork? You can find out below. New DebonAir Spring:
Everything else is new, so why the spring as well? The biggest change is a relocation of the dimple, the tiny indentation on the inside wall of the spring-side stanchion that lets air travel between the positive and negative chambers for them to self-equalize. They've moved it lower down, a change that's said to eliminate that tiny bit of ghost-travel when the fork is at the top of its stroke that some current DebonAir forks have, and it's closer in shape to the dimples on the Pike and Lyrik.
The SIDLuxe shock was developed for cross-country racing and, just like the new SID forks, is all about minimum weight.SIDLuxe Shock
There's a SID shock in RockShox's catalog for the first time since 2003. The SID SL has been pared down to the minimum and it's the same story here, with RockShox chasing grams and removing any aluminum they deem as excess. Did you notice that the SIDLuxe looks a bit small? That's because it is, with the body and shaft being down-sized compared to their other shocks. This also creates a bit more space for designers to get a water bottle or two inside the front triangle.
Further helping in the weight (and space) department is the lack of a rebound adjustment knob. There'd usually big a shiny red dial to fiddle with, or a big ring to turn on a trunion-mount shock, but they're nowhere to be seen on the SIDLuxe. Instead, you use the same little hex key that the forks require; I guess all the grams add up. There's also a milled-out lockout switch (or TwistLoc), with RockShox settling on a relatively stiff setting (with a blow-off, of course) because cross-country.
Speaking of damping, the theme is the same as with the Charger Race Day damper, with a relatively forgiving compression tune intended to work in conjunction with the firm spring-rates that short-travel and cross-country racing call for. On Trail with the SID Ultimate and SIDLuxe
I've been using the 120mm-travel SID Ultimate and SIDLuxe shock on Mondraker's F-Podium DC, a bike that puts a big emphasis on speed and efficiency. It's a sporty package that's probably too fancy for my winter legs, but its seen action on the rocky, rooty trails of Squamish and North Vancouver, BC, and not a single day of it in dry conditions.
Let's get straight to the cage match: I've also spent a considerable amount of time on a 120mm-travel Fox 34 Step-Cast, which has to be the new SID's most direct competitor. I've used the 34 for everything from full days in the Whistler Bike Park (don't follow my example for anything, including this) to week-long cross-country stage races, even if my legs were hairy and my shorts were baggy. Fox's down-country fork weighs 1,623-grams, or 86-grams more than the SID, and you can bet your last Bottomless Token that RockShox had the 34 in its sights when developing their new fork.
Does 86-grams (0.18lbs) actually count for anything? Probably not, but also hell yes for a lot of riders; there will definitely be those who choose the SID for that reason alone. But let's talk about more important stuff.
The 34 Step-Cast that I used for so long came with their three-position FIT4 damper that, with open, medium, and firm modes, does make sense for a lot of trail riders. Thing is, that FIT4 cartridge isn't as good as their GRIP2 system when it's really rough and fast, and Fox doesn't offer a Factory-level 34 Step-Cast with GRIP2 (but you can get the heavier Performance model with the older GRIP damper that also beats FIT4.) RockShox's Charger Race Day doesn't have the low-speed compression adjustment that FIT4 does, but that doesn't stop the pint-sized damper from seeming to be able to offer more control when things are really rough and coming at you a bit too quickly. The SID is calmer in those moments, but I suspect I'd be hard pressed to see any contrast on smooth terrain.
Who wins when it comes to steering precision? To me, at under 160lbs, which is always my disclaimer on this topic, the SID does feel a nip more torsionally rigid. Both companies would probably say theirs is stiffer, and one of them is likely right, but what the hell do you want from your 120mm-travel fork that's light enough to use for cross-country racing? The SID is plenty stiff for its intentions and then some, but don't go thinking it's a Pike just because it has the same size upper tubes.
RockShox made sure the SID has enough progression through its travel, meaning that those who have plans to push the fork past its intended use won't have to use some stupidly firm spring rate to prevent it from smashing bottom all the time. It can't be overstated how helpful this is, and I was happy with two volume-reducing tokens inside the SID, whereas I've had to stuff as many as possible into other short-travel forks.
The combination of not needing to use too much air pressure, and a damper that offers active, compliant travel means that the SID is relatively supple over the chattery, high-frequency stuff. Those are the kind of micro-impacts that can take more out of you than you'd expect, especially near the end of a long day in the saddle. For just 120mm, the SID offers the best balance of that small-bump compliance, mid-stroke support, and progression that I've experienced.
Small damper, big performance +
More progressive spring curve+
It doesn't weigh very much
Look elsewhere if you want more knobs to turn