4 Affordable Trail Bike Forks Ridden & Rated

Sep 26, 2019
by Richard Cunningham  



The title of this feature could be, "What I learned from three years of riding affordable trail bikes," but it's actually about affordable forks.

This review compares the features of the most popular trail bike forks - the sliders you'd most likely find as original equipment on enthusiast-level machines priced in the neighborhood of $3,000 USD. Manitou and Suntour are conspicuously absent from this group because they rarely show up at these price points and we have yet to crank out long-term reviews of representative models - we'll look to address that in the near future. What you will see are some familiar names from Fox and RockShox, and one new player we recently reviewed from Marzocchi.


What is "Affordable?"

Trail bike forks with wheel travel in the 140 to 160-millimeter range don't come cheap. Expect to pay from $500 to well upwards of $700 USD for aftermarket sliders. Savvy buyers searching for new, unridden take-off forks will fare better, with street pricing averaging around $400 for OEM models. Knowledge is power in this group of forks, however, because suspension makers often mix and match features to meet the desires of OEM bike makers. What's inside counts, which is reason enough for a head to head comparison.


Disclosure: For reasons easily imagined, but not detailed here, some of the forks in this feature are only sold to OEM bike makers and are not intended for retail customers. That said, OEM-only forks can be purchased in new condition online or as take-offs from savvy retailers with minimal searching.




RockShox Yari RC

RockShox dominates the affordable trail bike market with the Yari RC and its derivatives. Based upon the competition-proven Lyrik chassis and sporting sturdy, 35mm aluminum stanchion tubes, the Yari straddles the territory between lightweight trail forks and over-the-top enduro sliders. The main reason for the Yari's overwhelming OEM spec, however, is its inexpensive Motion Control damper. It's been in the RockShox inventory forever and if you pull it out from the right-side fork cap you'll understand why, until recently, nobody has been able to match the Yari RC for performance and value.

Motion Control damper

Forget complicated shim stacks and micro-adjustable fluid pathways. Motion Control is the Barbie Bake With Me Oven of hydraulic compression dampers. It's one dial on top of a tubular, five-inch piece of plastic, with a bunch of slots in it that is plugged at the bottom end. The low-speed compression dial simply rotates a plate that closes off a series of holes until no fluid can pass through the plug under compression. And that's when the magic begins. Impacts that exceed the flow of your chosen low-speed setting cause the serrated tube to compress and at some point, the end-plug momentarily shrinks away from the low-speed disc and allows fluid to rush underneath it. Motion Control's high- and low-speed compression circuit basically has two moving parts.

Performance Notes

The crazy part about Motion Control is that it actually works - in part, because the present crop of aggressive trail riders place a high value on mid-stroke support and big-hit performance, which happen to be the two things that its simplistic compression device does best.

Suspension pros, however, will attest that rebound control is the key to a good fork and here, the Yari's rebound circuit employs a time-proven speed-sensitive shim stack and bypass port. Together with the DebonAir's self-adjusting negative spring, the Yari RC manages to provide an impressive measure
Riding a bike on a trail filled with dirt and the occasional rock
Yari RC Details

MSRP: $699 USD
Travel: 150, 160, 170, 180mm
Spring: DebonAir - air spring
Damper: Motion Control cartridge
Stanchions: Aluminum, 35mm
Wheels: 29" or 27.5"
Offsets: 37mm/46mm (27.5"), 42mm/51mm (29")
Adjustments: Low-speed compression, low-speed rebound
Colors: Black, black anodized stanchions
Weight: 4.47 lbs/2030g (29" 140mm)
More information

Motion Control damper
This simple rotating disc valve is czar of the Yari's compression damping system.
of grip and sensitivity while cornering and braking, which is where you need it most.

The downside of the Yari RC is that you can't have lots of mid-stroke support and a supple feel in the first 50 millimeters of its stroke. It helps that you can adjust the spring rate using air-volume tokens, but you'll still feel some chatter through the handlebar grips.

bigquotesI've become a fan of the RockShox Yari fork. I like the support it provides, both under power and when I press the bike in a corner - and it does this without feeling like someone replaced the air spring with a stack of air volume spacers when I'm pounding over a series of big ruts and rocks.From the Rocky Mountain Altitude Alloy 30 review
Riding a bike on a trail filled with dirt and the occasional rock


Pros

+ Built on RockShox's stiff 35mm Lyrik chassis
+ Support and big-hit performance most riders want.
Cons

- Limited to "either/or" tuning options
- Pre-set compression threshold may not suit your needs.




Marzocchi Bomber Z2

"Your fancy fork may have five dials, each with 20 clicks, but 19 of them are going to be wrong. The Z2's "less is more" design strategy distills the body of knowledge suspension experts have learned from the recent enduro/all-mountain epoch, then hard-wires those improvements into the fork's internals. Fewer parts, spot-on damping, and simplified adjustments that provide clear feedback are Marzocchi's formula for success. That, and the Bomber Z2's refreshing, $499 USD sticker price are poised to shake up the performance suspension marketplace."

Marzocchi Bomber Z2 2020
Marzocchi's air-volume spacers may be green, but they, and the Z-2's air spring are identical to those found in Fox 34 forks.

That's what the new Marzocchi is all about, and the Bomber Z2 was appearing as an OEM fork only weeks after its debut this year. PB recently reviewed the Bomber Z2 and it fits well in this group. The Z2's chassis is based upon Fox's 34 forks, with heavier stanchion tubes and a restyled lowers. The air spring is interchangeable with Fox's Float 34 as well and it also shares Fox's smooth acting seals and bushing system. The damper, however, is Marzocchi's jewel.

The Rail damper operates directly inside the right-side stanchion tube, which eliminates the need for a cartridge and makes room for more fluid. Rebound and compression dampers use shim stacks, or versions thereof, that make for one of the smoothest
Marzocchi Bomber Z2 2020
Bomber Z2 Details

MSRP: $499 USD
Travel: 100, 120, 130, 140, 150mm
Spring: Fox Float - air spring
Damper: Rail semi open bath design
Stanchions: Aluminum, 34mm
Wheels: 29" or 27.5"
Offsets: 44mm/51mm (29"), 44mm (27.5")
Adjustments: Low-speed compression, low-speed rebound
Colors: Black, Red / W black anodized stanchions
Weight: 4.4 lbs/2000 grams (150mm, 29")
More information
feeling forks we've ridden in a while. The Rail damper has no internal floating piston or bladder, relying on the extra volume of fluid and the distance between the rebound and compression pistons to ensure that air bubbles do not detract from the damping performance.

Performance Notes

Marzocchi's affiliation with Fox assures reliability and consistency - equally as important s the Z2's pro-feeling damping performance for riders on a budget. The Marzocchi name allows the design team to deliver a busload of control and traction at a price point that its parent company has been reluctant to deliver - presumably because such heresy would erode Fox's prestigious position as the sport's ultimate racing suspension.

That is, however, exactly what the Bomber Z2 does. After riding it for much of the summer season, I'd need a lot of convincing to spend more than this fork's $500 asking price. It's smooth over the
Marzocchi Bomber Z2 2020
The Rail damper's low-speed compression dial provides precise control over the fork's ride height and mid-stroke support.
chatter. It sucks up a massive amount of punishment and between its simple trio of air-volume spacers, and effective low-speed damping dials, it can be tuned to suit the needs of almost any top bike handler.

bigquotesI gave the Z2 the chance to fail on a 9-mile local descent which features prolonged boulder fields. I emerged at the bottom end with a fully functional fork. If it did fade, I didn't notice - the Marzocchi had enough performance left in the bank to keep the rubber side down and my confidence in the green.From the PB Review


Pros

+ Pro feeling damping and support
+ Best performance value in its class
+ Worldwide support through Fox
Cons

- Some may wish it had adjustable HS compression
- Has not been out long enough to assess its longevity




RockShox Revelation Charger RC

RockShox's Pike has earned many fans for its sturdy, precise steering chassis and sophisticated feel, but its performance comes at a tall sticker price. The new Revelation Charger RC is the poor man's Pike. If you haven't already guessed, it shares the same uppers and lowers, but with its internal features pared down in order to hit a more agreeable price point for OEM bike makers.

On the left side, the Revelation Charger RC shares the Pike's DebonAir spring and air-volume token system. The cost savings are all on the damper side, where the Revelation uses a simpler version of the Charger 2 damper, with a spring-loaded internal piston instead of a friction free bladder to isolate suspension fluid from air bubbles, and it also lacks the Charger 2's external high-speed compression dial.

Charger 2 damper
The Charger RC's damper features a modern, spring-loaded internal floating piston. Compression damping, however, is controlled by an upgraded version of the plastic Motion Control device.

The good news is that if you can live with air-volume tokens and standard low-speed rebound and compression clickers, this fork will show you a good time on any trail you have the seeds to hit.
RocjShox Revelation RC
Revelation Charger RC Details

MSRP: OEM only, Street price: $400+ USD
Travel: 120, 130, 140, 150, 160mm
Spring: DebonAir - air spring
Damper: Charger cartridge
Stanchions: Aluminum, 35mm
Wheels: 29" or 27.5"
Offsets: 37mm/46mm (27.5"), 42mm/51mm (29")
Adjustments: Low-speed compression, low-speed rebound
Colors: Black, black anodized stanchions
Weight: 4.3 lbs/1948g (29" 150mm)
More information

The bad news is that RockShox doesn't offer the Charger version as an aftermarket option. You can buy the Revelation RC with the less sophisticated Motion Control damper at any retailer, but if you want the Charger damper's more seamless feel, you'll have to purchase the Revelation charger model as a take-off fork from a bike shop or a private party. They are running $400 USD and up on the street.

Performance Notes

We've reviewed a number of trail bikes equipped with Revelation RC and Charger RC forks and the one thing they all have in common is that they provide a lot of confidence on the downs. Rebound is smooth and consistent, while compression damping is on the firm side of comfortable. Compared to the Motion Control option, the Charger damper adds a measure of sensitivity under braking and cornering that one would expect from its improved valving and IFP type cartridge design. That, and the sharp steering it inherits from the Pike's 35-millimeter stanchions and rigid chassis make it a bargaining point, should you be on the hunt for a value-priced trail bike or a fork upgrade.
Revelation Charger RC fork


Another angle is that RockShox's Charger and Charger 2 dampers can be retrofitted into Revelation forks. Installation is straight forward, but be prepared to pay anywhere from $180 to $280 USD for the damper cartridge. That's good to know should you own a Revelation with a Motion Control damper and discover that you are not satisfied with its performance.

The downsides to the Revelation Charger RC are nitpicks, but worthy of mention. There are only five clicks in the Charger's low-speed compression dial, but each makes a noticeable change in the fork's ride height and small bump compliance. Nobody at PB complained they needed more adjustment range, but you'll have to make that decision for yourself. The other peeve was that the Charger's compression dial felt like a cheap toy screwed onto an otherwise durably constructed suspension fork.



bigquotesYou can hit anything as hard as you want. It's got lots of support for pedaling and cornering, and it never goes all the way to the O-ring unless you make a huge mistake.From PB Field Tests




Pros

+ Pike chassis and performance
+ Charger cartridge damper
Cons

- OEM only, so you'll have to fish for one
- Just five clicks of compression adjustment




Fox Rhythm Grip 34

Fox debuted the Grip damper around 2016 to offer OEM customers a lower cost cartridge system packed with the key features of its racing forks. High-speed rebound and compression are controlled by shim-stack pistons, and the oil is separated from air contamination by a spring-loaded IFP. Low-speed rebound damping uses a standard needle valve, while low-speed compression was limited to three settings: open, "trail" and near lockout. (*Update: As noted, Rhythm Grip dampers use the "Sweep" compression dial without the three detents described in PB's Original Grip damper review.)

The reason I begin with the Grip damper is that without it, Fox's Rhythm would be merely a good fork. By intention or accident, the Grip cartridge nearly outperforms Fox's more expensive FIT4 system. The only real sacrifice is there is no high-speed compression feature on the base-model Grip dampers (the Grip cartridge found in the Fox 36 has this feature.)

Fox 34 Grip
Fox's Grip damper features a spring-loaded internal floating piston (IFP, upper left) instead of the more expensive FIT4's expanding bladder to prevent the suspension fluid from foaming and contamination.

Fox doesn't sell Rhythm forks in the aftermarket - it's an OEM only slider. The closest you can get is their "Performance Series” 34, which starts at $749 USD with the Grip damper. Rhythm Charger forks, however, can be found in new condition for hundreds less and are built on a similar, if not the same, 34-millimeter-stanchion chassis.

Fox Rhythm 34 Grip fork
Rhythm Grip 34 Details

MSRP: OEM only, Street price: $400+ USD
Travel: 120, 130, 140, 150mm
Spring: Float - air spring
Damper: Grip cartridge
Stanchions: Aluminum, 34mm
Wheels: 29" or 27.5"
Offsets: 44mm/51mm (29"), 44mm (27.5")
Adjustments: Low-speed compression, low-speed rebound
Colors: Black, black anodized stanchions
Weight: 4.18 lbs/1901g (27,5"), 4.26 lbs/1933g (29")
More information
The visual cue is the Rhythm's black-anodized tubes instead of gold Kashima - but inside, you'll find the same Float air-spring system and air-volume spacers. In a previous review, Mike Levy stated it was difficult to differentiate the ride quality of black ano' Grip-damped forks from their high-zoot FIT4 Kashima contemporaries. I agree. Fox has since upgraded both systems, but the performance of Fox's humble OEM fork continues to steal the show.

Performance Notes

I'll steal a paragraph from Levy's 2016 Grip damper review, to begin this ride report:

"With the *three-position compression dial turned all the way to the left and fully open, the Grip damper still offers more than adequate low-speed compression control. The front wheel tracks the ground exceptionally well, and this was my go-to setting when it was wet, loose, or I simply needed a more forgiving feel at the front of my bike. The damper's middle setting is comparable to the middle setting on the three-position FIT4 damper, with maybe a bit more support, and the closed setting is also firmer than the closed setting that the FIT4 damper offers."
Fox Performance 34 Float Grip
Set in the middle compression position, Grip dampers deliver the level of mid-stroke support that many gravity-oriented riders crave.

Should you buy a trail bike with a Fox Rhythm Grip 34 fork, you won't have to worry about an upgrade. Those searching for a performance fork, who may be too cash strapped to afford Fox's more impressive aftermarket options, the more humble Grip-damped Rhythm offers a convincing argument.

The difficulty, however, is that you'll have to search the interwebs to find one - and you'll have to live with the Grip damper's simplistic low-speed adjustments.

bigquotesSweet performing fork with simple, effective adjustments. The Grip damper surprised me with its wide-range of damping and support.RC
Giant Trance 2 2018


Pros

+ Fox's best kept performance/value secret
+ Grip damper continues to impress
[BOX paddingLeft=50]
Cons

- OEM only. Fox's nearest offering costs twice its street value




Picking a Winner

Marzocchi wins this group of four. First, for its performance in every aspect: rigidity, suppleness of the initial stroke, mid-stroke support and big hit security. Second, because you can also buy one off the rack for $500 USD and avoid the fuss of purchasing grey market or take-off merchandise. Runners up would have to be either the RockShox Revelation Charger RC or Fox's Rhythm Grip 34. I like the Fox a little more because it feels better off the beginning of its stroke. The Revelation, however, beats the Rhythm, with equal suppleness everywhere else and a lower asking price (if you can manage to find one on the interweb). All four are proven contenders, but the fact that two of them are not technically for sale illustrates the depth of the void in this essential market.
Marzocchi Bomber Z2 2020
There's a new sheriff in Affordable Suspension Town.

Lessons Learned: The importance of fielding a top-performing suspension fork that can outfit a trail bike in the range of $3,000 to $3,500 USD has finally percolated into the minds of the big three suspension makers. In response, RockShox has launched their 35 Gold series, Fox has secretly been stuffing features into its Performance range, and we have yet to throw Manitou and SR Suntour into the ring for long-term reviews to see how they measure up. At present, however, it's the Bomber Z2 that takes the leadership role. Well done.





236 Comments

  • 372 2
 I’m really happy about the shift PB has made over the past couple of years towards this kind of real world stuff. Cheaper bikes in review, head to heads in most reviews. Much better than it was in the first half of the decade.
This review is the icing on the cake. You can’t get much more real world than reviewing OEM stuff only available on eBay. Even though probably half of riders do that, I’ve never really heard of any other publication doing that in a front page review.
Two thumbs up. Thanks PB!
  • 42 4
 I still want to see a Push'ed Super Yari vs a 36 Grip2 Smashpot.
  • 11 5
 @MikeAzBS: Vorsprung > Push. Bottom out technology is better with the Vorsprung.
  • 18 0
 Yes! Thank you PB for articles like this! Please do a follow up article with Manitou, Suntour, and DVO. Maybe include ease of service as well since many buyers in this price conscious level save money by self servicing.
  • 4 1
 Good on pinkbike yes there is a noted improvement! I would however dispute "Worldwide support through Fox" as a positive. Im in the US and have a BRAND NEW bike I would love to ride but my rear fox shock was busted out of the box and communication for support is HORRIBLE. Ive heard similar stories about getting support for other brands under the fox umbrella.
  • 2 0
 @SL13: was going to say the DVO Beryl would fit right in this price point.

But it's no longer listed amount the fork models on DVO website. Maybe discontinued.
  • 1 0
 @SL13: I usually buy used anyway.

One can find a used mrp ribbon in great condition for $450-600 all day long.
Same can be said for most of the top fork models.

I'll take a lightly used top of the line over a new budget fork all day long.
  • 1 3
 @MikeAzBS: get a grip. Yari FUX it up yo!
  • 8 1
 Seriously, it’s great to see these articles because the entry level stuff is the stuff of dreams 5-10 years ago. I’ve seen too many people get talked into $5-8k bikes as their starter bikes when one of the new bikes at $3k would make them just as happy. The Ripmo AF is now my go to recommendation for someone who wants to ride trails or have lift days and need shop support. Let’s hope more bikes of its like keep coming.
  • 1 1
 @ckcost: I have heard similar noise. I got an RA through on line RA form and they sent me a UPS Call tag to get it back as fast as possible. I have been in communications with their Service Manager - 831-235-1182
  • 1 0
 @ckcost: yep. Numerous no replies, replacements shaft sent that are broken already etc. I've stayed well away.
  • 1 0
 @sethius: How have you been trying to reach them? Did you know that they moved to Sparks, NV?
What was broken on the shafts that you received? I got a shaft that was mislabeled, but after talking with this guy at the number above, it turned out that it was the correct shaft and I am back on the road again
  • 1 0
 @SuspensionJock: Ill try reach out at the above number. I was told I would have an answer from the service manager on Monday or tuesday....but nothing and my inquiries since then have gone unresponded. I try not to be one of "those customers" but having a brand new bike with a shock not working properly and getting support like this is pretty disappointing. Can be a good look for their OEM customers either.
  • 1 0
 @reverend27: and then three rides in your realise the crowns been loctited for the sale and the crowns now creaking and they’ve got no warranty. Nah I’ll stick with some yari’s there is basically no real world difference between them and the lyrics anyway.
  • 1 0
 @thenotoriousmic: I had a second hand fox 36 and it had a creaky crown. It was pretty annoying until I got used to it. I did get used to it though, and it worked really well.
Right now I have a Yari that I bought on a used bike and it is not even in the same ballpark as the 36, and my 36 was a 2015 model. The Yari is a decent fork and it doesn't creak. It beats my hands up a bit though. There is definitely merit to both arguments.
  • 1 0
 @thenotoriousmic: or I bought my ribbon from a bike mechanic that rode it for several months before selling it to me me.
And before selling it he put new dust wipes and resized the bushings to make it perfect.

Still on same fork 1.5 years later. Not bad for $600 here on pb.
  • 1 0
 @jaame Might be better slightly but not £500 better and the yari is a much stiffer fork which is where my preference is anyway. Also the crowns don’t creak on yari’s / lyrik as regularly as 36’s.
  • 1 0
 @reverend27: yeah you took a gamble and it paid off. It quite often doesn’t and if your buying a second hand fork of a mate I’d imagine they’d get it warranted for you as well so not quite the same as how most second hand forks a bought.
  • 1 0
 @thenotoriousmic: well I paid $500 American for that fork so I got a great fork at a solid price. If it didn’t creak it would have been perfect. Anyway my point is, there is not one right answer. Some forks are better than others of the same model. It’s a gamble if you go second hand, but it could pay off.
  • 88 5
 Come on guys! Comparing 4 affordable forks and you choose the following:
- 2 Rockshox
- 1 Fox
- 1 rebadged Fox

Where are the X-Fusion, Suntour, Manitou etc. forks?
  • 33 1
 And the DVO Beryl/Diamond D2
  • 7 5
 Its written in second paragraph, they have tested forks most commonly found on entry level bikes and those three are simply not...Which we can agree is a pity because they are really great p/p forks (I have mattoc pro and aion rc2)... I believe more comprehensive test with those included should really be done!
  • 13 3
 @winko: I think it's a lame excuse. I don't care about the affordability of an OEM fork, because it's part of the bike you buy. If Santa Cruz puts a Rhythm on a €7,000 bike, do I care that the fork is affordable? No, I want to know what is a good fork to upgrade the bike with. And then the Fox becomes irrelevant and I want to know how really affordable forks (street prices!) perform. And Fox and RS are usually more expensive for the same performance. An MC2 damper shits on Motion Control/basic Charger/GRIP.
  • 5 2
 @Mac1987: Exactly. The fact the they even included TWO OEM only forks does exactly What for someone reading this article??? The Yari and Marz were fine to include, but come on. Who is going to go searching for a second hand Revelation?? A person genuinely looking to benefit from reading this article is probably looking for a more capable but affordable upgrade from the Revelation or 34 that came on their bike. They would have been better to speak to the value benefit of upgrading the damper only in the Yari and the Revelation, as that is more relevant to the reader in these instances.
  • 5 5
 Always seems like a bit too much SRAM product coverage on PB and not enough of everything else... conspiracy theorists get to work Smile
  • 5 0
 @Metacomet: I mean.... if you're upgrading from the Revelation or 34 you're not really in the budget bracket anymore. But yeah upgrading dampers is a good option if you already have one of those forks.

There are a fair number of lower-priced trail bikes that still come spec'd with 32mm forks (Recon, XCR-Air, etc). Something like a 35 Gold (which seems pretty much the same as a MoCo Revelation), Rhythm 34, Z2, Aion, etc is a great affordable upgrade from something like that if you're getting into the sport and starting to push the bike harder.
  • 1 0
 @bkm303: or buy a Mattoc on discount. Far better damper performance and easier maintenance.
  • 2 0
 @bkm303: Exactly.

Absolutely agree that this sort of article should present a much wider range of options. Far too much focus on the big 2. This in turn impacts the market (buyer buy what they know) and results in less choice for those of us willing to consider other options.

That said, there's not been a better time in recent history if you want something that isn't Fox / Rockshox so maybe I'm wrong.
  • 2 0
 My DVO Beryl is like butter. So smooth...and I bought it during the DVO sale this summer where certain sized forks were all 27.5% discounted!
  • 91 13
 Someone is always going to mention Manitou, and I'll be that guy:
Manitou?
  • 93 5
 na, we'd rather test 2 Rock shox forks
  • 34 1
 Did you read the review?
  • 8 0
 i own a mattoc and its a really good and affordable fork, the msrp is around 1k euros here so on paper its not affordable. streetprice is often sub 600.
  • 33 1
 Every Manitou fork has just had the best damping performance of any brand I've ridden, seriously underrated brand, I wouldn't buy anything but the Mezzer if I was in the market for a new fork
  • 7 1
 @mtbikeaddict: except for the price of a yari you could also get a mattoc
  • 1 0
 @optimumnotmaximum: I'm not sure what that has to do with me? Was that supposed to go to Stokedonthis?
  • 2 0
 hahaa, sorry RC mentioned it first.
  • 12 0
 I'm not faulting the review, but as a very happy Mattoc owner I'll throw in my support for Manitou as a strong budget contender.
  • 8 0
 I still have a functioning Shawn Palmer titanium addition Manitou on a old Super V it has does state-of-the-art elastomers in it. Horrible small bump sensitivity in the summer even worse in the winter.
  • 9 0
 Loved my Mattoc Pro II. I see NSMB have just ridden the Mezzer.
  • 4 0
 I have the darodo and the mattock......insane!!! best by far!!!
  • 6 0
 I've owned pretty much all of the big brands - Mattoc has the best damper hands down, so composed. If i was building new bike, would go MEZZER.
  • 7 0
 Running a Mattoc also. Smooth, supportive and trouble free for a couple seasons. Favorite fork I've owned.
  • 5 0
 Manitou and Suntour are conspicuously absent from this group because they rarely show up at these price points and we have yet to crank out long-term reviews of representative models - we'll look to address that in the near future. What you will see are some familiar names from Fox and RockShox, and one new player we recently reviewed from Marzocchi.
  • 6 0
 Mattoc by far out performs anything in this test.
  • 4 0
 @Bird-Man: Same here, but mine are spelled Mattoc and Dorado... jokes. Fully agree, great forks. Unreal damping and very nice support with the IRT system. Hydraulic bottom out system is also the cat's ass.
  • 1 0
 @alexisfire: why don't you post a link to your shootout of forks? Obviously, only a reviewer would have access to test out all these forks including a Manitou. Wait, isn't the Mattoc an Enduro fork, not a trail fork?
  • 2 0
 @Rubberelli: Mattoc is more of a trail fork. There are travel options from 90mm to 170mm. The new Mezzer is a dedicated enduro-type fork.
  • 1 0
 I would be very interested to read a review of the Mezzer. That was the fork I had my eye on until last week when the 38 was spotted.
I read on another site that the 38 is likely to be a 2021 model based on Fox’s usual first appearance and then release schedules.
I was kind of hoping the 38 would show up on bikes in January.
  • 4 0
 @jaame: Not a long term review, but Andrew Major does very good reviews, and this may be what you're looking for: nsmb.com/articles/manitou-mezzer-pro-suspension-fork-ridden
  • 1 0
 @mammal: thanks for that mammal, I will take a look
  • 1 0
 @jaame:
Well Fox seems like they release their stuff earlier all the time so we may see their 2021 lineup in April of next year.
  • 1 0
 @jaame:

After reading the artivlcle I do not see why fox really have to make 38 besides showing off against Manitou, I have bigger stanchions than you :-P
The 36 is their Enduro Freeride fork travel- and stiffnesswise. Manitou only had a 34mm fork leaving a wide gap intravel and stiffness to a dh fork, especially in the 29er department.
They could only trump the mezzer with similar irt feature and hydraulic bottom out. Just bigger stanchions with grip 2 will not be any buying reason.
I already have the mezzer waiting to be installed after having two mattocs and riding several other forks with awk/runt even vs a custom solo Airspring metric that easily holds its own next to a Lyrik rc2. But never will I again use an solo Airspring like evol or debonair with shitty air tokens, as the two positive air chamber systems deliver so much better linear supportive travel which is still completely usable instead of absurd high progression with 2 3 or 4 tokens to prevent from diving
  • 1 0
 @bansaiman: I agree about tokens. I think they are a shitty system that doesn’t work very well. In my experience of using them on the 36 you get the worst of both worlds. Crappy mode stroke and too much progression.
Regarding the reason for the 38mm legs though, I think it’s because they currently have a stop gap which is the 36 with beefier tube thicknesses for e bikes. That was never meant as a long term solution to the strength and flexibility problem. I would hazard a guess that they were developing the 38 before they heard anything about the Mezzer. I could be wrong.
I had a totem before and while I loved that fork for looks and big hits, it was always shit on small bumps unless it had been serviced the week before. It went sticky very, very soon after a service. I wonder if the 38 will suffer in the same way. I’m hoping not because I want to buy one and I think the seal tech has come a long way in ten years. At least I hope it has.
  • 1 0
 100% agree. Most everything I ride feels inferior to manitou. I just put a DVO Diamond on my trail bike and miss the Mattoc (or even other lower 32mm models....minute, marvel, etc.)
  • 51 2
 This is wrong:
The closest you can get is their "Performance Series” 34, which starts at $749 USD with the Grip 2 damper.

There is no 34 GRIP2. Rhythm and Performance 34s both use the simple GRIP. Performance just has detents on the compression adjuster.


This is wrong too:
while low-speed compression is limited to three settings: open, "trail" and near lockout.

both the Rhythm and Performance GRIP compression adjusters have basically infinite positions between their open and lock limits. Rhythm doesn't even have detents, you just put it where you want it.



I don't know much about the other forks but when you get some stuff so badly wrong I don't feel like I can trust the rest of your info.
  • 11 1
 Thanks for saying that about the rhythm compression adjudtment , reading the article I wasn't sure if I'd had too much or too little beer.
  • 2 0
 So is that one extra click in compression the only difference between rhythm and performance?

I got the 36 Performance and I was wondering if I should use Fox‘s upgrade option to Grip2 when I send it in for big service this winter.
  • 6 0
 @Upduro: Not worth it in my opinion, unless you're really good at finding at the right setup. I think that a more expensive damper cartridge, with a wrong setup, is much worse than a cheaper damper.
It's so easy with the Grip damper to make adjustments on the fly.
Flowtrail: close it a bit more
Wet day: open it bit a more
DH track with big compressions and jumps: close it quite a lot
  • 1 0
 @Upduro: if you got an extra $350, yeah do it.
  • 3 0
 @Upduro: go for the GRIP2. It's compatible with your fork. As for Rhythm vs. Performance the rhythm uses 6000 series aluminum uppers while performance uses 7000 series aluminum uppers.
  • 2 0
 @DDoc: If that upgrade costs $350, I'd go with the Avalanche cartridge. It's way better and comparable in price (in USD).
  • 1 0
 @Upduro: rhythm forks have less expensive and heavier lowers and stanchion tubes. Same dampers as performance series. Lots of misinformation in this article
  • 1 0
 @chri92: true enough, i left my grip damper wide open on a ride and blew through the travel on a big roll to a compression and gave myself whiplash ????
  • 5 0
 It’s completely relevant to test OEM forks because if you’re buying a bike in this price range you want to know if the fork it comes with is any good. It’s probably the biggest point of difference for me when comparing bikes in this bracket.
  • 1 0
 I was wondering about that too. My bomber Z1 with the GRIP damper is infinite adjust. Wasn't sure why they would have the same damper with 3 position adjust?
  • 1 0
 @friendlyfoe: it's still infinite adjust but there's just a nice click as you pass the middle position.
  • 1 0
 I wonder why they would make it different? Good that it is in fact infinite (as the article suggests otherwise. I'm definitely running somewhere in the middle between open and middle. Middle would be harsh as hell at anything less than race pace.
  • 1 0
 I know other thing that seems a bit wrong..

"however, can be found in new condition for hundreds less and are built on a similar, if not the same, 34-millimeter-stanchion chassis."

the chassis of the rythm fork is much more bulky and ugly..
  • 4 0
 While fact checking the article, The Fox website stated that the Performance 34's Grip damper has a three-position compression dial, so I went with that to be safe (www.ridefox.com/family.php?m=bike&family=34s) - As that was the only fork in this group I did not still have in my workshop to physically inspect. Levy's review also noted the same three positions, so I probably missed the memo.
  • 1 0
 @Upduro: I was thinking the same with my Fox 36 Performance fork but then I thought to myself, nah f-it, keep it simple. The compression dampener adjustment on it is easy and from open to halfway has notched dialing which gives easy adjustability.

The main thing was just to set it up well. For me I removed 1 of the 2 tokens so as to get better travel usage and small bump sensitivity. 2 token stock setup was just too rough on me. Some folk run em with no tokens. Millage may vary.
  • 22 1
 Isn’t the sensible choice a second hand Yari with a Charger damper dropped in it?
  • 4 2
 I agree. Start with a Yari, then when it comes round to fork servicing time see if you've got the money to upgrade the damper. Then over time you can upgrade to a Lyrik. If it suits your bike/riding style you can even pop in a 180mm air shaft which combined with the damper will give you a super plush top spec fork.
  • 7 2
 *Avalanche damper
  • 11 0
 @rojo-1: Yari and Lyrik have the same chassis, air spring and rebound. Just putting a better damper (if needed) is enough.
  • 12 0
 @ctd07:
Charger - £160 if you shop around
Avalanche - £365 + tax

As much as I love Avalanche it removes a big part of the "affordable" title
  • 5 0
 I have a Yari and looked at upgrading the damper but it is costly. I run a Luftkappe which is around £60 if you fit it yourself - an excellent upgrade I thoroughly recommend.
  • 3 2
 @ctd07: but then you have to deal with Craig. I'll pass.
  • 2 0
 @tremeer023: A Yari with a Charger is a Lyrik with a different label. A luftkappe would be an upgrade to a Lyrik/Yari as you say, but a different sort of change to improving the damping
  • 4 1
 @ATXZJ: What's wrong with Craig? I enjoyed talking to him when I bought my AVA cartridge and he always answered my Q's.
  • 9 0
 @ATXZJ: agreed. Hands down the most f’ed up telephone discussion I have had with an industry retailer in 25+ years. I may have caught him in high rage mode but after going on and on in a very condescending tone to me about how little I knew about bike suspension (even though I admitted I knew very little) he spent 15 minutes ripping the f out of my 2015 Norco Range for using what he thought was a non-standard (larger) shock bolt size. He then ripped my LBS (It was a general attack - he didn’t even know who it was) and basically told me he would not sell me a fork cartridge if I was going to get them to install it during my annual fork overhaul. I left the call ordering nothing and honestly wondering if the guy was senile.
  • 2 0
 @tremeer023:
Check out the CoMo, cheapest damper upgrade option for 120€!
Website is only available in German though, but Google Translate might help:
www.chickadeehill.de/como
  • 3 0
 been very happy with my upgraded yari this season. Had the original motion control and didn't liked it. Had the charger 2 damper installed and loved every bit of it. totally worth it!
  • 2 0
 Check Novyparts with the Splug or Fast Suspensions with their Yari'up for upgrading from your moco
  • 5 0
 @pr3dator: Yep, I didn't make that clear, start with the Yari, upgrade it (if necessary) and you'll end with a Lyrik. So much more potential!
  • 3 0
 I have been using a Yari Charger for about two months now and really like it, noticeably better small bump and mid stroke support than the performance elite 36 I was using before. Really nice to know that the simplified Charger damper that's in it should be low maintenance and reliable and can be easily swapped to turn the fork into a full-blown Lyric. Well I suppose you need the upgraded oil and seals but those could be put in when the fork is serviced. Either way nice to have affordable options, more money for riding!
  • 2 0
 @Happymtbfr: Replaced the MoCo from my Revelation with Novyparts Splug this spring, been very happy with it! Very controlled damping with no harshness as with MoCo.
  • 2 0
 @zonoskar: Wait till you have to call him back with a concern. Even if you offer to pay for whatever is needed, you still get subjected to a 30 minute tirade for no obvious reason. Serviced damper locally and sold it as I never want to deal with that guy again.
  • 1 0
 @MoDingens: that looks interesting thanks. Will probably weight it up over winter - may be time for a new fork anyway by next season :-)
  • 2 0
 @mtnbkrmike: Yep, nothing seems to ever be good enough for ol' craig. Odd dude for sure. Went with charger 2.1 and the luxury of never having to interact with him again.
  • 4 0
 Yeah did exactly that to my OEM Yari RC 2018. It didn't have the DebonAir, so I had to do this too, but I needed a new shaft anyways because I've also wanted to travel it from 150mm to 160mm. So I upgraded my Yari with the DebonAir (which now comes standard), the Charger 2.1 RC2 and also with the MRP Ramp Control Cartridge (which I really recommend!). Of course while I was at it I also did the seals, which are the better SKF ones found of Lyriks. Best fork ever! It's basically a Lyrik, apart from the serial number of course.
  • 1 0
 A mattoc pro 3 boost in discount is the cheapest and best way to go
  • 18 0
 Good article. Just an idea for another one: compare how easy/hard it is to service the forks (and/or shocks) on your own. What tools do you need (and how much do they cost) for say lower leg service, and a full servic,e and how hard it is to do it for an average rider/mechanic. I think it would be really interesting to compare those characteristics of the suspension products especially for someone who doesn't have an easy access to a service center.
  • 3 0
 This. The premise of the article is that we are cheap. We will want to work on our own stuff.

I had been eyeing up some Manitou Mattocs on CRC for my next build but the $60 worth of tools needed to adjust travel is pushing me to Suntour.

I am watching the M37ZER though. Comp will be out soon and maybe there will be some deals. In the meantime, I'll keep saving.
  • 5 0
 @vapidoscar: You don't need their specific tools... you can buy a cheap 8mm socket and grind it down... thats the only "specialty" tool you need for travel adjust.
  • 3 0
 @mattsavage @vapidoscar: you'd also need a slotted Shimano lockring tool (Park FR-5.2 or similar), easy enough to cut the slot into the tool yourself though with a hacksaw or cutting wheel.
  • 19 0
 Suntour ? Their top model Auron RC2 is at 550€ on the internet
  • 26 1
 The reason for omitting Suntour and Manitour is kinda hilarious. Why compare forks, which are featured mainly as an OEM option on complete bikes, when the whole point of the article is (to me) to recommend cheap upgrade of an OEM fork. Writing this as an avid Auron user.
  • 4 0
 @Whipperman: Well said. The Auron RC2 is a wallet-friendly fork and it works really well. I`m pretty satisfied with mine. It does the job and its servicing is soooo easy compared to some others.
  • 1 2
 And it has the best axle design
  • 1 0
 @kisab: yes and no; they're fantastic upgrades to older forks too, like my '15 pike.
  • 1 0
 I was set to buy an Auron till I realized the offset for the 27.5 version is 51mm. The fork I am upgrading from is actually a Fox Rhythm which has an offset of 44mm. I don't have any experience with different offsets, but it seems like a big change??
  • 2 0
 Yes Suntour is getting really a good choice , especially in the use ! I Bought a Suntour Aion 35 for 200$ that's the best bang for the buck imo
  • 3 0
 I ride the Durolux (In addition to a Lyrik and a Pike) and the wife is putting the Axon on her bike using the upgrade program. I have nothing but good things to say about my Suntour. So many good forks (at good to decent prices) are out there if people are willing to look outside of the Big 2.
  • 2 0
 Hell, I recently got a brand new non-boost Auron from a german site (starbike) for $375 shipped. And it kicks ass. Smooth, stiff, easy to service, and more adjustment than I'll ever need. And I like that the travel adjust doesn't require a new air spring shaft.

I would also note that they left out the most affordable fork in the RS lineup too (35 Gold) - 35mm stanchions, MoCo damper, $500. Seems pretty much the same as the Revelation, probably just a bit heavier. It's been great on my wife's bike.
  • 1 0
 @ButtaYoBreadd:

They offer the Auron in both 44 and 51mm offsets.
  • 1 0
 @kisab: The mattoc is rarely an OEM fork...
  • 2 0
 @NotNamed: speaking as an owner of a Raidon fork with the Qloc axle it's absolute shit. Well not shit but it's a complication of something so simple. They advertise it as faster but whenever I go to use it it just get jammed or won't even open. Little bit of dirt is all it takes to prevent it from opening. Great idea but not the best in practice.
  • 2 0
 @Bflutz625:

It is faster. Do you ever even clean your bike ?
  • 3 0
 Yeah, this whole test is a laughable plug. 2 Rockshox, and 2 Fox forks, in the market segment they're not even competitive in. Sorry. They missed out on like 4+ other manufacturers, many of whom, their TOL forks would be competing.
  • 1 0
 @deeeight: oh yes I clean it I'm just saying that it's more complicated than it needs to be. Have you seen Cane Creeks axle? That's a terrific design. Hell, even just a thread in axle is better. Unless you're racing pro XC it's completely pointless.
  • 9 0
 Good article... Except the Revelation Charger RC is superseded already and is now the Pike Select for 2020, and has been available after market for months. Likewise I doubt you'll find a 2020 Yari RC as theres now an aftermarket Lyrik Select, which is the Yari Charger RC from 2019.
  • 2 0
 Thanks for the explanation. Was trying to figure out where the new select models fit in.
  • 2 0
 the MTBR thread below didn't seem sure whether the two IFP-charger options (RevC or Pike Select) were actually different dampers or not - is there somewhere that explains this?

forums.mtbr.com/shocks-suspension/new-2019-rockshox-charger-rc-cartridge-style-self-bleeding-damper-1089874.html
  • 1 0
 @OpeSorryAbootThat: Reading through that thread produced no real but here's the post I just made based on some digging through RS spec sheets:

Comparing the 2019 and 2020 specification documentation, one stark difference stands out between the Charger RC in the 2019 Yari/Rev and the Charger RC in the 2020 Pike/Lyrik.

On the upper tube oil volume, the Yari/Rev have fixed volumes, while the Pike/Lyrik Select are listed as "bleed". This matches the forks with 2020 charger 2.1 dampers and 2019 Charger 2.0 dampers. This to me suggests that the new Charger RC is actually last year's Charger 2. As someone who recently swapped from a 2019 Pike with Charger 2, to a 2020 Lyrik with Charger RC, the forks feel incredibly similar. When purchasing the 2020 Lyrik, I asked the techs at competitive cyclist how the Charger RC compared, and they also told me it was last years Charger 2.
  • 1 0
 @OpeSorryAbootThat: Digging deeper however reveals rock shox own documentation to be somewhat contradictory.

The service manuals for the Lyrik and Yari show that the Yari Charger RC and the Lyrik Select are identical, and the oil volume has been updated for the Yari Charger RC to match the "bleed" designation of the other charger dampers.
  • 2 0
 i was having a hard time trying to understand those new select and plus models.. good to know that!
  • 1 0
 @SoDiezl350: so does the 2020 pike /lyrik ultimate have some sort of charger 3?
  • 2 0
 @OpeSorryAbootThat: it's a charger 2.1 which is a revision if last year's.

Select = 2019s Charger RC spring backed IFP damper
Select+ = revised 2019 Charger 2 RC bladder damper
Ultimate = revised 2019 Charger 2 RCT3 or RC2 bladder damper
  • 1 0
 @benpinnick: Thanks for the clarification!
  • 6 0
 I am glad we see some interest of PB outside of the top notch stuff, however I don´t understand why to rate OEM forks which you are only able to buy when someone is about to strip them down from new bike.
Suntour, Manitou and Xfusion out the game just becase they are not what we usually see as OEM option?
We don´t, but we can buy them new with warranty and thats it!
  • 5 0
 "Three compression adjustment options may not satisfy"

I know Fox also calls it "3-position lever", but it does sweep between the 3 postions, they call it "micro-adjust":

"Performance Series forks provide Open, Medium, and Firm modes with additional micro-adjust between settings."

Tough for "only 3 position" to stay in the cons column when it's not "only 3 position"...
  • 1 0
 The Rhythm doesn't actually have the 3 positions but has infinite adjustment between the two ends ("Sweep Adjust" or whatever Fox calls it). It is evident from the article that the author never rode the fork. It's literally copy-pasted from the review of the Performance version.
  • 2 0
 @nielsvk: So that's why the author linked each section to the reviews where he rode the forks?
  • 1 0
 @RichardCunningham: The section about the Rhythm links to someone else's review of a different fork, then makes a false statement ("low-speed compression is limited to three settings") based on that review. It appears you were working off the assumption they are the same.

You must ride a lot of bikes and forks and it's totally understandable that you don't remember every detail about all of them. But fact-checking could have been better on this one. Literally the first google result for "fox 34 rhythm" is a youtube video that shows the "sweep adjust" dial and mentions the infinite adjustment.

Anyway, no big deal, you are human after all and it's only a mountain bike fork. Thanks for taking the time to reply and have a great weekend!
  • 3 0
 @nielsvk: I quoted Levy's review in reference to the Grip damper only - it was a bit revolutionary when it debuted in 2016. The Giant Trance 2 was the test bike I put the most time with using the Rhythm fork. I kept that bike for quite a while. In response to your comment I addressed the Sweep dial in the text. Thanks for giving me some slack on that one.
  • 5 1
 I rode the Yari on my Enduro for a solid 2 years. Really great feeling fork and did surprisingly well with big impact jumps and gnarly terrain while still being able to handle climbing and normal trails rides. Although I ended up having to run max toxens to get the top end/mid stroke feeling dialed, it's one hell of a fork if you can get it tuned right!
  • 5 1
 I wonder if PB deliberately avoided testing any examples from the reigning OEM champion for affordable trail bike forks, SR Suntour, out of some bias against the brand or they didn't want the fact that the brand also sells the forks aftermarket to become widely known.

www.srsuntour.us/collections/enduro-all-mountain

Let's see...all the Enduro-All Mountain line forks range from $400 to $750 USD, They also offer an upgrade program for people to move to a suntour fork at a discounted price in north america.

www.srsuntour.us/pages/upgrade-program

They also have a fall discount code for 20-25% off any fork currently.
  • 2 0
 Yeah Suntour is conspicuously absent here. No better bang-for-your-buck forks than Auron and Aion, IMO. Both readily available brand new for $300-$400 (BuySell, German sites, etc).

The PB reviews of their forks haven't been so hot but I'm not really sure what to say there. I've never had a single issue with any of the Suntour products I've ridden (or that I've recommended to friends). Auron, Durolux, and Aion were good enough for Vital to give them 4 stars...
  • 1 0
 @bkm303: better yet get a used Aion 35 from someone who sells the unsed one from his E-Bike (sometimes less than 200€) and install the PCS RC2 cartridge for 100€.

300-400€ for a new Enduro fork with LSC/HSC.
  • 1 0
 And: Take a look at the Suntour Triair- its a DVO Topaz (without the bladder but IFP) for much less.
It even has green internals ;-)
  • 1 0
 @NotNamed: Yeah the TriAir looks sick. Never seen one in the wild before though. Have you ridden it?
  • 1 0
 @bkm303:

3 years+ now on a 2016 Raidon Boost 27.5+, the only thing i've changed is I added some fork oil into the air chamber to act as a volume reducer (instead of ordering the $20 plastic air chamber spacer and the $20 socket). Took like 2 mins using a valve core tool, a syringer and some fork oil. I found the air chamber volume too big such that it didn't ramp up fast enough if I set the air pressure to sag at 30% for my weight. With the chamber volume reduced I now can run my sag optimally and NOT just blow through the travel on every small jump.
  • 2 0
 @bkm303: sadly no. Its Works very good according to Vital but on the forums on MTB-news some people had issues with it.
And the rebound damping wasnt that great and needed to be reshimmed.

But you can also get the Topaz for cheap on sale
  • 3 0
 Weight for 34 Rhythm is off. That's supposed to be Performance variant (approximately 150gr over factory due to heavier damper) and Rhythm is heavier.

I'll say I'm very impressed by my Performance 34 on Trance Advanced 1 29er. The fork is much better than my 2017 Factory 36 Fit4 with Luftkappe upgrade, far smoother and more sensitive.
  • 6 0
 No manitou mattoc, no Xfusion sweep, no suntour aion/auron...shame. More affordable than the tested forks
  • 3 0
 My Lyrik RC was $400 new and has been a surprisingly awesome fork. Thought for sure I would upgrade it to RC2 but haven't even bothered going as far as tuning the comp and rebound stacks. Like it so much I think I will keep it for my hardtail and sell the 34 factory with Vorsprung Fractive and Luftcappe that it runs instead.
  • 4 0
 "- OEM only. Fox's nearest offering costs twice its street value"

Then why review it? FWIW, Mattoc Pro's are retailing for under $500, Id take that over any of these jenky options any day.
  • 2 0
 I've been very happy with my Mattoc Pro (1), upgraded with bolt thru-axle and IRT. Would only replace it with Mezzer when the price goes down. If you're not after the boost version, the non-boost version can be found really cheap nowadays. It's much better than that old Motion Control. Also really easy to service at home (if you have the 2 specific tools).
  • 5 0
 Why does the Manitou Mattoc never feature in these shoot outs? If only more people would try them they'd realise what they are missing out on ;o)
  • 6 0
 Doesn't DVO have a fork in this range as well?
  • 6 0
 The Beryl? I saw one in a shop for like $375 iirc
  • 4 0
 manitou mattoc pro 2 forks can be picked up seriously cheap these days. Forks that are a "couple of years old" are a great buy
  • 2 0
 I have a 2011 Lyrik RC2DH with Motion Control. Do you think it is worth it to upgrade my damper to the Charger 2 RCT3? Rock Shox has an aftermarket upgrade kit they sell that would fit my fork, I am just not sure because it has no high speed compression adjust and only 3 low speed compression settings: open, pedal, and firm.(I think). Will I miss the settings on my current damper or is the performance worth it for the Charger 2? Also, am I wrong on the amount of settings the RCT3 has?
  • 5 0
 I find a massive difference between the motion control damper and the charger. So much so that I will never buy a motion control damper fork again, or I would make the upgrade straight away if one was fitted to my bike. I highly recomend the upgrade! Just be careful with the loctite that comes in the kit, you only need to get a tiny amount on the lower end of the thread, do not apply it to the whole bolt. That stuff is crazy strong!
  • 2 0
 I used that fork aswell for nearly 6 years and I found the following after changing to a 2018 Lyrik with the Charger 2 RCT3 and Debon Air Spring. Conclusion:
Waaaaay better progression curve. The RC2DH I found was soooo plush in the start of travel that it sat about mid travel most of the time and made my 65° head angle (then on rocky slayer) far steeper. Then when there came a big it it never used all its travel and would buck back like crazy, even with the rebound slowed down! The super easy engagement of the fork also made technical riding really challenging as it would dive and then buck...

Reg. the settings, I haven't missed them at all and feel much more comfortable with the new fork than the old one.
  • 2 0
 Buy a charger one damper if you can! The charger 2s have very little High speed support and will blow through travel. I am really disappointed with the charger 2 RC, the fork has no support at speed.
  • 3 0
 I upgraded an old Boxxer from MC to Charger, and it was a massive difference. Charger is a much better damper. Made the fork instantly more responsive to small bumps and opens up faster and spikes less on big hits.
  • 1 0
 Thanks for the replies.
  • 1 0
 Yes, but take a rc2 damper instead. That is far better and even easily noticeable above the rct3 damper
  • 1 0
 They only offer a RCT3 damper for older 26" forks.
  • 2 0
 I've got the Revelation Charger in my trail bike, glad to finally see a review of it, even if it's brief. To me it has noticably more breakaway / low speed friction than my older bike w/ charger v1 in it. It performs quite well, once in a while it dives faster than I'd like and since there's no high speed adjustment I can't change that. Overall it's a very solid fork, when I bought my bike I thought I was getting a MoCo damper which I would need to upgrade - so far I haven't felt the need to do so.
  • 4 0
 MORE articles like these please. I can't turn any of my friends on to mountain biking once they here what it costs for a base model from a reputable manufacturer.
  • 2 0
 I‘m really surprised of how well RC rates the Yari. I have major complains about serious compression pikes at high speed, even fully open in the compression unit. It get‘s worse when you close it more. So even if it works on slow speed, the lack of high speed control is massive and the opposite impression to what is written in the test.
  • 1 0
 Same. I find the MoCo really harsh for my 62kg kitted up at the bikepark. It doesn't smooth out braking bumps very well and I have to always open the damping fully for one section to avoid my hands falling off. I'd love a damper where I don't have to change my settings 3 times a run.
  • 2 0
 Interesting that RS released the Revelation Charger RC with so little fanfair. The damper is built really similarly to it's most direct competitor, the 34 GRIP, and I seem to recall way more chatter around the GRIP damper. Spring-backed IFP with a bleed port...
  • 2 0
 This article seriously needs a part 2 titled "Four MORE affordable trail forks tested [That aren't from Fox or Rockshox]."

SR Suntour, X-Fusion, Manitou, and DVO all make forks that are better than anything in this article and cost less. There's no reason to overlook them.
  • 1 0
 And before anyone says "But look at the Marzocchi!" it is unfortunately nothing more than a budget Fox fork. Which makes me sad as someone who rode quite a few Marzocchi forks in the early to mid 2000s and loved them.
  • 3 0
 Can't believed you missed out the Mattoc and Mattoc Pro. Both excellent forks that perform as well if not better than most of what's above but dirt cheap
  • 5 0
 Only Fox and RS? Where's Suntour/X-Fusion/Manitou?
  • 3 2
 This has been a pretty lazy article for sure. 4 forks, 2 of which are OEM specced forks that the normal consumer can't buy, unless they go digging around.
  • 1 3
 Because in that price range the manitou is garbage and so is the xfusion.

And don’t think this is some kind of all options shoot out article. It’s just a.... hey here’s 4 reasonably priced forks reviewed.

Also... plenty of brand new rhythm take offs online.
  • 1 0
 @onemanarmy: If only the article just assume they only tested those 4 forks but no, they have to say it's the representation of the OEM market and that is totally wrong.
  • 8 6
 See how great these low end forks that are coming on $10k bikes are?? This is a ploy to normalize not having the top shelf suspension options on expensive bikes any more... This is nothing more than brainwashing.
  • 4 0
 Not gonna work on me. I got my tinfoil hat!
  • 1 0
 I have a Manitou Machete on my hardtail and recently rented a bike with a Suntour XCR 34, so I can provide feedback on those forks. Suntour damper feels much more sophisticated than the Manitou damper and the Suntour is the better fork based on the rental performance, but obviously one ride is not enough to determine reliability. My Manitou loses travel over time due to oil escaping past the seals and hydrolocking, but it's fixed with an oil change that's easy and quick due to the fork's design. I want to try the Marz fork though. I'm guessing it's the best in this price range and likely worth the money, even if it's a bit pricier than the Suntour or Manitou.
  • 1 0
 Great article. I myself bought a used '14 Pike 160 for my '16 Process 134 for $225, installed a $70 USD Luftkappe in it and rode it for 2 years with no issues until a few months ago where the damper apparently blew (rebound damping is gone). Even with throwing a new Charger 1 in it for $169 (BTW these are being discontinued according to my LBS) and doing a fork service, I'll still have a strong performing, enduro worthy fork for under $500.
  • 1 0
 "Some may wish it had adjustable HS compression"

Why? Most trail riders would have the HSC turned all the way out/off if they had the adjustment (RC2 or R2C2 type dampers). They're not hitting things fast enough or big enough to need more than whatever is preset. Maybe bigger rider could use some HSC, but unfortunately we usually just accept we'll need the top-end damper to get the adjustment range needed for hucking 100 kilos.

Racers might also want some HCS to keep the front high on repeated fast hits, but racers aren't budget shopping for forks, or the very least will do the damper upgrade ASAP, because "one size fits all" is never true when you're trying to shave seconds.
  • 4 1
 motion control and grip 1 don't even belong on the same website. get that MC garbage out of here. what is this, outdoor journal?
  • 2 0
 Suntour, Manitou & X-Fusion would all like to object at only SRAM and Fox owned companies appearing in this article. Honestly, you aren't doing anything to help the business by excluding so many other options.
  • 1 0
 A DVO Beryl can be had for less than $500.

Also Suntour has a trade-in program where you can send them your crap fork and get a discount on a new one. Makes the Auron RC2 PCS $500 which pretty much destroys every fork in this article.
  • 1 0
 The Yari that came on my Honzo a few years ago was OK. I added a Pike 130 damper, SLIKK seals, and a Ramp Control Cartridge and that fork performed as well as the Pike that I currently have on my Jet 9. RockShox forks just work well, but the availability of parts to spec them up a little bit is what makes it fun nowadays.
  • 2 1
 I had that exact bike that the Rythem 34 is on. The Giant Trance 2. I hated it. The fork is really non-supportive unless you put 3 extra volume spacers in, and the "compression" settings are a doozy. Its basically just adjusting your level of lockout. All the way closed, the fork doesn't move at all. I have since sold that bike, and bought a Commencal meta, that has a Factory Kashima 36. Needless to say, this fork is way better. ( I mostly did aggressive trail riding, with lost of chunk, drops, and jumps.)
  • 1 0
 The GRIP damper is phenomenal. I wish Fox updated it with the lower friction internals and seals from the GRIP2 while still having the simplicity of the standard GRIP damper. Some people(like me) just don't really want to mess with high-speed and low-speed rebound and compression. I just want to ride my bike.
  • 1 0
 A friend of mine used to have a Giant Trance 2, which came with an OEM Fox Rythm 34, you can be sure that is in no way identical to the 34 performance elite, the lowers are bulky and look pretty awful.. i would prefer to keep my 36 performance elite :v
  • 1 0
 "Manitou and Suntour are conspicuously absent from this group because they rarely show up at these price points"

Sr Suntour production of Aion is superior of the total fork production of fox in number but yeah, rarely show...

Could be good to actually fact check your article before saying this kind of things.
  • 1 0
 Really informative article. If you had given it a different title (comparison of OEM forkset ) it might have appeased the moaners. I have 2017 boost Pike RC and a 2018 Revelation MoCo on the bikes I bought and your article is really enlightening. I have not come across this info before.

I am considering upgrading the Pike to a Charger 2.1 and was wondering whether the stick the Charger in the Revelation, so this is useful info.
  • 1 0
 Has Manitou become any better in the last three years?
I liked the Mattoc Pro a lot, but sloppy bushings, fiddly Hexlock and sinking in when cold were quite a nuisance. It performed really well in summer though.
  • 2 0
 Their new Mezzer Pro looks pretty good. It's not going to be in this class of 'affordable' fork but looks like they are bringing out some decent new products soon.
  • 2 0
 my 2018 mattoc is very good, no sinking in etc. i like the hexlock but its still the same, so if you did not like it you still will. bushings are fine after 1.5 years.
  • 2 0
 @optimumnotmaximum: I really disliked the QR hexlock but with 3 limbs I can handle the tooled version I have now.

For the untrained, you hold the bike and tool with the hands, stand on one leg and press the axle in with a foot until the thread catches.
  • 1 0
 Ymmv but I recently bought a 160mm mattoc comp from chain reaction that ended up being a headache. The price was right at ~$250, but sloppy bushings and inability to score volume spacers (none included and not much help from us office) made me exchange it for a new one which I ended up selling.
  • 3 0
 And just like that, the street value of the other 3 forks went down, making them more affordable.
  • 3 1
 Lol... and for those wanting Manitou, Worldwide Cyclery did the "best forks under $500" "rockshox, marzocchi, manitou..." on the 13th Smile
  • 3 0
 Hey Pinkbike What about Manitou,Mrp, Suntour affordable trail fork. There is more out there
  • 2 0
 I just ordered Rockshox Yari with Charger RC damper for 400 euros!!
Lyrik chassis, 35mm Stanchions and Charger cartridge!! I think is best affodable choice Smile
  • 2 0
 Nothing wrong with running the compression adjuster on the Grip damper between clicks, so the concern that it only has three settings is kind of moot in my opinion.
  • 1 0
 While I'm grateful of a performance review of the more 'affordable' line of suspension forks, it would be great the review included a comparison on the level of ease and cost associated with changing travel on these forks.
  • 3 0
 I have a Suntour Durolux and an Aion. Fantastic forks. Feel better than the Pikes and Yari I've had in the past.
  • 1 0
 I've been telling customers they are better off getting a grip fork over the higher end stuff if your not a shock setup pro for the last 2 years. Its nice to get confirmation from pink bike that I was correct.
  • 2 1
 I know fox owns marzocchi but I have to say I am impressed I might have to get a z2 for my budget hardtail now. Good win for them always like a good marzocchi Smile
  • 1 0
 Thinking the same
  • 1 0
 Does seem like the Z2 is a good option and it sounds like they've over built it a bit which is what I want on a budget. Rather give up a few grams and have durability when I can't afford to repair or replace
  • 4 1
 You can scoop a dvo fork cheep and it blows everything away
  • 1 0
 If you're really concerned about oil and air mixing on the marzocchi, you could stuff a closed cell foam piece in the top of the damper....
  • 3 0
 Suntour? Formula? x-Fusion?
  • 3 0
 The fox 34 is NOT available with the Grip2 damper
  • 1 0
 I remember when these prices would pretty much get you a set of Boxxer World Cups on a deal... what has the industry come to.
  • 1 0
 Are all Rock Shocks full of plastic? Plastic dampers???!!!
Look at the Fox internals. All metal parts.
Marfoxy fork the same.
  • 1 0
 Yes, they reviewed the same fork both made by fox! I noticed that right away, just different lowers and colors, hahahahah
  • 1 0
 I wonder if the Z1 will also get a Rail-Damper version in 2020. A 160mm fork would suit my Jeffsy 27 very well ...
  • 2 0
 Great article. Thanks PB
  • 1 0
 Direct comparisons, detailed info, not hiding the blemishes. This is why I come to PB. Great work RC.
  • 1 0
 keep Yary Rc and upgrade with fast suspension cartridge 3 way and you have one of the best fork on the market!
  • 1 0
 Friendly heads-up, the article mentions a "Rhythm Charger" fork... I don't think that's what you meant to say?
  • 6 0
 Yeah it is. It's found in the Rock Fox Book of Revelation Chapter 34:36 Rhythm and Blues fork.
  • 1 0
 Is the Marzocchi Bomber Z2 even available in Red? I only see it on their website in Black, same in online stores
  • 1 0
 I'd love to see the most affordable trail fork compared to these: The RockShox Recon.
  • 2 0
 Than was nice read! Thank you;
  • 1 0
 The Marzocchi link is broken should be www.marzocchi.com/forks.aspx?idC=62351
  • 2 0
 So whatever happened to X-Fusion?
  • 1 0
 Came for the "What? You call these affordable?" comments. I am oddly disappointed.
  • 2 0
 Whaaaaa.... No suntour XCM review?

Pogo stick bias....
  • 1 0
 And another 'Zokes rises to the top! it's kinda like seeing Rocky # Eleven!
  • 1 0
 Right on the money with the yari. I am planning to buy a new damper down the road.
  • 1 1
 Loving how I got my brand new Pike for $450. Search the interweb enough over a month or so and you will find GREAT deals or go used!
  • 2 0
 Why no DVO Beryl?Clearly would be the winner
  • 1 0
 Im with you buddy, I was wondering why it wasn't on the list!!
I just recently bought the Onxy SC, Im nervously waiting its arrival Big Grin Big Grin Big Grin
  • 1 0
 So, will Yari take the old mission control damper?
  • 1 0
 Don't think so, wrong top cap thread
  • 1 0
 @scottishmark: Was thinking the same. Shame. I relly liked the Mission Control damper.
  • 1 0
 More of this equals better. My compliments pinkbike.
  • 2 1
 I think Grip is waaaaay better than Fit4.
  • 1 0
 All that talk of sliders gets me hungry.
  • 1 0
 For me Yari is the winner. Hand down best affordable fork. Smile
  • 1 0
 Thanks for more articles about affordable bike stuff, RC.
  • 1 0
 Is slider a term for fork?
  • 7 0
 loosely, "slider" is slang for a fork and, to further confuse, 'sliders" is used to describe the fork's lower half. Just searching for nouns to avoid repetition - the bane of technical writing.
  • 1 0
 @RichardCunningham: thanks for clarifying. I suppose front squisher isn't on the professional writing level.
  • 4 0
 @hcmoore: Desperate times require desperate measures. Look for "front squisher" in a future article.
  • 1 0
 @RichardCunningham: get "boinger" in the mix too
  • 1 1
 My mountain bike has front shocks.
  • 1 0
 pretty hard to beat SR Suntour on Dollar to Performance...
  • 1 0
 Great article, really useful info for me !

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