Trimming Off the Excess
The Summer Olympics are only a few short months away, which means it won't be long before cross-country mountain bike racing will garner more mainstream media attention than it has received in all of the years since the 2012 Olympics in London. RockShox is hoping to continue their gold medal winning streak that began back in 2000, and to help keep the victories coming they've completely revamped the SID, updating everything from the damper to the dropouts in an effort to create an extremely light and capable fork designed for XC racing at the highest level.
SID World Cup Details
• Intended use: XC racing
• Travel: 100mm
• Wheelsize: 27.5" or 29"
• Air-sprung, Charger damper
• Adjustments: rebound, LSC, lockout
• Stanchions: 32mm
• Axle size: 15x100 or 15x110
• Weight: 1,366 grams (3.01 lb)
• Available: July 2016
• MSRP: $1,150 - $1,225 USD
The new SID still uses 32mm stanchions, and the World Cup edition retains the carbon steerer and crown, but that's about where the similarities to the prior version end. The new fork has 100mm of travel - the previous 120mm option is nowhere to be found. That's due to the evolution of bike design and riding styles – rather than being long-limbed XC machines, many of today's 120mm bikes fall solidly into the trail category and are better suited to a fork like the Pike with its 35mm stanchions.
By deciding to optimize the SID around 100mm of travel, RockShox was able to take weight savings measures that wouldn't have been possible in a longer-travel version, including the use of shorter upper tubes. Extra material was added to the fork's arch to add stiffness, but other than that, every unnecessary bit of material has been shaved off of the lowers – the disc brake caliper mounting posts have been shortened, and even the lower portion of the magnesium dropouts have a portion knocked out to save weight. The top caps went on a diet too, with lower profile knobs and a design that uses a cassette tool to remove them rather than having wrench flats. The end result is a fork that weighs a scant 1,366 grams (3.01 lb) in the 27.5" configuration. For reference, Fox's recently announced 32 Step-Cast weighs a claimed 1,355 grams. What's Inside?
A lightweight fork is all well and good, but its bump absorption capabilities can't be neglected, especially since World Cup XC courses have been getting increasingly technical over the last few years. To that end, an XC-optimized version of the same damper that's found in RockShox's venerable Pike is housed in the SID's right leg. The damper still uses the same expanding bladder design of the original Charger, but with a slightly different shape and dimensions that allow it to fit in the SID's 32mm stanchions. The damper's internals were also altered in order to make it easier to turn the low-speed compression dial, due to the fact that many riders will be running a remote lockout on the fork for smoother sections of trail. Adjustments
Rather than having the three main compression settings found on a Pike RCT3, the SID has Open and Lock, and the amount of compression in the Open position can be changed by turning the smaller dial on the top of the fork. When the fork is fully locked out it feels very, very firm – you'll know the instant you hit a bump when the fork is in that setting. There is a blowoff to help prevent any issues if a rider does forget to open up their fork before a descent, but when the blowoff occurs there's still a high level of damping, rather than having the fork go to a fully open state.
The SID's air spring is more linear than the previous version, which makes it easier to tune the fork for different rider weights with the use of RockShox's Bottomless Tokens. After all, it's a lot simpler to make a fork more progressive as opposed to trying to make it less progressive. Options
There are a total of four forks in the new SID lineup, beginning with the highest-end carbon steerer and crown-equipped World Cup, followed by the RLC, the XX, and then the RL. The World Cup and the RLC both use the Charger damper, and the rest of the line use the simpler Motion Control damper, which helps reduce the final cost. First Impressions
These days, the bulk of my riding takes place on trail or all-mountain rigs, and my Lycra-clad XC racing days are now a distant memory, but there's still something infinitely enjoyable about hopping on a bike that's built purely for covering ground as fast as possible. The Scott Spark 900 fits that bill, and I was able to spend a day on one equipped with a new SID up front in order to get an initial feel for the fork's capabilities. The trails on hand were filled with numerous short climbs and descents, enough technical sections to keep me alert, and plenty of tight corners to carve in and out of while trying to figure out just how far the bike's 2.2” tires could be pushed through the gravelly turns.
Even though the SID only has 100mm of travel, and stanchions that look a touch anorexic compared to the 35mm and 36mm options many of us are riding one, on the trail it provided a very smooth, controlled ride, and I didn't have any issues with the amount of stiffness on tap. Granted, the trails weren't extremely technical, but all the same, there were enough hard corners and sudden dips and dives to get a general idea of the chassis stiffness, and I never felt that there was any undue front end movement occurring.
100mm isn't a whole lot of travel, but the SID does an excellent job of managing those millimeters – there's enough give at the beginning of the stroke to smooth out the smaller trail chatter, and enough support at the middle and end of the stroke to suck up larger impacts without blowing through the travel. It feels almost invisible, which is the ideal behavior for a fork in this category, silently taking the edge off of obstacles while you focus on making it to the finish line ahead of everyone else.
Compared to RockShox's RS1, a fork that I spent a fair amount of time on last summer, with the SID it was easier to find that ideal balance of support and bump absorption. The fact that it's more adjustable and doesn't require a proprietary hub also sets it apart from its upside-down relative, and even though it may not have the radical looks, its weight and performance trump that of the RS1.
|It's easy to see the newest version of the SID becoming a hit with the dyed-in-the-wool XC crowd, and its performance might even sway some all-mountain riders to give an ultralight race whippet a try. - Mike Kazimer|
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