It's been some time since RockShox unveiled a completely new model in the shock department, as the past few years have seen more incremental - albeit significant - updates to the existing SuperDeluxe. That changes with the announcement of their new Vivid, an air shock squarely aimed at the gravity-oriented side of the sport.
The Vivid was designed ground-up to offer the best downhill performance the team at RockShox could deliver, with a new architecture and damping platform to achieve that goal. They promise coil-like sensitivity with all the intuitive adjustments their current lineup is known for, but does that shake out on the trail?
Vivid Ultimate Details
• Intended use: Downhill, Enduro, eMTB
• TouchDown position-sensitive damping
• Adjustable hydraulic bottom-out
• External LSC/HSC/Rebound adjustment
• 100-hour service interval
• Claimed weight: 670 grams (230x65, no hardware)
• MSRP: $699-729 USD
• More info: rockshox.com
It's been about a decade since the Vivid last saw an update, with the prior generation ending before suspension manufacturers made the switch to metric shock sizing. That prior generation was unique for RockShox in its use of dual rebound adjusters, but that's far from the only difference to the new model. The 2024 Vivid is implementing some very clever designs that allow it to achieve the performance goals laid out, while hopefully remaining far more durable than the predecessor.
The majority of the novel technologies for the Vivid are wrapped up in what RockShox is calling TouchDown technology. TouchDown is a position-sensitive damper that allows the shock to work in three distinct phases, with characteristics optimized for each section of the full stroke of travel.
Think of this sequence in accordance to the sag gradient.
This is one of the more unique aspects of the Vivid, as in this first increment of travel the oil flow actually bypasses the main piston compression damping, instead flowing through an array of holes only located in that phase of travel. The purpose here is to make the Vivid's initial stroke as supple and sensitive as possible, without affecting the remainder of the travel.10-80%
You'll be spending most of your time here, and this is where the Vivid should feel more or less like you'd expect. The air volume of the shock was maximized in order to give this middle block as linear a feel as possible, with the ability to add progression via Bottomless Tokens. This is also where the High and Low Speed Compression adjusters do their work, providing the ride characteristic that best matches your frame and ride style.80-100%
In the final chunk of travel you run into the Adjustable Hydraulic Bottom Out (AHBO), which allows the user to tune the bottom-out resistance at the end of the stroke. This separate circuit has a different feel from the ramp-up you get with volume spacers, and is more of a soft catch that slows the shock down in that high-load moment.
You have to drop the air can to add or remove volume spacers, but the main adjustments can all be made externally. The LSC adjustment is made via a knurled knob, while the HSC, AHBO, and rebound all use a 3mm hex. Luckily, the rebound adjustment knob contains a hidden 3mm that you can simply pop out and use to make the other adjustments - a clever detail indeed. While RockShox only gives access to low speed rebound externally, you can alter the high speed rebound via the internal rebound tune. Definitely less convenient than an external adjuster, and best left to be done by professionals, but know that it's an option.
The Threshold (aka climb switch) lever is quite firm, both in physical feel and in how stiff it makes the shock. I really only used it on a few paved climbs, but was happy with the amount of support it provides. If you happen to like a quite soft setup for the descents, the Threshold should still be able to hold you up for the pedal back to the top.
One last detail worth noting is the service interval on the new Vivid. Where most shocks call for a basic service every 50 hours, the Vivid specifies a 100-hour interval before you have to worry about tearing things down. Of course it's always worth taking such claims with a grain of salt until they've been thoroughly tested long-term, so we'll see how things shake out. Ride Impressions
I've had the opportunity to ride the new Vivid on a few bikes at this point, but the majority of the testing has taken place on the Santa Cruz Nomad and the Yeti SB160. Two very different bikes when it comes to how they drive their shocks, but equally capable in rough and challenging terrain. They even use the same 230x65mm shock size, albeit with very different tunes. This made for a good spectrum to compare within, and see how the shock performed given the differences in frame design.
I'm happy to say that the main commonality between the two was how well they played with the Vivid. Both bikes retained an active feel, cycling through the suspension smoothly and predictably as you'd want them to. This allowed for excellent grip and bump absorption, while still providing enough support to push against in compressions and help keep the ride height neutral.
A satisfying realization was just how different the Vivid's settings were between the two bikes, and I was able to find an optimal setup on both after just an afternoon of bracketing the various compression settings. Like the recently updated SuperDeluxe, each position of compression adjustment provides a clear and discernible difference, with the visual reference helping you clock between multiple settings if you want to change certain clicks for specific tracks. Bonus points to RockShox for the continued use of the sag markings, now I just want them to release that patent so every shock on the market can be that easy to set up.
The final accolade worth pointing out is just how quiet the shock is. This, coupled with the very muted feel it provides, helps the bike fade into the background and keep you focused on the trail ahead. Some shocks have a distinct feel or characteristic, but so far I'd say the Vivid's strong suit is just how neutral it can feel when you get the settings dialed in. Lineup
The Vivid comes in 5 different spec levels, with the Ultimate aimed at the broadest part of the market. This is the primary aftermarket option, with the DH shock obviously focused more on bikes that are entirely gravity-fed. The lower 3 specs will likely be more common on OEM spec-sheets, and can be modified into the Ultimate range of adjustment with some aftermarket parts. If for instance you have a Vivid Base but want the full Ultimate package, you will be able to buy the TouchDown RC2T reservoir upgrade and bolt it in place of the Base one. This upgrade reservoir costs $235 USD, and could be a great option for bikes that will be coming with the lower-spec Vivids down the line.
Another aftermarket element to the Vivid launch is the introduction of RockShox's Bearing Adapter Kits, which can replace the standard DU bushing mount with bearing hardware, where frames allow (8mm ID x 30mm hardware required). This kit also fits the 2023 SuperDeluxe Coil shocks, adding some tuning options to the existing lineup. Bearing mounts can help reduce friction in the linkage, and improve the sensitivity of certain kinematics quite a bit. The Bearing Adapter Kit costs $30 USD.
We'll be spending plenty more time with the Vivid on a variety of bikes in the coming weeks and months, so stay tuned for the long term thoughts. In the meantime, the short story is a positive one, with the Vivid upping its smaller SuperDeluxe sibling, and posing a real challenge to the Fox Float X2.