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2023 Pinkbike Awards: Suspension Product of the Year Winner

Dec 12, 2023 at 13:31
by Matt Beer  

2023 brought exciting products and patents to the suspension world, particularly in terms of various ways to double up on air springs, both on paper and in production shocks too.

A serious amount of time was focused on reviewing suspension components this season. We debuted Shock Week, Seb tried decreasing the progression on air sprung forks, Dan Roberts took a whirl on Ohlins' new cross-country suspension, and Henry dove into the world of telemetry.

In the end, we narrowed down the candidates to Cane Creek Tigon, an air-charged coil shock, RockShox’s Boxxer fork and Vivid rear shock, their downhill centerpieces, and Ohlins TTX2 Air shock which put a spin on the usual damping adjustments.


RockShox Boxxer Ultimate

The cherry on top.

Tegan Cruz MY24 BOXXER Mt Prevost

Finally, after nearly two years of seeing Rockshox’s Blackbox dual-crown fork under their elite athletes, the Boxxer Ultimate was released in July, delivering on all accounts and taking home the 2023 Pinkbike Suspension Product of the Year.

What won us over with the redesigned Boxxer were the major improvements over the previous generation, namely, the plush and consistent nature of the air spring. That’s not to say that the prior version was a miss - there were plenty of RockShox fans, including World Cup winners, that loved it - but until now, the Fox 40 and Ohlins DH38 overshadowed it. Adding to its five-star ride impressions were the ease of setup and performance through long service intervals.

Bolting on and dialing in a Boxxer Ultimate takes little time. The Charger 3 uses more meaningful clicks than the prior damper and the air spring is said to work best without needing to add tokens - a shorter setup means more time riding.

Since our First Ride back in July at Crankworx, the Boxxer Ultimate has been hammered at race events and seen plenty of park laps. Over that period of time, it’s never let out a peep or a weep. The damper is nearly silent, if that’s of concern for you, and the seals have remained silky smooth.

Overall, Rockshox's premier downhill fork is an extremely polished product that is more than capable for the in-tune racer or the set-and-forget weekend warrior. In essence, it rides like a bigger, badder fork, yet somehow comfort and control hides behind the chiseled looks. The improvements are night and day from the previous generation, which warrants the Boxxer Ultimate taking home the 2023 Pinkbike Suspension Product of the Year.

Author Info:
mattbeer avatar

Member since Mar 16, 2001
380 articles

  • 145 4
 Should've announced on Boxing day yesterday and called it Boxxing day missed opportunity
  • 4 38
flag flattoflat (Dec 27, 2023 at 12:30) (Below Threshold)
 Brage's edit just dropped. Today is an even better holiday for this fork.
  • 42 0
 @flattoflat: He's riding a Marzocchi though. Big Grin
  • 9 1
 @Xaelber93: I suppose my wording doesn't make much sense, does it.
  • 66 22
 So basically it is now on par with Fox and Ohlins? Wow, that's truly amazing.
  • 20 3
  • 3 10
flag FuzzyL FL (Dec 28, 2023 at 7:44) (Below Threshold)
 Give them a couple of years, and they will be close to EXT and Formula…
  • 51 9
 Cane Creek Tigon was snubbed
  • 15 4
 Do any of us know how it performs over the long run?
  • 7 1
 @cogsci: Do we know about this RS?
  • 8 0
 @Notmeatall: "after nearly two years of seeing Rockshox’s Blackbox dual-crown fork under their elite athletes"

"Since our First Ride back in July at Crankworx, the Boxxer Ultimate has been hammered at race events and seen plenty of park laps. Over that period of time, it’s never let out a peep or a weep."

I don't know man, it sounds like a few people have tried it out?
  • 2 0
 @hardlylikely: A few selected riders that get their forks serviced every 2 weekends. Even DNM can be solid with that service interval.
  • 34 2
 In other news... Seb Stott files a submission to the court of arbitration for sport disputing the decision in light of clear discrimination against the Fox 38.
  • 2 0
 He does love his 38 ALOT
  • 1 0
 I came here for specifically this. hahahaha
  • 28 7
 There was never a full review of this fork, how can it win suspension product of the year?
  • 50 23
 I can think of a few rea$on$
  • 31 7
 From the PB Awards rules article: “Each nominated product must have been reviewed by, or have been the subject of a thorough first-ride opportunity by Pinkbike’s editors.”

In addition, Matt Beer has put a bunch of additional time on the fork since the initial First Ride article was published.
  • 24 9
 @mikekazimer: yet we’ve heard nothing more about how amazing it is
  • 49 9
 @mcfadden999, I mean, winning the Suspension Product of the Year should be an indication... We'll have more DH content coming in 2024.
  • 82 1
 Yeah @mikekazimer give it to Seb so we can hear how much worse it is than a Fox 38
  • 15 7
 @mikekazimer: the justification seems to be that it’s way better than the old one, doesn’t exactly seem to scream greatness to me
  • 8 2
 @mcfadden999: Have you tried riding one?
  • 5 8
 @Skooks: nope, I liked the charger 2.1 boxxer but the charger 3 zeb has been shitty, lacks compliance the rebound is too slow so I’m not really willing to shell out money on another charger 3 fork.
  • 4 3
 @mcfadden999: Have you done a lower service, sounds like quite of few of the new forks shipped with too much oil in the lowers.

I run mostly Fox stuff but ran Charger 3 Lyrik on one bike this year and found good compliance and decent rebound at -10 setting. I am heavy though, 200lbs. My guess is the stock rebound shim/and needle settings will work for most people, but you might need a custom shim stack. I love the Fox stuff but Grip 2 settings are too hard to understand, setup, and change for most of the riding population.
  • 4 1
 @Comatosegi: yeah cleaning the grease ball out of the air chamber helped but I did end up sending it out for a reshiming, now it’s great but I’m not sure that it’s any better than the charger 2.1 zeb it replaced lol
  • 1 0
 @mcfadden999: I would agree that the Charger 3 is quite a bit firmer and rebound is slower than the Charger 2.1. For me the Charger 3 feels far more composed though and I definitely prefer the higher dynamic ride height. I'm talking about the Lyric though. Haven't tried the Zeb
  • 1 0
 @Skooks: do agree in steep stuff it stands up nice but when you’re smashing through rocks it starts to feel choked
  • 15 12
 @mikekazimer: You're literally skirting the question. He's saying we haven't heard about it and it won, your justification is that it should be apparent because it won.
That is called circular reasoning. Pretty hilarious that 28 others upvoted you for a fallacy.
  • 7 14
flag mcfadden999 (Dec 27, 2023 at 20:34) (Below Threshold)
 @nickfranko: I think there’s a lot of upvotes that just come from Pinkbike employees, unfortunately I feel like Pinkbike is just becoming a trade site that props up products for monetary gain. Like they can say nobody pays for these awards but they can look at where the most advertising dollars have come from in the past year and that tilts the scales a bit. It used to be fox that got favorable treatment in every review but now Rockshox seems to be favored.
  • 10 2
 @nickfranko: what is wrong with you people?
  • 8 2
 @Schbeemb: I was gonna say something similar. I think some people here need to get off the internet and ride their bikes.
  • 1 5
flag issasledgehammer (Dec 28, 2023 at 6:42) (Below Threshold)
 @nickfranko: shut the f*ck up
  • 1 2
 @Schbeemb: It's flat earthers banned from reddit most likely. The give away is that they can't fathom differences in opinion, hence the tantrums. Coming from a website where its illegal to have an opinion is very traumatic for them.
  • 4 0
 Henry did that deep dive feature with a couple of Sram guys, it was praised at the time as great tech coverage. They did a teardown and he asked a lot of detailed questions. It's actually worth a watch.
  • 1 8
flag mcfadden999 (Dec 28, 2023 at 12:30) (Below Threshold)
 @issasledgehammer: bet you believe the Pfizer vaccine totally works too
  • 27 5
  • 11 1
 Dorado was robbed
  • 10 0
 I want to know how pinkbike racing got on with this. Surely their athletes have some opinions to share...
  • 2 0
 I love the Dorado too, but the current model didn’t come out this year.
  • 18 0
 My best suspension improvement of late has been SKF wiper seals. No more stiction.
  • 8 2
 Huh. Seems slightly sus that so far two products of the year are owned by the Sram Corporation, but it must be because they are actually good products. I wouldn't know, I'm too poor to buy these things.
  • 8 1
 my product of the year is the same old FOX 36 I bought back in '18.
  • 5 0
 Doing a lower leg service and wiper seal change keeps the upgradeitis away for 6-9 months at a time. Happy 36 owner here
  • 4 0
 I could say that about half of my 2018 bike, that I still ride.
  • 6 1
 Haven’t heard any buzz about it… and here it wins? Tigon, now that’s a shock I’ve heard some good things about.
  • 5 3
 What is crazy is that this "most advanced fork from RS" will have an damper or negative chamber upgrade in 6 months. How can RS do this trick each time for their new products : new fork -> negative chamber upgrade -> damper upgrade
  • 2 0
 @pinkbike has been coopted by colonial influence and is stifling r&d by awarding social clout and marketshare to established companies who definitely DO NO deserve bike of they year as they are just doing the same old same old as well as just stealing ideas from the smaller innovators. @pinkbike is destroying the bike industry.

We see you. D.O.S.
  • 6 0
 '22 boxxer unrideable
  • 4 1
 Love mine. And WAY lower maintenance than the 40 (which has had bushing play since brand new, and leaks from the seals slightly more often than monthly)
  • 5 2
 I haven't ridden the Boxxer, but I am really happy with the new Lyric.Same charger 3 damper and similar air spring.
  • 7 5
 I don't think I've seen a new, triple clamp fork, in the flesh for about 5 years. I'm surprised brands are still developing new models with surely such minimal sales
  • 7 7
 that's because there are no MTB "triple clamp forks". this and all others are dual crown. Big Grin
  • 8 9
 @Mtbdialed: the axle clamps and both crowns clamp - that makes 3, so it's triple. Just sayin
  • 4 1
 There might be more to the world than your microcosm.
  • 1 6
flag uponcripplecreek (Dec 27, 2023 at 15:28) (Below Threshold)
 @IllestT: lol, by that logic my little pike is a double crown, or clamp !

My fork has got a crown, and a lowers arch.
DH forks have double crowns, and a lowers arch. Except the Dorado, just 2 crowns.

My 2 cents.
  • 2 2
 @IllestT: I thought triple clamps were when a crown had three bolts on the lower crown like the 2003 monster T has… and duel crown is any fork with a crown above and below the head tube regardless if it had a lower arch or not…
  • 3 1
 @IllestT: the axle is inside the hub, and has zero clamps! what you are talking about is the Through-axle and that simply holds the axle in the fork dropouts via endcaps.

just sayin. Big Grin
  • 2 1
 @uponcripplecreek: i’m not sure you understood very well.
  • 2 5
 Guys… its a triple crown. Duel crown also gets a pass.
  • 2 0
 @uponcripplecreek: my clipless pedals have clips tho so take that!
  • 4 0
 This is the most ridiculous argument ever, I love it! A double crown fork has 3 sets of clamps, ie triple clamp - each crown has a set of clamps and the fork lowers clamp the axle. Google it
  • 2 0
 @IllestT: @IllestT: I too love a useless PB comment argument! I'll go: "triple clamp" is technically correct (you're welcome) but "dual crown" better describes what we're talking about IMO.
  • 2 0
 @BryceBorlick: but why are the crowns fighting????
  • 1 0
 @alienator064: yeah! I can see that.

I tried to gang up and downvote myself too ,
But PB says props already given. Who knew.

I think I'll ignore the clamp nomenclature, keep calling my single crown fork a single crown.like always, and call DH forks dual crown, as most frame manufacturers do when when indicating whether or not they void the warranty.

Single crown, or dual crown. Looks like I need things to be dumbed down for them to make sense to me.
  • 4 4
 Surprised to see a downhill fork - and not the leading one (by sales #'s at least) - announced as "suspension product of the year". I wonder how many people's rides were completely transformed as a result of the introduction of this product...
  • 2 0
 Why is that surprising?
  • 1 1
 It's just what they think is the best overall new product of 2023.
Not that many to choose from and it's hardly an outrage that the Boxxer was picked (the price is outrageous though).
  • 2 1
 This is a fork few people will buy-even most occasional park riders just use an enduro bike anymore. But……the tech in this fork will likely end up in Lyriks in the next few years.
  • 4 0
 How is this possible ? This fork is a sausage
  • 4 0
 Another KO on Enduro?
  • 2 0
 Vivid Ultimate? Seems like there's more new tech packed into there than the Boxxer and it got glowing reviews
  • 1 0
 Yeah, it's pretty phenomenal. Guess the Boxxer is better.
  • 2 0
 Mind boggling to see how it has progressed since the first one came out way back when
  • 2 0
 Tigon best innovation in suspension this year probably but I don't think it was out long enough to win this category.
  • 3 1
 Oh yes can’t wait to get one
  • 1 3
 Wow ... they really want to help their sponsors! Besides the sillyness of electing a suspension product of the year, as if suspension changed significantly from year to year, singling out a double crown fork that appeals to maybe 0.01% of mountain bikers is really blatant publicity!
  • 2 1
 Are the prices only for the Big bosses aka Announcers?...
  • 2 1
 What about the new Halston inversion fork?
  • 1 1
 Or any time on the Maverick duc 36 carbon? Surely the “pink bike editors” must have gotten a sample of it?
  • 1 4
 Honestly, not that stoked on charger 3. I sold both my zebs and bought 1st gen zebs with Charger 2.1s and luftkapped the air spring. Best suspension product I've ever ridden. Never could jive with the charger 3. If there is a way to swap in a charger 2.1 damper in the Boxxer i'd be down, but likely DVO is best option as it is still a bladder based system.
  • 3 0
 For real! Despite my username I really do have some reservations about charger 3 Zeb when hauling ass, it just feels harsh (I've played with all the dials, pulled out excess grease, tried all different air pressures) Charger 2 feels plush, crazy consistent and great in pretty much all scenarios! Certainly a Luftkappe, Smashpot, Secus or anything Steve cooks up seems to enhance fork performance to a level OEM offerings could never give you. Luftkappe + tune + burnishing is what I've done to my trusty Charger 2 Zeb and it feels infinitely better than a stock Charger 3. Total cost about $1500 AUD ($1030 USD) shopping around but it would probably be cheaper these days!
  • 1 0
 Ohlins and Norbs were robbed!!!!
  • 2 1
 My suspension product of the year hangs from the ceiling in my bedroom.
  • 1 0
 Is the Manitou Dorado a contender at all?
  • 2 1
 What percentage of mountain bikers are riding a Boxxer fork? 5%
  • 1 0
 that number seems way high. but that's also not the point of this award.
  • 6 6
 Ah, finally, Good to read about a Boxxer that isn't Jake Paul .
  • 2 2
 I will pick some up for my trail bike lol
  • 4 0
 Boxxers have always been the choice of trail bike freaks who ride a DC fork. Well, since the Stratos FR5 went away.
  • 2 3
  • 2 5
 Easy pick. The Boxxer finally exceeds the Fox 40. It only took 20 years.
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