Somehow it's already been three years since the SID last received a refresh, which means that RockShox's venerable cross-country fork has once again been revised to keep it relevant for today's XC riders and racers.
Updates include new 3-position and 2-position dampers, a new Debonair+ air spring for the standard SID, and longer upper tubes to increase bushing overlap. The standard SID comes stock with 120mm of travel, which can be reduced down to 110mm, and the even lighter weight SID SL is available with either 110 or 100mm of travel.
One thing's for sure – there's no shortage of models in the new SID lineup. The fact that each model is available with either a 3- or 2-position damper means there's a total of 16 different options. At the top level, the SID Ultimate is priced at $999 USD, and the SID SL Ultimate is $899.
SID Ultimate Details
• Intended use: XC
• Travel: 110, 120mm (tested)
• Wheel size: 29"
• Stanchions: 35mm
• Debonair+ air spring
• Charger Race Day 2 damper (3 and 2-position options)
• Offset: 44mm
• Claimed weight: 1480 grams
• MSRP: $999 USD
• More info: rockshox.com
The overall look of the SID hasn't changed dramatically, but the SID Ultimate and SID SL both have a new crown shape where any excess material has been machined away to shave some precious grams. The 120mm SID Ultimate weighs in at a claimed 1480 grams, 57 grams lighter than the previous model.
The SID SL, the lightest option in the lineup thanks in part to its 32mm stanchion diameter and different lower leg profile, sees its travel bumped up to 110mm (there's still a 100mm air spring available), a change that increases its weight by 26 grams compared to the last generation; it now weighs 1352 grams.
Internal updates to the standard SID include a new air spring that has 50% more negative and 16% more positive air volume. The resulting spring curve is intended to give the fork a slightly softer feel off the top for better small bump compliance, and more support in the mid-stroke to keep it riding in the sweet spot. The SID now uses a small coil top out spring, another measure that's meant to help improve the beginning stroke suppleness.
The new three position damper option adds in a middle 'Pedal' setting that sits between Open and Lock. As you'd expect, Pedal adds more low-speed compression damping for smoother sections of trail where more support is helpful, but where a full lockout could feel harsh or diminish traction.
SRAM's updated TwistLoc remote can be used to twist between the three settings, or the fork is available with a small lever on the top cap that's used to pick the desired position. There's also a new SIDLuxe rear shock with three matching compression settings that can be controlled at the same time as the fork with the TwistLoc remote.
It's no secret that a number of the previous SID forks were plagued by bushing play, an issue we encountered on several test bikes. To address that, RockShox increased the upper tube length by 25 millimeters. That extra length means that the lower bushing is fully engaged at top out, and there's 50% more bushing surface engagement, hopefully greatly reducing the likelihood that any annoying fork play will develop. So far the revision seems to be working – my test fork is still working properly after a 7 day stage race and a handful of other rides.Ride Impressions
The arrival of my SID Ultimate test fork and SIDLuxe shock lined up with the start of the BC Bike Race, a 7-day cross-country stage race, so I mounted the new bits to an Orbea Oiz, went on one shakedown / setup ride, and then dove into a week of racing on Vancouver Island.
There was one feature missing from my BCBR setup – the TwistLoc shifter that's used to switch between the three settings on the fork and shock. That's right, I completed the entire race with my suspension fully open. That's borderline sacriligeous for those who worship at the alter of efficiency, but for me it was one less thing to think about, and since the Oiz's rear suspension is already fairly firm off the top I didn't miss having a lockout at all.
Don't worry, though, the lockout has since been installed, and I can confirm that there's a noticeable difference between the three settings. The middle 'Pedal' setting is very usable – it comes in handy on climbs that have enough rough bits that a full lockout would be too much, but where firming up the suspension helps make the bike feel that much more efficient. It did take some time to remember the direction that the twist shifter needed to be turned to open up the suspension versus locking it out, but that's something that eventually becomes second nature.
Before I go too much further, I should state that I'm not a diehard XC racer, even though I do love going fast on little bikes, and I recognize that the wants / needs of an elite XC athlete may be different than mine. That said, my ideal cross-country bike would have a fork without any cables running to it, and there would be a simple handlebar mounted remote to actuate the lockout or pedal platform on the shock. The TwistLoc shifter works fine, I'd just prefer pushing a lever or button.
Given RockShox's propensity for adding electronics to everything, I'm a little surprised there's no low-profile electronic lockout in their lineup. Yes, Flight Attendant exists, but what about a wireless lockout with a tiny button on the handlebar to activate it? That sure seems like it'd be handy for a wide range of riders, and not just the XC crowd, and you could probably make a ½ or ¼ size battery that would provide plenty of juice for a couple ride while also saving some weight. Suspension Feel
The vast majority of modern XC bikes are much better than the sketchy, spindly things that used to be the norm not that long ago. It turns out that a touch more travel and geometry that's a little less pointy goes a long way towards making a bike that's enjoyable on the climbs and the descents (within reason, of course – there's still limits to what you can get away with on a 120mm fork).
Compared to the previous version, the new SID is noticeably softer for the first few millimeters of travel. Now, I didn't really have any major complaints about the previous SID (as long as it didn't have bushing play, of course), but that softer beginning stroke does help out with hand comfort on long, chattery sections. After that, it ramps up nicely, and over the course of a week of blind racing I only had a few hard bottom outs, all in situations where using full travel was completely warranted. I've since bumped up the pressure slightly and added a volume spacer (I'm now at 80 psi with one spacer for my 160 lb weight), which helps make sure that the end of the stroke is there in reserve for the biggest, and usually unexpected, hits.
As far as adjustments go, well, there really isn't that much to discuss. The rebound is adjusted via a 2.5mm allen key that can also be removed to adjust the rebound on the SIDLuxe, and there was enough range for me to find a comfortable setting.
For the low speed compression, I do think it'd be nice to have the option to further fine tune the fork – for comparison, the FIT4 damper that Fox uses in their StepCast 34 allows gives riders 22 clicks of low speed compression adjustment in the open setting. Adding that feature to the SID would likely add a little extra weight, but the result would still be much lighter than a Pike, and would be a great option for speedy downcountry machine.
Overall, the updates to the SID have increased its capability and comfort - it's more than up to the task of handling World Cup cross-country racing, and it can be pushed even further without flinching.