What's new with the 2014 Vivid
• Counter Measure negative spring
• Rapid Recovery damping
• Re-worked piggyback bridge and adjustment dials
• Smoother oil flow paths for less turbulence
Vivid R2C and Vivid Air R2C Details
• New for 2014
• Adjustments: separate beginning and ending stroke rebound, compression
• Weight: Vivid - 402 grams (depending on size), Vivid Air - 520 grams (depending on size)
• MSRP: $430 USD (coil), $674 USD (air)
Vivid Air R2C
The upsides of an air-sprung shock include less weight and the ability to precisely fine-tune the spring rate, but we'd be seeing them on every racer's bike if they were without fault. There are two major points of contention: one, the sometimes inconsistent spring rate and damping due to heat buildup (RockShox's Hot Rod, an adjuster needle with a thermoplastic resin core that self adjusts in size as temps go up, goes a long way towards remedying this), and two, the increased friction from the high-pressure seals required by an air shock. Yes, a modern air-sprung shock, especially a long-stroke model, is much more active than they were from years past, but most can't compare to the extremely supple nature of a coil-sprung model. You don't need to be a suspension engineer to see that an air shock is the ideal application for RockShox's Counter Measure system, and that much felt to be true during our day's testing with the new Counter Measure-equipped Vivid Air R2C.
In practice there is a marked increase in sensitivity at the top of the stroke between the 2014 Vivid Air and previous versions, with a supple feel that rivals a coil shock in ease of entry into its travel. The difference is night-and-day when pushing down on the bike's saddle, offering an impressively smooth feel to the back of the bike. That translates to a very fluid-feeling rear end when on the trail, with a noticeable improvement in sensitivity. While the Counter Measure system may only affect the first 10mm of the shock's stroke, the extremely light action certainly changes the shock's personality for the better as a whole - it felt more active to us throughout its stroke, likely because it is so eager to go into its travel at the very beginning.
We are not going to go so far as to say that the Vivid Air R2C is ever going to replace the coil-sprung version on the World Cup circuit - top racers can be a finicky bunch and air suspension has not been popular so far - but we wouldn't be all that surprised to see it pop up on a few top riders' bikes more often than in years past. And as for the average rider and racer, air suspension is beginning to make a lot more sense, if not for the weight loss, certainly for the adjustability.
The coil-sprung Vivid R2C is always going to offer a more active ride than its lighter weight brother simply due to it not having to deal with the seals required by the air spring, but like any long-stroke shock, it still employs the same IFP within its piggyback - every time the shock is compressed it must also push against the 250psi behind the IFP. Fitting the Counter Measure negative spring to the standard Vivid R2C has created a shock that is so gung-ho to get into its stroke that it takes only the slightest impact to have it activate, and it is fair to say that we were impressed with the responsiveness that RockShox has been able to create. The difference in performance between a non-Counter Measure Vivid and the 2014 model doesn't seem as pronounced as the contrast between the new and old Vivid Air shocks, but that is to be expected given the already active nature of the coil-sprung Vivid. Unfortunately, there were no older model Vivids for us to compare back-to-back, but you can expect a comparison review in the near future that goes deeper into the performance differences.
|BlackBox technician Jon Cancellier holds up an earlier Vivid Air R2C prototype, a shock that employed a preliminary version of the Counter Measure system, while at last year's Pietermaritzburg World Cup. RockShox has decided to forgo the volume adjustment feature (note the knob on the end of the piggyback ) on the production version due to testers not feeling the need for it and the small amount of added weight.|
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