4 RockShox SID Forks from the Past

Mar 1, 2020 at 11:42
by Mike Levy  


The First SID - 1998

Today saw RockShox release two all-new SID forks (and a shock), but the 'Superlight Integrated Design' acronym has been around since 1998 when the original version debuted with puny 28mm stanchion tubes and just 60mm of travel. These were very different times than today, and riders didn't expect much from their cross-country race bikes besides quick handling and, of vital importance, absolute minimum weight.

Front suspension was a proven advantage by this time - the BoXXer was released the same year - but that didn't mean that racers were okay with adding any more grams than necessary. Good thing the SID had a hollow crown and proprietary internals that added up to just 2.6lb (1,200-grams), or about 0.4lb less than the sturdier Judy SL. While the Judy was an all-around fork that employed an elastomer and coil-spring combo, the SID was air-sprung because grams, and it even came with drilled-out titanium foot bolts and titanium V-brake bosses. In fact, the 2021 SID SL Ultimate weighs around 130-grams more than that first SID from over two decades ago, although I suspect they perform very differently...

This was twenty-two years ago and things were, well, let's call them less refined; you used a needle valve to inflate the fork, meaning you could fill up your football and your SID at the same time. Damping? It had the newer C3 cartridge that was said to be much more reliable than those older, plastic-walled dampers used inside early Judy forks. Adjustments were minimal, with a single dial that hopefully controlled rebound damping and no lockout function.

That first SID sold for $700 USD back in 1998, or around $1,100 in today's money.
1998 Rockshox SID MK1 MINT
The original SID offered 60mm-ish of travel, had 28mm diameter stanchion tubes, and weighed just 2.6lb. Photo: PB user sean-s-1991



The Dual Crown SID - 1999

The SID family tripled the following year, with the SL, XC, and the dual crown XL models showing up in 1999. The latter has to be one of the oddest forks that RockShox has ever offered.

Mountain biking was figuring itself out at the turn of the decade, and there was still room for ideas that seem nothing but strange in 2020. That included a dual crown SID with either 80 or 100mm of travel that was, aside from the longer Easton tapered stanchions, an additional upper crown, and slightly different lowers, pretty similar to its one-crown brothers. RockShox made a (relative) jump forward in both damping and spring departments, too; separately adjustable positive and negative air chambers filled the left leg, while a two-way adjustable damper had dials that controlled rebound and compression.

RockShox offered SID upgrade kits so riders could bump up in travel from 80mm to 100mm if you bought the former and wanted more squish. Also available for aftermarket purchase: accordion-style fork boots.

The longer upper tubes and second crown didn't mean that the SID XL was intended for serious downhill use, though, especially given its quick-release dropouts and a hardly believable weight of just 3lb 14oz.
Here's that sub-4lb dual crown cross-country SID you were looking for.Photo: PB user sean-s-1991



The Carbon Fiber SID - 2002

While the newest SID ditches the one-piece carbon fiber crown and steerer unit in favor of an aluminum version that's said to be even lighter, minds were blown eighteen years ago when RockShox introduced their SID Race Carbon.

The 2.6lb (1,200-gram) fork came with the coveted BlackBox label, a reference to RockShox's top-tier support program that supplied gear to their fastest riders racers, but it didn't get the troublesome gold clout-coating on its stanchion tubes that the Titanium Race version received. That's probably a good thing - that gold coating would flake off if you even looked at it the wrong way.
The 2002 SID's one-piece carbon fiber crown and steerer blew minds.
The 2002 SID's one-piece carbon fiber crown and steerer blew minds.
Photo: PB user pawellibicki

While carbon is used almost everywhere these days, RockShox is still the only brand to offer a telescoping suspension fork with a carbon fiber crown and steerer, and that was back in 2002 when the expensive black stuff was far less ubiquitous than it is these days.



The Swole SID - 2009

2009 was a big year for SID, literally, with RockShox upsizing its chassis from using those now comical looking 28mm diameter stanchions to the 32mm tubes and wider stance we're used to seeing today. This required new magnesium lowers, of course, which were also substantially beefier than the previous version. This was done partly due to 29ers requiring beefier components, but also because more and more was being expected of so-called cross-country bikes as riders weren't just using them between the tape on Sunday morning.

The result was a dramatic - and much needed - improvement in steering precision that was, according to reviews at the time, well worth the slight increase in weight compared to its flexy predecessor.
2009 Rockshox SID Race 80mm rare V brake version
RockShox went from using 28mm to 32mm upper tubes for the 2009 SID, which was a huge improvement.
Photo: PB user pawellibicki



91 Comments

  • 43 1
 "While carbon is used almost everywhere these days, RockShox is still the only brand to offer a telescoping suspension fork with a carbon fiber crown and steerer"
Does SUNTOUR not offer equivalent specs on their Werx XC forks? They even have hybrid carbon/magnesium lowers if I remember correctly!
Anyway, the Race Carbon SID was impressive at the time!
  • 42 3
 Yup, got me there. I've even ridden that fork a bunch and still forgot - my bad Smile
  • 8 6
 Didn't it save only 50g with like 200$ price increase? They also made a revelation like that I believe.
  • 8 1
 Lefty Ocho?
  • 3 1
 I remeber quite few, made by Marzocchi, German-A, WR Composity, Suntour etc... some with carbon lowers...
But Sram/RS are always the "first" if not the "only". They even invented 2x10 lol.
  • 1 1
 Specialized Future Shock?
  • 6 0
 DT Swiss were producing carbon forks and shocks for years
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: And the Lefty Ocho isn't all carbon option too?
  • 1 0
 And magura too
  • 7 1
 @fracasnoxteam: buying a Magura fork is like saying: I figured a way to play Call of Duty on Nintendo Wii.
  • 2 0
 Got a busted Pace carbon fork hanging in my shed too
  • 3 0
 @WAKIdesigns: actually cod is available on Wii
  • 3 1
 @fracasnoxteam: the very fact of it crossing someone's mind to run it on Wii is EXACTLY what I mean. Being obvlisious to abnormality of a choice in presence of much better choices.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: that’s funny
  • 4 0
 @ReformedRoadie: It's like Hammershmidt... the early adopters stayed early adopters. I remember whacky dude telling me on a group ride how it will revolutionize riding single speeds! - Yhm, Oh yeah... See your later Bob! Take caaaare... dang! what happened Bob? it felt apart on the climb? the ISCG tab fell off? What is that? You know someone who can weld it back so it's not a problem at all - ah yeah... good. yeah... you mind if we leave you here? Yes I see you are perfectly fine... ok! I do acknowledge it is not a problem yes! Yes... I am fine with you being fine with it, no need to get upset, yes... See ya.

Magura/ DT Swiss - unknown performance from someone who doesn't really do much suspension and a perfect way to not get your suspension serviced anywhere!
  • 1 0
 RaceWare/Pace! Big Grin
  • 35 0
 The Dual Crown SID, also known as the first Downcountry fork ever ;-)
  • 3 0
 Actually, I think the 100mm dual crown manitou xvert might’ve came out right before the sid. I had one of those bad boys. Coming from a 76mm travel fork it took some getting used to. Sooo plush
  • 1 0
 That was a funny time when manufacturers were slapping dual crown forks on every bike. I remember seeing a guy in an XC race with one of these "downhill-lite" bikes and a full-face helmet. He did not win.

Some of those frames objected to the extra head-tube torque and there were all kinds of fun catastrophic failures with head tubes ripping off. The next year, all the frames had that extra gusset at the downtube/headtube junction that you often still see on metal frames today.

Fortunately, the industry came to its senses and quietly went back to single crown.
  • 1 0
 @pixelguru: came to its senses.. Remember the monster T? Nearly 10lbs and 7” of travel. Basically a trials moto fork that fork held more oil than my car. It seemed like a reasonable fork after trying the inverted Foes ”Wet One” with 30mm axle and 2-piece steer tube that held about a cap full of oil. It was the only other 7” fork at the time (other than hannebrink), and performance could be described as al dente. Then the super monster came out. The bike industry will ever come to its senses.
  • 19 0
 I think in the early days there were Marz people and Sid/Judy people. They'd stare at each other across the parking lot, the Marz group slowly passing the j, strapping on their Roach knee/shins; the Sids/Judys rolling up having ridden their lycra (props if it was Mapei road gear) to the trailhead to "get their heart rate up."

Then some kook would ratchet-hop between them on a Ti Norco trials bike and all hell would break loose.
  • 2 0
 This is a great word picture! Well done!
  • 2 0
 accurate, can confirm- I was in the SID/JUDY camp LOL
  • 1 0
 Except my neck of the wood it was a Ashton or echo trials bike
  • 2 0
 Then there was another kook that showed up in a lycra skinsuit with Roach arms and moto gloves, after swapping out the Sid for an 85mm Bomber on their weight weenie XC bike, for a North Vancouver Hell of the North XC race. And being last to the top of the first hill, but in the lead by the bottom of the last hill. Maybe not known as one of the first down-country-ers, but maybe one of the first X dressers (cross dressers).
  • 1 0
 @taprider: Hey I resemble that comment! Smile
  • 22 2
 I've lived through each of these forks. Come at me Corona virus!
  • 12 0
 I remember when those blue ones first came out *everyone* in the XC race scene had one on that gold and blue Trek alloy hardtail that also had Hayes disc brakes. First fork with a negative spring and first standardized disc brake setup, that bike was really one of the first mainstream mass-market mtbs in the modern era of decent suspension and brakes.
  • 6 0
 Ah yes, those 22mm chainstay-mount Hayes brakes. Still rocking one on my 8500 LT.
  • 4 0
 I was working in a Trek dealership that year. The 9900 carbon bike was sweet but the 8900 aluminum was, like you said, the bike that brought it to the customer. I had the original SID and, honestly, it was brilliant. He's being critical of it in this article but with the negative spring you could get it so dialed.
  • 3 0
 I still have the Trek 8900 frame, waiting to be a commuter bike. The SID was pretty terrible, I recall greasing the seals every week or so to keep the fork going up and down. The Hayes were awesome and refused to die.
  • 1 0
 @codypup: My 8500 has been my commuter since about '04. It's got a well-maintained z2 BAM on it and some cheap 700c wheels because why not? For the longest time it had a Moots post and a King HS and rear hub but I sold those for grocery money years back when things got desperate. Rear Hayes still works acceptably well but the front wheel has a Shimano brake.
  • 17 4
 It can take our WC, it can take our EWS but it will never take our GRIM DONUT!!!
  • 5 1
 Hard to take over something that seems to have vanished from the earth.
  • 5 0
 @NorCalNomad: Made a brief cameo in the Thule review
  • 8 1
 @NorCalNomad: Levy should rename it the Sasquatch
  • 2 1
 @ReformedRoadie: Sasquatch? What about the Yet... doesn't matter.
  • 8 0
 "That first SID sold for $700 USD back in 1998, or around $1,100 in today's money."

Let that be a lesson for all the youngens that complain about prices getting so expensive these days. $899 for the brand new one that is surely far superior.
  • 9 0
 I was a marzocchi guy for most of that time.
  • 2 0
 I had multiple versions of the xc air fork in the 90. Never had to pump it up with a ball pump. LOL
  • 3 0
 Same, and then the first fox was introduced and it was an amazing day... 2002-2003 time line.
  • 6 0
 I nominate the Boxxer "Ride" with U-Turn travel adjust as runner-up to the SID DC as weirdest mass-market fork Rock Shox ever made. 133-178mm travel - that's like 2' of HA adjust!
  • 2 0
 My other half had one of those bad boys back in the day! She was on a 6" travel Orange Patriot at the time, so 7" inch mode made it a cracking bike when pointed downhill (especially as the rest of the spec was shared with the Team), then would wind it down for climbing again. Basically, she was ENDURO before it was a thing.

It also came with a QR Maxle, that was far less likely to cause the problems of the normal Maxle at the time. iirc I stole that when she finally sold up
  • 1 0
 @mashrv1: Awesome! I never saw on in the flesh but I always lusted for one. I had an OG Banshee Scream but I fitted a Super T to it from the RM7 I had previously. I always thought that travel adjust would have been so useful here in the NW with our long, steep approaches.
  • 4 0
 If I remember, the '98 models had a 200lb weight limit, and blew up pretty quickly.

A friend had the 2000 model on his Kona Explosif (the first Kona Scantium bike), and it was actually a good fork that put up with some abuse.

I'm glad we're less silly these days... I'd rather a 30 lb. bike that gives me confidence over a 20 lb. flexy flyer.
  • 3 0
 Had a 2000 SID 80mm on my Fisher Kaitai. So much better than a Judy. Somehow it worked fine under my 220 pounds, including Downieville and Northstar. I had an aggressive hardtail, forgoing those 560mm flat bars for huge 680mm 20mm risers.
  • 5 0
 Ohhh I remember my old SID, all my mates ware like "is that carbon?!"
www.pinkbike.com/photo/9577149
www.pinkbike.com/photo/9577152

I did loved them.
  • 3 0
 RST 381XL for life! 76 mm of travel, elastomer performance and double crown! All you need those days to shred sick trails.
For those who are too young to know stuff from the begininig of the century, here is the link:
www.bttbike.com/foto/o/9/92/992483837_381-XL.jpg
  • 3 0
 "Good thing the SID had a hollow crown and proprietary internals" Are there non-proprietary internals? Were any manufacturers using "off the shelf" dampers they didn't create in-house? Pretty sure no.
  • 2 0
 I remember when the 1998 SID came out, it was "air-oil forks 2.0" and this time they were so much better than the original ones that were largely abandoned for elastomers and steel springs. Poor me was still riding one of the last air-oil 1.0 forks - my '95 Mag 21.

It was true though. The difference was night and day between the two and the SID was noticeably stiffer too, even if it was a bloody wet noodle compared to the Marzocchis of the time (though the lightest of them weighted more than 1lb more). The SID changed things in a major way when it hit the market.
  • 2 0
 Funny: I used to blast (sic) down the original "sawpit" trail at Demo on a Santa Cruz superlight with an 80mm SID upfront. The thought of riding that bike today is terrifying.
  • 1 0
 "The New SID" as it was called at the time - the one with the 32mm stanchions - was not released in 2009, nor called the 2009 year model. It was released in 2007 and called the 2008 year model, and here's a PinkBike article about it. www.pinkbike.com/news/2008RockShoxSID.html

IIRC, the 2009 year model lost the V-brake bosses.
  • 1 0
 A friend/co-worker of mine rode for Trek back in the late 90's and had one of these via his sponsorship. I was about 16 and thought it was the coolest thing ever. He said was "better than rigid, barely". He valued comfort/control over weight, way before most anyone else realized it. He hated that damn thing.
  • 4 0
 Thanks. I really enjoy the throw back content.
  • 2 0
 I (briefly) had a SID SL on my Kona Explosif in the late 90's. One day I bunny hopped a curb cut - then the arch cracked from preloading the bike. Comical.
  • 3 0
 In the late 90s? I doubt it was conical Wink
  • 1 0
 @carlitouk: Well I'm not sure about it being CONICAL, but it was COMICAL. Wink
  • 3 0
 The QR dropouts on everything are making me ill. Why did it take soooo long to get real (thru-) axle attachments?!
  • 2 0
 Marzocchi did starting in the late 90's 20mm on some forks down to 100mm.
  • 2 0
 @eshew: Nice! But I meant as a normal/standard thing. I'm still sad when I see QRs on $800 bikes, but even in that "under a grand" price range, thru-axles are coming along. I want to destroy whoever came up with the idea to go backwards and thought Boost 141 was a good idea.
  • 4 0
 I have the original SID on my 97 Zaskar! 3
  • 6 0
 Never sell!
  • 1 0
 I replaced my Judy TTs with a Judy SL. At the time it felt like such a massive improvement (pretty sure a rigid fork was better than the TT).
I've only ridden a SID once and it was on a awfully steep XC bike.
  • 2 0
 I have one of those original SIDs on my wall, attached to a beautiful 1999 Trek 9.9 Elite in the matching blue (white on the other side of the frame).
  • 1 0
 I remember getting a Colorado Cyclist catalog and drooling over that 1998 SID for a long time. Watched the Diesel/UCI World Cup in Napa and every bike had that fork (aside from Cannondale). Always wanted it. Never had it.
  • 1 0
 Ok I´m gonna say it. First gen Sid did not have a C3 cartridge. It recieved that in ´99. To my knowledge the first gen sid (' 9Cool was completely pneumatic (damping too) and sported just 60mm travel.
  • 2 0
 I rode my rocky mountain soul with bombers at bc DH provincial championships circa 2000. The sid was just as popular
  • 3 0
 I have a SID on my pump track bike.
  • 3 0
 I have an old Sid 80mm frok on my 1992 Cannondale beater/beer getter.
  • 3 0
 I still lust for that blue SID.
  • 2 0
 Don't forget the 8 hour service interval and the really expensive seals that needed replacement every service interval.
  • 2 0
 I literally just rebuilt my 2003 Sid World Cup this past weekend. Beautiful fork, surprised how well it’s held up.
  • 2 0
 I had the OG 1998 one. It's amazing that I didn't kill myself. It saw some hucks (for that era anyway).
  • 2 0
 Brings back memories of 952 XTR and original Mavic CrossMax wheels on a Schwinn/Yeti Homegrown bass boat red/gold bike
  • 2 0
 Yes it does, I have the bass boat red and sliver.
  • 1 0
 I remember lusting over the blue SID- most racers pumped them up so stiff back then they probably got no more than 25mm of movement
  • 1 0
 Not to be a stickler but the first Sid was released in 1996. rockshoxsid.net/rock-shox-sid-1996-first-model-rare-vintage-parts-2.php
  • 1 0
 I had a blue dual crown 100mm SID on my Devinci Banzaï back in 2000. Good memories!
  • 1 0
 Did the dual crown offer anything for your ride other than "woah that's siiiiick"
  • 3 0
 @T4THH: Added gobs of torsional stiffness, that was then completely lost through the QR9 axle fitment and flimsy arch... Probably some fore-aft stiffness too, or at least moved fore-aft flex from the crown to the stanchions.
  • 1 0
 @T4THH: Is there really much more that you need? Instant street/trail cred...
  • 1 1
 Not to be a stickler but I recall the Sid coming out in 1996. rockshoxsid.net/rock-shox-sid-1996-first-model-rare-vintage-parts-2.php
  • 1 0
 As a former RockShox race technician I can 100% guarantee that the first SID's were 1998 model year. There was a works version we did for the top riders with mag top caps, revised air piston, shafts, and guides. Pretty badass and light for that time.
  • 2 0
 SID blue owns you
  • 1 0
 "the SID was air-sprung because grams" ahaha
  • 1 0
 I had a SID XL. It did not work well for very long.
  • 1 1
 RS SID XX WC, hidraulic remote, best fork by far !
  • 1 0
 I like blue!
  • 1 1
 I rude a Judy because my dad wouldn't buy me a SID.

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