The Good: -Light for a DH/Freeride shock
-High volume air can for a less progressive feel
The Bad: -Not as smooth as coil shocks
-Air can valve can be a pain to get to
When I bought this shock, I was on a weight loss kick for my rig. Basically I wanted my baby to slim down without loosing performance. At the time, the Vivid Air R2C was the only air shock that I was considering since it has a larger air can, and is built from the ground up to be put on a DH/Freeride bike. The Vivid Air comes in three different compression tunes to match the travel ratio of your bike. The problem I had with this, is that Rockshox doesn't make it very easy to find out which tune fits which travel ratio. After a few weeks of searching and comparing forum results, I found that my bike could run either a medium tune, or a high tune. Iopted for a medium tune so that I could have a more subtle ride, while letting the air springs natural progressive rate take care of bottom out.
I ran into trouble as soon as I started setting up my rig. Because of the large size of the air can, I wanted to be sure that the shock wouldn't make contact anywhere on the frame. So I let out all the air, and started to cycle the shock through it's travel. Sadly I forgot to take off the shock pump, so I ended up breaking the schrader valve. Fortunately, that is a replaceable part, and I got it fixed for about $30.
After the fix, I made sure to keep a very close eye on the shock while setting sag, since they want you to keep the pump on the shock during the process. Thanks the the location of the schrader valve, installing a removing the shock pump is a bit of a pain. On the bright side, thanks to the sag indicators put directly onto the shock, knowing if I needed more or less sag was easy.
Tuning the shock took some getting used to. I am much for used to two compression and one rebound settings. The Vivid Air R2C has two rebound and one compression settings. After numerous tuning ride sessions, I finally got the Vivid Air to start behaving the way I wanted it too.
On the trail I found that it handled big hits very well, since it took a few casings on the jumps. Medium hits were also taken care of to my liking. In fact, I found that the harder I charged into rock gardens, the more smooth the shock felt. On the flip side, the shock never felt quite subtle enough on smaller hits, and tended to feel like I was loosing traction. This characteristic made it difficult for me to have the confidence to charge into anything.
My verdict? While the Vivid Air felt better than other air shocks that I have tried on other bikes, and I feel that it is a step in the right direction, I ultimately decided to switch back to a coil shock so that I could regain confidence in my bike's handling.