Review by Evan Turpen // Photos by Dave Trumpore
The RockShox Vivid has been a popular choice for downhill racers, freeriders, and bike park shredders since its introduction in 2008. With external beginning stroke rebound, ending stroke rebound, and low speed compression, it is one of the simpler, yet surprisingly adjustable shocks on the market. Over the years the Vivid has proven itself as a reliable performer that is a great “set and forget” item on any bike. The newest version of the Vivid aims to take this rock solid performance one step further by including some unique new features and internal trickery to eek out even more from an already great shock.
Vivid R2C Highlights
- External beginning stroke rebound (20 clicks), ending stroke rebound (6 clicks), low speed compression (6 clicks), and spring preload
- Available sizes: 200x57, 216x63, 222x70, 240x76, 289x67
- Available in high, medium, or low compression tunes for different leverage ratios
- Steel coil springs available in 50lb increments from 200lbs per inch up to 650lbs per inch
- Weight: 468g (for a 222x70 without hardware and spring)
- MSRP: $430 US
First and definitely most noticeable is the feature aptly named “Counter Measure”. This term refers to the redesign of the sealhead to fit a negative spring. This negative spring counteracts the initial breakaway force at the top of the stroke and is claimed to reduce this force from roughly 60 pounds per inch to nearly zero. Pretty impressive!
The shock’s external adjustments have also been rearranged to be tool free and easily accessible by hand from one side of the shock with very defined and audible clicks (the prior version required a 2.5mm allen wrench to adjust the ending stroke rebound).
Last, but not least, the “Rapid Recovery” feature is an improved rebound tune that is designed to help the wheel track the ground better during varying size, speed, and frequency of bumps. Basically it is designed to keep your shock from “packing down” over successive hits, keep you riding higher in the travel, and maximize traction and control when pushing the limits.
Read on to find out if all of these fancy new features really lived up to their claims or if the new Vivid was just bunch of marketing hype…
Installing the Vivid R2C onto our Santa Cruz V-10 was simple with zero clearance or tolerance issues. When ordering the shock we specified the mounting hardware and correct spring rate for the V10’s 8.5” travel setting (which I prefer to run). Our shock came from RockShox with the medium compression tune which was the preferred tune for the leverage ratio of the 8.5“ travel setting. Once bolted up I briefly explored the external adjusters range and easily came up with a good feeling base setting to start the test with.
On The Trail
This shock was primarily tested at the Keystone, Colorado bike park. For those not familiar with the park, it is one of the more rugged, rocky, DH style parks in Colorado with a very respectable 2,360 vertical feet of drop per run. The trails vary from smooth flowy bermy-jumpy affairs all the way to scorching fast and rocky hang-on-for-your-dear-life kind of runs. A perfect place for putting a shock through its paces.
From the first run down a couple things were immediately noticeable. First and foremost was how supple the shock was. Small to medium sized bumps seemed to almost disappear under the rear wheel of my bike. This was a very nice feeling especially at the pedals since I primarily run flats for riding downhill. It definitely helped to keep my feet on the pedals with minimum effort.
The second aspect that stuck out was that the rebound control did a very good job of adjusting its characteristics based on the type of forces being encountered. Where other shocks had me trying to find a compromise between slower rebound for g-outs, jumps, and big hits, and faster rebound for the high-speed choppy sections, the Vivid was able strike a great balance for both (although it took a while to find the best combination of beginning and ending stroke rebound). In the end, I was splitting hairs with the adjusters…something that simply wasn’t possible with a traditional single adjuster rebound.
The compression adjuster has a very effective range and it was easy to tune the shock to have more support for jumps, berms, and g-outs or less compression for the more rugged chopped up trails. Big hits were smoothly absorbed (such as drops with harsh landings) although I attribute most of this to selecting the proper spring rate and the progressive nature of the V-10’s rear suspension. Nevertheless, I never experienced a harsh bottom-out throughout the whole test period even when doing “gas to flat” type riding.
Finally, despite my best efforts, I could not get the shock to show signs of fading or inconsistent performance and I rang this thing out! Even on the longest and roughest of runs the Vivid continued to do its job without any complaints.
Things That Could Be Improved
Although the range of the compression adjuster is broad, there are only 6 clicks of adjustment making it nearly impossible to split hairs in the same way we could with the dual-flow rebound. The inclusion of a high-speed compression adjuster to further fine tune things would help bring this shock to an even higher level of performance. There were times when I felt the back end getting kicked up slightly on high-speed deep travel hits when I had the compression cranked in for more support. I’d love to be able to tune in great support and amazing high-speed performance with the adjusters. Lastly I’d like to see a bushing/reducer setup similar to Fox’s new low-friction affair to further increase the already amazing sensitivity of the Vivid.
Long Term Durability
Throughout the 2-month test period our Vivid performed flawlessly with no leaks or signs of wear. With its proven track record, user serviceability (for advanced mechanics) and good support from SRAM, we can see the Vivid performing great for many years to come.
What's The Bottom Line?
The Vivid R2C is a solid performer that is reliable and easy to set up. Although not quite adjustable to the n-th degree as some of the other shocks on the market, it is extremely difficult to find fault in its performance. It seems like no matter what you do it’s tough to have a bad ride on a bike equipped with a Vivid. It is an excellent choice for those that would rather spend more time on the trails shredding than adjusting their suspension.
For more details, cruise over to www.rockshox.com.
About The Reviewer
Evan Turpen has been racing mountain bikes for over 12 years. He raced downhill as a pro for the last 8 years with his career highlight being selected to represent the U.S. in the 2006 World Championships. More recently he can be found competing in enduro races and having a blast with it. His first ever enduro event being the 2012 Trans-Provence 7-day adventure race through France. He is an aggressive yet smooth rider who loves to flick the bike around to put it on the fastest line or to smooth out the rough sections. Fast flowy trails and long technical descents (Garbanzo style) are his favorite. Whistler and Santa Cruz are his two most favorite places to ride, but he can have fun wherever he goes. With an extensive knowledge of the mountain bike industry and its technologies, Evan is able to take all things in to perspective during a review. He has helped design, develop, and test products for multiple major mountain bike companies and has an attention to detail well above most. When he's not out ripping around on a bike he helps run the recently introduced California Enduro Series and is also in charge of the bike park at China Peak Mountain Resort.