2016 Product of the Year - RockShox Super Deluxe Rear Shock
For the past few years Vital's Product of the Year Shreddy Award has gone to a suspension product. Why is that? Well, technology improvements in the suspension game have the potential to make arguably the biggest gains in on-trail performance, and suspension companies have REALLY been upping their game in recent years.
This past Spring we were introduced to some shiny new bits designed to take mountain bike rear suspension to the next level. By considering how to make the best shocks possible, the winner of this year's Shreddy Award redefined our way of thinking about a shock's relationship with a frame.
Vital's 2016 Product of the Year? The RockShox's Super Deluxe rear shock.
It all started when Jeremiah Boobar asked RockShox Design Engineer Tim Lynch, "Hey, we really love what we were able to do with Pike, what's it going to take to do that in a rear shock?"
Part of the answer was creating a little more space inside the shock. While most of us just see the relatively simple outside appearance, what goes on internally is very complicated and every millimeter is precious.
And with that added space came a simplified shock sizing system known as "Metric," complete with new eye-to-eye, stroke, and hardware measurements in logically chosen increments.
By doing so, the list of design limitations, issues, and restrictions RockShox was able to eliminate all add up to improved performance. It includes things like increased bushing overlap for less binding, new bearing mounts to reduce friction, proper damping in place of that friction, and a simplified, consistent air spring that makes it easier to design suites of bikes that behave in a similar fashion.
Our testers have noted gobs more control thanks to a dramatic improvement in off-the-top suppleness, a quiet feel, and added chassis stability when the trails get crazy. The traction gains are also very impressive, both up and down the hill, allowing them to ride a little bit harder and try new obstacles and gaps along way.
During a time when few products are being introduced that make truly awesome improvements, it's refreshing to see something capable of not only changing our perspective, but also making things better in the long run.
Congratulations, RockShox, on a job well done and earning the Product of the Year.