Introducing the Updated 2019 RockShox Lyrik and Super Deluxe 21

RockShox's newest suspension components boast massively reduced friction and survive a trial by fire during the insanely technical NZ Enduro race.

Introducing the Updated 2019 RockShox Lyrik and Super Deluxe

There are product launches, and then there are SRAM product launches. When the call came in with the opportunity to try out the new 2019 RockShox Lyrik and Super Deluxe while riding in a premier international multi-day enduro event, the NZ Enduro, we said "YES!" with gusto, packed our bags, and hoped that our off-the-couch off-season fitness would be overridden by the latent remains of talent hiding away in dark corners.

When there's a heli drop involved you know you're in for a wicked day of testing and shredding.

2019 Lyrik RC2 Highlights

  • 27.5 and 29-inch models
  • 150, 160, 170, or 180mm of travel
  • New Charger 2 RC2 damper with independent high-speed and low-speed compression adjustments
  • Refined external Rebound damping adjustment
  • New friction-reducing DebonAir air spring
  • Standard 46mm (27.5-inch) and 51mm (29-inch) offsets, with shorter 37mm (27.5) and 42mm (29) options available
  • New graphics with black and "BoXXer Red" color options
  • Boost 15x110mm axle only
  • 2.8-inch tire clearance
  • Claimed weight: 2,013 to 2,058g (4.4 to 4.5-pounds)
  • MSRP: $999 USD | €1109 | £989
  • Available April 2018

The Charger 2 RC2 Damper

RockShox's quest for and inclusion of independently adjustable high-speed and low-speed compression on the 2019 Lyrik was driven both by consumer requests and athlete feedback. Being able to add that little extra bit of refinement was a top point of contention from both groups of users. In keeping with the RockShox trend of "ease of use and setup," the increments of adjustment are a simple 5-clicks of high-speed and 20-clicks of low-speed. With high-speed, the middle setting is equivalent the previous preset high-speed compression setting, so now riders can go two clicks lighter or two clicks firmer depending on their needs or preferences. This is a very welcome feature, especially for light and heavy riders.

RockShox told us the range of adjustments is such that there is never going to be a setting in which the rider has created a ride characteristic that makes the fork "unrideable" – it may be a bit too firm or too plush, but at no point will any adjustment make the fork stop working properly.

"We wanted to keep the rider out of the weeds…make it easy, make it simple." - Jon Cancellier, RockShox Product Manager

The high-speed and low-speed adjustments are not just new dials on top, but a whole new Charger 2 damper with fewer parts, more ports, and a little more oil volume. Larger ports are part of the improved tune, and the oil volume increase is around 1-2cc due to the reduced amount of hardware.

Charger 2 RC2 (left, bladder not shown) vs Charger 2 (right). As high-speed compression damping is changed the spring compresses, preloading the shim stack.

The new Charger 2 RC2 damper can be retrofitted to previous Lyrik and Yari forks (MSRP: $244-321 USD | €259-349 | £235-309). The design team felt it was important to offer customers who had bought into the RockShox family more support and give them the option to simply buy the new damper instead of having to buy a whole new fork. The 2019 chassis doesn't differ from the previous model.

Friction Reduction & DebonAir Negative Spring Improvements

While the Lyrik already sported a DebonAir negative chamber in the previous model, the 2019 air spring has been fully redesigned. RockShox's approach started with a vast array of dyno testing to see what performance characteristics could be improved, and what was shown turned out to be a small-but-exceptional opportunity for change.

 

The old seal head was made from Delrin plastic, a versatile material, but one which wasn’t the ideal option. It doesn’t slide as well as could be due to high "stick slip" friction during direction changes, so the fork's action between compression and rebound wasn’t as smooth as it could have been. The engineering team explored other options and chose to revamp the seal head by machining it from aluminum, using a bushing as the sliding contact surface at the bottom and fitting the air seal to the top. The various friction charts speak to the improvements, and they are staggering. Jon Cancellier commented, "I was shocked when we got the test data back," regarding the difference in friction forces between the plastic and aluminum air seals.

The old Delrin plastic seal (black, left) also took up a pretty big chuck of space. RockShox's new alloy seal with bushing is easily seen in red (right). The bushing is inside, and it is notable how much more material is supporting the seal on the shaft. It is more resistant to bending loads placed on the fork during hard compressions.

86% reduction in stick slip friction on the air spring
51% reduction in running friction on the air spring
73% reduction in static friction on the air spring

This change resulted in a huge improvement in fore/aft stability and a massive reduction in friction, meaning the fork actuates under load more effectively and the force to move the fork is reduced, making it more efficient (see "running friction" and "static friction" charts). When handed the two different fork shafts with the old and new air seals, it wasn’t difficult to feel how different they were. The old plastic seal was more difficult to move up and down the shaft, whereas the aluminum seal with the bushing could almost be flicked up and down. The reason this was the area in which to make a major improvement was two-fold: firstly, it was the most "accessible" component of the fork to readdress, but secondly, it was the part of the fork contributing the most friction.

Jon Cancellier shows Jerome Clementz and Mitch Ropelato how easily the new seal head slides.

Furthermore, the air spring piston has been cross-posted so that air is able to drive up into the piston and then back down the shaft the seal sits on, thereby using as much of the fork as possible to increase negative air volume. Negative volume has increased by 42%, improving off-the-top/small-bump performance, traction, and feel. An interesting byproduct of this is that the spring curve changes and actually makes the fork ride higher in the travel. Thus, the ever-quested-for mid-stroke support is also improved upon.

Two small ports allow the negative air chamber to extend into the shaft itself. Very clever.

Small-bump sensitivity and traction compliance is immediately noticeable. It's impressive. Few forks have felt that good right out of the box.

A 2019 DebonAir upgrade kit will be available as an aftermarket upgrade if customers want to spruce up their RockShox Lyrik, Yari, Pike, and Revelation forks (MSRP $42 USD | €47 | £42).

Look Inside the Lyrik RC2

2019 Super Deluxe RC3 & RCT Highlights

  • Metric shock sizing
  • DebonAir friction reductions
  • Refined rebound damping with expanded range of adjustment and more even changes between clicks
  • RC3: 3-position compression adjustment (Open/Pedal/Lock)
  • RC3 MSRP: $529 USD | €589 | £529
  • RCT: 2-position compression adjustment (Open/Pedal) with low-speed compression adjustment in Open mode
  • RCT MSRP: $579 USD | €639 | £569
  • Available April 2018

Super Deluxe Improvements

The improvements to the Super Deluxe air shock are subtle. First, there are now three ports between the positive and negative chambers and they are machined into the inside walls, instead of being stamped into the body. Previously, these transfer ports were visible on the outside as a little ridge just above the negative chamber bulge. This allows for a less aggressive trough profile and means that when oscillating the suspension (i.e. the parking lot test), there is no longer a "dead spot" feeling as the air shifts more smoothly through more channels which are shallower than before. It isn’t a performance improvement per se, but a nice detail as it was something frequently brought up by riders.

One of three subtle little troughs.

Secondly, the air can manufacturing process has been improved, resulting in better cylindricity (the inside of the can is more accurately a cylinder, rounder). Because of this, the shaft and seals can move through the air can more efficiently as there is less drag/friction, which translates to smoother travel. The way the inside of the tube is finished is also different, on a micro-level, allowing oil to stick to the wall better and create a slicker sliding surface. The friction improvement percentages aren’t as significant as the Lyrik, but the leverage on a shock is much higher, 2-3:1 vs 1:1, so it’s easier to overcome these forces.

22% reduction in stick slip friction
16% reduction in static friction

Rebound was significantly adjusted for 2019 as well, offering much more even damping changes between clicks and a more linear progression of rebound feel.

The final improvement to the Super Deluxe air shock came about from development of the Super Deluxe coil, and that is the addition of a check valve which controls oil in both directions via a check shim. The result is increased rebound damping at low shaft speeds (2-10 inches per second), creating a more stable and composed feel.

The height of the frequency waves between compression and extension have been shorted, meaning it stays more level. This gives the air shock a more composed feel on big and/or sequential hits, it doesn’t get upset, and feels more like a coil shock. This is why Jerome Clementz was running a Super Deluxe coil in 2017 and is now running the Super Deluxe air for 2018. He preferred the "coil feel" and composure over really rough terrain, and with the new low-speed check shim the air shock sports a very similar characteristic.

Timing Chips & Compression Clicks - First Impressions

Arriving in Havelock, New Zealand, a little hideaway about and hour and a half east of Nelson, we were greeted with a sick view of the Marlborough Sounds. We were pretty central to the event's stages, so each day we’d ship out early and crack on with riding blind stages on fresh red forks. The emphasis of the NZ Enduro isn’t on the racing – it’s seeing the region from a different and unique perspective – the clock just happens to be ticking when descents arrive. The ensuing weekend of racing was wild, beautiful, hard, fun, and oh-so-memorable.

The morning routine. Not shown: Lots of coffee.

There's no denying that racing is where a product's character really comes out. Put on by Sven and Anka Martin, the event was to be a trial by fire – a crucible of conditions that tested even the best of riders. Fittingly, Jerome Clementz won the event with the new red Lyrik and revised Super Deluxe.

Once sag is set appropriately, setting up the Super Deluxe RCT air shock is very simple. Rebound and low-speed compression can be tuned easily, so refining a preferred feel is simple as can be. We found the shock to be well-tuned for our Kona Process 153 27.5 test sled, and so it was left alone apart from using the lock switch heavily during liaisons.

Getting familiar with the new suspension was simple and intuitive, allowing us to push hard right off the bat. The plush feeling off the top on the Lyrik was an added bonus when racing blind and the correct line wasn't chosen.

If nothing else, the new Lyrik looks fast sitting still. The heritage red sits at the front of the bike like a torch leading the way. Passers-by were either for it or off it, but that’s usually the case with anything that isn’t black, matte, or gloss. We quite enjoy the hue of red with silver decals – it has a heft to it.

The fact that the fork’s settings are broad enough to achieve a comfortable setting for fun riding as well as a full-on, controllable race setup speaks to the top-notch job the RockShox team did with the redesigned air spring and compression settings.

RockShox provides recommended pressures printed on a sticker on the lower left leg of the fork. This removes guess-work as it’s a very thorough guide while being easy to comprehend. The Lyrik can come in various travel configurations with 150-180mm of travel and comes spec’d with different Bottomless Token counts. The stock setting on our 170mm fork (one Bottomless Token and chart-suggest air pressure) was definitely a treat and proved to be spot on for trail riding and consistently similar terrain. The off-the-top push test immediately informs the rider that it’s going to be a plush ride. The internal changes add up to a lot in both the parking lot and on the trail. Small-bump sensitivity and traction compliance is immediately noticeable. It's impressive. Few forks have felt that good right out of the box.

Day 3 saw us flying high above New Zealand. Stoke ensued.

Not the morning routine.
Organizational wizard and queen of raditude.
The sultan of stoke.

Race winner, Jerome Clementz, shaking down the new fork. We rode a lot of roots, and the traction and control that the DebonAir improvements provided was appreciated.

Over roots and loose corners the front end goes where it’s pointed, and the bigger negative chamber does exactly what is expected while keeping the front end higher up while riding down the trail. If preferred, more tokens can then be added to increase end-stroke ramp-up. With five total adjustments, room for refinement is plentiful but not confusing. The five clicks of high-speed make finding the sweet spot easier, and twenty clicks of low-speed mean one can get ride height tuned in just right. With the evenly-stepped rebound, it’s a lot easier to find the not-too-fast-not-too-slow spot and crack on with riding as well.

RockShox Product Manager, Jon Cancellier, using the new goods as they were meant to be.

We experimented with various high-speed, low-speed, and rebound settings throughout the weekend of racing and final day of riding at Wiaroa Gorge to refine the fork’s feel. The overall layout of the new high-speed and the low-speed dial is clean and easy to discern which adjustment is achieved from which knob. The crisp clicks deftly denote a change and are audible enough to make full-face helmet tuning more intuitive as you don’t have to just go off of feel. The rebound dial on the bottom of the leg shares the same feeling and ergonomics as the top-side companions, which is appreciated.

When things got steeper, we preferred the fork with additional tokens.
Bottomless Tokens can be used to dial in the end-stroke feel – the more spacers, the more ramp and bottom-out resistance. Adding Tokens is a simple process.

Wiaroa Gorge has some seriously cool trails, which made testing particularly fun.

Our final race setting was 3 tokens, -1 to -2 from middle on high-speed compression, and 5 to 10 clicks of low-speed from fully open, as the added weight of 2.5 liters of water and a pack full of tools and food made the passenger quite heavy. On the sometimes slippery, often rooty New Zealand terrain we looked to maximize the supple off-the-top feel for chatter and traction by reducing air pressure a tad when paired with additional tokens. Despite being a little firmer through the mid-to-end stroke of the fork, the stronger ramp-up on fast hits, g-outs, and large objects added control. It is definitely more of a "race feel," which is echoed by the fact that both Jerome Clementz and Mitch Ropelato had three tokens in their Lyrik forks.

Mitch rides like he can see into the future, so having his Lyrik running a little stiff is something he finds helpful when he encounters larger hits at Mach Mitch.

The fact that the fork’s settings are broad enough to achieve a comfortable setting for fun riding as well as a full-on, controllable race setup speaks to the top-notch job the RockShox team did with the redesigned air spring and compression settings. The mid-stroke support achieved with the expanded negative air chamber remained noticeable throughout all of the settings we experimented with.

What's The Bottom Line?

RockShox continues to find ways to better their products, providing more adjustability while still being relatively easy to set up. Improved small-bump performance and traction are the shining achievements of the 2019 Lyrik, and a more supported mid-stroke is the cherry on top. Small refinements to the Super Deluxe make an already-awesome shock that much radder.

Visit www.sram.com/rockshox for more details.


About The Tester

Zach Faulkner, aka #MTBJesus, looks like a circus bear on a bicycle. His riding style has been compared to a landslide, complete with sounds of destruction and debris chasing his rear wheel down the hill. His zeal for riding is life-long, having been astride a bike since before he was forming memories. Bikes kept him in the woods and out of trouble through his teenage years, resulting in some notable race results in what was known as "Junior X" at the time. Zach moved away from racing in the Pro category a few years ago and can usually be found lying in the dirt next to race courses around the world holding a camera and hoping the auto-focus didn’t drop on that last shot. He also moonlights as a writer and product tester.

Photos by Boris Beyer

Create New Tag
21 comments
Show More Comment(s) / Leave a Comment