FIRST RIDE - The All-New RockShox Vivid 17

We look at how the new gravity-focused shock targets coil-like performance and longer service intervals.

After nearly ten years since the last update, RockShox has unveiled the all-new Vivid lineup. Intended for gravity-focused riders, from aggressive trail shredders to World Cup downhill athletes, the latest model might appear similar to its predecessor but is redesigned from the ground up with some new and exciting technology hidden within. 

Vivid Ultimate Highlights

  • Damping: TouchDown RC2T damper features Rebound adjustment, independent High and Low-Speed Compression adjustment, and an easy-to-adjust Threshold Lever
  • Adjustable Hydraulic Bottom Out has five compression settings to customize the amount of bottom-out resistance in the last 20% of travel.
  • 20 clicks of Rebound adjustment offer a wide range of tunability to accommodate all riding styles.
  • Rebound Knob pulls out to reveal a 3mm hex wrench that can adjust both High-Speed Compression and Hydraulic Bottom Out.
  • Air Spring: Vivid’s air spring maximizes fine-tuning potential, allowing riders to match positive air volume to any bike. Increased mid-stroke support and off-the-top suppleness.
  • Maxima Plush Dynamic Suspension Lube reduces friction, lasts longer, and enhances suspension performance, ride after ride.
  • Service intervals are now boosted to 100 hours of ride time, thanks to an updated dust wiper seal design and increased oil volumes.
  • Available in Ultimate, DH Ultimate, Select+, Select, and Base levels
  • Weight: 670g (230x65 eye-to-eye, standard shaft/standard body eyelet)
  • MSRP: $ 699-729, € 839-874*, £ 749-779*

The TD logo on the IFP reservoir represents the new TouchDown RC2 damper technology, focused on making the first 10% of travel as supple as possible. To achieve this, the compression damping generated by the main piston is bypassed through the first 10% of travel to help dissipate trail chatter at the initial breakaway. In theory, this effect will come into play in sections littered with braking bumps or through high-frequency square edge hits. Once past the first 10% of the stroke, the normal compression damping characteristics come into play for the next 70% of travel.  


Compression damping is easy to tune using the comprehensive High Speed and Low-Speed compression dials that utilize plus and minus clicks, with zero being in the middle. The familiar Adjustable Hydraulic Bottom Out Control (HBO) handles the final 20% of travel to pick up where the compression adjustments leave off and slow things down as the stroke approaches full bottom. Rebound has 20 clicks available to allow fine-tuning at almost any air pressure. 


The Vivid lineup consists of two aftermarket options with four levels of damper adjustment available across aftermarket and OE spec shocks. With the Ultimate level being the only aftermarket option, OE customers are given the option to upgrade the IFP reservoir for $230 USD, not a bad deal considering what can be gained if the need is there. The base model shock allows for rebound and HBO adjustments, Select models gain a climb switch, Select+ gains a low-speed compression adjustment, and Ultimate adds a high-speed compression adjustment. The Vivid Ultimate DH model has all adjustments found on the Ultimate but ditches the climb switch. 


Rockshox claims the Vivid can withstand 100 hours of use before requiring service, which will be great news for consumers, with most existing shocks on the market requiring service between 40 to 50 hours. In reality, I imagine most riders will ride suspension until something fails before completing any service, which means we can all put it off for twice as long, right? Should maintenance be your thing, or you're at a shop looking to offer service for the Vivid, the required toolkit for the 200-hour service retails for $140, and the service procedure is said to be simplified for ease of maintenance, according to Rockshox. 


Vital's First Ride Impressions - Vivid Ultimate

My first ride on the new shock was in the Whistler Bikepark, primarily on the Creekside trails. I focused on riding one of the root-covered stages of the Canadian National Championship Enduro along with the other technical, lower-speed trails to help put the bike through as many awkward successive compressions as possible. I also spent plenty of laps between the Garbanzo and Fitzsimmons Zones to get a good feel for high-speed jump trails and some of the more traditional rock rolls and chatter. After an unfortunate injury towards the end of my trip, I handed the shock to Vital contributor Jeremy Ray for further testing on our home trails of Phoenix, Arizona. Jeremy rides the same bike as I do and has spent plenty of time aboard the Super Deluxe Ultimate before testing the Vivid. While testing time was limited, getting comfortable on the new shock didn't take long. 


Right off the bat, the new Vivid flaunts a burly design with well-thought-out details. Wrench flats are found around the main dust wiper of the air can, and the IFP reservoir bolts onto the body of the shock, suggesting a modular design. The knobs are easy to read and are located in familiar places, much like other shocks in the RockShox lineup. The larger air volume can indicate the shock's gravity focus and provides a broader range for tuning via RockShox bottomless tokens.

I set sag on my Specialized Stumpjumper Evo to my preferred 28%, and my first impression sitting on the bike was that the initial breakaway of the Vivid is notably light, and I had to double-check that I was sitting at 28%. I set rebound five clicks from closed, Low-Speed Compression at +1, High-Speed Compression at zero. 


On the trail, the supple breakaway provided a stable foundation that was easy to trust immediately over varied terrain. The compression damping felt familiar but slightly firmer than my previous setup, which was a welcomed change for more significant undulations and higher velocity impacts in the bike park. On lower-speed trails, I benefited from setting low-speed compression back to zero to allow the rear wheel to move more freely and avoid hanging up. The ample rebound damping allowed for a calmer ride through significant compressions when I would go deeper into the travel, and I noticed less of a kick when popping off the lip of jumps. I had ridden the day before on the Super Deluxe Ultimate I've been using for the last six months and immediately enjoyed a more controlled ride with the Vivid. Part of that controlled and calm feeling came from the greater range of rebound damping that the Super Deluxe lacks. 


Jeremy's notes from testing the shock in Phoenix reflect much of what I experienced in Whistler but on terrain that is a bit lower speed with no lack of square edges. He ran the same 28% sag but set compression dials more open and instead utilized the Hydraulic Bottom Out (HBO) to maintain adequate compression damping. Even with the HBO fully open, the bottom-out bumper was effective in smoothing out harsh compressions. He noted the TouchDown technology was most notable through chattery sections where he was used to feeling a lot more feedback through the pedals.


With plenty of chatter in Phoenix, that same chatter makes for some highly technical climbing to get to the top of most trails. Under pedaling forces, Jeremy reported a highly active feeling out of the Vivid under seated pedaling forces that soaks up smaller undulations but does result in a more sluggish feeling when lifting up more technical features. Overall, Jeremy experienced better tracking out of the rear wheel between climbs and descents across the jagged trails of South Mountain and increased traction on loose surfaces. 


What's The Bottom Line?

My experience on the Vivid was about what I expected for a shock with all of the familiar dials found in the RockShox lineup paired to a larger volume air can: supple off the top, well-composed on aggressive terrain, and with a range of adjustments wide enough to create an effective change easily. Jeremy's experience concluded that the effort RockShox put into making the Vivid behave more like a coil shock has paid off and that the ride characteristics are right in between those of the Super Deluxe coil and air shocks. It's an excellent option for anyone looking to improve stability and durability from a gravity-focused trail bike or create a more lively feeling for a downhill bike. So far, the performance of the Vivid has done everything we believe a large-volume air shock should do by increasing traction off the top without spiking into the anticipated ramp air shocks naturally produce. The shock makes a ton of support while providing a confidence-inspiring level of grip at the rear wheel. If the durability claims are valid, it may legitimately be the new best gravity-focused air shock on the market. 

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