The evolution of mountain biking as sport–and recreation—is on rapid pace. A few years ago, RockShox recognized the need to take their wildly popular Pike suspension forks to the next level, and the first-generation Lyriks were born. These forks were purpose-built for aggressive riders who demanded more strength and more stiffness, and they passed the test. For 2018, RockShox introduced a new chassis that was even more robust than the original. Having spent a lot of time on the 2018 Lyrik with no complaints, I was somewhat surprised to find out that I was going to be riding a new and improved version that would be shipping at the end of March, as a 2019 model.
Photos make it look like I can almost keep up with Duncan Riffle.
“Coil-like sensitivity with air-like adjustability.”
Quite a First Impression
Since RockShox engineers put endless hours into refining the internals of Lyrik 19’, they didn’t leave the setup to chance. To make sure proper air pressures and damping adjustments were in play, they sent over a guy who knows a thing or two about riding suspension product—Duncan Riffle. I assure you that you won’t need a World Cup shredder to find the right tune. RockShox has both an air pressure chart printed on the lowers and sag gradients anodized on the stanchions (a feature that I have always appreciated). Once I finally admitted to weighing 185 lbs.… we settled on 90 psi, selected the middle of five high-speed compression damping settings, and dialed in 7 of the 19 low-speed compression clicks from full open. When the rebound damping was set to a neutral state, we were ready to rip.
New, but not unfamiliar, following Rock Shox’s aesthetic tradition.
To make sure that Duncan didn’t drop me, I didn’t explain our route through Sycamore Canyon–and to make sure that I formed my own initial impressions, he was equally tight-lipped about the new Lyrik internals. Within a few minutes it was clear that this fork was more than just a new “BoXXer Red” color way and fancy chrome decals. On less technical sections, I was focusing my eyes on the constant fine movements between the fork slider’s upper seal and the gradients on the stanchion. This new Lyrik proved to have better small-bump sensitivity than I remembered, and it was exceptionally smooth off the top. At the same time, there was good damping support in the top half of the travel. While climbing in or out of the saddle, I never felt the need for a lever. In terms of stiffness while cornering, braking, or encountering off-camber loads, it simply felt like the Lyrik that I remember—which is to say plenty stiff and confidence-inspiring.
An homage of BoXXer Red.
It's All New on the Inside
After a few helpings of gullies, ruts, and rock gardens, we sat down and talked about the secret sauce that makes this new Lyrik special. The goal for this fork was to combine “coil-like sensitivity with air-like adjustability”. This was achieved with two technologies: a new DebonAir air spring and a re-imagined Charger 2 damper. The DebonAir spring uses a machined aluminum seal head that drastically reduces friction and gives the fork its responsive feel. In addition, a larger negative air chamber helps keep the fork riding in its sweet spot. The Charger 2 damper also receives “friction killing” seal technologies to go with independent low-speed and high-speed compression damping circuits. With five high-speed compression settings and 17 low-speed compression clicks, there is enough tunability to satisfy nearly every preference—but they have achieved this without overly-complicating setup and tuning procedures. Greatly appreciated by those of us without a World Cup mechanic.
Available in 150, 160, 170 and 180mm travel options for both 27.5″ and 29″ wheels
The Lyrik is at home on more than just a dedicated bike park rig. It was light enough (1984 grams / 4.36 lbs. on my scale) that I ran the 150mm version on my 135mm 29er trail bike and I never felt like it was too much fork. It’s a great choice for anyone who wants top-level suspension performance and a bulletproof chassis. This is perhaps the only current offering where you can get 150, 160, 170, and 180 mm travel options for BOTH 27.5” and 29” wheels (if you are looking to build up one of the latest and greatest 29er Enduro offerings your mind should be racing). It will only be offered in the Boost 110 variety though, so plan accordingly. Old guys like me will see the “BoXXer Red” paint and immediately think of a 90’s RockShox Judy DH—but it will also be offered in “Diffusion Black” and “Gloss Black” if that’s more your style.
Duncan and the Lyrik riding smooth as silk.
2019 Rock Shox Lyrik Specs
What we loved:
- The new gold standard for small bump compliance.
- Separate High-Speed and Low-Speed Damping circuits provide the right amount of tunability.
- 150mm to 180mm travel for both wheel sizes (didn’t forget our big-wheeled brethren).
What we didn’t like (a short list so far):
- It costs how much? $999—whew…
- The Stealth Maxle sacrifices some convenience (on a fork where weight should not be a factor).
- It will be tough finding a rear suspension design that is not over-matched.
The Final Spin
I’ve gotten in more than 20 hours on the 19’ RockShox Lyrik RC2 now. It is definitely the most supple and reactive fork I have ridden. There is a particular set of eight high-speed braking bumps between two rock features on my favorite lunch loop. Normally, by the 3rd or 4th bump, my fork has stacked up and I am dealing with the remaining impacts the old-fashioned way (clinched teeth and flailing arms). Well, that section has shown me that the DebonAir springs and Charger 2 dampers are more than just marketing speak—these technologies reduce friction, allowing the fork to respond more quickly and rebound between the impacts. The result is that the suspension is still performing by bump number eight and I am carrying more speed with more control. While this Lyrik looks a good bit like the one that came before it, it is simply a better performing fork. Would I hold off on buying a bike with a 2018 Lyrik on it? Probably not. At the same time, would I drop $999 to bolt one of these to the front of a perfectly fine bike? If I wanted that little bit of extra performance, I absolutely would.
Broaden the range of your long travel bike.
The 2019 RockShox Lyrik is definitely blurring the line between it and it’s smaller sibling, the Pike. It is a tougher, bigger, and heavier fork than the Pike, but the weight difference is close enough that some may choose to match up a Lyrik to their 150mm+ bikes to broaden the capabilities of that bike to take on some rowdier terrain. This is not intended for the XC crowd, and is probably a bit over-gunned for the typical trail bike, but as you move into enduro/all mountain setups this fork starts to feel right at home. It is also the perfect choice for your long-travel big mountain or park bike. Basically, if you find the deep end of your suspension, but want to stick with a single crown fork, this is your huckleberry.