Take the Charger damper from a Pike, stick it in a BoXXer, and hey presto you’ve got one hell of a fork.
I would say it’s not quite as simple as that, but as you’ll read later it can actually be that easy. Does just a new damper make a new fork? Well it some cases it possibly does, but in the case of the new BoXXer there’s actually a bit more too it than that. To find out exactly what changes had been made, and to feel first hand what difference they make, RockShox very kindly flew a pile of us mountain bike journalists all the way over to Queenstown in New Zealand. A little extravagant perhaps, but hey it guaranteed us some great testing ground in the shape of the Queenstown Bike Park, and some equally fine weather.
So, what are the changes? Well, I think it’s best to look at the new BoXXer as more of an evolution rather than an entirely new fork, because chassis wise there’s not a massive change. That’s definitely not a bad thing though because if there’s one area where the BoXXer has always impressed us it’s the chassis. In terms of weight, strength, and stiffness, we think RockShox have struck an unbeatable balance, it’s definitely the benchmark for us.
The most significant change to the chassis I suppose is that the fork will now be available with 27.5” lowers as well as 26” ones. Aside from being a little longer and having a slightly different offset, there are also a few other subtle differences with the 27.5” lowers. If you look closely enough you’ll notice that the material placement around the dropouts has changed slightly, in that some of it has now been shifted outboard because it was found it helped improve stiffness, plus if you look higher up you’ll also notice that the arch now features the bolt-on brake hose guide that we’ve seen before on Pike forks. Because these are only subtle changes, and because the cost of making a new mould is so high, the 26” lowers come out of the same mould as before, and therefore don’t have these changes. These might only be small details, but I can’t help but think 26” wheel riders will still feel a tiny bit short changed.
Anyway, whilst the 26” lowers might appear unchanged, that’s not the case, and it’s just one of the areas where small changes have resulted in increased performance. RockShox really managed to up the single crown fork game when they released their Pike forks, and ok a fair chunk of the forks great performance can be attributed to the incredible Charger damper, but RockShox reckon that much of the forks suppleness and consistency comes down to improved tolerances in the lowers. Changes in production technique have made this possible, and the lessons learnt have been carried over into the new BoXXer lowers. We know from previous experience how much difference it can make with an older set of BoXXers if you get an expert to size the bushings correctly, and the new forks certainly felt buttery smooth. RockShox say it’s not just the accuracy of the bushings that make a difference though, the shafts are also now even more precisely aligned, which in turn helps keep seal friction to a minimum. They may be small changes, but it’s those things that add up to make a noticeable difference.
Whilst we are talking of friction, I should probably point out that contrary to what some people might think, the new ‘Fast Black’ finish on the stanchions makes no difference to performance. It is purely there to ‘make the forks look rad’. I like the honesty, and they do indeed look cool.
Click below for part two…