DT100_084-085_Suspension
DT100_084-085_Suspension
[splitpost intro="true"]Frame manufacturers can give us all the marketing bullshit that they want, but even if they have come up with the latest and greatest suspension design it won’t count for anything if it’s let down by the shocks suspending it. Once you’ve got geometry sorted it really is suspension that can make or break a bike, and it doesn’t have the easiest of lives, so performance and reliability are both paramount.

As we’ve been saying for years, sadly nobody has managed to come up with perfect suspension yet, there is compromise with everything. Maybe when the performance of a BOS fork gets combined with the reliability of a Marzocchi and the back–up of a RockShox then we’ll be able to forget about compromise, but until then you’ll just have to decide what’s most important to you.

On the following pages we’ve selected the products that we feel strike the best balance and offer the greatest overall package, but when choosing what you’re going to go for you need to be honest with yourself. If you’re just into pootling around trail centres or trudging through eight–hour epics then there’s no point in going for something like a BOS Deville, you may not even like the way it feels, and likewise if you’re not willing to spend a bit of time getting your suspension set up correctly then you might as well forget about going for a Cane Creek Double Barrel. With that said, get choosing…

Just click below to see our selection of the best suspension products for 2014, as featured in our latest Dirt 100. And, if you missed our pick of the best bikes on offer for 2014 then the links to those are below.

The best DH bikes of 2014

The best enduro bikes of 2014

The best trail bikes of 2014

[part title="BOS IDYLLE RARE"] BOS suspension is legendary for its performance and desirability, and this air-sprung Idylle Rare takes downhill forks to another level.

BOS Idylle Rare from 2014 Dirt 100.
BOS Idylle Rare from 2014 Dirt 100.

BOS IDYLLE RARE

These forks are nothing short of phenomenal. We loved the old coil sprung version, but this latest air sprung model really does wipe the floor with that one. We never thought we’d say that about an air fork, but somehow BOS have managed to do what many said was impossible. The sensitivity that this fork offers is out of this world, no matter how hard you run it, which in turn provides you with incredible grip. It also never uses more travel than it needs, and as we’ve come to expect from BOS the damping is outstanding. So yeah, we think this is without question the best DH fork in terms of performance, and it’s only fitting that on one of the toughest tracks of the 2013 season a pair of these forks finally won a World Cup race (Remi Thirion in Vallnord, Andorra).

PRICE: £1750.00

Jungle Products 01423 780 088

WWW.BOSMTB.COM

[part title="ROCKSHOX BOXXER R2C2"] The BoXXer R2C2 from RockShox: reliable and performs well for a fair asking price. A good benchmark for DH forks.

RockShox Boxxer from 2014 Dirt 100.
RockShox Boxxer from 2014 Dirt 100.

ROCKSHOX BOXXER R2C2

It hurts a little to say this, seeing as this fork still costs a grand, but we think the BoXXer R2C2 is the best value DH fork right now, and probably the most sensible option. If you really want ultimate performance then you’ll go for the BOS, but they’ll set you back almost double the amount and they won’t be nearly as easy to live with as a set of BoXXers. These forks are very reliable and easy to service, plus even if you can’t look after them yourself any bike shop worth their salt should be able to help you out. They strike a good balance on the stiffness/flex front too, and if you’re a heavier rider these coil sprung forks offer improved sensitivity compared to the more expensive and air sprung BoXXer World Cup. These are definitely our benchmark forks, and they’re not easy to beat either.

PRICE: £999.99

FISHER OUTDOOR LEISURE 01727 798 340

WWW.SRAM.COM

[part title="MARZOCCHI 380 C2R2 TITANIUM"] Marzocchi's top-end downhill fork has changed name but it retains that classic 'Zocchi suppleness, while saving weight.

Marzocchi 380 from 2014 Dirt 100.
Marzocchi 380 from 2014 Dirt 100.

MARZOCCHI 380 C2R2 TITANIUM

Marzocchi put so much work into their new flagship DH fork that they decided it could no longer be called an 888, and so the 380 was born. And what a fork it is too. Luckily for us Marzocchi have carried over their trademark frictionless feel along with the near ‘fit and forget’ reliability, and then combined those characteristics with a whole pile of weight saving and an even better damper. The result is a highly adjustable coil sprung fork that weighs just 2750g. That’s within a gnat’s whisker of a BoXXer World Cup, and yet this fork is as sensitive as they get, and incredibly reliable. The new damper provides external adjustment of high and low speed rebound and compression damping, plus mid speed compression can easily be tweaked internally. Consistency is the key word with this fork, and the 650b compatibility and tapered steerer option just go to show what a modern fork this is.

PRICE: £1499.95

WINDWAVE 02392 521 912

WWW.MARZOCCHI.COM

[part title="BOS DEVILLE"] The ultimate single crown fork? For racers the Deville from BOS is definitely right up there...

BOS Deville on Dirt.
DT100.indb

BOS DEVILLE

With the Deville BOS have once again managed to take the prize for ultimate performance in their class. Like the Idylle though this isn’t a fork for everyone, it’s a true racer's fork. It’s not quite as reliable as a RockShox or Marzocchi, and it’s not as easy to get fixed either, but the rewards are there to be had if you’re pushing things to the limit. It really is at the limit where this fork comes into its own, it just works that little bit better at higher speeds than say a RockShox Pike, offering greater high speed support, but you have to be honest with yourself because if you’re not going to be pushing it into that kind of territory you’ll probably be better off with another fork. Choice wise it’s 160 or 170mm travel, tapered or straight steerer, black or white, and 26 or 27.5" wheels. We wouldn’t bother with the TRC option.

PRICE: £899.00 – £1049.00

Jungle Products 01423 780 088

WWW.BOSMTB.COM

[part title="ROCKSHOX PIKE RCT3"] A classic relaunched, the latest Pike from RockShox is nothing short of exceptional.

RockShox Pike from 2014 Dirt 100.
DT100.indb

ROCKSHOX PIKE RCT3

RockShox deserve some serious praise for this fork because it’s nothing short of brilliant, and it has given a much needed kick up the arse to some of the competition. It’s pretty much everything we had wished for, i.e. a slightly sturdier (but still lightweight) and longer travel version of the excellent Revelation fork, with some damping that has also been beefed up a little. A 20mm rather than 15mm axle might have been nice, but we can forgive it that because it offers all the precision we’d ever want. In terms of suppleness it gets incredibly close to a Marzocchi, but at the same time it has a bit more composure, especially if you stick the volume reducers in (something that we’d definitely recommend doing). Riders with any size wheel can benefit from one of these forks, but if you’ve got a frame that can’t take a tapered steerer tube you are sadly out of luck.

PRICE: £749.99 – £849.99

FISHER OUTDOOR LEISURE 01727 798 340

WWW.SRAM.COM

[part title="MARZOCCHI 55 RC3 EVO V.2 TITANIUM"] With a titanium coil spring and damping based on their DH forks, this Marzocchi single-crown fork should never be underestimated.

Marzocchi 55 from 2014 Dirt 100.
DT100.indb

MARZOCCHI 55 RC3 EVO V.2 TITANIUM

Marzocchi’s top of the range 55 fork has been a long– term favourite of ours for two reasons really: firstly it offers great all–round performance, especially where sensitivity/grip is concerned, and secondly it can’t be beaten when it comes to reliability. We have properly abused several sets of these forks, to the point where other forks would have been screaming out for an overhaul long before, yet these just keep on feeling buttery smooth. That quality alone is worth a lot in our eyes as it means you can just get out and ride instead of worrying about how and when you’re going to get your forks serviced. There’s plenty of damping adjustment on offer too and it’s only if you’re the most demanding of riders/tinkerers that you’ll have to think about delving into the shim stacks inside. If only all forks were this reliable.

PRICE: £849.95, TAPERED £879.95

WINDWAVE 02392 521 912

WWW.MARZOCCHI.COM

[part title="X-FUSION SWEEP RL2"] X-Fusion's line of forks comes in at a fraction of the price of their rivals', but the difference in performance is minimal.

X-Fusion Sweep fork from 2014 Dirt 100.
DT100.indb

X-FUSION SWEEP RL2

The big guns in the suspension world had better watch out because X–Fusion are going from strength to strength, producing truly capable forks for prices that must almost be embarrassing their competition. OK so these 160mm travel (adjustable internally down to 100mm) 27.5" wheel forks might not have all the bells and whistles, but after just a quick tweak of the externally adjustable rebound and a little fettle of the air pressure you’ll soon find yourself sat behind some great feeling forks. If you’re not running 27.5" wheels but are still on a bit of a budget, then don’t worry because we’d definitely recommend trying out X–Fusion’s Slant, Trace and Vengeance forks too. The performance of these models might not be able to match that of the very best, but they get far closer than the huge difference in price would lead you to believe.

PRICE: £454.99

UPGRADE 01403 711 611

WWW.XFUSIONSHOX.COM

[part title="ÖHLINS TTX REAR SHOCK"] This shock from Öhlins is only available for one bike, the Demo 8 from Specialized, but it is well deserving of a place in this list.

Cane Creek DB Air CS from 2014 Dirt 100.
Cane Creek DB Air CS from 2014 Dirt 100.

ÖHLINS TTX REAR SHOCK

We thought long and hard about whether or not to include this shock in the Dirt 100 this year. Not because the performance was borderline, but because it’s only available to fit a Specialized Demo 8. The conclusion though was that it is so impressive that it had to be included, regardless of how few people can benefit from it. This is how shocks should be made, i.e. manufactured and tuned specifically for a particular frame. This means you can massively simplify the tuning on offer, and therefore remove any guesswork. If only all frame and shock manufacturers could work together like this. Obviously it takes a bit of time and money, but we think it’s definitely well spent. It looks like it will cost Demo 8 owners around £600 to buy one of these shocks, and it needs to be ridden to be believed.

PRICE: £TBC

SPECIALIZED UK 02083 913 500

WWW.SPECIALIZED.COM

[part title="ROCKSHOX MONARCH PLUS RC3"] RockShox's Monarch Plus RC3 shock is simple to set up and performs on the trail without a lot of fuss. We love it.

Cane Creek DB Air CS from 2014 Dirt 100.
Cane Creek DB Air CS from 2014 Dirt 100.

ROCKSHOX MONARCH PLUS RC3

As long as you have get the correct ‘tune’ for your particular bike this shock offers a truly fast and easy way into great performance. Set your air pressure, dial in your rebound, and off you go. The simple three position compression lever can then be used on–the–fly to give you the choice of ‘open’, ‘pedal’ or ‘closed’ should you be that way inclined. It’s in the open mode on descents though where this shock really comes into own, providing great support and control where needed, along with excellent grip. Compared to say a DBair or Vivid Air this shock is also a very light package, making it an ideal heart for a trail bike. A trail bike that is with the capacity to hit stuff hard and fast.

PRICE: £349.99 – £459.99

FISHER OUTDOOR LEISURE 01727 798 340

WWW.SRAM.COM

[part title="CANE CREEK DBAIR CS"] Cane Creek's Double Barrel shock raised the bar when it was first introduced to the market, and this DB Air with Climb Switch is also right up there.

Cane Creek DB Air CS from 2014 Dirt 100.
Cane Creek DB Air CS from 2014 Dirt 100.

CANE CREEK DBAIR CS

When it was first released the Double Barrel was the first rear damper that really opened our eyes to just how good a shock can be. Invest the time in setting one of these up properly (it’s not rocket science) and you can be rewarded with something very special indeed.

Composure is the name of the game here. The air DB is definitely the best of its kind, but due to the different progression of the air spring we think you’re better off with the coil version with certain suspension designs, in particular VPP. Either way, one thing we’d definitely recommend is the new ‘CS’ Climb Switch. Unlike other levers of this nature this one works on compression and rebound circuits rather than just compression, and the difference is remarkable. You have a bike that climbs like a dream, and suspension that still works properly too.

PRICE: £485.00

EXTRA UK 01933 672 170

WWW.CANECREEK.COM

All photos by Andy Lloyd Photography