Review: RockShox RS-1 suspension fork

Cross-country fork offers superb performance — and a lofty price tag

29er Forks
The RS-1 with 120mm of travel on an Ibis Tranny 29.

The RS-1 with 120mm of travel on an Ibis Tranny 29.

The Lowdown: RockShox RS-1 suspension fork

It’s expensive, proprietary, and hard to mount a front wheel onto, but based purely on performance, no other XC-oriented fork I’ve ridden can match the RockShox RS-1. Featuring an inverted design and new Accelerator Damper, the RS-1 is exceptionally sensitive and active, swallowing up bumps that other suspension forks don’t even bother with, and its steering precision is as sharp and immediate as any rigid carbon fork. But is the performance gain of the RS-1 over a traditional fork worth the $2,000-plus price of admission? Only your wallet knows for sure.

Stat Box
Travel Options: 80mm, 100mm, 120mm Stanchion Diameter: 32mm
Wheel size: 29-inch Maximum Rotor Size: 200mm
Weight: 3.67 pounds (1,666 grams) Fork Offset: 46mm, 51mm
Lockout: XLoc hydraulic remote MSRP: $1865, plus $238 for Predictive Steering hub
Steerer: Tapered Carbon Rating: 4 Flamin' Chili Peppers 4 Chilis-out-of-5
Crown: Carbon

Pluses
Minuses
  • Outstanding small bump compliance
  • Expensive
  • Razor sharp steering precision
  • Proprietary hub adds additional cost
  • Incredibly stiff cornering performance
  • Heavier than expected
  • Suited for both the XC race circuit and rowdy
  • Front wheel installation
    backcountry trails
  • Not compatible with a fork mount bike rack
  • Inverted design offers better seal lubrication and stiffness


Update: April 9, 2015 – Now available in 27.5 wheel size and in white color

For 2015 the RS-1 family grows with the addition of a 27.5 model, and a new Gloss White color option.

  • Dedicated 27.5” model with 42mm offset chassis in 100 and 120mm travel options
  • 29” and 27.5” version both get new color option: Gloss White
Rockshox RS-1 is now available in  gloss white color. 27.5 wheel size is available too.

Rockshox RS-1 is now available in gloss white color. 27.5 wheel size is available too.

Full Review: RockShox RS-1 suspension fork

Well here we go again, reviewing a product that many will think is outrageously priced: MSRP is $1865 plus another $238 for the proprietary Predictive Steering hub exclusive to the RockShox RS-1. Reactions of people to the RS-1 have filled the gamut of human emotion. Some are slack jawed, drooling all over themselves. Some are dismissive, pooh-poohing it as another needless innovation. Some are completely oblivious (my favorite reaction). And some are seriously insulted at the mere suggestion of a suspension fork system that costs north of $2,000.

The RS-1 looks as impressive as it performs.

The RS-1 looks as impressive as it performs.

It’s obvious the RS-1 is prohibitively expensive for most people. But considering some people wouldn’t hesitate to drop two grand on a blingy carbon fiber wheelset, maybe the RS-1 isn’t as outrageously priced as some think. The RS-1 was designed to be a no-expense-spared fork that displays RockShox’s innovative evolution since it first debuted in 1989. An engineering-driven project that helps establish new technologies, that hopefully will eventually work their way down to suspension products Joe Consumer can actually afford. Just like automotive manufacturers who develop engine and suspension technologies for Formula One, those prohibitively expensive innovations eventually find their way into the cars we drive to the grocery store.

RockShox RS-1 Logo RockShox RS-1 Field

The brake cable mounts on the RS-1 are cleverly executed (left). The RS-1 is equally capable as an all-mountain fork and an XC-oriented race fork (right). Photo by James Adamson – dropmedia.tv

Continue to page 2 for more of this story and full photo gallery »

About the author: Kurt Gensheimer

Kurt Gensheimer thinks the bicycle is man’s most perfect invention. He firmly believes ‘singlespeed’ is a compound word. He sometimes wears a disco ball helmet. He is also known as Genshammer. He is a Gemini and sleeps outside in a hammock.


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  • fate says:

    No improvement in traction? Heavy? No stanchion guards? No thanks.

  • Ted says:

    I frequently disagree with the Angry SingleSpeeder’s rants, sometimes vehemently. But having read way more reviews than is healthy for someone as broke as myself, I think you do some of the most frank and helpful in the MTB business. Although I am curious about your relationship with Ibis. I would love to hear about any Ibis products you think are subpar.

  • brizzy says:

    @fate you’re an idiot. Heavy?? Have you looked at weight comparisons? It weighs like a Clif bar more than the next lightest competitor, and as literally everyone who’s reviewed it has said, it performs significantly better. Great suspension makes you faster, even when it’s a little heavier. If it didn’t, you wouldn’t be seeing a good chunk of the WC XC field on full suspension.

    And the stanchion guard argument is stupid. How many gouges do you currently have in the bottom 4″ of your lowers? They’re no more exposed than on a standard fork.

    Solid review, ASS.

  • baker says:

    Thanks for the review.

    I’ve ridden an “upside down” Maverick SC32 for years. Not my favorite fork of all time, but decent and I’ve never had any stanchion issues (despite losing the protectors).

    As far as the criticisms of the RS-1…
    Hard to mount front wheel? I suspect we’ll get used to it.
    Doesn’t mount to a standard rack? Adapters will make this possible.
    Weight? Really? At 3.67 pounds, that is light enough for me.
    Cost? High for early adopters, hopefully it’ll come down over time.

  • Chicken_Rider says:

    “its steering precision is as sharp and immediate as any rigid carbon fork.”

    How do you quantify the precision of a fork? Are you measuring the amount of torque required to get the fork to rotate and cause the wheel to “turn” on it’s own (rather than flex the stanchions?) Could you actually sense this flex on the fork over bumpy/psudo-random terrain (rocks, roots etc..) without a gauge to measure?

    Or are you implying that the inner and outer stanchions on this model are far “snugger” than on other, lesser quality forks such that the inner stanchion moves inside of the outer one? Thus the only solution that would be better than this would be a solid fork. For what it’s worth, my wife’s suntour fork doesn’t flex in the above manner, and I’m guessing it has a stand-alone retail price of <$100.

  • Angry Singlespeeder says:

    I quantify the precision of a fork based on how it compares to what I’m comparing it to. Therefore, the RS-1 steers with the immediacy and sharpness of a rigid carbon fork. I’m not a scientists with gauges and advanced theoretical knowledge. I’m a dude who’s ridden the shit out of bikes for more than 20 years and knows a fork that steers well from one that doesn’t. That’s as far as my quantifying goes.

    3.67 pounds definitely isn’t heavy, but it is heavier than a SID…which is surprising considering that for this amount of money you’d think it would be at least a little lighter than a fork that costs less than half of the RS-1.

    And yes, you’re right on the fork eventually mounting with adapters. In fact, I just ghetto fabbed an adapter for my 15mm thru axle fork adapter. So…an adapter for an adapter. Unfortunately, less ghetto-fab oriented consumers will have to wait for a retail solution.

    – ASS

  • Mitch says:

    Hope MRP comes out with a front fork to compete with the stratosphere priced RS-1

  • john says:

    How would you rate the RS 1 to the latest Hybrid 100mm Lefty which as you know is an upside down as well ?

  • Angry Singlespeeder says:

    John,

    I haven’t ridden a Hybrid 100 Lefty, but I am currently testing a Lefty Supermax 140 on my Ibis Ripley. Inverted forks are definitely superior in plushness and sensitivity to terrain. Comparing the Supermax to the RS-1 isn’t really fair because the Supermax is a much beefier and heavier fork, but I am definitely a fan of the inverted fork design. It works, and when designed properly – especially in the case of the Supermax – it’s very stiff and responsive.

    – ASS

    • yoslater says:

      I currently have the lefty and love it, steers amazingly well and is great on the smaller bumps as well as the bigger drops. I can take the front wheel off almost as fast as a qr wheel. I am looking at the new ripley and wondering if you prefer the RS1 over the lefty or hard to tell because you have the supermax and not the 110 or lighter version.

  • ziscwg says:

    As John has implied…..
    Lefty anyone???

    they are lighter and cheaper $1400 MSRP and the special lefty hub can go for $100 to $140 in colors!!

    • Whambat says:

      For reals, I love my lefty. I’m 200lbs and it’s the only race fork that doesn’t feel like a noodle to me, in fact it’s stiffer than my old fox talas. Oh and it weighs right at 3 lbs, over a half lb lighter than this high priced thing. Also, far more plush than anything else I’ve ridden in the travel range.

  • tyrebyter says:

    Probably the archetype of forks to come, I hope. The price is irrelevant since I’m not going to buy one. I do wonder at the suggestion in your article that there are new technologies involved. Which ones? Carbon fibre is old hat, Upside down? Several decades on that one. Maybe just a long overdue application of existing technologies would be more accurate.

  • Christopher Slade says:

    Bah – the twisting stanctions are nothing! That happens all the time on a MX bike. Problem is, the wheel is 20 lb, not 2, and everything fights you more!

    I am still surprised by the lack of guards. At least up top, the stanctions are somewhat guarded by the lower forks (which are further out and would hit something first.) A nice stanction guard would be ridiculously light, and can be removed if desired. While I’m not a huge Cannondale fan, they do it on the Lefty….

  • FireLikeIYa says:

    So… how does it compare to a Lefty?

  • Brandon Dietzer says:

    I wonder how many pros like Kerkove would actually buy this fork, even at a pro deal? That is the real question. It’s easy to be excited about riding a fork on somebody else’s dime even if it sucks. Just another Status symbol IMO.

  • KPAJ says:

    When I saw you rolling across the GGBridge after your commute I was certainly aghast that some douche had shelled out for one of those things- happy to find out you didn’t pay for it.

  • I'mRight says:

    Funny how in order to defend this forks right to exist you left out some basic information: tire clearance, hub weight, spoke count, and fork adjustments.

  • Kuttermax says:

    This review is much more favorable than the one on Bikeradar that quite severely criticized the fork for being much to flexible and resulted in not only poor steering precision but also was described as “unnerving”. To be fair, it is the only bad review I’ve seen of the fork but raised some serious concerns for me. After the MTBR review came out I made the decision to order one and am getting my wheel rebuilt as I write this. Not sure what review to believe now…

    • Trebor says:

      I read the same Bikeradar review and I’m similarly unsure what to think. I will be very interested in what you experience Kuttermax.

  • Tim says:

    Any further experiences with this fork? I’m considering the 650B version for my Anthem Adv

  • Trebor says:

    I have been using it on my xc rig and it has been absolutely fine, fitting it is a bit of a pain, but nothing you will not get used to over time… but a lot of money, would not buy as an upgrade!

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