Everything You Need to Know About RockShox’s Redesigned 2023 Forks & Shocks


As you may have guessed from the feature-laden appearance of the electronically controlled RockShox Flight Attendant series forks released earlier this year, revamped suspension components without batteries might soon follow. In comes a new Pike and Lyrik chassis design, packed with some of the features on the Flight Attendant equipment, but the ZEB wasn’t forgotten about either. All of those forks also see a redesigned damper, plus they get the mechanical bonuses found on the Flight Attendant chassis.

Not limited to the front end of the bike, a slew of rear shocks are also on the 2023 menu, including a Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate shock with a separate threshold piston, and its DH slbling with externally adjustable hydraulic bottom out control. The most notable change internally is the separation of high and low-speed compression adjustments and greater bushing overlap, while externally the body of the coil shocks are 21% stronger.


Fork Chassis and Overview

What’s different about RockShox Ultimate level forks now, besides the sharper lines of the Pike and Lyrik lower leg assembly and crown-steerer unit (CSU) that mimic the ZEB? Basically everything. The technologies are the same across the Pike, Lyrik, and ZEB Ulitmate series, however, there are tweaks to the air spring volumes and chassis design to tailor each fork’s stiffness to their ideal use case. Both the Pike and Lyrik keep their 35 mm stanchions, while the ZEB chassis remains virtually unchanged, with the exception of pressure relief valves on the back of the lower legs, now found on all premium fork models.

To better differentiate the segments for each fork, RockShox limited the travel on the new Pike and Lyrik, allowing them to optimize the chassis stiffness to weight ratio conducive to the types of bikes they will be mounted to – that included the air springs too. The travel numbers range from 120-140mm and 140-160mm in 10mm steps and will require set-length air springs to change the travel. Only the ZEB, where the chassis carries over and retains the wider bracket of 160-190mm – it was only two years ago when it debuted.


Pike Ultimate Details

• Travel options: 120, 130, 140mm
• Redesigned 35mm stanchion chassis
• Load 3 features an all-new Internal Floating Piston (IFP)
• High-speed compression, low-speed compression, and low-speed rebound
• ButterCups on air and damper shafts
• DebonAir+ air spring with increased air volume
• Ultimate Bushing Package maximizes bushing overlap
• Pressure Relief Valves release air build-up in the lower legs
• Maxima Plush damping fluid reduces friction and silences damper noise
• Gloss Black or Signature Gloss Silver colors
• RockShox bolt-on fender sold separately
• MSRP: $1,054, €1,139*, £1,017* (*inc. VAT)


Lyrik Ultimate Details

• Travel options: 140, 150, 160mm
• Redesigned 35mm stanchion chassis
• Load 3 features an all-new Internal Floating Piston (IFP)
• High-speed compression, low-speed compression, and low-speed rebound
• ButterCups on air and damper shafts
• DebonAir+ air spring with increased air volume
• Ultimate Bushing Package maximizes bushing overlap
• Pressure Relief Valves release air build-up in the lower legs
• Maxima Plush damping fluid reduces friction and silences damper noise
• Gloss Black or Signature “Heavy Meadow” colors
• RockShox bolt-on fender sold separately
• MSRP: $1,107, €1,196*, £1,069* (*inc. VAT)


ZEB Ultimate Details

• Travel options: 160, 170, 180, 190mm
• 38mm chassis
• Load 3 features an all-new Internal Floating Piston (IFP)
• High-speed compression, low-speed compression, and low-speed rebound
• ButterCups on air and damper shafts
• DebonAir+ air spring with increased air volume
• Ultimate Bushing Package maximizes bushing overlap
• Pressure Relief Valves release air build-up in the lower legs
• Maxima Plush damping fluid reduces friction and silences damper noise
• Gloss Black or Signature Slab Gray colors
• RockShox bolt-on fender sold separately
• MSRP: $1,159, €1,253*, £1,119* (*inc. VAT)


Charger 3 Damper

RockShox started with a clean slate when they approached the damper design of the Charger 3 and favored the IFP style for its ability to purge oil through a port in the damper. This also allowed the engineers to “decouple” the high and low-speed compression, keeping each adjustment independent of one another – “no compromises,” as they say. Normally, one would affect the other slightly and therefore change characteristics riders weren’t intending to alter.

All Pike, Lyrik, and ZEB Ultimates and Select+ forks come standard with the Charger 3. The damper is retrofitable with any ZEB because that CSU hasn’t changed, but otherwise will only fit 2023 Pikes and Lyriks. There are 15 clicks of LSC, 5 clicks of HSC, 18 clicks of rebound adjustment and at this time no custom tuning is available because RockShox believes that each click is a large enough change and the range of damping will suit all rider weights and styles. A ton of effort also went into making the Charger 3 as quiet as possible and part of that success is backed by Maxima’s Plush damping fluid.

Even though the bleed procedure has changed because of the new damper, no new tools are needed to rebuild the Charger 3 and all of the service tutorials can be found on the RockShox website.


ButterCups

These magic little elastomers that sit at the bottom end of the damper and air spring to smooth out the transition of forces into those components as the fork begins to move into the travel. They reduce high-frequenecy vibrations by 20% and that isn’t a number that RockShox simply made up – the testing team measured such a thing with sensors.

ButterCups offer 4mm of plush movement to the suspension and are exclusive for the same grouping of forks that the Charger 3 damper fits: 2023 Pike and Lyriks, and 2021+ ZEBs. A set of ButterCups adds roughly 40-grams to the fork, but the new Pike and Lyrik have dropped in weight overall.


DebonAir+ Spring

Equipped on all 2023 Pike, Lyrik, and ZEB forks, the all-aluminum DebonAir+ spring has a larger volume than its predecessor DebonAir C1 air spring with a focus on improved small bump absorption and a higher ride height. The new spring is loaded with a ButterCup bumper and can also be installed on 2021+ ZEBs.


Pressure Relief Valves

These trick little buttons release any unwanted pressure built up inside the fork either during elevation or temperature change to keep things running as sensitive as possible. Think your fork needs a burp because it’s feeling stiffer? Simply blip the valves with a rag to absorb any residual oil and things should feel normal again. They sit above the upper bushing and are durable in the sense that they will not ingest any dirt or water, plus the 2023 Select and Base model forks (Pike, Lyrik, and ZEB) can be upgraded to accept the Pressure Relief Valves.


Ultimate Bushing Package and Hub Stiffeners

At the Ultimate level, the bushing length in the lower fork legs has been in creased by 53%. That is said to give better support for the stanchions, reducing friction and distributing the load where the leg and bushing meet. With that in mind, the Ulitmate level bushings are sized and installed at the factory for 2023 forks only, so you will need new lowers for a Select level fork to achieve this upgrade.

Torque Caps are still in play with a larger, specific RockShox standard machined surface, but for a smaller diameter, generic hub end caps there are now bolt-on options to mimic that idea.


Shock Overview

Within the RockShox rear shock family there are four Deluxe Ultimate rear shocks, two air and two coil-sprung rear shocks. Ultimate basically stands for “available in the aftermarket” or seen as an upgrade to the current bike, though some top end bikes might even come equipped with these. Three of those are Super Deluxe which include added features like a high speed compression adjuster and the two coil versions have optional Hydraulic Bottom Out controls with five clicks of adjustment to smooth out the last 20% of the travel. Other attributes of the Super Deluxe Ultimate Coil shocks use a 21% stronger body with increased bushing overlap.

Deluxe Ultimate Details

• Independent low-speed and rebound adjustments
• DebonAir+ air spring with adjustable negative and positive air volume
• Wider range of rebound adjustment than previously
• Castled bottom out bumper
• Increased bushing overlap
• Lever toggles between Open and Threshold compression pistons
• Maxima Plush Dynamic Suspension Lube reduces friction
• MSRP: $399, €431*, £385* (*inc. VAT)


Super Deluxe Ultimate Details

• RC2T Damper with independent high and low-speed adjustments
• DebonAir+ air spring with adjustable negative and positive air volume
• Optional Hydraulic Bottom Out
• 15 clicks of rebound adjustment
• Castled bottom out bumper
• Increased bushing overlap
• Separate and independent Open and Threshold pistons
• Maxima Plush Dynamic Suspension Lube reduces friction
• MSRP: $599, €648*, £578* (*inc. VAT)


Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate Details

• RC2T Damper with independent high and low-speed adjustments
• Optional adjustable Hydraulic Bottom Out with five different compression settings
• Redesigned chassis is 21% stronger
• Increased bushing overlap
• 20 clicks of rebound adjustment Separate and independent Open and Threshold pistons
• External adjustments allow for no-fuss tuning on the fly
• BoXXer Red and Signature color matching decal options
• Maxima plush damping fluid reduces friction and silences damper noise
• MSRP: $549, €594*, £530* (*inc. VAT)


Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate DH Details

• RC2 Damper with independent high and low-speed adjustments
• Optional Hydraulic Bottom Out with five different settings
• Redesigned chassis is 21% stronger
• Increased bushing overlap
• 20 clicks of rebound adjustment
• External adjustments allow for no-fuss tuning on the fly
• BoXXer Red and Signature color matching decal options
• Maxima plush damping fluid reduces friction and silences damper noise
• MSRP: $499, €539*, £482* (*inc. VAT)


Hydraulic Bottom Out

Unlike adding volume spacers to an air shock to change the progression of the spring rate, a hydraulic bottom out adjuster is used to tweak the compression damping as the shock goes through the last 20% of its travel. A small needle blocks the flow of oil to increase the compression damping to dissipate energy and reduce air spring “ramp up.” This means that the rebound damping is not affected, so you get best of both worlds; a cushion to alleviate harsh bottom outs without the kickback or an increasing spring rate at the end of the travel. The sizing of the coil springs is unchanged and are still available in the “Red Hot” signature colorway.


RC2T Damper and DebonAir+

What do those letters and numbers stand for? The Super Deluxe Ultimate features both high and low-speed compression, rebound, and threshold adjusters. On this damper, there are 5 clicks for each compression adjuster – two to increase, two to decrease, and a middle “open” setting. They work truly independent of each other and each click is definitive, sharing that trait with the Charger 3 fork damper. RockShox achieved this by designing the oil to first flow through the LSC circuit, followed by the HSC.

To improve small bump compliance, RockShox now offers progressive or linear air can sizes. The linear sized air can falls in line with what is currently produced and the progressive one is reminiscent of the MegNeg version with a larger negative air volume. The 2023 tokens are purple, matching the color of the sealhead and are not backwards compatible. Both the linear and progressive air can hold up to a maximum of one negative and four positive tokens.

Adding tokens or volume spacers will reduce the air volume. On the positive side, this will make the air shock spring more progressive at the end of the stroke and harder to bottom out. Placing one in the negative chamber will make the shock more linear; firmer at the beginning of the travel and less progressive towards the end.


How do all of these new acronyms and features feel on the trail, and are they worth it? Mike Kazimer weighs in with his thoughts on the new Lyrik Ultimate in his review here.

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