Rock Shox Revelation
By James Sharp
Two years ago, Rock Shox introduced the Pike and Reba and, along with them, their new damping platform Motion Control. The Pike is a 110 to 140mm travel fork with a 20mm through axle. The Reba is an 85 to 115mm fork with a normal 9mm quick release axle. I had a chance to ride both forks and came away impressed with the Motion Control damping. However, neither of these forks fit my type of riding. My normal test rig wasn't built around a 140mm fork, and I wasn't thrilled about having a 20mm axle and the accompanying headaches when it came to roof racks. On the other hand the Reba was too short of travel and is more of a... well not quite race fork--that's still the Sid--and not quite a trail bike fork. Rock Shox had a gap in the line up, and in the Fall of 2005, they filled that gap. At last year's Interbike Rock Shox introduced the Revelation. It has 100 to 130mm of travel, adjustable on the fly, or internally depending on model, nearly as stiff as the Pike, but longer of leg than the Reba. It was the perfect compromise and I new I had to try this fork on my trails, on my test mule.
Rock Shox obliged with the Revelation 426 Air U-Turn with the Poploc Adjust remote. This is their top-of-the-line Revelation, weighing in at 4 pounds, even. The lowers are magnesium, while the 32m stanchions are 7000 series aluminum. The U-Turn models have the travel printed on the left leg, making adjustment easy, no need to count how many turns to get to your sweet spot. This fork hosts a ton of adjustments. Lets start with the left leg: on the bottom you have the negative air spring valve, while up top you've got the U-Turn knob and the valve for the positive air spring. On the right leg, again starting at the bottom, you have the rebound adjustment and up top you have the low speed compression adjustment, the Floodgate adjustment and lockout. On our test fork, the compression adjustment and lockout were handled by the Poploc remote mounted to the handlebars.
Set up is designed to be straightforward. In fact there is a sticker on the left leg with the recommended pressure settings. I, in my... er... wisdom, decided to go only by sag and only sort of use the recommended settings. I don't recommend going this route. What I ended up with was a very, very plush fork that blew through the middle of its travel. It was only when I swallowed my pride and went with the recommended settings that the fork came alive. It was plush before, and stayed that way, but with the recommended pressures (both positive and negative) the fork was more controlled and I didn't have to rely as heavily on the slow speed compression damping to combat brake dive and general wallowing in middle of the stroke.
My recommendation is to use the listed pressures--always filling the positive chamber first, and then the negative while the fork is at it's maximum travel--and then, and only then, adjust the pressures higher or lower for preference, despite what the Internet forums might say. I settled on 150psi in the positive chamber and 145psi in the negative chamber. I set the rebound to 2 turns from full fast and the compression damping I set at full fast. I preferred the Floodgate set at 4 turns from full on, this gave me some movement when locked out, but enough for standing sprints without too much bob. I weigh 190lbs with gear.
Once set up, the Revelation performed flawlessly. In fact, it performed pretty darn good when I had the wrong pressures in it. I found it stiff enough for hard cornering over very rough terrain. It didn't want to wander at all, point it where you want it to go and there it went. Bob was controlled--in fact that would sum up the performance in one word, controlled. No matter what I threw at it, the Revelation handled it with aplomb.
At 4lbs, the fork is plenty light and the Air U-Turn performed as expected, however it does take quite a number of turns to change the travel, enough that, while possible to do while riding, I found that I would adjust the travel mostly while stopped. I also found that I didn't use the middle settings very much. I mostly used the full 130mm or the lowest 100mm setting. I wouldn't mind seeing the fork sold with a two setting lever, one setting all the way out and one setting all the way in. It would reduce the time it takes to shorten and lengthen the travel and make it easier to do on the fly.
Our fork, as I stated above, came with the optional Poploc Adjust remote. I absolutely love this feature. I found that I would lock and unlock the fork much more often--it was so easy and quick. I'd come around a corner and be faced with a short rise, no problem, I'd hit the lockout, stand and sprint over the rise, and with the push of a button, open the fork again--that's as easy as it gets. In fact, the only reason I can see for not running the Poploc is if you don't have room on your handlebars. Otherwise, it is well worth the extra dollars.
Summary: There was a while there where I was not a big fan of Rock Shox. I am happy to say that I am completely converted after spending the summer on the Revelation. The fork is light, easily adjusted on the trail or in the shop, user serviceable, stiff and plush. The Revelation tames the bumps even when you get in over your head. Frankly, this is one of the best forks I've ridden to date. The fact that at $625 it is cheaper than the competition is just icing on the cake. Need a new fork? Look no further.
James Sharp is a contributing editor for GearReview.com; more of his ramblings and a look at upcoming reviews can be found at his blog, Lactic Acid Threshold.
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