by Tom dB
June 1, 2009
Standing in the queue for the bike-park gondola I compared my Solo Air to a triple-clamp fork on someone else’s late 90’s downhill bike. With 35mm stanchions the single crown Lyric made the other fork look weedy. To have a fork that is as strong as Popeye, literally bulging in the fork lowers to accommodate big bushings, while staying relatively light (2313g) is just fantastic.
Rock Shox Lyrik Solo Air
Price: £899 //Updated price…//
Tested: 12 months
Standing in the queue for the bike-park gondola I compared my Solo Air to a triple-clamp fork on someone else’s late 90’s downhill bike. With 35mm stanchions the single crown Lyric made the other fork look weedy. To have a fork that is as strong as Popeye, literally bulging in the fork lowers to accommodate big bushings, while staying relatively light (2313g) is just fantastic. Needless to say it is stiff, tracks well and takes big hits in its stride. This is the ‘full travel all the time’ version of the Lyrik. It is a strong all-mountain air fork with 160mm of plush travel, a bolt through axle with the excellent Maxle tool-free quick release system. I tested it on both a hardcore hardtail and a full suspension bike. As should be the case with the ‘All-Mountain’ tag, the Solo Air copes well with the ups and is very capable on the descents.
After three hard months this fork has been great; throughout downhilling on Mammoth Mountain in the US, an XC race and lots of ‘Calderdale death steps’ the Solo Air has been faultless.
Plush from brand new, it needed no bedding in and has lost no air from first setting the sag. High and low speed compression damping, as well as rebound are easy to access and can be adjusted to suit different terrain and riding styles. The Solo Air uses the same ‘Mission Control Damping System’ as the triple-clamp Boxxer fork which can only inspire confidence. The other knob to twiddle, which is easy to use while riding, is the Floodgate. This activates a heavy damping circuit in the fork and is an effective form of lockout. I had it set with maximum damping. Set like this there was still sag and enough active travel to aid steering uphill without wasting energy pumping the fork up and down. I even forgot to turn off the Floodgate and rode down some steps without suffering a penalty to me or the fork. The threshold, or amount of bump needed to get it to move can be adjusted on the top of the Low Speed Compression adjuster with an Allen key. It is useful for climbing out of the saddle, although when seated I didn’t find bobbing to be a problem.
The Solo Air has 160mm of travel. The benchmark for this kind of fork is the Fox 36. I have ridden extensively with the 36 RC2 and think that the Lyrik is equal to it in performance. The Fox is perhaps a little more buttery plush, but it doesn’t have a Floodgate type feature and has a slightly longer axle to crown length of 55cm to the 54cm of the Lyrik.
Overall: Like any top-end gear it won’t make you a ‘rad’ rider, but to be blunt, if you can’t do it with this, it’s probably not going to happen. It’s black and with the curvy decals it looks great with any frame. How much better can forks get?