RockShox Vivid Air R2C

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The first Vivid Air introduced 3 years ago was designed as a world cup downhill winning rear shock, with a stealth design and great damping. When the shock first came out air shocks weren’t really used in the DH scene; overheating air cans caused major issues with the shocks damping and performance on long descents. RockShox’s new Hot Rod technology, along with a larger air can,kept the shock cool and prevented overheating. This was a massive step in the right direction for DH air shocks and not long after we saw them everywhere from DH racers and freeriders to your bike park shred masters.

Out of the box the Vivid Air looks fantastic. Keeping its stealth look from previous years;  the black stanchion, black air can and grey decals on the shock make for a really good looker. Red and blue adjuster knobs pop out from the dark body giving it just a subtle bit of color. Coming in at £500 the Vivid is a fairly reasonable price as air shocks go. Its in the same price ball park as most of the other manufacturers offerings out there.


Fitting the shock wasn’t the easiest, due to me having a Specialized Demo 8 frame the yoke fitment doesn’t fit with the Vivid’s rebound adjuster. This does mean I have no dial to adjust my rebound but instead just an alan key, which didn’t bother me at all really. Small things like adjuster dials could easily get in the way of your shock mount hardware, so when purchasing any shock always make sure it will fit or if there is anyway to alter the shock so it will then fit.

Yoke fitting, without a rebound dial.
Yoke fitting, without a rebound dial.

Setting up the shock is easy enough, a standard shock pump valve is located at the end of the air can. One minor annoyance with the valve is how close it is to the piggy back, so that when you try to screw on your shock pump the piggy back gets in the way a little bit, so it takes a little longer to get on and off.

Not really an issue but when you’re first setting the shock up, and having to take the pump off and on again a fair bit, it can be a little annoying. Setting up sag on the shock is made easy by the small Percentage chart on the underneath of the piggy back, this means all you have to do is line up the red o-ring with whatever percent sag you prefer, up to 40%.

Handy sag percentage chart.
Handy sag percentage chart.

When you first sit on the bike and activate the shock you really get an idea of how soft and responsive the Vivid is. Without applying much weight the shock activates smoothly and feels super responsive. At first I thought it was too soft and needed more air in, but really it’s just the counter measure feature working its magic.

The first few rides were spent adjusting pressure, damping dial’s and all that jazz. I actually ended up taking a bit of pressure out of the shock which was great, and it allowed me to have a really great feeling shock that didn’t bottom out.

Out On The Trail

To start off with I first rode some fast, tight trails with nothing too rough just so I could get an initial feel for the shock. I find its always good to start off on less aggressive trails just so you don’t hammer it down on some really rough tracks and realize you have bottomed out or have it way too stiff. Riding less rough trails will just give you the opportunity to make small adjustments to the shock so it rides perfectly when you take it onto the more aggressive tracks.

The Vivid straight away felt amazing, you could really feel the shock working with the bike to offer a super plush ride. In the corners you could just feel the amount of compression and rebound so you could really rail the corner and not feel the back end sinking in and just blowing through it’s travel. This really allowed me to compress and then boost out of the corners without the shock blowing through its travel. Then when you start hitting some rougher terrain and start all the high speed compressions the shock reacts just right so every bump is soaked up but not completely eaten up.

The Vivid’s performance just makes it work with the bike so the rear wheel sticks to the ground when you need it to and you don’t get any sketchy, over the front end, moments because the back end has just kicked up on a root. With the back end tracking so well with the ground all of the small braking bumps and awkward little holes were just soaked up and taken care of with minimal effort.

Moving onto some big hard hitting tracks the Vivid once again blew me away with its performance and adaptability. Big drops and rock garden’s offered some massive hits and potential bottom out scenarios for the Vivid, unsurprisingly the shock had no issues and all big hits were soaked up just to the right amount. Soaking up the big hits without completely blowing through its travel and then able to take another hit straight after was easy.

I’ve had no issues with the shock over the 5 months of testing, but have occasionally used some suspension lube on the shock just to keep it running super plush.

Overall: For me the new Vivid Air is completely out of this world. A beautiful piece of engineering with outstanding damping and overall performance which has really set the bench mark for all other air shocks. This really is a shock with the feel of a coil but at 1/3 of the weight. A great shock for a reasonable price.


Review Info

Brand: SRAM
Product: Vivid Air R2C
From: Fisher Outdoor Leisure
Price: £499.99
Tested: by Dan for 5 Months

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