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Published on April 28th, 2014 | by Kevin

Sea Otter Suspension Roundup: Don’t Miss Out on New Offerings from RockShox, Fox, BOS and More

With all of the big players in suspension present and accounted for at the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, there was certainly plenty of new product at the expo seeing the light of day for the first time. From the first dedicated fatbike fork from a major suspension manufacturer to a game-changing new cross-country shock, the suspension world certainly seems to be benefitting from some increased competition—something yours truly is definitely okay with.

RockShox
RockShox has come out swinging lately with a host of new offerings that look to change their reputation as simply being a cheaper alternative to Fox. With offerings like the Pike already meeting stellar reviews, they’ve followed up by incorporating the Pike’s fantastic Charger Damper into their 27.5-inch Boxxer DH fork as well as introducing a cutting-edge cross-country fork in the form of the RS-1, and a mate to the Pike in the form of their new DebonAir Monarch rear shock.

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Taking its name from Popeye’s cartoon nemesis, RockShox’s all-new Bluto may just be the nemesis to all those still hesitating to join the fatbike bandwagon.

Add into the mix their first fatbike offering and you truly get a sense of how busy the R&D team out in Colorado Springs have been. Dubbed the Bluto, it comes in 80, 100 and 120-millimeter flavors and features a 15-millimeter Maxle through-axle based around 150-millimeter hub spacing.

While it may indeed be a fatbike fork, the Bluto is impressively slim, stepping off the proverbial bathroom scale at a respectable 1,796 grams.

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While commanding a pretty penny, The RockShox RS-1 is the latest offering in a string of high-profile, high-promise releases from the suspension manufacturer.

Quite literally turning the status-quo of XC forks upside-down, the RS-1 employs an inverted construction and proprietary axle design to drastically improve torsional stiffness. Built around a one-piece carbon mainframe, the RS-1 features purpose-built internals in the form of RockShox’s new Accelerator damper, which offers small-bump sensitivity akin to the Pike, but also incorporates the ability to lock-out the fork as well.

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Employing a brand-new, proprietary axle system, the fork promises to not only offer vastly improved suspension performance, but offer heady improvements in the handling department as well.

DebonAir

Yes, we’re STILL covering RockShox here. As you can clearly see, the engineering department has definitely been burning the midnight suspension oil. The Monarch DebonAir offers Pike-matching small-bump compliance for a more-balanced suspension feel front and rear.

Building on the existing Monarch’s foundation, the DebonAir designation refers to a modified Monarch air sleeve that increases air volume for both the main air spring as well as the negative air spring, which in the case of the negative spring, vastly improves the shock’s sensitivity in the first 30-percent of its travel, bringing it much more in line with their Pike offering up front.

By increasing the volume of the positive air spring, the DebonAir sleeve also contributes to less-progressive suspension kinematics deeper into the shock’s travel, preventing harsh ramp-up, and keeps longer-travel platforms riding higher in their travel.

Even better, the DebonAir sleeve is available as a retrofit kit for all 2014 Monarch RT3 shocks, as well as all 2013 Monarch RC3 shocks for just over $100. But, best of all, the DebonAir is a direct replacement, and only needs to be threaded on to the existing shock body once the old air sleeve is removed.

Fox Racing Shox
Presenting a revamped 36-series lineup, Fox Racing Shox freshened up their hard-charging single-crown offering with several new features gleaned from their RAD (Racing Applications Development) program. Among these (which will be applied across the brand’s 32 and 34-series lines as well), are new damper seals, lubrication oil (which integrates molybdenum from the Kashima Coat formula), and compression tunes which all add up to what Fox claims to be some rather significant performance gains.

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Lighter—and shorter—the new 36-chassis stands to make for a much more versatile package.

Specific to the 36, however, Fox has swapped out the fork’s existing chassis for one that sees not only a half-pound weight savings, but also a much-reduced axle-to-crown lenghth—a particular boon for the 29er versions. Redesigned air springs in the 36′s purpose-built damper equalize rider weight for more consistent damping performance across rider weight ranges.

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A convertible through-axle design is compatible with both 15 and 20-millimeter through-axles.

BOS
While a relative newcomer to the States, BOS has plenty of World Cup wins to back up an impressive pedigree. We’ve been blown away by their supple long-travel suspension offerings both front and rear. Now, with the introduction of their Dizzy 29-inch XC fork and their soon-to-be-released XC rear shock, the brand promises to mate their unmatched plushness with XC-efficiency.

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Don’t let appearances deceive you—while small in stature, BOS’s latest rear suspension offering promises to completely change the playing field for short-travel performance and small-bump sensitivity.

Check out our full preview of the Dizzy here.

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Like the brand’s long-travel forks, the BOS Dizzy 29″ fork also boasts tapered lowers.

BOS Dizzy 29" Crown

A 3-position compression damping knob sits on the BOS Dizzy 29″ crown.

Cannondale
Taking their unique Lefty platform up to 160 millimeters of travel with the new Lefty Supermax 27.5 and 130 millimeters in 29er guise. Cannondale now has the ability to equip their OverMountain line with their signature single-stanchion design. Retaining the supple needle-bearing construction as well as the stiffness the Lefty is known for, Cannondale adds a new “Wide Mouth Piston” that increases the platform’s small-bump sensitivity.

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Unveiled just before Sea Otter in concert with Cannondale’s new 27.5-inch Trigger and Jekyll models, the brand’s new Lefty PBR Supermax forks provide the venerable single-stanchion design with a VIP invitation to the long-travel party.

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About the Author

Kevin

Rouse may have been a bit late to the bike-riding party, but he’s certainly making up for lost miles. Having discovered cycling while studying journalism at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, he enjoys long days in the saddle whenever—and however—he can get them. You can usually find him on two wheels, but if not, you’d be well served to check the nearest coffee shop.



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