The 2018 Rockshox Lyrik was a darn good fork so we'd imagine it was a challenge for RockShox to really level up with the 2019 version. They pulled it off in just the right way. They certainly seemed to listen to the feedback of serious riders and racers out there and we also suspect they had their eye on their competition and how they could bring something with the same level of adjustability to the market. Enter the Charger-2 RC2 Damper! This new offering has been long awaited and now allows riders to get that little bit extra that might have been missing. With fully independent adjustments for Low Speed Compression (LSC) and High Speed Compression (HSC) along with adding more positions to both HSC and LSC the updated Lyrik packs in all the adjustability you could ever need. In addition to the new Charger-2 RC2 damper, the new Lyrik (and most other air offerings from Rockshox) will have an updated/refined version of DebonAir. This was introduced a few years ago on the Monarch and Monarch Plus rear shocks, but now it comes stock on Lyrik, Pike, Yari and Revelation forks and for 2019 it's been even further refined. The most visible new feature is the new Red color offering with classic, but bright, chrome decals. All of these new features are sure to set this fork apart from others, making your bike pop like no other.
As a suspension dork myself, I have been wanting this damper for quite a while now. While the 2018 Lyrik was an excellent performing fork, there were a few sections of trail where I could use more LSC or HSC adjustability depending on terrain. Previously, these were combined in the modes resulting in some not so useable settings. Now, with independent HSC and LSC, you can tune your fork for every trail. The new Lyrik has five positions of HSC (Rather than 2 + lockout like the 2018 version), each one providing a unique feeling to the fork and useful for certain applications. The Lyrik keeps it simple with 5 adjustments you can actually feel. Just one click clockwise and you can tell that the fork has a more damped feel. The LSC has a bit more range with 19 positions of adjustment and it is fully independent of the HSC setting you are using. This was not the case in the 2018 version, in 2018 the LSC only took effect when your fork was in the open HSC position. So now, you've got way more adjustability on both fronts of HSC and LSC. This is awesome for those riders out there who truly want to dial in their fork feel. A big selling point of the Fox 36 RC2 over the RS Lyrik was this exact type of added adjustability, but no longer! Rockshox Lyrik in 2019 has it all in terms of compression adjustability. The rebound remains about the same and is easily adjusted with a wide range from slow to pogostick fast.
The DebonAir air spring system is an incredible feature on RockShox forks and brings incredible suppleness and adjustability to the rider by use of tokens. The air spring was redesigned borrowing ideas from Rockshox’s rear shocks. It adds more pressure to the negative spring to help cut down the initial breakaway force, also known as stiction. In addition to the larger negative chamber, the air shaft has also been improved to help reduce friction. Adding in some machined aluminium parts with new seals is the major player in reducing rub between moving parts. When Rockshox wanted to improve the Lyrik, of course the new damper was a big goal, but the next biggest was reducing friction even further. Is there a better way to improve small bump and overall responsiveness than by cutting out the friction wherever possible? With the new DebonAir, comes a slight change in fork pressures and the use of tokens. More about that in the ride impressions.
I’m sure by now that by looking at Pinkbike or any other media sites you have seen some red Rockshox forks out in the wild, mainly only being used by pro riders. Well, now you can get this on your bike, make it match, make it pop, make it crazy. Whatever your style may be, the new red color looks pretty loud, in the best way. Of course there is still the black option and both wheel sizes are available as well. Different offset options, an idea that is gaining popularity, will also be offered!
Just like any other fork, installation was pretty straightforward. Our fork came with a stealth thru axle, which is worth noting as I really like bolt on thru axles rather than the standard QR style. When it came to setting air pressure, initial setup was a bit different than previous models. With the new DebonAir air spring, the suggested air chart has been changed, but it’s also a much more accurate suggestion. Previously, I found myself going up in pressure above the recommended settings as well as using air tokens to dial in my preferred ride feel. Forget your previous settings with this fork and start over. I was lucky enough to have a Rockshox tech help with my initial setup, as he told me the same thing. Start with the recommended air pressure and try it out. With the recommended air pressure, compression settings set to full open, and my rebound returning evenly, we headed out on the trail. Immediately, I noticed the difference in ride feel. I know its sounds gimmicky but damn, this fork is the most plush off the top I have ever had while running at proper pressure.
While everyone can appreciate a plush fork, I also like some LSC. After the first section of trail I felt like the fork was already pretty close to what I wanted. Generally, I prefer a bit more damping and progressiveness as well as slightly more platform to keep the fork from diving (LSC). I asked the Rockshox tech that was with me what adjustments to make. Previously, I would have kept the pressure the same but added in a token or two. This would help keep the small bump sensitivity the same but add some mid-stroke platform. Instead, he recommended I add five more PSI and about four clicks of LSC, leaving HSC wide open for this trail (very chunky with drops and rock gardens). This gave me the exact feel I wanted and I was surprised that just adding more PSI did the trick without affecting the small bump sensitivity! This is all due to the new DebonAir air spring. While you can add more PSI you are not losing anything in the first 20% or so of the stroke, as the negative air spring is much larger and has a bigger volume to help keep that small bump plush.
After our first ride I went on to test the fork on a few other trails. Like I said before, from the start I was close to having this fork dialed in. A typical setup is 15-20% sag, a few volume spacers to make it more progressive and zero HSC with some LSC. The new DebonAir air shaft and further tunability in the Charger 2 damper made the tokens unnecessary for me to get my preferred feel. Riding a smoother trail with some jumps this time, the fork performed surprisingly well. Again, the fork was very close to what I wanted. I did not expect the fork to feel great coming off a chunky trail into more of a flow trail. After one run the only adjustment I made was adding two clicks of HSC, giving me a bit more damping and control when hitting some of the larger jumps. I kept the rest of the settings exactly the same as I had before. I’m really impressed by the easy setup as most forks that offer individual compression adjustments take as many as 10 rides to get dialed in. Granted, I had a little help on the first ride from a Rockshox tech who ought to know what he’s doing, but not much fussing about had to be done.
With a ton of new features such as the Charger-2 RC2 damper with independent HSC/LSC compression adjustments, refined Debon Air system, and a new bad ass red, the 2019 Lyrik RC2 is coming out swinging for the fences. All of the new improvements Rockshox made are totally noticeable and simply put, awesome additions to an already great fork. With adjustments you can actually feel and an easy setup, the new Lyrik is going to challenge what other companies are offering in terms of extensive adjustability where they didn't contend prior. Gravity oriented, burly yet smooth, this could quite possibly be the best all-around fork that has been on my front end. I think it's safe to say it's going to be a sad day when this fork comes off my bike.