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Upgrading your damper is a cost effective way of seriously improving your fork's performance, and it sure beats having to buy a whole new fork just to upgrade your suspension. Andrew recently upgraded the damper in his RockShox Yari to the RockShox Charger 2.1 RC2 with some excellent results. Read on for more!
The Yaris came with RockShox’s Motion Control damper which is, by and large, a pretty good system. The Charger 2.1 damper differs from the Motion Control primarily in that the Charger uses a sealed “bladder” system to prevent air from mixing with the oil in the damping circuit, whereas the Motion Control system keeps things open. There are plenty of articles floating around with a ton more detail by much more educated people on the subject. Google up if you are interested in more info. For the purpose of this review and my observations- the effect of the air and oil mixing in the Motion Control damper is that things can start to feel a little harsh after a series of hits. Air and oil flow through the channels in the Motion Control at different rates, which causes this harshness. The Charger 2.1 fixes this issue by keeping the oil compartmentalized so no air mixing and harshness occurs.
Installation of the Charger upgrade was a breeze. If you service your own forks, you could couple a 50-hr service with the upgrade in an hour, no problem. The upgrade is definitely noticeable. Other online reviews I read prior to purchasing range from “I couldn’t tell much of a difference,” to “this is the greatest possible upgrade possible.” I’d say my opinion falls somewhere in between- there is a marked improvement in overall feel and the more robust range of available settings and tweaks make this a solid upgrade in my books.
Do I think the upgrade is worth the money? In my situation, yes. I had just spent a decent chunk of change on a new bike. Spending another $330 was easier to swallow at the time. Hard to say whether I would have bought as freely in other situations. I’ve been happy with the Motion Control damper overall in the past but having an upgraded system on an upgraded bike is like a little extra icing on the cake. I rented a Quarq ShockWiz to get things dialed perfectly and can say that my fork feels like it was made for me and the riding I do. Keep in mind my opinion is partially an apples-to-oranges comparison- the bulk of my experience with the Motion Control Damper was on a different bike, with different characteristics and different geometry.
Would I recommend the Charger to others? If you have the money to spend, then yes, definitely.
The performance is significantly improved and the fork smoothly travels throughout its full range.
This is totally subjective, but I think the Charger is a little on the pricey side for the difference though. Had I not just bought a new bike, I may not have paid for the upgrade. I also did not spend a ton of time getting adjusted to the Motion Control damper on the new bike before upgrading. Keep in mind I’m a middle-aged recreational rider and your opinion/situation may be different- you may already be riding at the limits of your bike/fork and the Charger may raise those limits. If so, I say cop a Charger, go forth and slay. If not, go ahead and buy one anyway-it’s not my money and the extra sales volume should theoretically let Worldwide Cyclery get better volume discounts from RockShox and pass some savings on to the consumer, thus benefitting us all (me).
To close- the Charger upgrade was worth it for me. I’m digging the improvements, like having a wider range of adjustments available and, while I think it is a little expensive, would purchase again.