2011 BoXXer World Cup

Photos Cam McRae

This was supposed to be the winter of La Niña here in the Lower Mainland. I was so convinced that I went out and bought powder skis. For much of the winter the predictions have been off base and instead the warm rainy weekends have meant that the riding on the local mountains has been awesome. Equally awesome is that late this fall I had the chance to test the latest 2011 World Cup BoXXer. In September I finished a summer of testing the 2010 World Cup (here) so I was keen to see how the 2011 changes stacked up.

2011 BoXXer World Cup, test, mountain biking, cypress, extreme, air, santa cruz V10
  January 26th on the North Shore.

I mounted the new cherry red World Cup on my bright green V10 in time to follow along with the winter Christmas motif.  The colours were a little harsh but at least it might be somewhat photogenic I told myself. The V10 is a great bike for testing downhill forks. The rear suspension is so amazing that it puts a lot of pressure on the fork to succeed. Kind of like testing new tires on an F1 car.

A quick glance at the new 2011 version of the World Cup and you don’t notice much difference. Looking a little closer you see that the adjustment knobs have been changed for 2011. The user friendliness of the adjustment knobs has been improved as well. They don’t just look pretty. Unlike last year the knobs on the tester fork all have noticeable indents or clicks when you turn them.  It’s much easier to tune the forks when you can count the clicks.

2011 BoXXer World Cup, test, mountain biking, cypress, extreme, air, santa cruz V10
  Making like Sam Hill. Sam and Thomas Vanderham rode this section of trail in Follow Me.

I had spent a lot of time playing with the adjustments on the 2010 World Cup both at Whistler and on the Shore. I set up the 2011 very similarly to my 2010 ‘Shore’ settings.  Basically the air spring was set to 60 lbs, both ending and beginning stroke rebound set at 50% (there are 24 clicks of ending stroke and 19 clicks of beginning stroke) of the range, high speed compression at 2 clicks and low speed compression at 1 turn. The only difference I found in settings between the 2010 and 2011 is that so far I have only needed the bottom out at 4 turns instead of maxed out at 7 turns.  The more turns on the bottom out the smaller the air chamber becomes and the more the spring rate ramps up during the last 20-30% of the travel.

2011 BoXXer World Cup, test, mountain biking, cypress, extreme, air, santa cruz V10
  Mike Wallace enjoying the fruits of Cypress while he can. Many trails will be lost to development in the coming years.

The tester felt great right out of the box with no mods or oil changing necessary. The ride feels very similar to the 2010 as one would expect. The excellent stiffness is still there. You may remember that my biggest criticism of the 2010 BoXXer World Cup was the lack of small bump compliance. So far this appears to have improved on the 2011, however until spring is here and this fork can be subjected to the hard high speed braking bumps only found in bike parks it is impossible to be sure if there is significant improvement over 2010.

The 20mm Maxle Light DH axle is also upgraded for 2011. I find that it works even more smoothly now, especially when compared to the pre 2010 models.  

2011 BoXXer World Cup, test, mountain biking, cypress, extreme, air, santa cruz V10
  Shawn Cruickshanks travels with Rock Shox and SRAM to do tech work and he also works with the team’s Canadian athletes to keep their suspension dialled. If you’d like Shawn to dial your fork in either in Whistler or Squamish, send him an email.

After a couple months of good wet winter riding I took the fork to Shawn Cruickshanks for an overhaul and a little BoXXer World Cup Internals 101. Shawn is based in Squamish and works as SRAM athlete support for Canada when not wrenching down at Tantalus bike shop. His shop in his garage is very sharp looking, very organized and very well equipped. It looks like he and Kim Steed went to the same school of impeccable shop layout. As soon as you see Shawn’s set-up you’ll think – this is the guy I want inside my $1800 fork.

The BoXXer World Cup has essentially 3 main internal assemblies that make it work. The air spring in the left fork leg and the compression damper and rebound damper in the right fork leg.  The air spring also includes the volume adjust mechanism. For 2011 the air spring and rebound damper are changed and the compression assembly is basically the same as 2010.

The Rock Shox Solo Air assembly had the o-ring face seal removed on the piston head and replaced by a Schrader valve. The function of these is to equalize the air chambers at the top out position.  The idea is that the valve is more durable and easier to maintain than the seal as well as providing less travel stiction.  This o-ring I remember was a constant problem in the pre 2009 models but was better in 2010 when the o-ring was upgraded. Shawn made it clear that this isn’t the same old Schrader valve you find on your tubes but a very high quality 3000 psi rated valve. The other notable change on the air side is that the bottom out chamber adjustment assembly was improved to make it easier to turn and more durable.

On the rebound side the most significant change was that the ports on the rebound piston were opened up to allow more unrestricted oil flow and therefore prevent any dampening effect.  The goal is have the rebound assembly provide no compression effect. The compression is meant to only provided by the Mission Control DH Compression Damper unit which, as previously mentioned, is basically unchanged for 2011.

2011 BoXXer World Cup, test, mountain biking, cypress, extreme, air, santa cruz V10
  Loaded for some laps.

If you are lucky enough to be set up to do your own fork overhauls you will find the oil volumes and levels in SRAM’s well written Technical manual on line. Be careful not to exceed any of the recommended oil volumes at this can result in reduced travel. There were a lot of complaints about this last year.

Shawn passed on a couple of excellent tips that you won’t find in the manual. If you are a lighter rider or looking to maximize the travel you get out of the fork then instead of fully extending the rebound damper shaft while installing the compression assembly, install the compression assembly when the rebound damper is only 50% extended. This reduces the amount of air in the fork leg and therefore the amount of air available to compress at the end of the stroke.  I tried it and it definitely works – although I don’t think it’s necessary for a 170 lb rider like myself. I needed to add more compression dampening to compensate.

I am very impressed with the 2011 BoXXer World Cup so far.  The few minor adjustments SRAM made for 2011 are working well and the details (knobs, indexing, sag gradients etc.) are really nicely improved. Stay tuned for an update on durability and small bump compliance in May when the Whistler Bike Park opens.

The 2011 BoXXer World Cup weighs in at Weight 2714g (5.98 lbs).
MSRP in Canada is $2495 but at this point in the season you should be able to pick one up for under $1500.

Want to get your greedy mitts on one of these? Any queries? Ask below.

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