Rockshox Lyrik RCT3
Longer travel trail bikes are becoming all the rage these days. Rockshox launched the Lyrik in 2015, which showed up on the front end of many of those bikes for 2016. This included the Transition Patrol I’ve been bashing about for the last couple of months. In a game of spot the difference between the Pike and Lyrik you’d be excused for getting them confused. The Lyrik appears to have nicked all the best bits from the Pike, beefed up the structural parts, and added a bit of travel. If you’re keen on seeing the Lyrik from the inside, you can check out the awesome teardown article from Andrew Major.
The model I’ve been testing on the Transition Patrol is the 160 mm travel Lyrik RCT3, which was the catalyst for this review. However, I have a Lyrik RC that came on my personal bike and have ridden two other test bikes with Lyrik RCs. The biggest take away for me is how consistently good the Lyrik has been. Even though each fork has different mileage, ridden at different temperatures, some rebuilt and some not; they all feel darn near identical on the trail. All feel buttery smooth, damper feel is consistent, and none make any noise or show any bushing play. So while the fork in particular that I’m reviewing in this article has been worked over by Jeff Bryson of the Bike Room, I can say that the build consistency of the Lyrik is impressive and that is a quality I don’t think can be overstated.
I like the air pressure at 85-90 psi, which are the recommended pressures for 200-210 lb riders. For reference, I weigh in at 185 lbs. I liked the fork most with 3 volume spacers. Compression set to 5 clicks out from closed, from a total of 13 clicks. Rebound set on the quicker side at 12 clicks out from closed, from a total of 17 clicks. This seems to give a nice balance of support, resists severe bottom out, but is supple enough through the high-speed chunk.
One of the first things I noticed on the Lyrik is how supple the fork feels off the top. It's buttery, especially for an air fork. A gentle push on the handlebars results in a satisfyingly smooth reaction. I always liked the feel of the air spring in the Pike, and the Lyrik seems to be even better. With 3 tokens in the fork, I liked the progressivity of the air spring. There seems to be enough adjustment with the fork volume spacers that the majority of riders should be able to find a combination of tokens and air pressure to suit their taste.
This is the paragraph where I would normally do most of my moaning, but I really don’t have much moaning to do today, which is probably worth moaning about. Price-wise the Lyrik falls in line with most other top shelf 160mm single crown forks at just under $1,000 USD, and at a similar weight of 2,005 grams. My first sort of criticism is that I’d personally prefer to have externally adjustable high-speed and low-speed compression to fine tune my preferences. That said the Charger damper does a bang up job of providing good low-speed compression support, with what seems to be a nice open high-speed compression circuit. If I had a knob to fiddle for a high-speed compression setting, I probably wouldn’t be far off where the Charger damper has been preset. To boot I think the Charger damper works better than many fancier, more adjustable dampers.
My other minor criticism is that I wish the Lyrik was available in a coil sprung variant. The good folks at Norco John Henry have converted a buddy's Lyrik with Rock Shox parts to run with a coil spring and the results are fantastic. Pretty please Rock Shox, you already have all the bits to make this happen … please!
Out on the trail, I’ve been impressed with the Lyrik. Like I mentioned earlier I like the feel of the air spring in the Lyrik. While there is only low-speed compression adjustment on the fork, the Charger damper seems to do a great job of eating up high-speed compression events. It provides great support when pushing through corners, and soaks up big impacts with grace. Where I find many fork dampers start to show issues is on fast and rough terrain, and I thought the Lyrik performed well when the going got rough.
One thing I’ve noticed, and it’s not a good or bad thing, is that the fork doesn’t have a particularly lively feel to it. Some forks feel super active, and you can sense them furiously moving about when descending. The Lyrik is the opposite of that. It almost seems a bit lackadaisical in the way it does its business. It gets the job done all the same, just maybe with less enthusiasm and drama than some other forks on the market. I didn’t use the three position compression adjuster for OPEN/PEDAL/LOCK very much, but it does firm up the fork in PEDAL mode for climbing if you need the help. I only used LOCK for pavement or fire road climbs on occasion. The OE spec Lyrik RC on my personal bike doesn’t have the three position compression adjuster, and I don’t miss it one bit.
Having had the Lyrik RTC3 for 6 months, I’ve had the opportunity to ride it from hot dusty summer days to biblical rain, and in below freezing conditions complete with snow. The Lyrik has been surprisingly consistent through those varied conditions. This particular Lyrik has seen a ton of riding through one of the wettest and coldest winters on record here in Vancouver and hasn’t batted an eye yet.
The Lyrik is a fantastic fork. I’m impressed with the build consistency, the chassis is suitably stiff, the air spring feels great, and the damper is terrific. The fork has been reliable and consistent throughout warm, cold, wet and dry, with no issues so far. The pricing and weight are in line with other 160 mm single crown forks, too. My only request would be for a coil sprung variant. The Rock Shox Lyrik gets two thumbs up from me.