TESTED | RockShox Introduces New 2021 DebonAir Upgrade For Lyrik, Pike, Yari & Revelation Forks

Having already released the new generation SID fork and shock last month, RockShox continues to unveil more of its 2021 suspension range with the announcement today of the new DebonAir spring. We’ll be seeing this new DebonAir spring assembly in 2021 RockShox Lyrik, Pike, Revelation & Yari forks, which we have more detail and Aussie pricing on below. The even better news for existing RockShox fork owners? The 2021 DebonAir spring will also be available as an upgrade kit from just $44.95 AUD. We’ve actually been riding the new DebonAir spring in two different test forks, and here we’ll be going into detail about what’s changed over the previous design, and how it all plays out on the trail.

2021 rockshox debonair c1 spring lyrik ultimate rc2
RockShox has some new DebonAir insides for 2021 – as simple as it looks, the new spring offers a significant change in performance.
2021 rockshox pike lyrik ultimate rc2 debonair spring c1
We’ve been riding the new DebonAir C1 spring in two different forks on two different bikes.

What Was Wrong With The Previous DebonAir Spring?

In our experience, not a whole lot. But in the world of high-end suspension it’s all about incremental improvements. While the current DebonAir spring has impressed many with its smooth performance, RockShox claims that because it was so supple in the early part of the stroke thanks to its big negative spring volume, that some riders were having to over-inflate their forks in order to lift it up and increase mid-stroke support. Of course the problem with adding more air pressure is that you then lessen the ability to use full travel – a problem for those who may not have many or any Bottomless Tokens to remove.

I can’t say I’ve had that specific problem, though I have ridden forks that feel like they’ve given up too much travel to sag, and I’ve had to run more low-speed compression damping to compensate and reduce brake-dive. So from that perspective, I can appreciate the concept of increasing support from the spring.

Now, if you’ve already read our review of the 2021 RockShox SID Ultimate, you’ll know that we were mighty impressed with both that fork’s incredible small-bump sensitivity and the noticeable mid-stroke support that helped to keep it riding higher in its travel. Much of that is to do with the new DebonAir spring design, which RockShox is now bringing over to the rest of its popular trail fork range for 2021.

2021 rockshox debonair c1 spring
At the top is the new 2021 DebonAir C1 spring, below is the 2020 DebonAir spring. The difference is in just two components – the bigger red seal head in the middle, and the longer red footnut at the base of the air shaft.

DebonAir C1

Officially called the DebonAir C1, the new spring is all about increasing the fork’s ride height. The goal here is to increase spring support so that your fork sits taller in its travel to better preserve your bike’s head angle and bottom bracket height.

Much of the spring assembly remains the same as the 2020 DebonAir design. However, there are two key components that change; the red foot nut at the bottom of the air shaft, and the red seal head in the middle, both of which are slightly taller overall. The goal is actually very simple; to lift the main seal higher up inside the fork’s upper tube so that the seal sits inline with the dimple/transfer port between the positive and negative air chambers, rather than below it. With the new spring design, the seal sits a full 10mm higher than before.

As well as increasing the fork’s ride height, the new DebonAir spring is also easier to setup. With the seal sitting inline with the transfer port, the two air chambers self-equalise as you inflate the fork. That means you don’t need to cycle the fork through its travel to manually equalise the air chambers.

Any Other Changes For 2021 RockShox Forks?

Nope. We can confirm that the Lyrik, Pike, Yari and Revelation forks will receive the new DebonAir C1 spring for 2021, but are otherwise unchanged from the 2020 models. That means the lowers and CSU are the same, and the dampers are also the same. Only the spring is new.

Scroll on to the bottom of the article to see an overview of those four fork models, including the Aussie pricing for the various options within the range.

2021 rockshox debonair c1 spring
The new DebonAir C1 spring is also available as an upgrade on its own for $69.95.

Can I Upgrade My Old Fork?

Yes you can! Because of the largely modular nature of RockShox forks, it means that many parts are interchangeable with new and old forks.

RockShox will have DebonAir C1 spring assemblies available for $69.95, which will cover Pike forks as far back as 2014, Lyrik/Yari forks as far back as 2016, and the Revelation from 2017 onwards. Though if you own a 2020 model year Lyrik, Pike, Yari or Revelation, you can actually buy a smaller upgrade kit with just the red foot nut and seal head for $44.95.

The process to replace the spring assembly is straightforward for anyone who’s ever done an air spring service. Providing you have the tools, grease and lubrication oil, the process won’t take you any longer than 20 minutes to perform at home. If you don’t have the know-how, any reputable bike shop will be able to perform the job.

2021 rockshox debonair c1 spring pike ultimate rc2
Mick fitted a DebonAir C1 upgrade into his 130mm travel Pike Ultimate fork.

Setting Up

Both Mick & I have been riding two different setups with the new 2021 DebonAir C1 spring. I fitted a 160mm travel 2021 Lyrik Ultimate RC2 on the front of our Norco Sight VLT C1 test bike, which replaced the stock fork – a 2020 Lyrik Ultimate RC2 of exactly the same spec. Mick fitted the DebonAir C1 upgrade kit to his existing 2020 Pike Ultimate RCT3 fork with 130mm of travel.

According to RockShox, operating pressures are pretty similar with the new DebonAir spring. With the Lyrik & Yari, the recommended pressures don’t change at all. With the Pike & Revelation, RockShox recommends running 5psi less with the new spring. Aside from the boost in support early on, we’re also told that the overall spring curve remains pretty similar to the previous DebonAir spring.

2021 rockshox debonair c1 spring lyrik ultimate rc2 setup chart
RockShox says the Lyrik’s recommended pressures stay the same.

Does It Work?

Yes, yes it does. As advertised, the newly DebonAir’d fork rides significantly higher in its travel. It rides so high in fact, that both Mick and I found during the first outing that we needed to lower the handlebar height, such is the difference over the MY20 DebonAir spring. We also noted that the fork doesn’t ‘suck’ down into its travel as much, helping to rescue some of the millimetres previously lost to the all-powerful negative spring.

In my case, with the new Lyrik setup identically to the 2020 Lyrik it replaced, I found the lifted front end was actually detrimental to the Norco Sight VLT’s climbing performance, since it slackened off the angles more than I wanted. Over a couple of rides, I ended up decreasing air pressure to lower the ride height to be closer to what it was beforehand. With the MY20 Lyrik I was running 85psi, whereas with the new MY21 Lyrik I’m now running 75psi. At those pressures, both forks sit at the same 28% sag while standing up on the pedals.

Despite running lower pressure though, that additional spring support is still there, giving the fork more stability on the descents. That’s meant I’ve been able to back off the low-speed compression damping, since the stronger spring is carrying more of the load. Overall the new fork has better sensitivity, while also remaining higher in its travel. A win-win scenario really.

2021 rockshox lyrik ultimate rc2 fork debonair c1
The new DebonAir C1 spring offers a load more support, which may be exactly what some riders have been looking for.

Flow’s Verdict

Whereas some suspension upgrades tend to provide small and often difficult-to-distinguish improvements, the new DebonAir C1 spring brings about a far more obvious change on the trail. Indeed it was abundantly clear from the very first pedal stroke that at the same given pressures, the new air spring sits vastly taller than the previous design. Depending on your riding style and terrain, that presents new tuning possibilities.

For those frequenting the steepest of trails, the increased spring support and ride height will be music to your ears. Given current restrictions around the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re still yet to venture into proper alpine terrain, however there are no doubts that this is where the new spring will shine brightest. On more typical Aussie terrain, where you don’t necessarily need that taller ride height to begin with, the new DebonAir C1 spring design can also facilitate lower operating pressures. In our experience of testing the 2021 RockShox Pike & Lyrik, doing so improved overall sensitivity, without sacrificing crucial mid-stroke support. Certainly for existing RockShox owners, that improved support makes this a worthwhile, and relatively cheap upgrade.

2021 rockshox lyrik ultimate rc2
The RockShox Lyrik carries over into 2021 with the new DebonAir C1 spring. You’ve got the option of Select (Charger RC) and Ultimate (Charger RC2) models.

2021 RockShox Lyrik

2021 rockshox pike ultimate rc2
Covering the 120-150mm travel range, the 2021 RockShox Pike also comes in Select and Ultimate versions, all of which get the new DebonAir spring.

2021 RockShox Pike

2021 rockshox yari rc fork
The 2021 RockShox Yari sees EXACTLY the same DebonAir C1 spring as the Lyrik, but packages it up with a cheaper price tag and a simpler Motion Control damper.

2021 RockShox Yari

2021 rockshox revelation rc fork
The Revelation is the cheaper baby brother to the Pike, with a price of just $799 AUD. It’s available in 27.5in and 29in sizes with 120-160mm of travel.

2021 RockShox Revelation

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