The FOX 36 changed the game forever, bringing performance and stiffness that rivalled many downhill forks to a single-crown package. With its then jaw-dropping 36mm stanchions it was unlike anything else on the market. Over a decade later, the 36mm legs remain – it really was leagues ahead of its time. We reviewed the 2015 version of this fork too – have a look here. We’ve got the top-shelf Factory version here, all glossy and lustrous with its Kashima coat legs.
The RockShox Lyrik is a relative new comer. It’s a direct evolution of RockShox Pike, which itself has proven the second most influential single-fork in this market segment, after the FOX 36. It shares the same 35mm stanchions and damper as the Pike, it has a more robust chassis to give it the kind of stiffness demanded by the Enduro market now. We reviewed the 2016 version recently and we were blown away by the way it chewed up terrain like a full-on downhill fork. Our test fork is the premium RCT3 model.
We’ve going to be running these forks on our Commencal Meta AM 4.2 long-term test bike – we’ve got them both in a 170mm travel version, with Boost hub spacing. On paper there’s very little between these forks. Let’s take a look at them now.
FOX 36 vs RockShox Lyrik:
Chassis and appearance:
With its 36mm legs and characteristically girthy lowers that have always been an attribute of the 36, the FOX definitely looks like the beefier fork, ready for a pounding. The Lyrik is a little more svelte. Black is a slimming colour of course, and the Maxle Stealth axle and lower profile rebound adjuster give it a cleaner looks than the FOX.
Our Lyrik has the Maxle Stealth axle setup. It requires a 6mm Allen key, but looks super slick and won’t snag up on rocks. You’ll notice the large axle recesses on the Lyrik – these are for Torque Cap hubs, made by SRAM, which have a larger interface between the fork and hub. The FOX runs their QR15 axle setup, for neat tool-free wheel removal.
There’s sweet FA difference here. With the steerers both cut to 185mm and with a star nut installed, the Lyrik weighs in at 1998g, while the 36 is 2027g.
Both forks’ dampers offer essentially the same adjustments. The FIT4 damper found in the FOX has a three position compression dial (open, medium or firm) along with low-speed compression adjustment that only effects the fork when it’s in the Open compression setting. The Lyrik’s RTC3 damper mirrors the FOX – you’ve got three compressions modes, again with low-speed compression adjustment.
FOX has just introduced the EVOL air spring concept (previously found in their rear shocks) into their forks for 2018. There’s a larger negative air spring than previous generations, which makes for more sensitivity and less breakaway friction. The DebonAir air spring in the Lyrik purports to do the same thing – smooth off the top, more ramp at the end stroke.
To assist setup, both forks have a recommended pressure guide on the lowers, to give you a ball park air pressure to work with. The sag gradients marked on the Lyrik’s leg are super useful in this regard too.
In addition, both forks offer you spring curve adjustment via a token system – adding or removing spacers physically changes the air volume. We’ll begin testing both forks with two spacers/tokens in each as a starting point.
Axle to crown:
While both of these forks have 170mm travel, the FOX has a slightly longer axle-to-crown measurement of 570mm vs 560mm on the RockShox. Something to keep in mind if you’re particular about stack height. Ok, enough waffle. Let’s get these onto the bike!
Since the RockShox Lyrik came onto the scene to handle bikes with upwards of around 160mm travel, the RockShox Pike can now refocus entirely on the all-mountain/trail segment. With that in mind, the designers of the new Pike were able to make some legitimate improvements.
RockShox Pike 2018: Lighter, leaner, ripped.
150g has shaved off the outgoing Pike without losing any stiffness, not bad at all! The new chassis looks visibly entirely different upon closer inspection the lower legs and crown look very lean. With thicker upper tubes, the fork retains the desired amount of stiffness, but make sure you only use the new slightly smaller grey coloured Bottomless Tokens in the new fork instead of the older red ones when tuning the air spring volume.
Boost only, Plus compatible all around.
By offering the new Pike in a Boost 110mm wide axle, the engineers were able to maximise the weight saving by focussing on manufacturing just the one lower chassis. There are available in both wheel sizes though and can accept up to 2.8″ tyres found on plus size bikes.
Clearance updated because everything is so big nowadays.
With the boost hubs pushing the width of the overall forks out, and many frame designs becoming pretty bulky with large tubing – take a look at the Trek Remedy for example – another focus with the new fork is to increase clearance, hence a new super-low profile top cap.
Updated damper to increase performance.
The Charger 2 damper comes out of years of refinement and development of designing air springs to match the forks intended use and the three compression modes are more ‘useable’. With a remote option available also.
New Debonair spring for better feel and spring rates for trail riding.
The new Debonair is said to feel more supple but not in any way is it a short travel downhill fork, the ride is said to feel more sporty and lively. We’ll find out soon!
Found on the Remedy, Fuel EX and Slash is a new shock design; RE:aktiv Thru-Shaft. Long story short, by replacing the classic internal floating piston design with a thru-shaft design, there are claims of reduced friction in the whole system.
RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft is the latest development from the brand’s partnership with Penske Racing Shocks with ties to Formula One Racing, while not unseen in the suspension world before it’s new to mountain bikes. The Thru Shaft tech is available on higher end Trek trail bikes, including Slash 9.8, Slash 9.7, Remedy 9.8, Remedy 9.8 Women’s, Fuel EX 9.9.
Want to know more, perhaps a moving image will help explain all the mumbu-jumbo? For the full story, video and technical details on the new shock, dive in deeper right here – All the details.
How does the Thru-Shaft change things on the trail?
We’ve always found the Trek suspension bikes – Fuel EX, Slash, Remedy etc – to be supple and very active in the rear suspension department, but add in the new shock design and that buttery smooth suspension takes one more slide across the dancefloor in your socks, like leaving the honey jar in the sun and now everything is a little bit smoother.
It’s most noticeable when you switch the shock into open mode and push down on the saddle with short and fast frequency, the shock compresses and rebounds with a delightfully light action. Even after a few solid rides, the shock felt smoother to push on than a blown coil shock in a 2003 Orange 222.
How many times can we say the word ‘smooth’ in this review?
On the trail, we forgot all about the shock tech and it all just blended in to make the Remedy feel very planted and grippy, with the supple suspension and generous traction the whole bike confidently glues to the ground where many others would skip about and feel nervous.
With the shock being so supple it pays to make the most of the three-stage compression adjustments on the shock or the bike feels a little slow to jump forward when you crank on the pedals. But in comparison to our Norco Sight long-term test bike (admittedly it’s only 130mm of travel) which uses a regular RockShox Deluxe shock, the middle mode feels far less sensitive than this one. We also found the shock to be still quite responsive when set in the middle mode, we could push off the rear suspension more with less wallow, but it would still react to small bumps, it made for a great setting for technical climbs with so much traction.
Trail time thoughts.
The Remedy doesn’t muck around when the trails turn nasty, with a huge amount of grip from the excellent tyres and supple suspension it is a total blast to throw into the corners and rip around them; our favourite thing to do on the Remedy was to cut inside on flat turns and drift out to the other side. We gained a lot of confidence in the way the Remedy would rip corners hard, and keep the rubber side down.
Trek has the bigger Slash for the serious enduro race crowd, so the Remedy can afford to forgo that mini-downhill bike character of many modern bikes and retain ample agility.
Why roll on 27.5″ wheel when Fuel EX and Slash are 29″?
Do you sense a wheel size debate coming on, too? Don’t run off, just yet.
We’ve spent plenty of time on Treks on either side of the Remedy that use 29″ wheels; the 130mm travel Trek Fuel EX, and the monster-truckin 160mm travel Trek Slash. So we had to ask ourselves why did Trek decide to stick with the smaller wheel for the Remedy?
Well, while bike brands are becoming increasingly better at making the most out of 29″ wheels with fewer drawbacks, you simply can’t look past a 27.5″ wheel when it comes to throwing it around for the fun of it, and that’s precisely what the Remedy is great at. Whenever we jumped on board this thing, our attitude lightened, we darted around the place like a hyperactive kid on a double espresso Gu Gel. It reminded us of the time we reviewed the Whyte T-130, which we thought would have been a style of the bike better suited to a 29er, but damn did we enjoy the smaller wheels!
The weight, price, parts and what we’d change.
13.1kg is fair for this spec level, the bike’s not built for cross country racing, so this figure means that the frame and parts are pretty reasonable on the scales. Some weight could be saved with a lower tread rear tyre if your trails don’t require such chunky treads, other than that any weight savings would be big ticket items like the cranks, cassette, rims etc.
We think Trek is traditionally pretty fair with their pricing of their mid-high range carbon suspension bikes, and this Remedy is a good representation of that. Thanks to the trickle-down of great technology like the SRAM Eagle drivetrain to this price point gives the spec massive appeal; it works so damn well.
All the Bontrager parts are so dialled, each year they prove to be a legitimate component brand holding their own amongst the best boutique options out there. The wheels, dropper post, tyres, cockpit etc. are great and give the Remedy an aesthetically stylish appearance with everything matching so well.
The little MRP guide is a nice addition, but in the lower range gears the chain rubs on the underside of the guide, we’d seek out a different size guide or just ditch it.
The bike doesn’t come specced with tubeless valves or sealant, so don’t leave the shop without adding them.
So many bikes, who is the Remedy for, and does the shock live up to the hype?
The Remedy has massive appeal for a rider that pushes hard and has the skills to turn the trails into a playground. Or if you’re after a fast and confident bike to make light work out of loose, steep, choppy and tight terrain.
And the shock? Well, like we said earlier, the Remedy has always felt really smooth and supple so unless you had a direct comparison to a regular shock, the Thru Shaft shock won’t blow you away with a huge difference in feeling. But we can feel it, and it just contributes to an already great feeling bike.
It’s nice when you feel at home on a bike, while we can’t exactly call it our own it feels like it, we’ve grown quite attached indeed. The Strive could almost have been purpose built for our favourite local trails, but we doubt the German designers at Canyon have ever ridden this far abroad. The rocky, steep and raw nature of Sydney’s Northern Beaches (we are not just talking about Manly Dam here) begs for a bike that’s capable of getting rowdy, just take a look at the locals and what they are riding and more importantly how their bikes are setup.
Around here it’s all about meaty rubber, powerful brakes and wide gear ranges and quality travel. While some riders set up bikes like they’re racing the Enduro World Series we don’t go quite that far, the speeds are never that high or descents for too long, and of course there aren’t any clocks waiting for us to cross a line at the bottom.
So we’ve found the Strive a great bike for the rugged rides we love, and are still enjoying playing with setup and the parts spec to see what happens when we do.
Let’s have a look at what it’s looking like right now ahead of another summer of excellent riding. Get ready for some serious tech talk!
The number one question we are asked on the trails is how the Shapeshifter is holding up to the test of time, and if we’ve had issues like they, unfortunately, were originally plagued with. The bike arrived with a Shapeshifter that wasn’t 100% we believe it was due to incorrect setup, inflating the chamber while it was closed which damaged the unit. That was during the first ride, since then it has never skipped a beat, and has worked perfectly.
Canyon will surely come up with a better solution for the remote lever, though, it has never found a perfect home on the bars, we’re running it upside down on the opposite side and is relatively straightforward to actuate with a right thumb.
Do we use the Shapeshifter much on the trail?
Yes, a lot. In fact, if we didn’t use it and left the Shapeshifter in ‘descend’ mode it would climb like a sack of wet potatoes, it’s not ideal, to say the least. But if you utilise it to your advantage, practice activating it so it is quick and easy, the advantage is great.
As we mentioned in our initial review of the Strive we found the Shapeshifter system required a bit of practice to become fully acquainted with it. The system works by shifting the position of the upper shock mount back and forward which has a dramatic effect on the suspension travel amount, feel and geometry of the bike. By pressing and holding the lever it opens the lock on a small air chamber, then as you unweight the rear end of the bike it’ll open, pushing the shock forward into climb mode. To drop it back to descend mode you hit the lever and lean back into the bike and it’ll compress the air chamber, pulling the upper shock mount back.
Our gripe with the system is that it is not exactly 100% clear to determine which mode the bike is in when you’re hammering down the trail, there is a tiny little green indicator on the linkage, but it’s hard to see at the best of times. Practice is key, it is easy for us now.
The Strive originally came with a 160mm travel Pike, but we reviewed the Lyrik RCT3 and it’s stayed put since. We appreciate the increased sturdiness of the Lyrik with its beefy chassis when were yanking on the brakes or pinning through rock-strewn ugliness, and it seriously feels more like a BoXXer downhill fork in its spring curve, so damn plush. It is setup with 25% sag.
While we clearly rate its impact gobbling abilities on the descents, it is a fork we also find quite efficient when climbing too (sounds crazy, we know). With such a supple and low-friction breakaway action, you’re able to hold a line and maintain momentum when climbing rough surfaces, the fork gobbles up mid-sized bumps while you focus on putting down the power in what position you feel comfortable in.
We’ve fitted two Bottomless Tokens in the fork to add progression, helping the bike ride a little ‘poppier’, with a firmer end to the suspension stroke you have a little more to push off when preloading the bike to jump it around the trail onto different lines or to pop a little easier off the lip of a jumps.
And out the back?
The Monarch RCT3 has been totally sweet, super smooth and the three-stage compression control is something that we use a lot during any ride. We select open mode only for the fastest pedal-free descents, the middle setting for pretty much 80% of riding and the third firmest setting saved for only the smoothest and longest climbs. We set it to around 35-40% sag in descend mode which sounds like a lot and was suggested to by Fabien Barel but we’ve found that although it is a lot of sag it works best this way.
We were curious though to see how the bike would react to fitting Bottomless Rings in the air chamber of the rear shock, a very simple process like the fork. After fitting the spacers we found the bike to not wallow so deep under rider input and weight shifts, it resisted bottom-out a little more and we would use the open mode of compression adjustment more without it feeling too soggy underneath us. It also reacted better to hopping, jumping and preloading the lips of jumps helping us move the bike around a little easier.
The hybrid anchors.
Yes, the rider of this bike is particularly sensitive to brakes, often succumbing to bad arm pump and hand pain on even the tamest descents, maybe a result of breaking both arms 12 years ago. Thankfully brakes are improving rapidly, and thus we’re happier! The Strive was originally specced with the SRAM Guide RSC, they were nice feeling brakes with a very consistent lever feel and fair amounts of power, especially with the organic pads swapped for metal sintered.
The next brakes on trial were the SRAM Guide Ultimate, which used the same lever but with an upgraded calliper that was built to manage heat better and utilised a cleaner bleeding process.
Ultimately, we found the Guide Ultimates still not what we needed for the long and steep descents that really tested our strength, no matter how we bled and maintained the system we found fading braking power from heat and heavy usage on the longer descents.
So then we wanted more, and like we’ve seen on many pro’s bikes at the EWS and World Cup DH circuit, many riders are reverting to the old Avid CODE brakes, or at least the CODE calliper and Guide lever.
The CODE is a few years old, still carrying the Avid label where all the modern brakes from the brand carry the SRAM label. We chose to combine the Code calliper and Guide lever to keep the weight down, the CODE levers are mighty tough but perhaps a little overkill for this purpose.
The hard rubber chainstay protector doesn’t do too much in the way of silencing chain noise against the frame, so we gave it a bit of extra dampening with a wrap of Frameskin the Australian brand well-known for their bike protection, much quieter indeed. Check them out here.
Up and down, sit down.
This is the third post we’ve had fitted to the Strive, initially specced with a RockShox Reverb which was plagued with squishy play and was never 100%. The second was the latest version of the Reverb with its new internals and it performed flawlessly for many months of hard riding, RockShox knew they had work to do for consumers to put their faith in a product that for the most part has had a rough ride, and they’ve nailed it. The new one feels the same but works perfectly.
The third post was the long-awaited FOX Transfer, and we’re huge fans. We’re confident in calling it the best post that we’ve ever tried with its simple installation, ergonomic thumb remote and consistent performance.
What’s driving the Strive?
One part of the bike that has demanded very little attention from us is the drivetrain, in fact, all we’ve done is upgrade to the lighter direct mount chainring and drop down from 34T to 32T for a lower range. And we also changed the gear cable, other than that this drivetrain is unstoppable. Original chain, cassette and it’s still super quiet and smooth.
Cranks are 170mm in length, shorter than usual but 5mm of clearance from the trail below can go a long way at times.
How Enduro of you.
What’s better, weight on your body or your bike?
Carrying spares and water on the bike instead of on the body is a good thing for a few reasons, we find taking weight off your back helps you move around easier, but more importantly you don’t forget it if it’s always there. We carry a tube zip-tied under the seat, and the nifty Syncros Matchbox Tailor Cage HV 1.5 combines a bottle cage, pump and multi-tool kit in one.
We’ve been carrying the new mountain bike tubeless specific Dynaplug Micro around with us lately, and so far it’s saved us from having to perform the messy job of fitting a tube on the trail when a puncture occurs. The plug system has successfully sealed three punctures without a hiccup, and so we don’t leave home without it we’ taped it to the bottom of the bottle cage. Click here to heck out more on that little lifesaver.
Big rubber, wide rims, loads of air.
It’s more than just the big and meaty tyres that gives this bike so much grip, it’s also the whopping 35mm wide carbon rims, custom built by Kiwi brand Wheelworks. You can read all about the Wheelworks wheel building process and just why they feel confident in offering such a warranty here, in our interview with Wheelworks founder Tristan Thomas. We recommend you have a read, as there are some pretty interesting aspects to the process and Tristan does a great job of dispelling some popular myths about wheels.
Replacing the 23mm wide SRAM wheels wit the 35mm Derby rims was a revelation, the width allowed us to drop tyre pressures to below 20psi and what that did to the bike’s traction was phenomenal.
The Canyon Strive was a perfect bike to test the 160mm travel Lyrik RCT3 on, not only due to its appropriate travel amount and race-ready attitude but the fact that it replaced the comparative level Pike. Swapping from the Pike to the Lyrik gave us a clear comparison to how the burlier fork will go. Read more of our thoughts on the very impressive Canyon Strive here – Tested: Canyon Strive CF Race.
TRAVEL – 160/170/180mm – 27.5″ , 150/160mm – 29″ WHEELS – 27.5″, 29″l WEIGHT – 2005g – 27.5″ , 2032g – 29″/27.5″+ DAMPING – Charger Damper (RCT3) AVAILABLE SPRINGS – Dual Position Air, Solo Air ADJUSTMENTS – External rebound, low speed compression, 3-position compression (Open/Pedal/Lock) UPPER TUBES – 35mm tapered wall aluminium, Fast Black OPTIONS – BOOST 110 compatible option in 27.5″ and 29″/27.5″+
RRP – $1549 or $1649 for Dual Position version.
Air pressure: RockShox’s Solo Air forks are a snack to setup and their Bottomless Token tuning system is a real winner. We followed the air pressure guide on the rear of the lowers to find a base setting and fine tuned it on either side of that to find our desired sag using the inscriptions and red rubber o-ring on the right leg.
After a few test rides we decided on two Bottomless Tokens fitted into the air chamber to create a more progressive spring curve by reducing the overall size of the air spring volume. This may be a little too progressive for lighter riders on calmer trails, and we found two Tokens fitted inside a Pike quite a significant change. But with two Tokens in the Lyrik and the air pressures lowered slightly in tandem we found the fork not only incredibly hard to bottom out, the whole bike actually settled into its travel really well, and even on climbs standing up out of the saddle the fork sagged a touch further into its travel for a lower front end.
Rebound: Once we were happy with the air pressure, it was on to the compression and rebound adjustment. The rebound was easy, we like our forks to rebound slightly faster than the rear shock, and via the big red dial we were able to find a good setting in the wide range available. Never did we have to run slower rebound to accomodate for the damper heating up during long descents and the rebound speed becoming faster, it handles heat and fade very well (at least on any trails we took them to).
Compression: The compression adjustment range is fantastic and very user friendly. We only ever used the three-stage pedal control on the smoothest of climbs or longer stints on tarmac to cancel out the action when really hauling on the bars, but we often toyed with the low speed compression dial (smaller one in the centre). We urge riders to experiment with this adjustment, with a good understanding of what it does, you’ll really be able to make the most out of the fork.
The 15-clicks of low speed compression has a dramatic effect on the way the fork holds itself up in the stroke, while some riders overlook this function as it may not have an obvious impact when pushing on the fork in the carpark, it is really quite profound on the trail. During a ride the compression damping is essentially what holds the suspension up, while the air spring is what extends the fork after an impact.
We experimented with lowering the air pressure at the same time adding low speed compression to gauge how effective it was, and we settled on a sweet point where the fork resisted diving under brakes and rode high in its stroke through the turns but would still remain active enough to the high frequency chatter on faster surfaces.
With the low speed compression backed all the way off the stroke is impressively supple and sensitive, but will bounce around more under your weight shifts during a climb or heavy braking.
If you want to know more on the blood and guts inside the Lyrik click here – Lyrik details please! But after riding the Lyrik for six months we’re really able to make comment on its performance on the trail, and it rules.
Swapping the Pike to Lyrik didn’t turn any heads, the extra beef in the chassis is quite subtle to the eye and they both use 35mm black stanchions, graphics wise they are also similar in appearance. The larger air spring of the Lyrik does cause the left leg extend down further under the axle than the Pike, and the crown and arch are certainly chunkier upon closer inspection but otherwise they look alike at a quick glance. But there’s a whole lot more to it that the mighty Lyrik than just chassis stiffness, it’s ability to swallow up massive impacts is just absurd.
Impacts large and small all start with a the fork breaking through its static stiction point to get moving, and with a fork as smooth at this one the activity is immediate. The feedback from the trail transferred to your hands is minimal and when the biggest impacts are thrown at you the fork remains calm and controlled over and over again.
Feeling more like its big brother the BoXXer like any fork we’ve ridden, the fork is a burly descender.
The Charger Damper won massive praise when the Pike first emerged, and the Lyrik also uses the impressive system. The way the fork remains composed in the roughest of situations is testament to the sophisticated and effective damper, you can feel the way it reacts to the impacts even when deep into its travel while remaining supportive and controlled. It’s dead quiet too, confirming that the Lyrik won’t get over its head no matter what you throw at it.
While we didn’t get our hands on a SRAM front wheel that uses the Torque Cap system, we still relished in the impressive rigidity and steering precision that the bike has with these forks bolted on the front. Some big forks can be too big sometimes, creating a slightly harsher ride as the front end can ping and glance off trail objects with little compliance, and we’ve noticed this with some of the Performance level FOX 36 forks we’ve ridden, the Lyrik doesn’t suffer from this at all, it’s just too sensitive.
The Lyrik is a seriously impressive piece of kit, the buttery smooth and composed suspension action won us over on those long and rough descents, and even cranking our bike up rough climbs it was always keeping us moving in the right direction with its immediate reaction to impacts. In comparison to other forks we’ve tried and tested the 2017 FOX 36 Factory fork is also up there with it, while distinctively different in feel they are both leagues ahead in the 160-180mm category in our opinion. The new FOX damper does allow seperate tuning of high and low speed compression and is available with a 20mm axle, but we never felt the Lyrik was underdone in strength or adjustment in the slightest.
RockShox also produce the Yari, same chassis and air spring with a down specced damper for a saving of $500, a good option for sure.
For about a 100-120g weight gain over the Pike there’s a serious amount of appeal for the rider who charges trails harder and needs a longer travel to suit the bike it is fitted to. And after six months of as much riding as we can throw at it, the fork is running just as well as it was in the beginning. No creaking, loss of sensitivity or signs of wear.
Top marks for the single crown fork that rides damn hard.