Jack reviews the 2022 RockShox Domain
Completely overhauled for 2022, the RockShox Domain is the newest big-hitting suspension fork from RockShox. It follows closely in the footsteps of the brilliant ZEB, with the aim of bringing similar levels of performance down to a significantly cheaper price point.
Just like the ZEB, the Domain features a hulking chassis with 38mm upper tubes. It’s available in 27.5in and 29in versions, and with up to 180mm of travel. It features the latest generation DebonAir spring in one leg, and the Motion Control damper in the other. While there are some subtle differences in the overall architecture compared to the ZEB, it’s really the Motion Control damper that helps to bring the price down to well under $1,000 AUD.
Instead of comparing the Domain directly with the ZEB however, we see it as being a more logical upgrade for riders who own a Yari. The Yari and Domain are very similar forks, with the main difference being the stanchion size (35mm vs 38mm). With that in mind, we put the Domain into the hands of our young enduro pinner Jack to see how this new fork performs on the trail.
What model of Domain have you been testing, and what bike have you been testing it on?
I’ve been testing the RockShox Domain RC with 160mm of travel and a 44mm offset. It’s fitted to my 2020 Trek Slash 8, which I’ve been riding as a mullet with a 27.5in rear wheel.
What fork did it replace?
The Domain replaced the stock RockShox Yari RC, also with 160mm of travel. The weight difference was pretty noticeable going from the Yari (2.1kg) to the Domain (2.56kg). Those weights are with the thru-axle, crown race and star nut installed, and with the steerer tubes cut to the same length.
How have you got the RockShox Domain setup?
I weigh 75kg loaded up, and I’m running the Domain with 56psi, which is what RockShox recommends for my weight. I have added a second Bottomless Token though, as the fork was a little too linear on the big hits with just the one.
Rebound damping is two clicks faster than halfway (12/20 clicks), and I have zero clicks of compression unless I’m on the road or a sustained fire road section, where I can max out the dial until it’s almost locked out.
What have you noticed since fitting the RockShox Domain?
I noticed the extra weight when picking up the front end for wheelies and manuals, but also out on the trail when you need to pick up the front wheel over rocks and roots. Also noticeable is the extra stiffness through chunky sections, with the 38mm chassis keeping the suspension supple and active through rough rock gardens and harsh impacts. The Domain feels more sensitive and is overall plusher than the Yari, especially on the big hits where the reduced flex helps to keep the uppers sliding smoothly in the lower leg bushings. Because of how planted it feels, it’s given me more confidence to hit rock gardens that bit faster.
I’ve also found that the Domain tends to sit higher in its travel and doesn’t get bogged down compared to the Yari. I was running one more Bottomless Token (3) in the Yari to try to combat this, but even still it doesn’t feel as supportive as the Domain with its new generation DebonAir spring.
Have you found the RockShox Domain to ever feel too stiff?
Not really. In direct comparison, I’ve found the Yari to be noticeably less stiff when pushing the bike really hard at faster speeds, and the Domain has reduced that flex to a comfortable amount. On some of the chattery stuff, you do notice the difference in chassis stiffness, but with the extra small bump sensitivity of the Domain, it seems to even it out pretty well.
What do you think could be improved?
The Domain performs really well, but it is a little heavy for my liking. And while you do get used to it, the extra heft up front does make the bike feel a little less playful.
You also don’t get the same adjustability as you do with a higher-end fork, like a Fox 36 or 38 with the GRIP2 damper. However, the Domain is much easier to set up with only air pressure, air volume, compression and rebound damping. On a GRIP2 fork, you also have adjustable high-speed rebound and compression damping, which does complicate things a bit. Some riders will want to really fine-tune their fork, but for the market the Domain is aimed at, I don’t think those riders necessarily need it.
Other than that, I think that this is pretty much as good as it could be for the price. I’ve also been testing the GT Force, which has a ZEB Select+ fork on it, and I haven’t found there to be that big of a difference with the Domain RC. Maybe the ZEB Select+ is a little more controlled at high speed, but you’d have to ride both forks back-to-back to really notice it.
There is a bigger difference to the top-end ZEB Ultimate though, which gets the premium Charger 2.1 RC2 damper. On that note, while the Domain uses its own unique air spring (it has thicker stanchions than the ZEB, so the air spring assembly is different between the two forks), it is compatible with the Charger dampers. It’s not cheap a cheap upgrade at $499 AUD, but it does give you options for a later date. Personally, I think that would be a better option rather than buying a cheaper ZEB.
What type of rider and bike do you think the RockShox Domain would best suit?
For the rider that isn’t too worried about weight and just wants to go out and shred with a fork that you can pretty much set and forget, this is a great fork. It’s ideal for someone that is looking to upgrade to a more capable fork for their existing bike without breaking the bank. In my case, it’s allowed me to squeeze more performance out of my current enduro race bike, which is great, because new bikes aren’t exactly easy to come by at the moment!
I think it would also be a great match for bigger travel e-MTBs, as the improved stiffness really helps to handle the extra weight, and the bigger chassis is also a better visual match for larger e-MTB frames. There are a lot of e-MTBs (and regular bikes) out there with Yaris fitted, and the Domain is a worthy upgrade for sure.
RockShox Domain RC Price & Specs
- Travel | 150-180mm
- Stanchions | 38mm alloy
- Wheelsize | 27.5in & 29in
- Spring | DebonAir
- Damper | Motion Control
- Axle | 15x110mm
- Steerer | 1.5in & 1.8in taper
- Max rotor size | 220mm
- Max tyre clearance | 2.8in
- Offset | 44mm
- Confirmed weight | 2.56kg
- RRP | $827 AUD