RockShox SID Ultimate 2020 Mountain Bike Review

RockShox SID Ultimate 2020

Reviews / Forks

RockShox 348,659

At A Glance

Synonymous with XC racing, the SID has been getting riders on podiums for as long as I can remember and this latest version is certainly continuing the tradition. For 2020 models RockShox has introduced the new Ultimate versions of its forks. These represent the highest level of technology in the range in each of the chassis available i.e. Pike, Lyric, Boxxer and of course, the SID.

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The SID is RockShox' XC race fork and this latest edition aims to meet the demands of the hardest and most technical World Cup courses. Based around 32mm stanchions, the SID is available in 100mm and 120mm options in both wheel sizes (boost axles throughout). While the other forks in the Ultimate range get the Charger 2.1 damper, the SID gets the Charger 2 damper, the model here getting the RLC (rebound, Lockout and Low-speed compression) version. The air spring is courtesy of a DebonAir Spring, which is seen in other RockShox products and provides a super supple ride.

On the Scales, our 29er, 120mm unit weighs in at 1.690kg with an uncut steerer. If you want to go lighter then the SID ultimate carbon will save some weight but will add some cash and only comes in 100mm travel. If you want to save some cash from the Ultimate then the Select option may be right for you with a lower price and Charger RL Damper.

Air tokens can be added easily to adjust the air volume or the spring and the axle to crown height of the 120 29er is 531mm. The retail price for this model is £840.00 which makes it highly competitive with other forks of this calibre and finally, the new SID Ultimate obviously comes in this signature blue colour option which no doubt makes them just that little bit faster!

On The Trail

First impressions are of an exceptionally good looking fork. Colours are subjective but the blue gives the SIDS an iconic look and if you were to head to the racetrack you'd get a more than a little psychological boost from these beauties.

Installation is simply a case of cutting the steerer and seating the star nut, the only addition is the remote lock-out which is a standard gear cable and lever clamped to the bar. The lockout is a sophisticated design and can operate a second cable for the rear shock if required. It does sit high on the bar but integrates well into the cockpit.

Pressure settings are printed on the fork, which makes things simple and they are accurate. Strangely there is a note to add 10psi if you're on an ebike, but it would seem a strange fork to bolt onto an emtb, but hey, maybe we're gonna see super light XC ebikes in the future...

My experiences with the Debonair spring have been consistently good and the SID is no exception to this. With a lockout on the bar, there is no need to set the fork stiff and I aimed for a plush set up knowing I could lockout easily. Most notably is the ease of motion in the first inch of travel, the fork happily just tracking the ground even on steep climbs with very little weight over the front.

I felt that they needed very little in the way of damping and found the air spring to do a great job without much need to be calmed down. Starting from fully open they just needed some fine-tuning to keep them operating in a smooth and active style.

Once stood up to sprint the SIDs stay composed despite this initial suppleness. If you want to hammer it, then the lockout is the answer but without it, they stay in the middle portion of the travel and feel efficient and direct. The lockout is stiff, very stiff, and is a true lockout as opposed to increased damping which my wrists can attest to after I forgot to knock it off on a descent.

When it comes to high speed, the supple traction of the SIDs is noticeable once again as it hoovers up the chatter and small bumps at speed. When the brakes are turned up to max there is noticeable flex in the lowers as they tuck a little but I am 95kg and these are the longer travel 29er model so there is a lot of force going through them. This induced some juddering under braking but the supple spring helped keep it all together.

This was the continuing story with the SIDs, in which the traction and excellent delivery of travel kept things smooth until the trail got a little wild. This was down entirely to the stiffness of the package, and although impressive, there is obviously a limit to their performance. Through horribly choppy terrain, which perhaps is not entirely within the remit of an XC fork, they fought admirably to hold a line and keep pushing on, but they did start to struggle.

Although they saved me in a couple of holes where a lesser fork would have blown all its travel and had me over the bars, they managed to give enough to absorb the impact without ejecting me. Once again, the spring and damping save the day. Pinballing through a network of rocks and roots just felt a little lacking in accuracy despite the smooth ride.

Even though this is a 32mm stanchion fork it's worth not getting too hung up on that number. Although I've mentioned stiffness, the SIDs are certainly stiffer than any 32mm equipped forks I've previously experienced and offer a more robust package than their numbers may suggest. If you really want to push the descending capabilities of a short travel bike then their are other forks that will suit better (maybe a 120mm Pike) as after all, these are still very much an xc race fork.

On more appropriate XC terrain they worked like a dream, finding traction in the corners without using up too much travel and keeping a good, consistent bar height whilst pedalling through rough sections.

Overall

Exceptional feel through the trail with glue-like traction and perfectly delivered travel. The SID proves once again the DebonAir and Charger 2 damper combo is a force to be reckoned with. Heavier riders or those wanting to push XC to the limits my find the limits of stiffness but this is compensated by the plushest ride you can find.

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This review was in Issue 60 of IMB.

For more information visit RockShox

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By Ewen Turner
Ewen Turner is a self-confessed bike geek from Kendal in the Lake District of England. He runs a coaching and guiding business up there and has a plethora of knowledge about bikes with an analytical approach to testing. His passion for bicycles is infectious, and he’s a ripper on the trails who prefers to fit his working life around his time on the bike.

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