Rockshox Reba RLT 29er

Posted: September 2, 2011 in 2011, Product Reviews

The beginning of a product review. This is phase one and I will add to it as I find our more about the product.

The box opens to reveal the forks, a shock pump, a (useless) manual, star fangled nut and a spacer plus a sheet of stickers. I can never work this mania for stickers out, needless to say they’ll probably find their way to the bin in short order.

The Shimano shock pump is an old friend. Painted black, with a bleed valve, pressure gauge and a short hose topped off with a Schrader adaptor, it hasn’t changed in years. It has always proved to be reliable and as unexciting as only a pump can be!

The forks themselves come in a sort of glacier white and are colour matched with the crown. The stanchions are sort of an anodised version of a colour I have only ever seen on other forks and an old BMW my Dad had many years ago. Let’s call it metallic bronze. The steerer is matched with the stanchions, a nice touch but totally unnecessary. On first impression the paint job looks to be of a very good quality, nice coverage and it certainly gives the impression of being thick. Time will tell whether it is durable or not.

The brake mount is the now common post mount so if you have the old style IS callipers, you will have to buy an adaptor but this should not put you back more than a fiver.

As usual with Rockshox, the recommended positive and negative pressures are clearly displayed towards the foot of the fork leg. (Note: these figures are a good starting place, you’ll have to play about with them to find out what works best for you.) The valves are to be found in the top and bottom of the left hand leg. Rebound adjustment is in the foot of the right hand leg with the familiar tortoise graphic so rebound adjustment is simple – even for me!

The ‘Gate’ can be adjusted via a knob on the top of the right leg. I can never work out what this is for so more about that when I read it up again! Compression adjustment is via a large dial underneath the ‘Gate’. Interestingly, the serial number is printed, in relief, on the rear of the crown; I have never spotted that before but there again, my last pair of Rebas were about 5 years old and I guess this may have been introduced some time back.

I have been used to Rebas with the U Turn facility, so having to dismantle the fork to adjust travel seems like a bit of a chore to me. Having said that, I do not anticipate running these forks on anything more than 80mm so the 100mm option is a bit unnecessary.

Putting pressure on the forks, they move quite easily and smoothly, producing the familiar Rockshox gurgle as oil moves through the system. This little test is practically pointless as the forks aren’t fitted and have certainly not been pumped up to pressure but hey, who among us (professional mechanics aside) can resist the temptation to do it?

All in all then, a decent job of presentation and initial impressions are favourable. New kit always looks nice though and it isn’t until proper testing has been carried out that you can tell whether it is a dog or not.

This is my third set of Rebas, the previous two were 26 inch versions and proved stiff (enough) reliable (totally) and pretty much fit and forget. My last pair were not serviced for a while and although I kept the seals scrupulously clean after every ride, I was expecting some serous tlc would be required when I took them in for a service. To my surprise, the seals were in tip top condition, the oil was clean as a whistle and the stanchions unmarked with no signs of wear anywhere. For a five year old set of forks this is pretty damned good. My LBS replaced the oil (because they had the forks apart anyway) and reassembled them. Apart from coming back running as smooth as butter, they were my old forks, oh yes, and the lockout had been sorted (it wasn’t that good from day one). If these forks are anywhere near as good I will be a very happy bunny.

The frame will be here next week so I’ll aim to build the bike up and wil post my first impressions as soon as I have any.

EDIT: The ‘Gate’ or “Floodgate” I referred to earlier is a sort of blow-off valve. When you have the forks locked out, it determines when the impact is sufficient to allow movement in the fork. There seems to be reams of information (or people seeking information) about this on the web and to be honest, it is all pretty confusing. Once fitted, I’ll play about and see what works best for me….unless of course, anyone reading this would care to comment?


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