As part of its new 2023 suspension line up, RockShox has completely overhauled its rear shock models both inside and out, as well as adding new models. The new range is now made up of Deluxe, Deluxe Coil, Super Deluxe and Super Deluxe Coil shocks.
I've been testing the Super Deluxe Ultimate shock and while the resulting control is undeniably awesome – however you like to ride – there are some aspects of adjustment that might not suit everyone. So what exactly have RockShox done to create one of the best mountain bike rear shocks available, how does that feel on the trail and are there any downsides?
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Design and specifications
At first glance the 2022 version of the Super Deluxe Ultimate follows the same piggyback damper layout as the previous incarnation, but the details are different up close. The air can is faceted externally top and bottom now and all the elements of the body have a much sharper finish than before. The low speed rebound uses the same 15-click concentric 'top of can' ring design for easy adjustment. The low speed compression (LSC) dial is now a big knurled dial on the end of a barrel that sits across the head of the piggyback chamber. This matches the Ultimate fork adjusters with laser etched '+' and '-' gradients and a proper clicker for the five-point adjustment. There’s a separate fat, stubby lever on the far end of the LSC barrel to give a climbing lockout too. Four-position high speed compression damping adjustment is then done with a 3mm Allen bolt.
There are big changes internally too as RockShox introduce the RC2T damper. Like the updated forks, the main aim of the changes are to separate ‘cross talk’ between low and high speed compression adjustment for a fully independent feel. The DebonAir+ spring can now take volume spacers in both the negative and positive sides to tune feel. The bottom out bumper is ‘castled’ for smoother compression and there’s an optional hydraulic bottom out tapered needle in the shaft damper that ramps up resistance progressively in the last 20 percent of the stroke. Bushing overlap is increased for a structurally stiffer and stronger shock, but more sensitive movement and RockShox have upgraded to the latest Maxima Plush Dynamic fluid.
Super Deluxe Ultimate comes in both conventional and trunnion mounts and there are Select+ and Select models with the same base structure, air-spring and fluid changes, but without LSC and HSC adjust and LSC, HSC and Climb lever respectively.
With all the adjusters clustered around the top of the shock, the new Super Deluxe gives easy access to all the dials and the crisp clicks give a reassuring, quality feel to each adjustment. The machined ribs on the air sleeve make it really easy to unscrew the can for adding volume spacers too. The only potential issue is that the bigger, re-positioned LSC dial can be a tight fit with fatter pump heads, though I managed to get every type I tried threaded on. The climb/lock switch is also very stiff, so it’s not the easiest thing to move on the fly unless your thumbs are strong enough to pry on DH tires without levers.
The new separated low and high speed compression strategy from RockShox also requires a complete rethink to what's gone before – add some LSC to reduce sensitivity and pedal bob. That’s because (like the forks) the LSC makes no discernible difference to sensitivity from a pedaling/small bump POV and you’ll be clicking that blue dial back and forth wondering if it’s broken at first. Start riding though and the difference that dial makes in terms of cornering support and ride height are very clear. Those five clicks can turn a bike from feeling clean, bright and lifted to properly sucked down and grippy. While the preferred feel Venn diagrams for most riders will generally match across how much high and low speed compression they like, I deliberately ran opposing setups just to verifying the separation claims. Not only was there no obvious cross talk between the adjustments, but the overall range of feel adjustment (especially when you add in the positive and negative adjustment and the refined 15-click rebound span) is extremely broad without feeling there are extreme settings for the sake of it.
Once I’d done my dial due diligence and just got on with riding the snot out of it, the background changes to the shock really delivered too. It’s hard to tell where the balance is between the more sophisticated, back pressure quietened damping circuits, smoother bushings and fluid, and better overlap in terms of influencing the feel, but the overall result is delicious. Whether you set it up coil-plush or racer efficient, it’s exceptionally responsive, quiet, calm and consistently impressive from patter bumps to horrible last run of the day hang ups. I toggled it between a couple of kinematically different host bikes – Pace RC295 and Canyon Spectral 125 and the results were equally impressive on each one (once I’d tuned the shcok to suit each bike). The hydraulic bottom out worked really well on the more linear Pace bike too, always cushioning the deepest slams without hammering my feet, although I’ll potentially be fitting some of the new purple spacers to get a bit more progression going forward.
Typically for RockShox it doesn’t overly punish a simple setup either so you don’t have to be an expert fettler to get the best from it. With so much commonality between Ultimate, Select+ and Select shocks, less nerdy riders could probably save some cash by choosing one of the simpler dampers.
RockShox’s move away from the traditional feel change of LSC adjustment from essentially a preload/threshold feel to deeper stroke support won’t be to everyone’s taste. Especially as the lock out lever is hard to operate and hard in terms of it’s effect too. Get your head round that though and the new Super Deluxe Ultimate is an absolutely superb feeling damper that can be setup easily to suit a very wide range of riders, bikes and styles – without punishing those who don’t want to invest excessive dial time. Despite the next level feel it’s still significantly cheaper and lighter than Fox’s Float X and Float X2 shocks too, making it a boutique vibe damper at a relative bargain price and trail-friendly weight.
Tech Specs: RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate 2022
- Price: $599 / £578 / €648
- Weight: 491g (210 x 55mm standard eyelet)