Rock Shox Reba Team: First Impressions

Well, after a few rides on the Reba Team with the Maxle Lite, I don’t mind cutting to the chase: This fork is miles better than the old Reba! How it stacks up to the competition is a bit different, and there are a couple of nits, but this is a huge improvement upon a classic 29″er fork.

The Reba Team

I mounted the Reba Team to my HiFi Deluxe and converted my Hope pro II front hub to the 20mm through axle caps to be compatible with the Maxle Lite. The Maxle Lite is really easy to use and it isn’t any more trouble than my quick release front wheels. The added rigidity is very different though, and is apparent when things start getting crazy on the trails. With the new chassis and Maxle Lite, I could not detect any lateral movement in the fork at all. The older Reba I could get to flex easily. Not so this new version! It is very stiff laterally. Off cambers and down hills are much calmer now with a fork that isn’t flexing and trying to spring you off line.

another look...

The fork also is easy to set up. I looked at the recommendations for my weight and made the adjustments with the positive and negative air chambers, exactly as you did with the old Reba. I also used the old trick of going with slightly less air in the negative chamber versus the positive chamber. My pressures were almost exactly as they were with my older Reba, as well. The performance was also very good with the air sprung Reba feeling very plush and active right out of the box.

The Reba Team on the HiFi Deluxe

The comparisons to a couple of other forks I have here are unavoidable. Of course, the original Fox fork that came with the HiFi is an excellent product. My biggest nit with the Fox was that I had some difficulty getting all the travel milked out of it The Reba seems to be better at this, although I will have to do some fine tuning, as I am only seeing about 105mm of travel at this point. I can certainly say that the Fox is very nearly as stiff, but not quite. I also have a Manitou with the Absolute damper here and it too is a very stiff chassis, but the fork’s action is so different with that damper. I will say that if the click were not there in the Manitou it would be a top shelf fork, but in a different manner than the Rock Shox is.

Handle bar remote

Our test model came with the handle bar mounted remote. I have to say that the set up is a bit critical with it, since simply attaching the cable end at the “wide open” point on the compression adjuster will not net you a locked out fork when you depress the lever at the handle bar. The cable pull isn’t enough. This is fine by me, but it seems a bit strange that you can’t have wide open and locked out with the handle bar remote. It also would be nice if the lock out lever worked like a friction thumb shifter, so you could have any setting inbetween “on” and “off”. As it was, I didn’t really feel the need to have the fork locked out, the Floodgate control seemed to keep me satisfied for now. I will adjust the control to get a lock out condition before my next ride though.

Rebound knob

I also found that the rebound adjuster was terribly stiff and nearly impossible to turn by hand. I managed to wrap a bit of rag around it to make my adjustments pain free as possible. Thankfully this isn’t an adjustment I make frequently, but if it was, I wouldn’t be too pleased about the difficulty of turning this knob.

So far I would say that this is a fantastic fork with a few nits. Still miles above what the older Rebas were. This 120mm travel Maxle Lite fork makes some of my descents into mere childsplay though. I’m going to have to go hunting for something a bit more challenging. That’s something I never would have said about the first generation Reba!

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No Responses to “Rock Shox Reba Team: First Impressions”

  1. agu Says:

    Aside from the added rigidity and offset, what are the other noticeable improvements does the new Reba have over the old? Is the damping system or are the fork internals the same?

    I just scored an “old” Reba last month – an ex-Niner OEM with U-Turn, and so far I’m loving it. Can’t say I notice any flex from it though – how would you describe this front-end flex?

  2. Ranger Pride Says:

    How does it compare to the G2 geometry on the Fox?

  3. Guitar Ted Says:

    agu: In a stroke of genius, Rock Shox didn’t mess with the damper much, since it already was a top performer. The issue has always been flex in the chassis with the first generation Rebas. Chances are you may not notice what it is I am referring to unless you were to ride a Maxle Lite equipped ’09 Reba. In technical descents the difference is like night versus day.

    Ranger Pride: Well, let’s keep in mind that “G2 geometry” is a package deal- Frame and fork. I am going to assume that you are meaning to ask me how the HiFi handles with a shorter offset fork than the Fox with its 51`mm offset.

    Well, if that is the question, let it also be known that the longer axle to crown of the Reba Team has slackened out the head angle, raised the bottom bracket to just shy of 13 inches, and made the HiFi handle much like a trail/AM rig in my estimation. Not bad at all, but very, very different from the XC-ish handling the HiFi displayed before with the Fox. I like it. It has definitely transformed the bike and made it handle differently.

  4. Alan Says:

    Did it remove the following characteristic I did not prefer in my 3 long demo rides of the 2009 HiFi Pro in technical root strewn trails?

    Here is how you described the charateristic in http://twentynineinches.com/2008/03/20/gary-fisher-hi-fi-deluxe-29er-update/, “A word on G2: I really like G2 geometry for most of the riding I do, but I found myself wishing for something maybe not quite so eager to turn on these super technical and rocky trails. I had to really be on top of the steering to make sure I didn’t get in over my head. ”

    Can you get a plum bob, level, and protractor to be very specific about the head angle with the 120 mm of travel (versus 100mm stock HiFi) measured with no rider, the sag you chose to ride with during your test, and the maximum sag recommended by Rock Shox?

    Can you also proved the trail numbers for the 3 aforementioned fork compression conditions?

  5. Alan Says:

    What is your impression of changing your seat to handlebar height cockpit geometry, by adding axle to crown distance (and handlebar height) above HiFi stock, to accommodate 20 mm of additional fork travel, while low, medium, and high speed cornering near the limit of traction?

  6. bruce brown Says:

    Alan – do think it would be possible that you could just simulate some of the angle differences in what you are asking for by running a big 2.4 tire up front and a much lesser volume tire in the rear (Crow, Karma 1.9, XR 1.8, Conti Vapor, etc…) to see how things handle? It wouldn’t change the fork travel, but it would alter the angle and the cockpit height.

  7. Davidcopperfield Says:

    Guitar Ted
    Do belive that if hi-fi had 120mm in the rear would handle better with Reba 120mm Maxle?

  8. Alan Says:

    Bruce,
    I do not appear to have the equipment funds the Guitar Ted does, I would like to rely on his testing before I part with what precious little funds I have to replace the bike I have worn out. In order to rely on his testing, I am asking for more detailed information with respect to his previous testing observations.

    I do not think the tire combo you speak of would be an accurate test of changing axle to crown lengths to the extent of the aforementioned article. In addition, the 2.4 front tire would affect the gyroscopic characteristics of the steering.

    I liked Guitar Ted’s front end geometry series of articles and would like him to continue providing this useful information with his future testing-impressions.

  9. Tim Says:

    I had the exact same issue with the rebound knob with mine. I found that it is indeed the knob and not stiffness inside the damper. If you take the knob off, you’ll find that the rebound adjustment turns freely using a hex wrench.

    I tried putting a dab of grease on the inside of the rebound knob…and it seemed to help at first. But now, it turns *almost* as hard as it did when new (???).

    The stiffness of the fork with the Maxle Lite is wonderful. As far as the rest of the fork, it works well but isn’t blowing me away yet–neither the basics nor the “Black Box” motion control. I’m still playing around with things though…seeing how the fork reacts. Currently I’m running with the lock out on and the flood gate a couple clicks from full open…works pretty well in the rock gardens around here on my SIR9, actually. I use as much travel as w/lock out off, seems only slightly stiffer, and I don’t find myself getting hung up on rocks/obstacles quite as much.

  10. Guitar Ted Says:

    Alan, Davidcopperfield: Hey, if you guys don’t mind, I think I will break out that topic in its own post. There are a few folks out there that seem to be a bit curious about this, so I think I’ll do a dedicated post on it soon. I’ll need a couple more test sessions to ferret out your answers and a bit of time doing some research, but look for a post on this subject.

  11. Davidcopperfield Says:

    Those front end geometry tests are affected to some extent by rear wheel travel. I ride rip9 08 with monitoru 120 /20mm with 48mm offset. A-C lenght with this offset places the front end handling in Genessis 2 ballpark, doesn’t it? 70,5-71 HTA + 48mm vs 70-70,5 HTA +51mm.

    What would have to be done to allow for 120mm in hifi hind? I would like to suggest you to ponder over long-travel XC 29ers
    http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=462464

  12. Guitar Ted Says:

    Davidcopperfield: I guess I’m not interested in figuring out what that would take to get it done on a HiFi. If I was interested in a long travel rear bike, I’d just give Devin Lenz a call and be done with it. Or, perhaps wait for a W.F.O. 9. Why modify a trail bike into an all mountain rig when you can just plunk down yer plastic and buy one, ya know? 😉

    That said, I do see putting 20 extra millimeters on the front of a HiFi as a valid thing to do. It does alter the “personality” of the bike. I think it actually unlocks its potential, but again- I’ll get into that in my upcoming post. I’m not going to elaborate any further on that in these comments.

  13. Tony P Says:

    I think you have the remote lockout upside down and on the wrong side of the bar.

  14. Guitar Ted Says:

    Tony: Maybe, but then the logo would be upside down, (following your suggestion) and it seems unlikely that Rock Shox would do that. Regardless, it makes no difference in how it works. Also, the kit comes with a left handed lever, which I decided not to use.

  15. Davidcopperfield Says:

    Guitar Ted.
    And if you can you could elaborate in the next article on more rear wheel travel. Why in the end it is front suspension, which should prevail over rear?
    Long travel cx 29er? Only one done in prototype stage 5.5 29er Intense. I remeber reading some articles about 5.5 26er and testers really positively expressed over 5.5 For Racing Only model stating that it handles like XC bicycles just with more travel just like regular spider.
    If you decide to wrtie an article on light weight LT 29ers try to answer the question what would have to be done to make it possible. I see women as target customers as regualr AM rig is heavy and cumbersome for them.

    Do you see merit for 51mm offset 120mm light 29er forks for lt xc 29ers ?
    Think Leviathan 5″, Hifi 120mm rear wheel travel and Jet9 with 100mm Could it be done. I think offset is the place to hit to make it snappy. Think Egde AM 450 gram 30mm rims.
    Good Luck 🙂

  16. Ed Says:

    GT.

    With the pressures set up + and – (a little less negative than +), what type of stanchion exposure do you have? My 80mm team was showing around 72-74mm. I also have what appears to be bushing stichion such that the fork does not want to rebound fully. Can you comment on your experience with these items?

    Thanks.

  17. Guitar Ted Says:

    Ed: I have 127mm from the seal top the bottom of the crown where the stanchion becomes exposed.

  18. Shop Mechanic Says:

    I don’t mean to be rude so don’t take this the wrong way… Guitar Ted just told us how the bike handles with this fork so getting the geometry numbers with all the offsets, head angles, tires, etc. aren’t going to change the results. These numbers can be figured using some fairly simple trigonometry without having to change all the parts.

    I have been riding a HiFi with a 120mm minute for many months and I love it. I agree that the longer fork unlocks the bike’s potential. I still wish that the back end was stiffer but I can’t complain about the weight. I have a very modest build on a lg and the bike weighs just under 28lbs and I plan to get that number down to 27 even or just below when I can scrape together the funds to do it.

  19. Jim Says:

    If it does not seem like you are getting enough cable pull to lock the fork all the way, you may need to adjust the floodgate and also add a barrell adjuster. With my experience with rebas, they will lock all the way with the cable pull and flood gate adjustments.
    Thanks for great write up.
    Also, why would fork manufacters not ALL be offering thru axles with their forks for big wheels. I guess it makes too much sense.

  20. Nevada 29er Says:

    GT,

    I am having compatibility issues with this fork and a DT 440 hub. Seems the flange to rotor mounting surface dimension is outside of the forks design spec, which causes the rotor to rub on the brake pad.

    Sounds like the Hope Pro II works with this fork, any other hubs that you’re aware of that are compatibile?

    Thanks

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