Rock Shox Reba RL Solo Air 29er Review (2013)


This article has no better way to start than by asking why would you need a top SID suspension fork when you have Reba? Lighter, cheaper and with the exact travel, it only lacks SID’s Rapid Recovery system which has undeniable advantages, but even so, Reba’s own performance will satisfy any amateur, and, I believe, even some pro riders. Also relevant to the enthusiast category might be the fact that Reba is not only cheaper than SID, but it’s almost 3 times cheaper, making it one of Rock Shox’s most popular models, and in the same time the perfect all-rounder.

First introduced in 2004, Reba went through different improvements over the years, the most serious one occuring in 2013, when it was fitted with the Solo Air system, which implies less and simpler adjustments, and easier maintenance.

The Reba RL Solo Air for 29ers also got some aestethical improvements, but besides them, it’s basically identical with the previous generation as far as performance goes. It dampens with the same efficiency, passing over even small bumps with a tantalizing elegance. The travel is linear, only when it strats to reach the end of the 100mm, the resistance increases in order to prevent a bottom out. If you’ll set the pressure according to your weight, you’re in for smooth sailing because this fork works as close to perfection as it could get. The arms glide very smooth, but there is room for improvement, models like Rock Shox’s Pike or Fox’s Kashima using superior materials for this, a choice that can be felt when in action. However, if you didn’t ride any of the 2 above-mentioned models, you’ll have a hard time noticing any of Reba’s flaws.

Other options, like rebound, the lock-out remote or the SAG indicator are present on this model, with the possibility to increase the travel to 120mm or decrease it to 80mm, operations that require disassembling the fork in order to add or remove spacers.

Another major positive side of Reba’s is its weight. Even in the 29er version, that uses more material, Rock Shox managed to keep the figure at 1.581 grams, in the tapered head tube version, less than SID RL’s value, and only 20 grams more than the Fox F29.

Neither does it lack in stiffness, since it uses the 15mm thru axle, substantially stiffer than the classical 9mm, even if the stanchions have a diameter of 32mm. And, as if it weren’t enough, Reba can also host a braking system based on a 210mm rotor.

Once again Rock Shox proves it can provide first class products, both performant, and reliable, that are a hard nut to crack for the competiton. Like the Pike, Reba also has the features to satisfy any rider, amateur or professional alike, and it also forces other manufacturers to start thinking seriously about a counter-offensive.