In 2012, Rock Shox launched XC, the new range of entry-level forks. This replaces the old Dart 1, 2 and 3 and is sold in several versions, XC 28, 30 and 32. These figures are also indicators of the upper tubes dimensions.
Our candidate for today takes the last place in the ranking of XC product family. The 28 mm upper tubes are relatively narrow in order to face the nowadays raising demand of solid forks, but it is normal for Rock Shox to offer a product for a very small budget.
The unsubstantial look can be easily noticed before mounting on the bicycle and start riding. In terms of settings, the rider gets a standard Preload – strengthening the coil according to your weight and a Lock-Out command as an option. But there is even more to XC 28, because if you’re willing to pay for a little extra amount you will also benefit from a Lock-Out command installed on the handlebar.
Damping did not meet my expectations. On the contrary, it disappointed me. This is an entry-level fork, and this can be seen not only in the quality of materials – I can here mention the plastic preload adjuster or the steel upper tubes – but also in the overall performance. After a full day of riding on mountain trails, the coil became stiffer, and my attempt of compensating this by utilizing the Preload adjuster did not bring any real improvement. You must understand that you cannot ask this fork to keep the wheel imprinted to the ground, as it simply hasn’t been build for such a thing. If we bring into discussion those really difficult tracks with big bumps, I can tell for sure that it simply rejects them from the first place. On this kind of track, your ride turns into a really bumpy one!
As for rigidity Rock Shox XC 28 does not present itself any better. It flexes quite a lot and you get to feel this especially when you’re braking. Of course, there is not even need to ride to start riding to notice this, but on the track it gets quite annoying.
Also, to fully benefit from the 100 mm of travel you need to start gaining weight. To be more precise, for a 70 kg rider, the fork only functioned to 80-85 % of its potential. Those coils are to be blamed again! However, if you replace the coils, as Rock Shox suggests, you can extend the travel up to 120 mm, and this might be the salvation you need to benefit from the full range of damping.
With a weight of approximately 2.300 grams, this fork is not exactly a heavy load but it is still far away from being light. If you think that it can be bought for a little less than 100 euro, than it suddenly seems to offer a bit more comfort.
I recommend this fork to those loving recreational rides, on forest paths. If you insist in having a real mountain day out and ride all the trails that lay before you, then you have to accept that your fork is not refined. If your budget is not too big, you can try looking toward Rock Shox XC 32, more solid, but noticeably heavier.
Weight: 2.300 grams