A week at the mountainside was enough to find out what the Rock Shox XC 28 is capable of, and the first thing that comes in my mind is the effort put in by the manufacturer to improve this model. The XC 28 can be found in the entry-level category of Rock Shox’s range, having an 100mm travel and the number 28 being a reference for the fork’s stanchions. So, theoretically, it competes with counterparts such as the Suntour XCM or the RST Gila.
But that is only a theoretical assertion, as the XC 28 manages to undermine the competition from the first ride. It doesn’t offer state-of-the-art performance in absolute terms, being a contender for the title of the best among the lowest. Thus, difficult trails are more than a match for it, and there is no response in the case of minor bumps. The wheel doesn’t stick either all the time to the ground, but even so medium or substantial obstacles are dampened in a satisfactory manner, with quick rebound and compression.
Starting with 2013, Rock Shox mention on the lower arms of the fork the spring’s stiffness, and I was offerd for testing a medium-valued spring in this respect. Therefore, person with a weight of under 70 kilos should try a softer spring, while the heavyweights are better off with a stiffer one.
Evaluating its build, the XC 28 comes with a 6061 alloy crown, steel stanchions and steerer, and lower magnesium arms. For this configuration, the manufacturer recommends 160mm brake rotors.
As for comfort, in the case of forest trails, performance is above average, and asking for more than this wouldn’t make sense as it’s been designed for entry-level usage. So, for higher expectations, please visit the upper levels.
Aesthetically, there have been done some changes. Besides the new stickers, there’s a new lever for the lock-out, a flater crown, and lever for the preload manufactured out of a better plastic.
The new Rock Shoc XC 28 represents a serious leap compared to last year’s version, working a bit more smoother, and having an overall better appereance thanks to the used materials. Still, in a head-to-head comparison with a XC 32 fork, it has some catching up to do, in terms of stiffness and performance.
Better than its rivals, but unsuited for difficult terrain would be the limits in-between i would place the XC 28. For weightweenies, the XC 28 TK Mg is available, and its perks consist of a weight lower by 200 grams. But that will set you back a further 35 euros.