Though rear shocks are the main component or a full-suspension mountain bike, they are something that you don’t really give a lot of thought to – until they give out, that is. What few people realize is that shocks can have a significant impact on your riding experience. Certainly, they make things more comfortable, but the models available today are good for a lot more than just that.
Choose the right option for your bike, your level of advancement and your style and you’ll see a marked improvement in performance. As you advance, you’ll naturally want something that you can fine tune and that offers a higher level of performance.
Types of Rear Shocks
There are two main types of rear shocks: Air and Coil. Coil shocks are generally much cheaper and heavier than air shocks which compress air into lightweight cyclinder.
The key to choosing the right ones for your bike is in analyzing exactly what it is that you want to achieve. Do you want to have the most advanced models for bragging rights? It’s fine if you do, as long as you have the skill that goes with using them.
Are you looking to save weight? Do you want a hassle-free option, or do you like to tweak settings? If you get a tunable option, will you have the patience to getting the settings, right? This can sometimes take ages. Do yourself a favor and be honest about your motivations and skill level upfront.
The next consideration when buying this kind of gear is to make sure that it will fit your bike. As bikers, we tend to be pretty good at modifying parts so that they fit perfectly. The problem with that here is that it will void your warranty.
So, when considering which model to finally order, you need to consider what results you want and ensure that there is a good fit.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, there are a lot of different options to choose from. To help narrow it down a little, we’ve identified our top three picks. We looked at performance, features, and price when choosing the best options.
Hopefully, this will be helpful to you in your own search.
Rock Shox Monarch RL C2 MTB Rear Suspension Shock
- 9mm 7075 aluminum shaft
- Rapid Recovery allows the shock to recovery faster between consecutive bumps, letting the wheel track the ground with greater precision
- Mount hardware sold separately (2 sets required per shock)
- Intended Use: XC, Trail
- Fast Black hard anodized, forged aluminum body with sag gradients
Rockshox are the market leaders in rear shocks. They have been building suspensions for bikes since 1989 and were taken over by Spram in 2002.
The piggyback shock design from RockShox has become something of an industry benchmark to compare other shocks to. It’s a very easy to use system and perfect if you don’t want to have to tune your shocks constantly.
These aren’t the most advanced shocks out there, but they’ll keep pace with the best of them. You’ll be able to build up a good speed quickly and enjoy the ride more. These are reliable and a great option for beginners and more advanced riders alike.
The price is also pretty good for this kind of tech, so you score anyway that you look at it.
• A set and forget option
• Durable and reliable
• Sensitive and default damping make this an exceptionally user-friendly option
• Price is not bad
• Established company with a solid reputation
• Fine-tuning is out of the question
• While the price is affordable for this type, it is still a fair amount of money to put on the table
DNM Mountain Bike Air Rear Shock
This is our budget option and comes in at under $100. With regards performance, you need to temper your expectations. These work reasonably okay but will never live up to the performance of our other two models.
The company themselves don’t have a lot to say about the performance other than giving the basic specs. They do say that they are working on establishing themselves as a leading brand. We believe that they have a pretty good attitude.The shocks are made in Taiwan and feature an air spring. So, they have a lot of potential.
In terms of whether or not these are the shocks for you, the jury is out. While most clients look on these as good value for money, there have been problems with loss of compression in some cases. What we suggest if you do buy these is that you fit them without modifying them.
If something does go wrong, there is a year-long warranty in place, so you can get them replaced in need.
• The price is definitely right
• Good performance
• Will stand a good deal of rough treatment
• Light weight
• Made in Taiwan
• One-year warranty
• There have been some issues with a loss of compression
Cane Creek has developed a reputation for innovative and exceptional products. They have helped to set the standard when it comes to adjustability and control. These shocks can have a transformative effect on a standard bike, increasing performance levels significantly.
There were some issues with oil leaks in the early days with this model. These seem to have been more pronounced in the case of extremely heavy wear. The company did acknowledge that these issues existed and did address the problems. Since then, they have been working hard at rebuilding their reputation.
They have made it into our top three because they have ironed out the teething problems and made a successful recovery over the last couple of years.
Overall, if you are a high-performance freak, you’ll love these. You’ll spend ages tuning and fine-tuning them to get the perfect setting for your needs. There are very few options at this price point that allow this degree of adjustment.
• Phenomenal performance at this price point
• Light weight
• Allows for excellent control
• You can fine tune it to your heart’s content
• The company had teething problems with its new design
• The price is good but might be out of reach for those on a more limited income
How to Replace a Rear Shock on a Mountain Bike
So, which option is the best one for you? That all depends on what kind of results you are looking for. The DNM is a great budget option. It doesn’t come first on our list in terms of performance, but if your shocks give out and you need a replacement that won’t break the bank, this is it.
We would view them more as an interim solution while you are saving for a more expensive model.
In terms of a favorite out of the other two, that is more difficult. The RockShox comes out tops for beginners or those who really don’t want the bother of finetuning them. The Cane Creek, on the other hand, will be a good fit for those who value high-performance and like tweaking their bikes to get the best.