Brand Focus on RockShox

An illustrated run-through the gloriously dirty history of one of MTB’s cornerstone brands.

RockShox are the leading manufacturer of pushbike suspension. With 25 years of experience in the industry, they’re more experienced than most in what makes a decent mountain bike boing unit.

1997 RockShox catalogue

Motorbike beginnings

RockShox led in the early development of mountain bike suspension and in recent times have seen something of a return to the pioneering spirit at the forefront of suspension technology.

The origins of RockShox is the story of one man – Paul Turner. It took more than just him to make the brand but without him none of it would have happened.

Paul Turner was born in 1959. He raced motorbikes as a teenager. He was extremely into anything on two wheels. At the age of 18 he started a company selling motorbike bits and bobs.

After he got a bit bored with doing that he landed a job as a factory mechanic for the Honda professional motocross team.

During all this time Turner built up loads of contacts and plentiful knowhow in the area of suspension systems.

Bike boom time

During the mid- to late-1980s Turner got interested in the new boom of mountain biking. In 1987 he teamed up with Keith Bontrager and made a prototype mock-up of a full-suspension mountain bike that they showed at the Long Beach bike trade show. Despite the bike’s rather muted and mocked reception, the ball was rolling.

In 1989 Turner bought some things from one of his motorbike industry contacts called Steve Simons and set to work assembling some bike forks in his garage.

Simons saw the opportunity and potential of the business and officially joined Turner in forming RockShox. They hired Thomas Dooley to design the now iconic logo and to do a bit of the marketing side of things. Turner sponsored Greg Herbold as a test rider and company spokesperson.

Herbold move

Herbold won the 1st Downhill World Champs in 1990 on a set of RockShox forks. In August that year 100 RockShox RS-1 forks were made.

By 1997 RockShox were selling a million forks and had revenues of $100 million. Their market share was around 60%. It was boom time for mountain biking and RockShox.

At the turn of the millenium things were different. Competition was much fiercer. Companies like Marzocchi, Manitou and Fox were making in roads on RockShox’s dominance.

In 2001 RockShox reported a $10 million loss. Oof.

SRAM time

In 2002 RockShox were taken over by SRAM. SRAM formed in Chicago in 1987 and built a business model of acquisition and R&D. Gripshift was their main product at the time of taking over RockShox (SRAM had acquired gearing company Sach Bicycle Components in 1997).

RockShox production moved from Colorado to Taiwan.

The SRAM era of RockShox may not have had much in the way of personal drama or romantic tales to tell. But they’ve certainly made loads more decent forks since then.

RockShox forks through the ages

Which is your favourite? Let us know in the comments section below.

1990 rockshox rs-1

1990 – RockShox RS-1 – 49mm travel

1992 rockshox mag 20

1992 – RockShox Mag 20 – 48mm travel

1992 rockshox mag 30

1992 – RockShox Mag 30 – 48mm travel

1993 rockshox mag 21

1993 – RockShox Mag 21 – 48mm travel (or 60mm for the Long Travel version)

1993 RockShox Quadra

1993 – RockShox Quadra – 48mm travel

1994 rockshox mag 21 sl

1994 – RockShox Mag 21 SL – 48mm travel (or 60mm for the Long Travel version)

1994 - RockShox Quadra 5

1994 – RockShox Quadra 5 – 48mm travel

1994 - RockShox Quadra 21R

1994 – RockShox Quadra 21R – 60mm travel

1995 - RockShox Judy

1995 – RockShox Judy – 50mm travel

1995 - RockShox Judy SL

1995 – RockShox Judy SL – 50mm travel

1995 - RockShox Judy DH

1995 – RockShox Judy DH – 80mm travel

1995 - RockShox Indy

1995 – RockShox Indy – 50mm travel (we think!)

1997 - RockShox Judy DHO

1997 – RockShox Judy DHO (left) – 100mm travel

1998 - RockShox SID

1998 – RockShox SID – 50mm travel

1998 - RockShox Judy XL

1998 – RockShox Judy XL – 100mm travel

1999 - RockShox Jett

1999 – RockShox Jett – 63mm travel (we think!)

2000 - RockShox Ruby

2000 – RockShox Ruby road bike fork – 30mm travel

2001 - RockShox Psylo

2001 – RockShox Psylo – 100mm travel (we think!)

2001 - RockShox Duke

2001 – RockShox Duke – 63mm travel (we think!)

2003 - RockShox Pilot

2003 – RockShox Pilot – 80mm travel (we think!)

2004 - RockShox Pike

2004RockShox Pike – 140mm travel

2005 - RockShox Reba

2005RockShox Reba – 80mm travel

2006 - RockShox Recon

2006RockShox Recon – 80mm travel

2006 - RockShox Revelation

2006RockShox Revelation – 120mm travel

2006 - RockShox Dart

2006 – RockShox Dart – 80mm travel

2006 - RockShox Tora

2007 – RockShox Tora – 80mm, 100mm, 120mm or 85-130mm travel

2007 - RockShox Argyle

2007 – RockShox Argyle – 80mm or 100mm travel

2007 - RockShox Domain

2007 – RockShox Domain – 160mm or 180mm travel

2007 - RockShox Lyrik

2007RockShox Lyrik – 160mm or 170mm travel

2007 - RockShox Totem

2007 – RockShox Totem – 180mm travel

2011 - RockShox Sektor

2011RockShox Sektor – 150mm travel

2014 - RockShox Bluto

2014RockShox Bluto – 100mm or 120mm travel

2014 - RockShox RS-1

2014RockShox RS-1 – 80mm, 100mm or 120mm of travel

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