For 2023, RockShox have redeveloped their forks and shocks from the ground up. As from now, the new Charger 3 fork damper and finely-tuneable shocks with hydraulic bottom-out bumper are bound to set a new benchmark. Furthermore, the American suspension giant introduced a brand-new bleeding valve, new lowers, ButterCups and overhauled air springs. Here’s everything you need to know about RockShox’s 2023 suspension portfolio and a first riding impression.

For MY 2023, RockShox rolled up their sleeves and overhauled their entire suspension line-up from the ground up, improving the three existing fork models, the Pike, Lyrik and ZEB, as well as their Deluxe and Super Deluxe rear shocks. While at first glance the new models look a lot like the current versions, upon closer inspection there are considerable differences. Amongst the most significant upgrades are the new Charger 3 damper, revised lowers and air chambers as well as several peripheral technologies that are already in use in RockShox’s electronic Flight Attendant suspension system, like the ButterCups and vent ports and much more! RockShox also promise finer-graded travel intervals and more clearly-defined areas of application. In a nutshell, the overall aim of the overhaul was to refine the response and control of their existing suspension components.

The new technologies inside the new 2023 RockShox forks

The Charger 3.0 damper

Leading the way in RockShox’s big 2023 portfolio overhaul is the Charger 3 damper, which was redeveloped from the ground up. The latest descendant of the Charger dynasty replaces the current Charger 2.1 damper and relies on an internal floating piston (IFP), sending the previous bladder system into well-deserved retirement. IFP’s are nothing new and have already found their way into countless forks and shocks. With the new Charger 3 damper, the oil displaced by the piston rod is pressed against a piston tensioned by a small steel spring. The permanent tension and strict separation prevent oil and air from mixing. RockShox also revised the high- and low-speed compression circuits to provide more precise and, above all, more independent damping adjustments. Like its predecessor, the 3.0 damper has 5 clicks of high-speed compression but only 15 clicks of low-speed compression, which the American manufacturer combines with 18 clicks of low-speed rebound across the entire fork range. Moreover, none of the new forks have a lockout mode, which makes perfect sense in our opinion.

The clear markings on the new Charger 3 control unit simplify setup.
The inner life of the new spring-backed IFP system.

The DebonAir+ air spring and new ButterCups

For 2023, RockShox also revised the air spring of their new forks, adapting both the positive and negative air chambers as well the equalisation dimples to the respective areas of application. This is meant to prevent the fork from sinking into its travel while at the same time improving small bump sensitivity together with the newly added ButterCups, which are already employed by RockShox’s electronic Flight Attendant forks. These are basically rubber elastomers attached to the end of both the damper and air spring designed to absorb high-frequency vibrations and small impacts and thus reduce arm pump.

The new ButterCups are attached to the end of both the damper and air spring. These two rubber elastomers are supposed to absorb high-frequency vibrations and small impacts even before the air spring starts working.
This is what the elastomers inside the new RockShox forks look like.

More innovations for the 2023 RockShox forks.

Alongside the damper and air spring, RockShox revised the forks’ lowers, which are claimed to be considerably stiffer and, thanks to a new and longer bushing system, have less friction and thus ensure a longer service life. The new forks also feature bleed ports on the back of the lowers, allowing you to equalize the pressure inside the fork with atmospheric changes. There are also brand-new torque caps, which increase stiffness and steering precision while making it easier to install the front wheel.

The new bleed valves allow the air spaces inside the fork to be adjusted to atmospheric pressure.
The torque caps can be easily bolted to the fork’s dropouts and help increase stiffness while at the same time making it easier to install the front wheel.

All new 2023 RockShox forks at a glance

The new RockShox Pike 2023

Let’s start with the true veteran in the new 2023 lineup, the Pike, which has already been on the market since 2003 and is RockShox’s fork of choice for trail riding, generating between 120 and 140 mm travel. The updated 2023 Pike still relies on 35 mm stanchions and comes in both 27.5″ and 29″ versions and in the same glossy-black or silver color options. Prices range between € 855 for the cheapest Select variant and € 1,139 for the flagship Ultimate model. The latter tilts the scales at 1,887 grams (140 mm).

The new RockShox Lyrik 2023

The Lyrik is undeniably the all-rounder in RockShox’s fork portfolio and therefore the ideal match for trail and enduro rigs. Like the Pike, it employs 35 mm stanchions and is available in 27.5″ and 29″ sizes. The Lyrik has between 140 and 160 mm travel and comes either in black ot “Heavy Meadow” dark finish. Prices range between € 912 and € 1,196 and the flagship Ultimate model with 160 mm travel weighs in at 2,028 g.

The new RockShox ZEB 2023

The RockShox ZEB is available with 160–190 mm travel and marks the top-end in the 2023 fork lineup. It’s the only fork in RockShox’s portfolio to rely on 38 mm stanchions and was designed specifically for tough enduro riding. Like the Pike and Lyrik, it’s available in the two most popular wheel sizes, 27.5″ and 29″. Colour options are black and matt silver. At 2,341 g, the 180 mm ZEB Ultimate is the heaviest fork in the entire new lineup and, retailing between € 968 and € 1,253, also the most expensive one.

The new technologies inside the 2023 RockShox shocks

For 2023, RockShox also revamped their shock portfolio. As the new RC2T name suggests, the shocks feature a rebound and two compression settings, thus allowing for independently adjustable low- and high-speed compression damping. The T in the acronym stands for Threshold, which describes the breakaway torque of the shocks. Furthermore, the air chamber of the new shocks can be tuned to deliver either a more linear or more progressive spring curve, allowing manufacturers to adapt the shock to the rear suspension kinematics of their bikes. The 2023 shocks also feature an optional hydraulic bottom-out bumper, which is designed to increase the compression damping in the last 20% of the shock’s stroke by means of a big needle valve that reduces oil flow.

The external low-speed compression dial can be adjusted without tools while the high-speed adjustment requires a 3 mm Allen key.
The needle-shaped graphics on the shaft let you know there’s a hydraulic bottom-out hiding inside the shock.

The new RockShox Deluxe and Deluxe Coil 2023 shock

The new RockShox Deluxe and Deluxe Coil shocks are the rear-end equivalent of the Pike fork and were designed primarily for trail riding. That being said, even the top-end Ultimate model only offers a basic compression adjustment and isn’t available with the new bottom-out feature.

The new 2023 Super Deluxe and Super Deluxe Coil shocks

The new Super Deluxe and Super Deluxe Coil shocks were developed primarily for tough trail riding, enduro and downhill and are therefore usually paired with a Lyrik or ZEB fork. Both the air and coil models will be available in four different variants, with prices ranging between € 539 (Super Deluxe Ultimate Coil DH) and € 648 (Super Deluxe Ultimate).

The RockShox TrailHead app

RockShox’s in-house TrailHead app, which was designed to help you adjust and fine-tune your fork, has also received some new features. The app can be downloaded for free from both the App Store and Google Play. Just by punching in your weight and bike type into the phone, the app will provide the recommended air pressure, rebound and compression settings for your fork. Setup suggestions for shocks have now also been integrated and so you have – in addition to the SAG indicator – a great help when setting up your bike.

Our first riding impressions of the new 2023 RockShox components

We’ve already had the opportunity to test RockShox’s new suspension components for several weeks, piling up countless laps on natural trails in South Tyrol and France and during several bike park sessions. In this time, we’ve used both the Lyrik and ZEB Ultimate forks as well as the Super Deluxe Ultimate and Super Deluxe Ultimate DH shocks.

The new RockShox 2023 forks first ride review

For the initial setup, we recommend following RockShox’s air pressure and rebound setting recommendations – at least for the first few laps. We strongly advise you to use a digital shock pump because even the slightest deviation can have a big influence on the riding performance and behaviour of the fork. Both the low- and high-speed compression settings are largely dependent on the individual riding style. In other words, even one click on the dial can make a huge difference on the trail. Active riders who love to pump through rollers and berms and pop off ledges should add plenty of low-speed compression to their fork. On the other hand, if you prefer to keep your tires on the trail and want the fork to suck up nasty rock gardens and root carpets, you should crank your low-speed compression dial wide open. The amount of low-speed compression damping also determines how high (or low) the fork sits in its travel, thus influencing the riding position significantly. Overall, the latest generation of RockShox forks sits higher in its travel than older models, thus inspiring more confidence on the trail. Small bump sensitivity has improved noticeably, too, so the new forks smoothen out all the small chatter and only pass on bigger hits onto the rider. As a result, the front-end of the bike feels a lot more composed than with older RockShox models when riding at a comparable speed. Needless to say, this improves handling and inspires confidence. Furthermore, the typical suction noise of the older forks is finally gone and the new forks are absolutely quiet on the trail.

The new RockShox 2023 shocks first ride review

The printed sag markers ensure reliable readings and make suspension setup easier. RockShox’s TrailHead app also provides you recommendations for shock air pressures and rebound. We recommend starting with 30% sag in a seated position, as this allows for a consistent setup regardless of your riding position. On the trail, the new shocks provide good feedback from the ground but still pack a punch with bigger hits and compressions. The individual low- and high-speed compression dials allow you to fine tune the shock to suit both the suspension kinematics and your riding style. The hydraulic bottom-out, which we’ve tested on the Specialized Stumpjumper EVO, takes the edge off nasty huck-to-flats and big jumps, saving our ankles on more than one occasion.

Our conclusions about the new 2023 RockShox line-up

RockShox dug deep into their box of tricks and breathed new life into their current suspension lineup using several different innovations. Both the new forks and shocks perform noticeably better on the trail and have improved over the current models, especially in terms of small-bump sensitivity and adjustability. Moreover, RockShox did a great job in defining the exact area of application of each fork more clearly, which makes perfect sense given the specific requirements of each discipline and the new integration of the damper setup in the TrailHead app simplifies the setting. Unfortunately, many new models are not yet available in the aftermarket.


  • forks and shocks can be tuned more finely
  • forks sit high in their travel and inspire confidence
  • small bumps compliance is noticeably better
  • totally quiet


  • many models are not yet available on the after market

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Words: Peter Walker Photos: Peter Walker, SRAM

About the author

Peter Walker

As a technical editor, Peter is as much a man of action as he is of words. This expert, screw-driver-flexing two wheeled-whizz has many envy-inducing characteristics, including a background in motocross, several EWS race plates to his name, and more than 150 recorded days at Whistler Bike Park. However complex the bike and however steep the trail, he’s probably already nailed it, twice. Oh, and he can do it all on skinny tyres too. When it comes to guiding consumers, Peter cut his teeth at Vancouver’s oldest bike shop and now puts pen to paper on the daily translating this know-how into our editorial plan. When not tearing up Stuttgart’s local trails while testing bikes, he loves nothing more than loading up his self-renovated VW T5 and hitting the road. The fact that he’s a trained paramedic gives his colleagues reassurance out on the trails. So far we haven’t had to call him by his alias ‘Sani Peter’, so here’s hoping he keeps it right side up for the rest of his time here!