RockShox Lyric Ultimate Suspension Fork Review

The 2023 RockShox  Lyric is backed by a new damper, air spring and chassis

RockShox Lyric Ultimate 2023 and Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate Mountain Bike Suspension

The 2023 Lyric Ultimate is a massive capacity fork with impressive usability and impressive performance


The redesigned chassis of the 2023 RockShox Lyrik is fitted with the brand’s all-new Charger 3 Damper and Trial-Chatter Absorption Buttercups with the Denburn Air + Air Spring, all in an effort to reduce its focus.

Although it still uses 35mm diameter stanchions, the redesigned lower castings and crown are built from the ground up.

These changes are combined with shorter travel options (now 140mm, 150mm and 160mm), aimed at keeping Lyrikโ€™s intended use away from any overlap with its smaller and larger siblings, Pike and ZEB;  Both of these have been refreshed.

The top-flight Ultimate Model I tested receives all the latest technology from RockShox and retails for ยฃ 1,013 / $ 1,049 / โ‚ฌ 1,134.

My pair of 160mm-travel, 44mm offset Lyric Ultimate Forks weighed 2,042g with uncut steerer tube.

2023 RockShox  Lyric Ultimate Specifications and Features


  The green ‘heavy meadow’ colour changes the red colour of the old Lyric Ultimate.  )

Visually, the 2023 Lyric is different from the previous model and not because of its all-new ‘Heavy Meadow’ colour.  The following castings have been slimmed down and remodelled with a more angular design.

The result, RockShox claims, is “a hyper-focused new chassis that is critically harder to deliver in Lyric’s legendary performance”.  Despite Lyric’s rebalancing, the Rockshawks still want to be able to handle the broader terrain.

The torsional stiffness is said to be 20 per cent higher compared to the old model.

Adapted exclusively for the Ultimate version of the fork – I tested it – this is the ultimate bushing package.  This will see increased overlap in both upper and lower bushings, which, says RockShocks, reduce friction.

  The pressure-release valves are located on the back of the lower casting. 

Pressure-releasing valves are moulded on the back of the lower cast and used to eliminate unnecessary pressure build-up at the lower level.

Charger 3 Damper

The Charger 3 Damper is an all-new design with a spring-supported internal floating piston. 

Arguably, the all-new Charger 3 damper – which is far removed from the previous Charger 2 and 2.1’s sealed-bladder design – is the star of the show.

It uses an internal floating piston (IFP) – a technology similar to rear shocks – that has a spring to create ‘back pressure’ inside the damper rather than relying on bladder contraction or expansion during oil filling or contraction.  An extension of the fork.

RockShox says it’s one of the things it did to help “eliminate high-speed and low-speed compression [adjustment] cross-talk.”

Of course, the change to IFP isn’t just a damper.  Low- and high-speed damping circuits have been completely rebuilt with a “redesigned valving design”, which helps reduce cross-talk.

This independent compression-damping performance is said to be the first of its kind for mountain bike forks.

  DebonAir + Air Spring

The DebonAir + Spring fitted to Lyric is designed specifically for this model. )

Lyric’s air spring has been updated with positive and negative air chambers specifically tuned for the intended use of the fork.  It is designed to take into account the stress build-up within the fork’s loaders during compression.

The new spring looks at the displacement of the transfer port to solve the problems of the previous two iterations of the Debon Air, and is said to strike a balance of super-supply, creating ride-height problems without absorbing its travel.

Includes DebonAir + Air Spring Buttercups, vibration-reducing rubberized pucks installed between fork lowerers and spring and damper

Buttercups first started with Flight Attendant ZEB, Lyric and Pike and are said to be 20 percent “block … high frequency vibrations … from trial”.

Thanks to the small, rubberized pucks mounted at the base of the damper and the air-spring pistons pressed at the base of the lower legs.  These pucks are generally said to resist vibrations that pass directly from the bottom to the damper of the fork and the air spring.

Testing the 2023 RockShox Lyrik Ultimate

Lyric is a hard-hitting fork. )

I was fortunate enough to get a set of 2023 RockShox Lyrik Ultimate 160mm-Travel Forks to test with the all new RockShocks Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate Rear Shock on my Marin Alpine Trail XR before its official release.

Although my Alpine Trail XR is a test bed fitted with a host of different parts, it comes from a factory with MY21 RockShox Lyrik and Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate Shock, which facilitates direct comparison between RockShox’s previous and new iterations.

The Marin Alpine Trail XR

Here’s how we tested the 2023 Rockshawks Lyric Ultimate

Alex spent several weeks testing the forks and trauma of his home in Scotland’s Tweed Valley, which hosted the UK Enduro World Series and the legendary Glentress Trail Centre.

From riding well-trodden test loops for hours, back-to-back testing on the same trails with new and old forks, they were able to gain a solid understanding of how the 2023 kit works.

2023 Rockshawks Lyric Ultimate Setup

If I say 2023 Lyric is straightforward to set up, I might be lying.  The new Air Spring and Damper virtually calls for an exceptional method to setup than RockShox’s outgoing fashions and different forks withinside the marketplace together with Fox’s 36 and 38.

Without a setup guide that exceeds the recommended Spring Pressure (80psi) for my weight (76kg kit) on the sticker on the back of the fork lovers, I rely on my experience and knowledge to get ready to ride the Lyric, but I shouldn’t have.

Initially, I struggled to match Lyric, but once I experienced it as I wanted it,

I initially installed three volume-reducer spacers – the same number I installed on previous Lyric forks – and set the pressure to 80psi: the recommended amount for my body weight.

I set all low and high-speed compression damping to fully open, and adjusted the rebound to a fully exposed experience.  This setup gave me approximately 30mm or 18.75 percent sag.  It was terrible on the trail, where the early part of the fork’s journey was too fast to narrow, but the spring-based ramp up was tough and sudden.

Increasing low- and high-speed compression damping helped the fork stop eating the first third of its journey, but the ramp-up problem was still there.

At this point, I am concerned about the performance of the fork, but I have spoken with SRAM, recommending that the redesigned DebonAir + Spring remove all installed volume-reducer spacers since they do not need them.

Reconsidering my setup, I removed all the spacers and re-inflated the spring to 80psi.  I set the damping adjustments (other than the rebound) to their midpoints.  As such, the fork started to get better.

I gradually reduced the spring tension to improve their smoothness, eventually ending up with 65psi, a volume-reducer spacer – giving a larger 47mm, or 29.37 percent sag – and damper settings as follows: High-speed compression 0/5 (fully open);  Low-speed compression 7/15 (medium, stock setting);  Low-speed rebound 0/18 (fully open).

Set up this way, the wall-like ramp-up is gone, and the fork did not eat too much of a blow behind it.

While this is hardly a revolutionary setup, it does serve as a good illustration of how different the all-new Lyric is when compared to the old one and how bad it can feel when set incorrectly.

If you want to buy a 2023 Lyrik, I recommend you spend a lot of time trying to set it up and try several different options.

The big takeaway for me is how different and handled the Lyric Air Spring is in 2023 compared to the outgoing model, and it seems that volume-reducer spacers are no longer needed to maintain ride height and provide adequate bottom-out resistance.

2023 RockShox Lyrik Ultimate Ride Impressions

As I discovered when setting up Lyric, the new fork’s standout feature is its mid-stroke support and gradual, smooth ramp-to-bottom, all-new Charger 3 and DebonAir + spring working together.

Category-leading damper support

The damper support rate was seriously impressive even at low spring pressure and emphasised the fork’s agro behaviour.  I was able to confidently weigh the front wheel while the steering on-the-brakes hit the catch berms without fear of diving deep into the fork or engulfing the middle stroke.

In berms or large tics, this is equally impressive and relevant.  The damper and spring provided geometry-stabilising support, where the height of the front ride does not continuously sink and even rises with exaggerated changes in body weight.

This means I can focus on riding harder and faster with more control instead of compensating for my lack of moisture.

I no longer have to rely on the spring as the only tool to maintain ride height and ensure stability.  Although I ride a more stable sag than I usually do – about 30 percent – when riding trails, the fork is consistently in good stead on its journey.

A wonderful spring show

This damper support has worked exceptionally well with DebonAir + Air Spring.

Arguably, I found the 2023 Lyrik’s Air Spring to be the best I’ve ever ridden because it has been able to handle low spring pressure with an impressively complementary but effective ramp-up and helped the damper to not blow its travel.

Often, I use full travel on the slope, but never experienced a single hard-stop bottom during the entire test period, which is testament to their amazing performance.

On the big hits, they absorb massive amounts, really smoothing out the thick terrain with control and grip.  Neither did they sink, they couldn’t recover to the next bump, or they felt like compression spikes, cementing their big-bump performance.

This means that the rigidity of large, square-edged hits does not exist, which helps reduce fatigue during long landing.

The familiar chassis feeling

Although the chassis has been redesigned and looks different from the previous model, the forks still incorporate that fuzzy rigidity and flex known for the Lyric.

In the steep terrain at high load corners, most of my weight was pressing the front end, there was no discernible flex or twist, and the front wheel tracked the line I pointed at with pin-point accuracy.  In high-speed corners, the same story;  The steering accuracy was admirable.

However, this accuracy did not come at the expense of comfort and was not a steering deflection problem caused by an overly stiff fork.

Although the RockShox Lyrik has been made into its all-mountain fork, the 160mm-travel version is bold enough to deliver enduro-like performance.  Like the Damper and Spring, the chassis is exceptionally balanced in the way it feels.

Perfect shyness

In real life, in terms of on-trial performance, the new Lyric has been a spectacular success, but it is not entirely perfect.

The biggest downfall I found was the short-bulge display.  Buttercups are arguably the toughest, muted and moisturised feel on small bumps, but lack the full bump conformity.

Excessive trail centre runs filled with small, jagged rocks are less likely to be absorbed by the lyric.  Instead of blowing the fork in and out of its travels, it is almost constant until the bulge sizes get bigger, then it starts to move.

Through the bars, they felt like a high-density rubber bouncing ball rather than a soft foam or sponge ball rolled over the bouncy surface.  No hardness is conveyed, but a sponge or foam ball more precisely corresponds to the bumps of the surface.  The fork was like a high-density rubber ball in this regard.

This is noteworthy, though it does not cause discomfort, does not limit traction or is usually off the way they ride.

It was difficult for me to pinpoint the cause, but it eliminated any potential bushing binding caused by the lower limbs ‘pinch’ on the hub body when the axle was tightened.

The new Lyric’s re-jigged air spring feels like it could have been caused by a clash inside the damper or a large bushing overlap.  Unfortunately, I was unable to test the second set of lyrics to see if this was a feature or a single.

However, I managed to drive the new ZEB briefly and it was more complimentary at the start of its journey compared to Lyrik.  This suggests that it is mostly related to air spring design.

2023 Rockshawks Lyric Ultimate Performance Details

Pressure-relief valves: The neat addition to the range, and the performance difference after cleansing the built-in pressure in the lows is significant.  I find that the new Lyrik is particularly sensitive to stress formation and makes it less sensitive.  Purifying the flowers on every other run will make them feel better.

Compression Damping Adjustment: Experimenting with damper adjustments – by fully closing and fully opening the low and high speed, and at the same time both completely and completely closing – revealed how much they affected the fork performance.  Obviously, RockShox has worked hard to provide a range of damping that works for a large number of riders, with the former being the default damper setting, especially on the compression side, with toughness and plenty of traction to ensure it is fully open or close enough to open.

Rebound Damping Adjustment: This iteration of the Lyric has a lower-speed rebound damping than the outgoing model.  I opened up the Rebound Adjustment completely and found that it bordered on my preferences quite fast.  This may be a problem for lightweight riders or riders with similar tastes, but others may not.

 Rebound damping can be lighter.  Mick Kirkman / SRAM)

Air-Spring Setup: In my experience with the new Lyrics, the recommended air-spring pressures on the chart behind the fork are a fair way from the setup I ended up with.  Although this is not a separate issue for RockShocks, it may result from the setup required for the terrain I am riding.  A more personalised setup calculator can be helpful and can alleviate this problem.

Will the 2023 Rockshawks Lyric Ultimate follow Rockshawks’ cross-talk cuts?

 RockShox’s claims to eliminate ‘cross talk’ between low and high speed compression adjustments are huge.  Arguably, doing so is the Holy Grail in damper performance and requires significant technology to be perfect.

For the 2023 Lyric, the Rockshawks are very close to achieving their goal.  The range of low- and high-speed compression damping adjustments, which do not feel that they affect one another, is certainly very broad.

This is a huge improvement over the previous dampers and means that the compression-damping type can be closed almost completely without affecting the other.

However, the extremes – where the adjustment was completely closed – felt another little bit affected.

I find the low-speed adjuster to be completely closed by the high-speed fully open, fork-hard on high-speed hits compared to the low-speed half closed.  Similarly, closing the low-speed fully open high-speed adapter caused the fork to ride higher on its journey compared to the high-speed mid-adjustment.

RockShox can only prove on the dyno whether or not the Charger 3 damper works in the way it promises, but I’m not able to judge because I don’t have access to that device.

Going by how they feel, I’m comfortable to say that the progress RockShox has made here is impressive and there are some forks in the market that have little interference between damper adjustments like the Charger 3.

How does the 2023 RockShox Lyrik Ultimate evaluate to the MY21 RockShox Lyrik Ultimate?

The biggest difference between the 2023 Lyrik Ultimate and the MY21 Lyrik Ultimate is how they feel at the start of their journey.

During the back-to-back test, the old fork requires less force to access the first part of its journey, making the bumps lighter on erosion trail centre runs.

This tenderness reduces support in the first third of the journey in Old Lyrk, where in steep sections it dives more readily into the windmill and ramp-up spacers caused by volume.

 Image 24

The Lyric Ultimate is a fantastic fork with good feel, plenty of control and a sturdy chassis.  Russell Burton / Immediate Media

 On the contrary, the new fork is at a much higher altitude on its journey, providing impressive support.

 Rebound damping – as I mentioned earlier – is much lighter in old Lyric and the range of adjustment means it can slow it down.  The new Lyrik’s rebound damping is heavier and the adjustable range is smaller, especially towards the fast end. This may be a hassle for a few riders

 As for what’s best, the new 2023 Lyrik is a significant improvement over the old fork, especially with its air-spring feel and compression-damping compatibility and performance.

 Pros: Mid-stroke damper support is unrivalled;  Redefining the air spring standard;  Feature-laden additions improve performance;  Better in big, chunky terrain

 Cons: Small-bump sensitivity is not perfect

 2023 Rockshawks Lyric Ultimate Bottom Line

 The new Lyrik has been a tremendous success, and arguably one of the best mountain bike suspension forks currently on the market.

 The support and ride height control offered by both the Charger 3 damper and the Debon Air + Spring is impressive, but it sets a new standard because that support does not come with the sacrifice of high-speed, small-bump tenderness.

 It has meaningful and fully usable compression adjustments that significantly alter the way the fork feels, making it highly adjustable to a wide range of riders and trail conditions.  Its all-new chassis is not a step back from the much-respected performance of the previous model to boot.

 The short-bulge sensation, in my experience, is less than the previous model, which is welcome in the Damper’s full potential in all other respects.

Product Specifications

Our rating: 4 Star out of 5

Product Price GBP ยฃ 1013.00

Weight 2,042g (160mm travel, 29in wheel) – 160mm travel, 29in wheel, uncut steerer tube

What we’ve tested is the 2023 RockShox Lyrik Ultimate 160mm Travel, 29in Wheel.  44 mm offset

The year is 2023

Brand name Rockshox


Features Charger 3, DebonAir + with Buttercups, Pressure Relief Valves

Boost Axel 15×110

Damper adjustments Low-speed compression, High-speed compression, Low-speed relapse

Lockout no

Offset 44mm

Wind according to Spring

Stanchion diameter 35mm

Travel 160mm

Wheel Size 29in / 700c More Details

Sources RockShox

Drive Pilots

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