a Cross Country Rider
from Northern Virginia
Date Reviewed: October 13, 2007
Strengths: Light, reliable
Weaknesses: Noticeable flex, less noticeable damper, plastic hardware
Good low travel (63mm) fork for XC hardtails, with few reliability issues in terms of frequency of maintenance, or lack thereof... When I first got my SLs I installed Speed Springs, so it felt soft and smooth overall, especially compared to when I went back to the stock parts (I had gained weight). The elastomers are ok, but definitely not the natural feel of coiled springs. I really wished they had designed it with more metal hardware -- aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, anything instead of plastic! The low profile, plastic top cap design just plain sucked. I don't know who came up with it, but what works as a water bottle does not work as a bolt. They are like butter to tools and can easily lose threads on reinstallation. Anyway, it never effected ride (no top cap liftoff), but still an issue when it came time for upkeep. The dampability is not really that noticeable, and the bright yellow paintjob is not everyone's idea of attractive or even tolerable, but neither ever actually hurt performance. Despite its flaws it has lasted for years.
I got this fork 10 years ago. I raced on it for a couple of years, commuted to work, went on countless mountain and road trips and ... forgot about cleaning it. I think I opened it once or twice to apply judy butter for lubrication, that's it. It feels great, I still do like to take it through rough trails and it handles as good as new. I can't believe this fork still functions. I am waiting for something wrong to happen so I can get a new fork, but it doesn't look like it shows any kind of weakness. If you get it - your are stuck with it for a while.
Weaknesses: Could be alot plusher but overall no big weakness.
The fact that this shock is still functioning like the day I bought it say it all. All the new technology is discouraging when a $600 fork blows out after 6 months. I want parts that I can put on and forget about...The 97 Judy has been old faithful.
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: July 9, 2001
Strengths: Durable as HELL; Plush; Veeery light;
Weaknesses: Flex(kind of remedied with a better hub) Damn damping is not too tuneable.
A very very tough fork. So far I did 3 head on, full speed hard impacts with it - all of them to complete stop. The fork hasn't moved a bit(although, that didn't save my forehead from being slammed into a truck, with the first headon crash:))! The crown does some funny creaking noise that bothers me. There is flex - not lots, but easily noticeable, but hey, at 1.2kg this fork is as solid as should be expected for such a lightweight thing! The springs are replaced so now it has 100mm springs and 50mm MCU instead of 100mm MCU and 50mm springs, but the current springs are too soft for me, I'm a heavy guy(85kg). For me, this for is a dream for XC racing - it's light, and moreover, it's dependable. My advice: if you ride XC buy one if you can - you wont regret it!!! Hopefully i'll run a Psylo soon, but i'll never sell my Judy. Bottom line - excellent XC, but has stood pretty well to my numerous DH abuses!!!
Similar Products Used: Suntour-used; Tested alot of stuff(almost everything that's worth it)
Bike Setup: Peugeot ALU hardtail, Judy SL97, Crappy Shimano drivetain, Nokian Gazzaloddi front tire(2.3)-helps the Judy a lot;)
from Calgary, Alberta
Date Reviewed: October 27, 2000
Strengths: Weight, looks, seviceability
Weaknesses: Wearability, tuneability
The shock is basicaly O.K. for XC type riding, but once you get onto some rough downhill stuff WATCH OUT! They flex (even when new) and control can be an issue if it is cold out. The bushings wear out fast! You have got to be into maintainance to keep these shocks healthy. Overall, though, a pretty good set-up on my bike. I use it on all sorts of terrain and it has not exploded or anything like other reviewers claim, perhaps they don't use elbows once they have front suspension!! Three flamers (no more, no less) This shock came on the bike when I bought it, but I don't think that I would buy it aftermarket (way too $$$) Go with one like a Bomber for the price.
Similar Products Used: lots of RST-s RockShox SID and a lot more
Bike Setup: KHS Alite 4000 XT-XTR
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: March 3, 2000
Strengths: Good performance if upgraded. 97 have flaws that work in your benefit.
Weaknesses: sucks out of Box, stock cartridge is very weak.
ATTENTION ALL 97 JUDY SL OWNERS, there is a design flaw in the 97 one piece slider assembly. Mine broke and RS sent me a NEW 98 set with disk tabs and NEW SEALS, CART. , BOOTS, WIPERS, AND BUSHINGS FOR FREE!!!! thats customer service.There was an agreement to replace all broken 97 assemblies in order to avoid suit, best of all it took less then a WEEK!!! for RS, usual turnaround is a month or more. So basically I got a new fork for free. So, I suggest that all of you who have a 97 on piecer to ride the hell outta them to break the arch in ANY way shape or fashion, and trade that puppy (free of charge) for a practically brand new fork. I use speedseals, hydracoil springs,and 80mm carts with plenty of slick honey ....MAN what a sweet fork!!
Similar Products Used: ATTENTION ALL 97 JUDY SL OWNERS, there is a design flaw in the 97 one piece slider assembly. Mine broke and RS sent me a NEW 98 set with disk tabs and NEW SEALS BOOTS, WIPERS, AND BUSHINGS FOR FREE!!!!
a Weekend Warrior
from Bothell, WA
Date Reviewed: November 2, 1999
Strengths: Light wt., many upgrade parts
Weaknesses: Poor seals, poor qualitiy anodizing, fast wear, too much maintenance, poor shock damping, blew the preload adjuster, MCU & spring??? 1) The seals do not seat tightly; allowing water to enter the fork.2) Water and mud in the fork cause rapid wear of the anodizing on the stantions.3) The worn stantions present too much forward and backward play. This can be hairy when you try to rip a curved berm.4) Beacause of the poor seal the maintenance become an issue you cannot ignore. Rebuilds and cleaning after every other ride. I didn't buy a fork to nurse it. I bought the fork to ride.5) The shock needs some help. I can never find enough damping. Where are you my little shock?6) The plastic sping perch in the preload adjuster snapped after a big hit. I needed to upgrade to the Rockshox Al preload.7) I could never adjust the MCU and spring combination. I never felt right. I replaced it with single steel springs.
I am 5'-11, 210 lbs and I would not recommend this fork to anyone my size. If you're 200 lbs and ride hard; look some place other than a light wt Rockshox SL. It's too wimpy and too much work for a tiny performance. It wore out too quickly and required maintenance after every other ride!!! I have finally determined the shock have so much clearance; I can use 30 wt synth. oil and get the best performance damping. It's never felt better! Forget the 5-10 wt oil, the seals never worked and will allow water to mix. This give you nothing but grief and stickly fork performance. I'm using 80 wt synth. gear oil in the stantions. This stuff will keep on performing under water. I figured I have 0.015 wear in the bushing and stantion; this is more than enough clearance for 80 wt synth. oil. With the oil performing, the fork never felt smoother. (Note: I do not recommend these modifications for the new or tight fitted forks.) I also use a liberal coating of England bee hive grease. The upper seals to the bushings are packed with this grease. The preload adjuster broke after a big hit. I had to replace these with the Al preload adjuster. I changed the MCU sping combination to just a single spring. I get more progressive action from the fork and better low speed bump and high speed drop-in preformance. This is just too much work to tune the darn thing for such small performance gains. I've got it working but it's not going to last. The way the seals perform and the wear I see on the stantions; the performance modifications I have make, will fade quickly. I do not recommend this fork. I've ordered a new Marzocchi Z2. I saw a Marzocchi fork being dissassembled. The oil in the fork still looked like oil. The Rockshox oil look like mud and metal filings. I think Rockshox need to improve the plating, anodizing, seals and make the stantions thicker. I know this will defeat the purpose of light wt. ...but it will improve the reliability. ...and it will be a different fork.I have two other rockshox on my bikes. The XL have suffered shock disfunction and required some tuning by the bike shop to fit my riding. The XC is on my wifes bike and it seems to work, OK. My wife is 5'-3 and 110 lbs on a good day. She's not going to strain the equipment. Rockshox, if you're reading this; please build a light wt. higher reliability shock for the heavier stronger riders. I don't need a sub-3 lbs fork that don't perform and require a lot of maintenance. I wouldn't mind a 3-1/4 lbs fork that performs, with less maintenance and higher reliability.
Similar Products Used: Rockshox XL, XC, White Brother SC90, Manitou SXR, Marzocchi Z2
Bike Setup: Kona King Kikapu, Fox Amp 5R rear shock
from corvallis, OR
Date Reviewed: October 22, 1999
These forks, with the Englund air cartridges, are pretty good. They weigh less than 3 lb, and feel great - nice n active. BUT the fork has a flaw, and that is in the durability % seals. They were fine for a couple of months, then all hell breaks loose! The seals let in a bit of water, wear away the bushing, then lets in more water as the legs rock forwards and backwards. Got new seals (took over 3 months to get some), and new bushings (same time). All nice and new on first ride. After two weeks of riding, the bushings are shot again. God only knows what will happen when the rain starts. As standard, these forks should be shot. But with the upgrade, they become reasonable if you just use them for racing (ie don't ride them too often - they can't handle it.
a Weekend Warrior
from Pinetop, AZ
Date Reviewed: October 19, 1999
Strengths: This shock is a typical RockShox product - really OK. Not great, but OK. I had the 80mm Long Travel version and it worked pretty good for the two years I had it.
Weaknesses: Those plastic caps that hold the elastomer-spring stacks are high-speed projectiles if you come down too fast and too hard. Actually drew blood when it hit my face. RockShox said never heard of that before - BS. I've talked to several who had the same experience. The cartridge held up for two years (!), not like my '95 XC which went through four until I replace them with a Risse Gem / Speed Springs combo. When the cartridge gave up the ghost, it did with a BANG - litteraly. Blew apart spewing oil like a whale clearing its blow hole. Pretty cool, actually.
Again, this shock is OK. Not great, not bad (compared to some), just OK. Two years under my lard butt and only two major failures (top cap projectile and cartridge explosion).
Similar Products Used: RockShox XC, RockShox XL, Marzocchi Z2 BAM.
Bike Setup: Y-50 with a Stratos Pro rear shock w/lockout.
a Cross-Country Rider
from Raleigh, NC
Date Reviewed: September 8, 1999
Strengths: Lightweight, appearance, stability
Weaknesses: none just yet
These shocks are unbelievable!! They work perfect for my style of riding, not too plush yet still well enough equipped to handle anything on the trail. I got a great deal on them too, only $200!! I strongly recommend these shocks to anyone who needs a lightweight, durable fork.
Weaknesses: it is weak, it bottoms out easily, the cartidge blows like nothing. I don't like it in any way. It doesn't suit my style of riding
I don't suggest this product. RockShock ripped off its customers, for a shitty fork. My friend cracked his, which shows it weakness. I cracked the cartredge within the first month. I feel the '96 was a better fork. I am going to switch to a marzzochi
from St. Catharines, Ontario
Date Reviewed: July 19, 1999
Strengths: light weight, but not 2.65 lbs more like 3 lbs
Weaknesses: Flexy Type II internals don't work as well as other designs. Damper has history of blowing up - leaking
The fork is light at about 3 lbs. The Type II spring system was good for the mid 90's, but has now been surpassed by numerous other manufacturers. The Rock Shox damper has a deserved history as being unreliable. It's range of damping is also minimal. The fork is stiff enough for uphill and level ground riding for most people. If you start riding at higher speeds such as when the trail points downward, stiffening the fork will pay bid dividends. Stiffness is a problem with a lot of forks leading the way to oversize hubs/axles, triple clamp designs, etc. A brake booster can also help stiffen the fork.I would only recommend this fork if purchased at a discount by someone willing to do the following:Throw away the stock internals and replace with either springs and something like the White Brothers damping cartridge, or with an Englund Air kit, which if you want to keep the weight down, is recommended. (See my review under Englund Air Kits.) With the Englund kit and Judy SL you will have a good sub 3 lb fork that you will be able to tune (independent compression, rebound and spring settings), rebuild, and repair yourself without special tools.Install a good stiff carbon fiber brake booster as this will also add torsional stiffness to the fork. I made my own from ¼ aluminum plate as most models in the market are not designed for torsional or twisting motion. Mine weighs 70 grams, a bit more than the 50-55 gram norm, but is twice as stiff in torsion. Braking is also improved, although that is of secondary consequence as V-brakes are so good to begin with.If you keep the rubber boots on, remember to lift and clean underneath as part of your post ride bike cleaning. I also throw on a bit of Tri-Flow while I'm at it. If you replace the boots with a fork wiper, lift the wiper, clean and re-grease under as a regular part of your bike cleaning.With a little work, this is a good fork for the money as they can be purchased relatively cheaply. If you are paying full price, there are better models on the market.3/5 due to light weight and potential.