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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Haven't seen much online about the internals of the RS 35 Gold RL. This fork features on bikes all the way up to the $3k price-point (or double that in the case of eMTB's) and supposedly has RS vaunted Debonair air spring but is it any good? Can it be upgraded?

I recently pulled this fork apart to get a look at what’s inside.

TLDR on this fork:
  • Edit. This may well be the worst fork currently marketed by SRAM due to design and manufacturing shortcuts such as cheap, narrow bushings held in place by glue - that fails.
  • If you're spending your own money, never ever buy this fork. At the same MSRP the Marzocchi Bomber Z2 is a far better option.
  • It's basically an upsized Recon RL with Rockshox' most basic Motion Control damper and seals, and a port orifice rebound damper. Not a shim in sight. Edit. But the Recon is built better.
  • It is incompatible with the internals of current and previous 35mm Pike, Revelation, Yari and Lyrik models.
  • Edit. See this and this. The fork uses very narrow bushings - 10mm upper and lower - that are glued in place with epoxy and this glue seems prone to failure. If this epoxy fails the affected bushing will move (with associated negative outcomes - "notchy" travel from uneven bushing alignment, stanchion play, or the bushing will squeeze around the stanchion ever tighter until it barely moves). This is a possible repair to re-align bushings whose glue failed.
  • The fork's stanchion walls are thicker and the ID is smaller than other Rockshox 35mm aluminium forks. This means 35mm parts from other forks, like shimmed rebound dampers from the Revelation or Yari for example, doesn't physically fit in the fork. Edit. See post 86 for a modification to a shimmed Yari rebound damper that works.
  • SRAM uses a new ~M32/M31.8 x 0.8mm top cap thread for both air and damper top caps. This sits between the non-boost Pike (1mm) and their other 35mm forks (0.5mm). You cannot install a charger damper from any other Rockshox fork.
  • The air spring is not really Debonair. It's a standard Rockshox Solo Air spring that uses plastic seal heads, high friction O-Rings and transfers air between positive and negative chambers using a spring loaded check valve in the air spring head which opens at top-out.
  • When you get this fork it will most likely feel harsh at any speed, with loads of stiction and spiking.
  • Servicing this fork with high quality lubes and installing low friction dust wipers is the best thing you can do for it's stiction.
  • A shim to adjust the Motion Control damper's floodgate can be used to address excessive spiking at high speed impacts.
  • The air spring can be tuned with bottomless tokens, but it takes 2 maximum and you must use the 32mm tokens (part # 11.4018.032.003) not the regular Rockshox 35mm tokens.

Here is a teardown.

Dampers and Air Spring.

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Air Spring
The "Debonair" air spring is just a basic Solo Air spring with spring loaded top out bumper to equalize positive and negative pressure. There is no hollow shaft increasing negative volume, there are no low friction bushings in the lower seal head, there are no low friction seals.

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The spring does have a large negative air chamber - hence the "Debonair" moniker.

Travel changes are achieved using Rockshox All Travel Spacers (part 11.4015.450.000) - there are not different length air shafts for different travel variants.

Since the stanchion inner diameter is smaller than Lyrik, Yari, Pike and Revelation the air springs used in those forks won't physically fit into the 35 Gold...

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...but even if they did, there is no air transfer dimple in the air side stanchion.

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Dampers

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Compression Damper

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The MoCo used in the 35 Gold is Rockshox' most basic version. It looks like a plastic toy, compared to the MoCo used in the Yari for example.

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To address this fork's high speed spiking, one or more shims/spacers can be cut from an old credit card (or 3D printed) to adjust the floodgate's behavior. You lose the near-lockout ability at full close LSC if you do this. If you have access to a 3D printer, the print files are here.

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Single 0.7mm thick credit card spacer installed in this photo.

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Due to it's custom cut ~M32 x 0.8mm (or closer to M31.8 x 0.8 if that was a thing) top cap thread pitch you cannot install any Charger dampers into this fork. 0.8mm is also not a standard thread pitch (M32 dies come in 0.5, 0.75, 1.0, etc pitch variations) and no simple rethreading of a 0.5mm pitch Charger is possible without a lathe.

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T̶h̶e̶ ̶o̶n̶l̶y̶ ̶a̶v̶a̶i̶l̶a̶b̶l̶e̶ ̶d̶a̶m̶p̶e̶r̶ ̶u̶p̶g̶r̶a̶d̶e̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶F̶a̶s̶t̶ ̶U̶p̶ ̶r̶e̶p̶l̶a̶c̶e̶m̶e̶n̶t̶ ̶d̶a̶m̶p̶e̶r̶ ̶f̶r̶o̶m̶ ̶F̶a̶s̶t̶ ̶S̶u̶s̶p̶e̶n̶s̶i̶o̶n̶ ̶-̶ ̶a̶t̶ ̶$̶3̶0̶0̶.̶ ̶F̶a̶s̶t̶ ̶c̶u̶t̶s̶ ̶n̶e̶w̶ ̶0̶.̶8̶m̶m̶ ̶p̶i̶t̶c̶h̶ ̶t̶h̶r̶e̶a̶d̶s̶ ̶o̶v̶e̶r̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶e̶x̶i̶s̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶0̶.̶5̶m̶m̶ ̶p̶i̶t̶c̶h̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶a̶ ̶Y̶a̶r̶i̶ ̶d̶a̶m̶p̶e̶r̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶3̶5̶ ̶G̶o̶l̶d̶,̶ ̶s̶o̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶g̶e̶t̶ ̶s̶o̶m̶e̶t̶h̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶l̶o̶o̶k̶s̶ ̶a̶ ̶b̶i̶t̶ ̶r̶o̶u̶g̶h̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶p̶l̶a̶c̶e̶s̶.̶ ̶T̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶d̶a̶m̶p̶e̶r̶ ̶a̶l̶s̶o̶ ̶d̶o̶e̶s̶ ̶n̶o̶t̶ ̶a̶d̶d̶r̶e̶s̶s̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶3̶5̶ ̶G̶o̶l̶d̶'̶s̶ ̶p̶o̶o̶r̶ ̶r̶e̶b̶o̶u̶n̶d̶ ̶d̶a̶m̶p̶e̶r̶,̶ ̶w̶h̶i̶c̶h̶ ̶s̶t̶a̶y̶s̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶p̶l̶a̶c̶e̶ .
Edit 1. FAST Suspension no longer offers the 35 Gold damper.
Edit 2. MST in Germany now offers a version of their Yari and Revelation drop-in compression damper for the 35 Gold. Details here.

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Rebound Damper

The rebound damper is a basic port orifice damper with plastic head found in Rockshox' lowest end forks, with no shimmed high speed rebound circuit. The 35's smaller stanchion ID prevents use of the shimmed version from a Revelation or Yari.

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Bushings

This fork's bushings are comically narrow. SRAM uses 10mm wide upper and lower bushings which are glued in place. Glued with epoxy; they can come loose and migrate.

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Dust Wipers

The dust wipers that came on this fork were not the lower friction SKF-made seals that are now standard on all other 35mm RS forks, but the higher quality wipers fit. 35 Gold wipers on left, SKF-made seals on right. SRAM may now be installing the SKF-made seals on this fork, check before spending money on new seals.

1918477
 

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Great info, really interesting! Thanks.
Always great to see what marketing acronyms translate to in real life product performance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Yeah.
We have two older RS forks, all frankenbits thrown together. One is essentially a 2014/5/6/7 32mm Revelation Solo Air but running a 32mm Pike dual air spring and reshimmed RCT3 MoCo damper with a reshimmed rebound damper. While that 32mm fork is modified it is still old Rockshox tech and the fork is streets ahead of the 35 Gold in every respect except stiffness. It's plusher, more composed, never packs up, never spikes. Good thing the 35 is on a hardtail...
 

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That damper isn't actually that bad. It's the MoCo damper found in the Argyle DJ fork. Much better than the turn-key POS on the low end forks with little to no adjustment.

Sent from my moto g(7) power using Tapatalk
 

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No need to mix words, that damper is REALLY bad. Its the lowest of the low end. There's no compelling reason for that fork to exist. Port orifice rebound dampers choke massively, and easily.

The revelation is an entry level fork. It works pretty well most of the time and tends to be just fine for new or even intermediate riders. Anyone with a little experience will quickly out-ride a revelation and be better served by a higher end fork... the 35 gold falls significantly short of the revelation.

I would ride it as-is and leave it. You're starting significantly behind trying to upgrade it.
 

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It seems that you think that fork is not worth of upgrading with Fast suspension damper?



Is there also some troubles with rebound?


If it is wiser to change whole fork, which one is good value for moneys and maybe upgradeable easily? Bike is Specialized Levo with 150mm fork.
 

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A Mattoc is good value for money. There aren't many upgrade options though, because the damper and air spring are top notch as is. If you really want a fork just for upgrading, I'd get a Yari, Pike, Lyrik or Fox 36. You'd spend (much) more money than on a Mattoc and won't have significantly higher performance though (after upgrading). A Mezzer is cheaper than an upgraded Lyrik or 36 and outperforms both it seems.
 

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This fork is similar when the RS sektor came out. A lot of older tech including the chassis that cannot be updated to anything newer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
MTB media described it in superlatives without actually knowing a thing about this fork. No, it's not "basically a 2018 Revelation".
 

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This was really interesting. Thanks rete!

Peeps are trying to sell their takeoff's on Pinkbike for only a few bucks less than a Pike.
 

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Thank you, rete! Very insightful and informative. I've read in another thread you've rebuild the fork with the skf seals and specific lubricants with improved results.

I'm planning to do the same rebuild with my 35rl. You've mentions using Maxima Plush on the uppers, Supergliss on the lowers and DSG on parts and o-rings.

Is there a specific reason you chose these lubes? Or are other lubes that get same/better slickness.

And did you also used the DSG on the seals? Or is a slickoleum grease a better option? There seems to be some conflicting info on the net about the do/dont use of grease with PTFE on forks.
 

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Well, this clears things up. Thanks. Since last post i've been reading up on dougals wisedom on all things lube fork related.

I'm located in the Netherlands, Europe and Motorex products are pretty easy to come by.
Inspired by Dougals website, I'm opting for Motorex racing fork oil 2.5wt instead of Maxima Plush 5wt. They have roughly the same cSt values.

But I would like to hear your opinion on this alternative.
Given my limited knowledge, I might oversee a downside on this option for the uppers.
 
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