Review: RockShox Reverb

It's hard to imagine that not too long ago dropper posts where an oddity found only on custom builds and made by only a handful of manufacturers. Even though the benefits were clear, the early samples were unreliable, short on drop and needed lots and lots of care.

RockShox Reverb 1.jpg
Fast forward to today and dropper posts are commonplace on mountain bikes with even XCO bikes starting to get in on the action. We are now spoiled for choice with offerings from several big name manufacturers, but it was the launch of the RockShox Reverb that really stirred the market.

 

There are a number of Reverb models featuring varying travel lengths, post diameters and external or Stealth (internal) cable routing.
We rode a Reverb Stealth with 125mm drop with a 31.6mm diameter. Please note that this review is not of the newer updated Reverb announced in March this year.

 

While actuation of the original Reverb relied on the same type of plastic tubing used on RockShox's X-Loc suspension remotes, from 2012 onwards models were fitted with a hydraulic brake line with a new design to prevent disconnection under duress and to make fitment easier. Each seatpost also shipped with an Enduro Collar, which could clamp to the upper shaft and allow the rider to set a drop limit of the seatpost, and a bleed kit as standard.

 

Specifications (2012 - 2015 models):

  • Weight: 560g – 355mm, 30.9mm, 100mm; 570g – 380mm, 30.9mm, 125mm; 570g – 430mm, 31.6mm, 150mm
  • Lengths: 100mm drop - 355, 420mm; 125mm drop - 380mm, 420mm; 150mm drop - 430mm
  • Hose length: 2000mm
  • Remote: Discrete or Match Maker X, in left or right hand versions
  • Available Travel: 100mm, 125mm, and 150mm
  • Diameters: 31.6 and 30.9
  • Standover Height: 33mm
  • Adjustment Type: Infinite
  • Clampset: Zero offset, two bolt head

The Tech


What sets the Reverb apart from most other dropper posts, especially those that were around in 2012, is the use of hydraulic fluid rather than a cable to actuate the post. Even today there are few hydraulic actuated seatposts - certainly none that have proven themselves as tough and reliable as the Reverb.

 

RockShox Reverb 3.jpg

 

The post is activated using the XLoc remote which pushes 2.5wt hydraulic fluid down the line to open the main oil flow valve. A key design feature is that the hydraulic remote fluid and the seatpost's oil and air springs are all kept separate from each other. The remote fluid is contained within the XLoc trigger, hose and the Reverb's head, while the air spring is enclosed at the bottom of the outer tube. The post oil that allows the Reverb to travel up and down, and also holds it firmly in place, flows between the inner and outer tubes, and is backed up with an internal floating piston to keep the Reverb from becoming soft, if the saddle has to be raised by hand.

 

On the remote side there is an aluminium dial that is used to adjust the return speed. Turning the dial alters the oil volume within the remote system, raising or lowering the height of the main valve within the seatpost. Different heights use more or less of the taper on the valve, dictating the amount of oil flow that is allowed to move between the inner and outer tubes and with it the seatpost's return speed.

 

Another convenient design feature is the incorporation of the MatchMaker X-Clamp which allows the mounting of Guide or Level brakes, a Reverb remote and a gear shifter on a single handlebar clamp. This makes for a very neat, uncluttered handlebar. The only downside is that the adjustment of each control is limited and you will have to find a happy medium in how close or far away from your grips you want all your controls.

 


RockShox Reverb 2.jpg

RockShox Reverb 4.jpg


One thing worth noting is that the levers are right or left hand specific and are designed to mount on top of the handlebar. Going that route means an awkward reach is required to get your thumb to the remote. I have found it better to mount the remote under the handlebar. Mounted upside down the remote is easier to push with a natural gear shifter like movement. With the advent of 1x drivetrains most users mount a right hand top lever on the underside of the handlebar where the left shifter would be.

 

On The Trail


There are several benefits to riding with a dropper seatpost. The main advantage is to get the saddle and seatpost out of the way on technical descents. This allows greater freedom of movement without having to worry about taking a hit from your saddle. You can easily move your weight backwards and forwards as dictated by the trail conditions, keeping your centre of gravity lower for better balance, more control and confidence.

 

This is a potential confidence boost to beginners or riders who are tackling technical trails for the first time. With a saddle at full extension, a rider's weight is pushed forward when descending which puts the rider at increased risk of an over the bar experience. If you need to stop mid trail, it is also a lot easier to do so with your saddle out of the way - and a major plus when getting back on again.

 

To drop the saddle, raise your behind, hold the remote in and sit back down. This will lower the saddle. Should you wish to not drop the saddle all the way down, simply release the remote at the desired height. To return the saddle to full height, press the remote again while standing clear. Remember, the speed at which it will extend can be adjusted with the dial at the remote.

 

Reliability


3 Years. That is how long my Reverb worked without any care or attention, other than one bleed between a bike change. Compared to other droppers I have owned and used, the Reverb has been as close to set and forget as they come. The Reverb's "Connectamajig" allows for several cable disconnects and reconnects before a system bleed is required and makes it a breeze to route the hose onto or inside the frame.

 

Over the years, there has been no increase in lateral play in the saddle. It appears to be exactly the same as the first time I fitted it with only the slightest sign of "lift" when tugged on at fully extension.

 

Recently the seatpost started returning to full height slower and slower until it finally refused to move upwards at all. I knew the day was coming and purposely neglected routine internal maintenance to see just how long it would last.

 

Should your Reverb need some love, the local agents have all the service kits required from basic interval services right up to full rebuild kits. To ensure maximum life, I advise servicing your Reverb at least once a year. I was present when mine was stripped down by the local distributor and it is not something I would leave to the untrained.

 

RockShox Reverb 6.jpg
Out with the old.

 

RockShox Reverb 7.jpg
In with the new.

 

Verdict


If you are in the market for a premium dropper seatpost, the RockShox Reverb is definitely the one to get. The Reverb has proven to be a fit and forget affair, operating smoothly for three years before needing any attention. The hydraulic lever performs well over cable operated competitors and there are enough seatpost sizes and travel options to suit most riders.

 

Pros
- Reliable
- Does not suffer the same fate as cable operated droppers that need ongoing adjustment
- Local back up and service
- Infinite travel adjust
- Design features make fitment and bleed a simple task

 

Cons
- Hydraulic lever actuation can be tricky to work with should something go badly wrong
- Premium quality comes at a price






25 Comments

rouxtjie, Aug 08 2016 02:18

Wish I had the same reliability experience as you...sadly my reverb stealth is the worst piece of kit I have bought to date...servicing / rebuilding it costs an arm and a leg so just went for something new...

 

Sitting in a wooden box at my house

AlanD, Aug 08 2016 06:14

Agree with rouxtjie. I had to service mine two to three times a year (non-stealth) that cost a fortune.

Eventually sold it and got a 2016 giant dropper - best decision ever.

Bizkit031, Aug 08 2016 06:31

Yea mine been replace under warranty already and now the warranty one also giving me problems,it's time for a KS me thinks

IH8MUD, Aug 08 2016 06:36

Ja, it is nice and all, if it came with your bike . .cool.  

 

If you want to buy a dropper afterwards. 

I think the money can be spend on other options, you'll be just as happy, and you might even have some change left in you pocket. 

BaGearA, Aug 08 2016 08:43

I'll just say what everyone is thinking ,Over priced AF and the services are just as bad

Mamil, Aug 08 2016 09:03

3 months of trouble free riding on my reverb external routing 125mm travel dropper. Kicked my riding up a notch and made me feel a whole lot more confident on corners and descents. I had been forced to have my saddle very high as I have long legs and my centre of gravity always felt too high and the saddle in the way of moving around on the bike.

 

Worth every penny and hoping it lasts as the review suggests.

droenn, Aug 09 2016 01:46

I also gave up on my RS reverb after a couple of rebuilds and gone back to normal seat post...

 

Have a KS on my other bike, its OK but its still new so will see how it goes.

Deepblue1993, Aug 09 2016 07:02

Six months and had to be send in for service, came back and had same up/down play. Send in again and was reolaced with new one.

Bizkit031, Aug 09 2016 07:07

What is the service interval suppose to be on them?

Deepblue1993, Aug 09 2016 07:09

What is the service interval suppose to be on them?

3 months according to supplier????

Bizkit031, Aug 09 2016 07:10

3 months according to supplier????

Not very long

AlanD, Aug 09 2016 09:50

3 months....crazy expensive.

Jakkals77, Aug 10 2016 06:42

I've had my Reverb for over a year now without any issue. Maybe I've just been lucky. I think it's time for a service as its never been serviced before (3000km). Who in Joburg can service these droppers? I'm sure the bike shop will most likely send it to the agents for the service, but is there someone in Jozi that can do it and do it faster than the agents. Mine was bought from Chain Reaction Cycles and not bought locally.


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rouxtjie, Aug 10 2016 07:36

I've had my Reverb for over a year now without any issue. Maybe I've just been lucky. I think it's time for a service as its never been serviced before (3000km). Who in Joburg can service these droppers? I'm sure the bike shop will most likely send it to the agents for the service, but is there someone in Jozi that can do it and do it faster than the agents. Mine was bought from Chain Reaction Cycles and not bought locally.


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honestly...my advise would be to let sleeping dogs lie. If it eventually starts developing up and down play...just buy a cheap and cheerfull.

Jakkals77, Aug 10 2016 07:52

Alright, will do so. Thanks for the info

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Pyka, Aug 13 2016 10:36

The Fox DOSS always gets a lot of flak about it's oversized remote lever (which is a non-issue when running it below the bars) but the reliability I've experienced after 2 years of use so far leaves me all smiles.

Iwan Kemp, Aug 13 2016 10:47

The Fox DOSS always gets a lot of flak about it's oversized remote lever (which is a non-issue when running it below the bars) but the reliability I've experienced after 2 years of use so far leaves me all smiles.

 

DOSS has been replaced by the new Transfer and have done away with the clunky remote.

Iwan Kemp, Aug 13 2016 10:49

So, let's come some Bike Hub feedback to Rockshox. Tell us

 

- Year model

- how long have you had it

- first issues experienced

- how long into owning it did you experience the first issues

- roughly how many k's did it have on it at that stage

- was it serviced as required

- what repairs were done to solve the issue

- any other / further issues experienced

- In total how long have you owned it and how many km's has it done

 

Nothing beats real-life rider feedback to improve on a product.

Pyka, Aug 13 2016 10:57

So, let's come some Bike Hub feedback to Rockshox. Tell us
 
- Year model
- how long have you had it
- first issues experienced
- how long into owning it did you experience the first issues
- roughly how many k's did it have on it at that stage
- was it serviced as required
- what repairs were done to solve the issue
- any other / further issues experienced
- In total how long have you owned it and how many km's has it done
 
Nothing beats real-life rider feedback to improve on a product.


Well the new RS dropper range has also just been released as you no doubt know so not sure any feedback on their old products would be worth much. They will just say it's been addressed in the new range.

Iwan Kemp, Aug 13 2016 11:05

Well the new RS dropper range has also just been released as you no doubt know so not sure any feedback on their old products would be worth much. They will just say it's been addressed in the new range.

 

That I know, yes. Small changes though and nothing like Fox doing away with a 3-position dropper and several other key design changes. Point is not to compare the 2, though. I still think it would be useful to get some feedback from riders to them.

 

For those who mentioned KS: I have a LEV on another bike and by comparison its needed endless TLC to the point where I would rather not get another one. It's on its way in for a service now and I'll see how it goes when it comes back.

Deepblue1993, Aug 13 2016 12:50

So, let's come some Bike Hub feedback to Rockshox. Tell us

 

- Year model

2015

- how long have you had it

Aug 2015

- first issues experienced

Six months of using

- how long into owning it did you experience the first issues

Ten months after I bought it

- roughly how many k's did it have on it at that stage

1131 km

- was it serviced as required

Not every three months as stated by supplier

- what repairs were done to solve the issue

Service kit was installed

- any other / further issues experienced

Came back with same up and down play

- In total how long have you owned it and how many km's has it done

Since August 2015, was replaced in July 2016.

 

Nothing beats real-life rider feedback to improve on a product.

 

I work abroad so I only have six months of the year to enjoy my bike.

JXV, Aug 14 2016 05:44

So, let's come some Bike Hub feedback to Rockshox. Tell us

- Year model
- how long have you had it
- first issues experienced
- how long into owning it did you experience the first issues
- roughly how many k's did it have on it at that stage
- was it serviced as required
- what repairs were done to solve the issue
- any other / further issues experienced
- In total how long have you owned it and how many km's has it done

Nothing beats real-life rider feedback to improve on a product.

Reverb Stealth fitted on my TBLT purchased April 2014. Started getting spongy a few months in. Had it bled, marginal improvement and replaced with a new one under warranty at about 6 months.

The replacement was fine for about 9 months but sucked a little air in at some stage after that (lifting by seat or hanging by seat on a rack). Useable but difficult to actuate and slight vertical play. Had it serviced 6 months ago (R1100) and now better than it has ever been.

Moral of story - do not (ever) lift or hang the bike from the saddle. The RS literature does not tell you this. Reverbs can apparently suck air into the piston/cylinder assembly if the post is placed under tension. Then the issues begin.

2nd big issue - the standard service kit does not include a replacement piston head ( or some such part) and this is apparently the fastest wearing component according to my LBS - the replacement piston heads are ordered separately and quite expensive .

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Bizkit031, Oct 22 2016 03:52

So had an awesome ride today until my Reverb stealth decides to not come up anymore and there it is again the dreaded oil leaking out the stealth routing hole and the nasty swoosh sound coming from the post. That was it,I knew exactly what had happen,the seal popped again,exactly the same thing that happen before with the old one,TWICE. And now the warranty one has the same issue only 10 months after it was replaced. The first one they blamed me for not servicing it so I had to fork out about a R1000 to have it serviced and not even 8 weeks and it blew the same seal again, so I then asked them if they now going to blame me for it again. So it was replace under warranty and now the same crap again,now I am waiting to see if this is going to be Dejavu all over again.

Chavo, Oct 23 2016 02:49

So had an awesome ride today until my Reverb stealth decides to not come up anymore and there it is again the dreaded oil leaking out the stealth routing hole and the nasty swoosh sound coming from the post. That was it,I knew exactly what had happen,the seal popped again,exactly the same thing that happen before with the old one,TWICE. And now the warranty one has the same issue only 10 months after it was replaced. The first one they blamed me for not servicing it so I had to fork out about a R1000 to have it serviced and not even 8 weeks and it blew the same seal again, so I then asked them if they now going to blame me for it again. So it was replace under warranty and now the same crap again,now I am waiting to see if this is going to be Dejavu all over again.

Out of interest, do you store your bike with the post lowered or extended? Not sure if there is much value in it, but read that keeping the post in the lowered position for extended periods of time can place strain on the seals given the increased pressure

Bizkit031, Oct 23 2016 04:59

Out of interest, do you store your bike with the post lowered or extended? Not sure if there is much value in it, but read that keeping the post in the lowered position for extended periods of time can place strain on the seals given the increased pressure

always in the extended position,read about that as well. But this has now happened 3 times so I started check some forums and it seems to be a problem with the design tolerances and this is suppose to be sorted under warranty. Apparently the new internals have sorted this out.