I bought my Phantom used and it came with two shocks: an older Fox RP23 and a very basic Rockshox Monarch R. I've been running the Monarch and am absolutely in love with this bike.
In the meantime, I spent some time talking to Craig at Avalanche Engineering. I'd previously had him do a custom tune for a shock on an older Bronson and was incredibly impressed. He said he could get better results using the Fox, so I sent that in and waited (Craig is kind of a one-man shop as I understand it, and his turnaround time is typically 3-4 weeks).
Got it back Thursday, installed with new Enduro bearings on Friday and took it out for a shakedown at Phoenix Mountain Preserves this morning.
In a word: Incredible.
In more words: I won't pretend to understand the mechanics of the tune. It's the SSD tune customized to my specs (185 pounds, proficient technical rider, in Arizona gnar). The RP23 has a two-position switch, to the right (as you look down from the saddle) is fully open; to the left is the compression side which has a dial with three compression options, 1-2-3.
Today, I rode on Compression 1, which is kind of the "recommended" setting. 155psi gave me about 30% sag. The route I rode to test is the "Too Stupid to Live" time trial. Begins with a pretty big climb, mildly technical with a hike-a-bike portion at the top. On Strava, it's a category 4 climb.
I wanted to get a full ride in without fiddling with the shock. I've put a few miles in on my SS this week, too, so my legs weren't really fresh. To be honest, the shock felt incredibly sensitive but a little soft despite having the sag I typically run. That said, I PR'd the climb and felt super-fresh at the top; to be clear, although I only starting using Strava as a training tool recently, I've been doing this climb for years.
The downhill portion starts extremely steep, loose rocks and a bunch of tight turns (the Upper Cheesegrater trail for Phx locals). This is slow, rock crawling stuff that transitioning into a smoother, more high-speed portion and finishing with a much more buff, very fast section with a good series of high-speed drops.
On the DH stuff, this shock is pure butter. I mean, the Phantom already uses its short travel very efficiently. This takes it over the top.
I need to do some front/back tweaking, particularly with rebound speeds. The rear is now making the Pike feel a little overwhelmed.
This was $200 very well spent IMO.
IMG_0883 by dbozman1173, on Flickr
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