In 1995 Rock Shox debuted it’s third generation suspension fork called Judy. It was standard at the time, but laughable now, that the suspension travel for the cross country oriented XC and SL models was 63mm.
But, for those most gnar of trails, the DH model had you covered at 80mm. This is laughable because today’s trail bikes are running 120 or 140mm and probably climb better than a hardtail from ’95 did. Plus, all three forks had regular 9mm QR axles for the wheel to attach with. A good modern fork has a 15mm through-axle, which keeps the wheel straight far better than the old forks did.
We really shouldn’t laugh though because this is simply what the technology of the time allowed. It was a great improvement over no suspension at all.
The SL and DH are now sought after for restoration purposes, and I think the DH even more so because of it’s greater travel. It gives you the most cushioning you can get while still maintaining that period-correct build, and that’s important to us old guys riding these old bikes.
In 1997, Rock Shox brought the double crown DHO model to market. With 100mm of travel and a 20mm through-axle, it was ready for the coming Freeride revolution. And, at least one mechanic was able to hack these forks, and run the DHO lowers with a single crown upper, resulting in a stiff, 100mm travel fork for slalom racing.
So what is the point of all this?
Last week, I dreamt that I was test riding a bike with these DHO forks, and they were simply The Greatest Forks in the World. They were supple and smooth and just sucked up everything. It was just the best ride I’d ever been on.
I don’t remember much of my dreams at all, but this I remember.
I woke up very excited about these old forks, but, as I mentioned, lots of guys are on the lookout for them, so there’s a good chance they may just have to remain in my dreams.