The 10 Best Mountain Bike Rear Shocks
This wiki has been updated 16 times since it was first published in November of 2018. Lots of components factor into how your mountain bike will handle out on the trails, but among the most important is its rear shock. Usually consisting of some kind of compression mechanism and a damping system, this part helps absorb the bumps, rocks and rough terrain you travel over. We've put together some of the best models on the market, including both coil and air-sprung varieties. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
November 11, 2020:
Manufacturers of components for mountain bikes are increasingly catering to riders who want to be able to tackle a wide variety of conditions on a single cycle. This means building shocks with adjustable compression and rebound, since moderate trail riding calls for significantly less rear travel than flying down rocky slopes. Both the Cane Creek DBAir IL and the Fox Float X2, our new #1 and #2 picks, allow for independent adjustment of four different damping parameters, helping you to find the performance that's right for your weight and the terrain you expect to encounter. We ranked the DBAir IL slightly higher since it's quite a bit more affordable, but the Float X2 is easier to tweak on the fly.
Those who enjoy long, punishing downhill races may prefer the hefty coil of the RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate RCT, which offers some pedal support to make the climb to the top easier. It also features a proprietary low-friction damping fluid which greatly reduces noise from the spring.
We had to remove the SR Suntour Raidon R and the DNM Burner ROP-2 from the list because of possible issues with availability, though we were able to replace the latter with the very similar DNM Burner-RCP 2S. We also replaced the Rock Shox Monarch RL C2 with its close relative, the RockShox Monarch RT3, which offers a third damping setting that provides a middle ground between an open shock and a full lockout. The latter is also quite easy to install and tune, thanks to a user-friendly compression lever and highly visible sag level indicators. The Monarch RT3 and the Fox Shox Float DPS are excellent mid-to-high end options for trail riders, while the DNM AOY-36RC is a more budget-friendly alternative to both.
If you decide on an air spring model, you might need a pump to go with it, and any rider can use a good helmet. For other upgrade options for your bike, you can check out our reviews of the top cranksets, dropper posts, and grips.
January 11, 2019:
Like mountain bikes themselves, rear shocks can come in a range of quality and price values. Higher-end models, such as the Fox Shox Float DPS, feature the latest in high-performance technology but can get quite expensive. Lower-end models, like the Kindshock KS 291, are suitable for most casual applications and represent a significantly smaller hit to your wallet. Which one is right for you will depend largely on your experience and riding level, but we think something like the DNM AOY-36RC is best for most people, as it does a good job balancing price and performance.
DVO Topaz T3 Air This innovative all-mountain model uses an air bladder rather than an internal floating piston inside its oil reservoir, allowing riders to quickly adjust its pressure with the same pump they use to modify the air spring. This enables fine-tuning of the shock's firmness throughout the entire stroke, and as an added bonus, the included volume spacers can be added or subtracted without removing the unit from the bike. All these options for on-the-go modification are packed into a relatively lightweight build, and the heat-dissipating fins on the oil cylinder help keep its performance steady even on prolonged high-speed runs. dvosuspension.com