Despite its peculiarity, RockShox's inverted take on traditional 29er forks isn't a whimsical experiment in style on par with the questionable bacon-lavender-jalapeño-chocolate IPA your friend's been brewing in her bathtub for weeks. Instead, the RS-1 ACS Solo Air 120 Fork involves increasing stiffness and buttering the bushings for small bump compliance, rebound recovery, and efficiency that most standard forks with less than five inches of travel can only dream of.
With a stiffer-than-aluminum carbon fiber upper and profile that tapers to the axles, the RS-1 presents visually as the missing link between rigid road forks and marshmallow DH models. This is fitting, as the overall effect is a more efficient front end that doesn't sacrifice watts or deviate from lines because of fork flex. When you're attacking for a gap or sprinting for the line, the RS-1 also features the firmest lockout of any RockShox fork, so it gets up and goes like a road fork when speed is of the essence.
The 32mm stanchions are the same Fast-Black-coated aluminum populating most of RockShox's line, but they may enjoy smoother travel on the RS-1 than on any of its siblings. Gravity is the fork's friend, as it ensures that the seals are always bathed in oil. This nets increased small bump compliance that improves traction to maintain accelerations across trail furniture. It also yields less stiction to take advantage of RockShox's Rapid Recovery valve system for high speed rebound after full impacts. Consistency equals confidence equals knowing you can take terrain at speed and carry that speed to the brink of big hits without worrying about brake dive.
The fork's 27mm Torque Tube axle further increases its stiffness. Torque Tube works in conjunction with a standard 15mm thru-axle, spanning the distance between the dropout faces and eliminating end caps. Once the Maxle is tightened, the serrated ends grip the dropouts, effectively mating the axle, wheel, and fork into a front end system that resists torsional flex by keeping the stanchion tubes locked in place. As far as the suspension itself goes, the RS-1 features the Solo Air spring, which uses RockShox's Bottomless Tokens to reduce the chamber's volume, letting you opt for a linear ride or one that ramps up harder.
The RS-1 is part of RockShox's Predictive Steering system, and — given the restrictive elements of the Torque Tube — SRAM and DT Swiss are currently the only companies making wheels that are compatible with it. There are plans to sell an unbranded hub for sponsored riders, but for now, SRAM is building three Predictive Steering-compatible wheelsets: the Rise XX, Rise 60, and Roam 50.