With the new RockShox Domain the suspension giant is bringing its hard-hitting 38mm to affordable price point. More for less.
Available for both 27.5in and 29in wheels, the RockShox Domain comes in four travel options: 150mm; 160mm; 170mm and 180mm. There’s a single short 44mm offset and a sleek mudguard option that bolts to the brace for an extra £20.
In 2020, the suspension fork market was all about the number 38, as both Fox and RockShox launched big and burly single-crown models (Fox 38 and RockShox Zeb respectively). Equipped with 38mm stanchions, these beefcake forks aimed to boost the stiffness of hard-charging e-bikes and enduro bikes. But they came at a price, with Fox’s top-of-the-range 38 coming in at an equally chunky £1,300, and the RockShox Zeb Ultimate not far behind at £969.
What if you quite fancy the extra precision of a stiffer fork on the front of your bike, but can’t stretch to those kinds of prices? Well, boasting a 38mm chassis and up to 180mm of travel, RockShox may just have the answer in the shape of its new £530 Domain – that’s almost half the price of the entry level Fox 38 and £250 less than the cheapest Zeb.
If the name feels familiar, it’s because it was originally offered around 10 years ago as an affordable big-hitter in both single and dual crown versions. Only now it’s been reimagined with that same budget-busting performance, but a burlier chassis and trickle down tech from the Zeb.
There’s the same DebonAir air spring with its supple off-the-top compliance and higher ride height, mated to a Motion Control RC damper that uses a simpler, plastic compression assembly instead of the more sophisticated sealed bladder units found in the Charger damper. What’s really cool, though, is that RockShox makes it easy for you to upgrade to that Charger 2.1 damper further down the line for £325.
RockShox Domain first impressions
Although the Domain features the same Motion Control RC damper that’s plugged into second-tier RockShox Yari fork, the on-trail performance is quite a lot different.
When bombing through rocks gardens or racing down rooty trails, it just didn’t feel as harsh, which we noticed in our hands or rather we didn’t because there wasn’t that compression spike when we hit a lot of those square edges.
The Domain also felt more sensitive and had a softer feel than the Yari. To be fair our sample fork is brand new and has 170mm of travel compared to 160mm travel forks we normally see but maybe that Maxima Plush damping fluid does what it says on the tin.
Obviously, these are just first impressions, we’ll be putting all this to the test in the coming months, but ride quality for such a cheap fork is impressive.