Travel 180mm / 40mm stanchions / 203mm post mount / damping adjustments: high and low speed compression, rebound and Floodgate / Colours: galvanized or black both with five-page sticker kit / Weight: 5.92lb / Contact: www.fisheroutdoor.co.uk
RockShox produce three different models of the Totem, which all share the same Mission Control damping, 40mm stanchions and oversized magnesium lowers, equipped with the handy 360° Maxle. You also have the option of a 1.5in steerer at no extra cost. The oversized 1.5in version is obviously stronger, but it’s also lighter than the 1 1/8in option.
The only real difference between each model, other than price, is the spring. The 2-Step Air option is heavier than the Solo Air and while the possibility of reducing the travel to 135mm for long fire-road ascents is appealing, it proved unreliable on the RockShox Lyrik so we opted for the lighter, less complex and cheaper Solo Air. Like any long-travel air spring with lots of seal overlap it doesn’t get moving as easily as the coil-sprung Totem and there is a little bit of a mid-stroke wallow so you end up running more air pressure and less sag to compensate. But this makes the fork less sensitive and there lies the compromise. That said, when the Totem Solo Air is up to speed it is more than capable of handling the big hits.
Generally the Mission Control damping on the Totem was very consistent but we found that every now and then the fork would just let go. It was as if for a split second there was a dramatic reduction in rebound damping and then all of a sudden it would be absolutely fine again. Obviously it’s the same damper fitted to the Lyrik, with which we experienced no such problem, but the Totem has more travel and fitted to a suitable bike it gets worked a lot harder than the Lyrik.
The slight loss of damping wasn’t the only hiccup we experienced with the Totems. Two sets had the damper blow within ten minutes of hard riding and any Totem owner will tell you that the poor sealing lets the lubrication oil out and the dirt in. To be fair to RockShox the first problem was an assembly issue and once corrected didn’t occur again, and it hasn’t happened on every fork that we have ridden. As for the sealing issue it’s an on-going problem and RockShox is working on tighter seals to eliminate it.
With a 560mm axle-to-crown height the 180mm-travel Totem stands as tall as most 200mm travel dual-crown forks, so you have to ask why bother with a single crown at all? Firstly, the Totem is lighter than most dual-crown forks, but more importantly it offers a much tighter turning radius for low speed, shore-style stunts. If you’re more into high-speed DH you’re better off with a dual-crown fork. For everyone else, the Totem Solo Air is a good alternative but the heavier coil version would be our choice.
MBR rating: 8