It’s quite difficult to choose between brands when you’re into the fork category. Because there are tons of good brands out there to choose from.
Now, you may have narrowed it down to RockShox and Suntour brands but that’s about it.
So, what’s the better choice between Suntour vs rockshox?
Suntour forks generally offer better pricing compared to the Rockshox forks. On top of that, most Suntour forks have excellent dampers. However, Rockshox forks have better features in comparison with Suntour. There are many other contrasting differences such as rebound adjustment, brand image, etc.
I know comparing two brands is quite impossible. That’s why the rest of the text will follow a price bucket model to compare two similar products.
Let’s not waste any more time and begin!
A Quick Look at the Brands
Mtb bike forks can be a bit expensive sometimes. So, don’t get scared if the entry-level forks start from 100 bucks. But if you’re already aware of that, then you’re already ahead of your game.
Now, when it comes to Suntour and RockShox forks, they have literally hundreds of products. Rockshox is a sub-brand of SRAM and Suntour is owned by Sakae Ringyo Company.
Here are some of the products from both brands-
|Entry-level||XCT, XCR, XCM||Dart 2, Dart 3|
|Upper-mid Range||Judy Gold||Aion|
Having said that, I think it’s time to compare the two entry-level products from these two brands.
Oh, another thing! All the products you’ll see are from the 100mm travel category. So, you won’t find any 100mm and 120mm travel fork comparison here. But I think you know where to look (wink!).
The Entry Level: RockShox Dart 3 Vs Suntour XCR
Both of these two forks are priced at around $150-200. The cost may vary depending on your region. However, the features will be the same everywhere.
But remember that it’s not an xcr review or dart 3 review. It’s only to compare the products.
|Characteristics||Rockshox Dart 3||Suntour XCR||Recon Silver RL|
|Rebound Adjustment||Could be better||Good||Good|
|Compression Damping||Motion control damper||Lockout lever-based dampers||Motion control damper|
|Maintenance||Low maintenance||High maintenance||Low maintenance|
|Price||Around $180-200||Around $150-200||Around $230-250|
|Where to Get||Buy Now from Amazon||Buy Now from Amazon||Buy Now from Amazon|
So, let’s look at two of the most highlighted features and how they differ from each other.
Other than offering similar things, the rebound adjustment is better in the dart 3. Along with that, RockShox can be maintained easily and affordably compared to Suntour xcr 32 lor.
Source: RockShox TrailHead
On the other hand, Suntour xcr does suffer from having a sub-par rebound adjustment. But it does make up for it with 30mm stanchions which give better handling. So, it becomes a tie between these two mtb forks.
Winner: Dart 3 is better in terms of rebound adjustment.
When it comes to offering excellent compression at an affordable price, Suntour is the champ. There’s no question to be raised on this particular characteristic. Even the exceptional lockout lever puts the XCR ahead of dart 3 without any doubt.
While dart 3 does offer a better blow-out valve, it’s not enough to beat the XCR. So, even though Suntour is famous for its inferior build, it can’t be disregarded. Also, remember to check the bike fork offsets before purchasing either one.
Winner: Suntour XCR is a better product if you consider everything. However, Dart 3 has its fair share of good qualities too.
Mid-range: RockShox Recon Vs Suntour Epixon
Coming to a bit more premium segment, you can get the famed Recon or Epixon. Both of them have an exceptionally well-built structure with metal chassis.
However, those similarities are not enough to say they are the same.
|Characteristics||Rockshox Recon||Suntour Epixon 9||Judy Silver TK|
|Build||Steel-based frame||Magnesium lower||Tapered aluminum steerer|
|Weight||2341g or 82.5 oz||1700g or 60 oz||2670g or 94 oz|
|Stanchions||Heavy & stiff||Fixed dampeners & better performance||Relatively flexible|
|Price||Starts from $450||Starts from $380||Starts from $325|
|Where to Get||Buy From Amazon||Buy From Amazon||Buy From Amazon|
There are some subtle and not-so-subtle things that differentiate these two. So, let’s look at these mid-range forks in more detail.
Stanchions & Compression
Well, long story short, Suntour, this time around, is also better in compression. Because of their fixed dampers, the forks can get enough adjustability and control in the air. Even the alloy is lighter and seems much more flexible.
On the other hand, the steel stanchions on Recon feel heavy and clanky. Moreover, the compression dampening can’t get worse than what it offers. It’s really disappointing to get such low-class lockouts.
So, when compression is your concern, there’s only one way to look.
Winner: Suntour has better dampening compression at this price range.
As mentioned before, Rockshox forks are often more easily manageable and repairable. That is one of the key features of all Rockshox forks in general. However, the Suntour Mtb forks don’t really focus on the repairability thing.
So, if the suspension or compression cartridge is busted, you’ll have to take it to repair. Now, for better maintenance, you can get these awesome kits and suspension oil-
These will definitely help you to last your forks longer!
Winner: Overall, Suntour is better if you’re looking for a cheaper option. If you get the motion control with the Recon then it’s definitely the better choice.
Upper-mid Range: RockShox Judy Gold Vs Suntour Aion
Last but not least, the almost premium segment. Here you’ll get to know Suntour vs rockshox Judy characteristics and more.
|Characteristics||RockShox Judy Gold||Suntour Axon LO RC||Suntour Aion|
|Build materials||Aluminum upper tubes and sturdy frame||Aluminum steering column||Magnesium lower|
|Stanchions||Non-butted||Gold anodized stanchion||Straight gauge tubes|
|Air volume control||Decent||Excellent||Excellent|
|Weight||1814g or 64 oz||1624g or 57 oz||2420g or 85.5 oz|
|Where to Get||Buy From Amazon||Buy From Amazon||Buy From Amazon|
The best part is that you’ll be able to compare all products at the end. So, you won’t have any problem with Suntour AION vs rockshox recon comparison after this!
Air Volume Control
The Suntour aion comes with spacers that can significantly reduce air volume. Compared to the low-end XCR, you get better rebound adjustment as well! With the adjustable air spacers, the resistance can feel a lot less than usual.
The sad part is, that you don’t get any volume reducer with RockShox recon. I know it’s a bummer considering its price but that’s the reality.
However, you do get all the other features well implemented.
Winner: Suntour Aion is a better deal compared to recon when the air volume is concerned.
Compatibility & Maintenance
While Judy gold definitely falls short in its air control feature, it’s more flexible with compatibility. It supports e-bikes and more offset and fork traveling. Even the steering tube support is better.
But if your steerer tube is too short, then it can be a problem.
On the other hand, Aion is not officially e-bike supported. And the compatibility choice is also quite limited.
Winner: This time around, RockShox Judy is the better deal in this price bracket.
Premium Range: Suntour Durolox Vs Rockshox ZEB
In this segment, you’ll find the best offerings from both of these brands. Obviously, there are many other awesome forks than these.
But you’ll surely gonna love these two a lot.
|Characteristics||Rockshox ZEB||Suntour Durolox||Rockshox Lyrik|
|Performance||21.5% stiffer torsionally than rockshox Lyrik and excellent structural support||Excellent stiffness with Q-LOC technology||Overall good performance with aggressiveness|
|Chargers||Charger 2.1 damper with options to upgrade||R2C2 chargers and dampers||Charger 2.1 damper|
|Springs||DebonAir air spring with additional negative volume||EQ air springs||DebonAir air spring|
|Weight||2297g or 81 oz||2219g or 78.2 oz||2019g or 71.2 oz|
|Price||Check on Amazon||Check on Amazon||Check on Amazon|
So, here are some premium features compared-
Air springs and the dampers are quite easy to compare. So, let’s start with that. The chargers found in ZEB are their top-of-the-line 2.1 RC2 dampers. And their famous proprietary DebonAir springs take the level up a notch.
Both of those components offer premium structural support and smoothness.
Any enduro rider will feel right at home with these springs. Compared to ZEB, Durolox gives a good fight. Its air system is no joke as well.
You get easy travel adjustment with negative spring volume for initial support. However, the springs still can’t meet the level of ZEB.
So, trust me when I say you won’t regret choosing at all. Don’t believe my words? Here’s a rider’s experience to give my statement more credibility-
That’s why I’m saying that Rockshox definitely knows how to make killer air spring systems!
Winner: The springs are more robust and smooth in Rockshox ZEB compared to Durolox.
A very well-needed criterion for any suspension fork, especially when it comes to the premium range. If you’re looking at the Rockshox ZEB or Lyrik, they both have excellent performance. From the 140mm to 180mm travel range, ZEB is better than Suntour durolox.
You also get exceptional stiffness with awesome mid and low-end support in different terrains. On top of that, The chassis delivered in ZEB is just mesmerizing. You won’t feel like you’re using something cheap.
Just like the air springs, the performance also falls short compared to ZEB. Not that the Suntour fork is bad, it’s just less supportive in mid and end-stroke support. Also, the fork takes some time to get adjusted.
Winner: Rockshox ZEB is definitely a better performer than Suntour Durolox.
You must be tired of looking at all these head-to-head product comparisons. Now let’s look at two characteristics that are more brand-centric.
When it comes to branding and marketing, you’ll get to hear about Suntour more often. Because they constantly collaborate with Olympic participants and cross-country champions. So, they can reach out to more mountain, and cross-country enthusiasts with their branding.
On the other end, RockShox is very famous for its excellent quality. You don’t get to observe such strong durability from your everyday suspension forks. However, they hardly collaborate or go into sponsorship deals with champions. But there’s a catch!
They collaborate with major cycling events! So, by doing that, they get their trust and fame from word of mouth mainly.
Winner: If you want to use the same thing as champion athletes, Suntour can get you there. Otherwise, RockShox is quite formidable in its build.
New Technology Introduction
There are many incredible technologies that have been introduced throughout the years in the fork industry. And RockShox and Suntour have been pioneers. Let’s see what they have been up to in recent days.
Rockshox has introduced several new technologies in the last 4-5 years. For instance, Automatic electronic suspension system, 3-position compression adjustment, and so on.
Their flagship Flight Attendant uses sensors and algorithms to provide the best-in-the-class suspension. You don’t have to press any switches with paddle-assisted mechanisms.
On the other side, Suntour has introduced short gravel suspension that offers longer travel options. With that technology, they’ve made lighter yet more affordable forks compared to rockshox.
So, both of these brands have different technologies that make them unique.
Winner: Both of them offer regular updates of their technologies to up their fork game.
Suntour, and RockShox both offer two years of warranty. That’s pretty great for your usage in my opinion. However, a warranty is just a limited part of the whole resale value.
For any resale measurements, you need the depreciation. If a product has a low brand image and depreciates fast, its value nosedives a lot.
For Suntour forks, your resale value drops down around 30% in the first year. Because of their strong brand image, the price retails its value. Here is the resale value chart-
|Purchasing Cost||Years Used||Resale Price||Depreciation Percentage|
On the other hand, RockShox forks’ depreciation varies depending on the models and price. Their signature line gets depreciated a lot within two years. But the rate depends on the price range.
|Purchasing Cost||Years Used||Resale Price||Depreciation Percentage|
So, the resell value depends on many factors and your negotiation skills!
Winner: Well, it depends on your price range and choice. Both of them can be excellent when it comes to reselling.
These are all the best products from both of these brands under $500. There are plenty of other products that cost double or triple compared to these. However, this guide will help you to decide which brand will be more suitable for your taste.
So, what’s your pick? Suntour or rockshox?
Is Suntour XCM Better than XCT?
Technically speaking, yes, XCM is comparatively better than XCT in some aspects. The build is a bit sturdier and more robust. On the other hand, XCT is designed to suit the hybrid fork style rather than a traditional one. The construction is less dialed and does not respond to a good riding experience.
How Good are Suntour Shocks?
Given the price and availability, Suntour forks are quite decent for most bikes. However, you can’t compare it to the likes of Rockshox because they are more costly. If you want to have a good biking experience within an affordable budget, Suntour is excellent. So, they are surprisingly good.
What Does RL Mean in RockShox?
RockShox uses codes such as RL, RLT, RCT3 to indicate the rebound, lockout, and compression. The RL in many Rockshox forks means rebound and lockout. On the other hand, RLT adds another term- threshold. Similarly, RCT3 stands for rebound, compression, and threshold with three settings: dampers.
With that, I conclude my Suntour vs rockshox comparison once and for all. While there are many products from both brands, this comparison will help you to navigate easily.
So, fix your budget and choose what’s best for you!