RockShox Reverb Review

by Brian Mullin on August 8, 2011

This infinitely adjustable seatpost is stupendous, with a silky-smooth stroke, and because of its unique hydraulically controlled remote handlebar lever, it has an easy to operate action, and simple installation. I abused the seatpost for four months, on every imaginable terrain possible, and it has been through rain and snow storms, had sand and dirt tossed at it, and has preformed flawlessly, which is helped fabulously by the custom sealing system.

RockShox Reverb
The Reverb uses an air, oil and spring design for 125mm of infinite seat height adjustment, and is available in two lengths, 380mm and 420mm, as well as two diameters, 30.9mm and 31.6mm. The air spring and fluid are separated by an IFP (internal floating piston), and it uses a snug fitting triple-lipped energized sealing system for protection. The shaft and head are both made with forged 7050 aluminum alloy, and it uses three brass keys within the collar to keep the lateral twisting at a minimum. The zero offset saddle clamp uses the industry standard 2-bolt attachment system, which offers easy adjustment of tilt, and fore-and-aft placement of the saddle. The Xloc hydraulically actuated remote, which uses 2 wt. suspension fluid, is available in a right or left hand version, and can be pared with SRAM shifters and Avid brakes using their MatchMaker X clamp, or with just the discreet mount. The remote has a speed control adjuster nicknamed the “The Slap or Tickle,” which controls the height return speed.

Measured Spec (31.6mm x 380mm):

  • Weight – 544 grams (includes remote)
  • Length – 127mm stroke, 380mm

Installation
What immediately sets this adjustable seatpost apart from the competition is the ease of installation. Insert the post into the seat tube, adjust it to the required height, clamp the saddle into place, fiddle with the hydraulic hose routing along the top tube, and attach the remote on the desired side of the handlebars. I installed the remote on the left side, and used the MatchMaker X clamp with SRAM shifters, which was sort of annoyance getting set properly. After those simple steps, the seatpost can be used without any tuning required, although the hose may require shortening, depending on the bikes set up and geometry, and the routing that was used. I ran it long for a couple of weeks and didn’t have any issues (I was lazy), but I did get tired of the large loops, and so I went about remedying it. To shorten the hose, put the speed adjuster in the slowest setting, and using a sharp utility knife, slowly cut a slit into the line about a 10mm long (don’t cut or scratch the barb), and grasp with a pair of pliers and pull the line off. Cut the hose to the desired length, and push it onto the barb, and using pliers twist it into place. Refer to the SRAM “How to shorten the remote hose” video for detailed instructions. It worked perfect after the shortening, and didn’t require any bleeding.

Impressions
Using the system is quite easy, just press and hold the lever, and either weight the saddle into the lower positions, or unweight, and let it pop up to the desired location, and then release. I used it in four locations, at the very bottom, somewhere in the middle, slightly down from the top, and the top position. The actuation of the lever is buttery smooth, without the usual rough and stiff feel that a cable gives, and it provided the same response in any position, and it always remained uber quiet. The speed remained constant throughout the stroke, although when pushing it down to its lowest setting you did need to provide an extra dollop of pressure. I played with the speed control, and left it in the fastest setting, but it was still too slow and viscous for my taste, and I would have preferred more speed, although I think, the tight seals exacerbate the problem. Occasionally, on technical terrain, it would not return quick enough from a lower position to make a precise move, usually resulting in a blown line, or at least causing a moment of hesitation. The stroke has a consistently plush and smooth feel through the entire travel, without any stiction or notchiness, greatly helped by the coated aluminum bushing and low friction brass keys. I think that 125mm or 5 inches of height adjustment are optimal for All Mountain riding, and the Reverb infinite functionality made great use of the full stroke length. It locks into position wherever it was last adjusted or set at, so it can’t be pulled up during a hike-a-bikes or any sort of saddles grab.

The seatpost is quite an engineering marvel, but with the hydraulic nature of the internals and the remote, it will require more long-term maintenance than a more mechanical setup. Fortunately, the Reverb is easy to bleed (the seatpost comes with a bleed kit), and the replacement of the seals is a fairly straight-forward process, albeit it’s somewhat convoluted, so I would have my LBS perform the procedure. In the four months of my usage, it did not require a bleed, and I would assume that the seals might need to be done every year or two? SRAM provides nice videos for both procedures, refer to “How to bleed the remote system,” and “How to replace the post seals.” The seals have performed admirably, even with the constant use and abuse, and the ugly weather conditions, and sand and dirt tossed at them. Watching the seal replacement video, you can see the expertise and experience of their suspension forks and shocks in the fancy and high tech triple-lipped energized sealing system, and the sundry foam rings, wipers, o-rings, bushing, etc. It uses an energized seal, which is the spring you can see at the top of the seal that holds it on the shaft.

The triple brass keys kept the lateral play to a tolerable minimum of slop, which was noticeable when torquing off the saddle. The saddle clamp took a few rides to get tightened properly, but once it was settled in, it never loosened again. The bottom cradle for the saddle clamp are long, so odd sized, and titanium and carbon rails are well supported, and the two bolts angle out, so they are easy to tighten with normal-sized tools. Even with all the impressive features, functionality and engineering, the seatpost and remote weigh a very respectable 544 grams for the 31.6 x 380mm size. The unit was durable, but I worried about the somewhat fragile barb by the saddle clamp, as even with the rubber booted protector (aka strain relief), it sits out there in the harm’s way, and on more than a number of occasions I thought I had damaged it? If something happens to the hydraulic hose or remote, meaning a failure or leak, perhaps during a crash, the seatpost will remain in its last position. This might be a problem if the last position was the lowest setting, since it would make the pedal home excruciating difficult. One odd thing, it makes a funny bubbling or leaking noise from the seals when you jam the saddle down, and I assume it’s just pushing captured air out from the tight seals?

Caveat Emptor: I did not have any issues with this adjustable seatpost in any manner during its four months of abuse, but that doesn’t mean that over a longer period of time that issues may arise? Plenty of people on biking forums and the blogosphere have reported issues with the Reverb, and the same can be said for other manufacturer’s designs. The newer adjustable seatposts are complex, whether hydraulically or mechanically activated, and they are in the infancy (or infamy) of design, so bugs, durability and flaws are bound to crop up. I found the Reverb to work flawlessly, end of the story.

Bottom Line
The RockShox Reverb is a pretty amazing adjustable seatpost, and the 125mm or 5 inches of infinite adjustment, was buttery smooth and plush throughout its stroke. The innovative and unique hydraulically controlled remote handlebar lever worked like a charm, and has an easy to operate actuation, with a silky-smooth tactile feel. The entire system was simple to install, and was almost plug and play, and outside of shortening the hose, there was no tuning or cable adjustment required. The triple-lipped energized sealing system offers excellent protection, and three brass keys within the collar, create little lateral movement. I do wish it had a slightly faster return speed, and the upper barb sits out in the harm’s way, so I worried about damaging it. Over time, it will require maintenance, such as bleeding and seal replacement, but they are somewhat simple operations, and the latter will be a long-term issue.

I liked the Reverb, as it was durable, smooth, easy to use and install, and has a an excellent hydraulic remote.

Strengths

  • Silly smooth movement
  • Easy operation and installation
  • Hydraulic remote control
  • Adjustable return speed
  • Excellent seals
  • Comes with bleeding kit
  • 125mm of infinite adjustment
  • Very little lateral movement

Weaknesses

  • Fragile barb connector by saddle
  • Viscous – even on fastest speed setting
  • Long term maintenance – bleeding and seal replacement
  • SRAM MatchMaker a pain to setup

MSRP: $274.99

Overall Rating: 4.5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

Reverb Specs:

  • Visit the Reverb website at http://www.sram.com/rockshox/products/reverb
  • Weight – 535g (1.17 LBS)
  • Length – 380mm / 420mm, 125mm Adjustable Range
  • Colors – Black
  • Material Shaft; 3D Forged 7050 Alloy, Head: 7050 Forged Alloy
  • Finish Anodized
  • Other – Zero Offset / 2-Bolt, Reverb Remote Actuation: Adjustable return speed at the handlebar
  • Available in 30.9mm / 31.6mm Diameters
  • 125 mm/5″ of infinite adjustment
  • Hydraulic actuation using 2 wt. suspension fluid
  • IFP (internal floating piston) separates air spring and fluid
  • Remotely operated by Xloc push button (left or right sides to be avail.)
  • Return speed adjustable via dial on Xloc remote
  • Three-key anti rotation design
  • Includes Speed Lube bleed kit

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