RockShox XC 32 (Recon Silver TK) Suspension Fork – Product Review

RockShox XC 32 Suspension Fork

I installed the RockShox XC 32, also known as the Recon Silver TK, on my race bike. I race in the Ohio Mountain Bike Championship Series in the expert 40+ division.

After three years of hard riding and a little bit of neglect, I had pushed my RockShox Reba fork beyond repair.  The stanchions were badly scratched from a combination of trail grime and poor maintenance.  The fork had passed the point where it was worth repairing and I was forced to replace it.  Should I buy another Reba suspension fork or were there other options worth considering?

A new Reba was $400-$500, which I consider to be a reasonable price for a high-quality fork.  However, as a stay-at-home dad on a budget, I’m always trying to figure out ways to save a little money, so I started looking for a less expensive fork.  Could I save some money without losing performance on the trail?

In general, I tend to buy mid-priced gear with reasonable performance that I think will be durable and have longevity.  I’m usually not willing to spend top dollar to save a few grams.  Also, I don’t like a lot of bells and whistles because I usually find that it’s just more stuff that can break when I’m riding.  For example, I switched from a 3X10 full-suspension bike to a 1X10 hardtail set-up so that I didn’t have to worry about extra gears and another shock to maintain, repair or replace.  I’ve been very happy that I switched and it’s saved me a lot of money.

My riding focus is on XC mountain bike racing (Expert 40+ in the Ohio series), and because of that, my mileage tends to be fairly intense.  I’m working my suspension fork much harder than the average rider out for a Sunday jaunt in the woods.  I don’t do big jumps and drops, but I want to be able to float downhill on rocky teeth-chattering descents and feel like I’m tiptoeing on a cloud.

James Knott mountain bikes at Great Seal State Park.

The RockShox XC 32 was very confident when I went through the rock gardens in the race at Great Seal State Park last weekend.

After researching a few different fork manufacturers I decided I wanted to stick with RockShox because of their combination of good quality at a reasonable price.  I reviewed their fork selection and started to focus in on their XC series of forks – specifically the XC 30, because I wanted the thicker 30mm uppers.  However, when I was doing some research to buy the XC 30, I stumbled across the XC 32.  …even bigger uppers!

Rock Shox Recon Silver TK - XC 32

Even though it is listed as the “Recon Silver TK” on the website, the fork is actually labeled as “XC 32”.

I thought it was strange because I didn’t see it listed on the RockShox website.  There is a reason for this.

The XC 32 is listed as the Recon Silver TK on the RockShox web site, despite the fact that the fork says “XC 32” on the fork and doesn’t mention “Recon” anywhere.

Despite the confusion, this fork seemed to good to be true.  At just over $200 it was half the cost of the Reba.  Further, it had the features that I wanted, like lock-out and rebound adjustment, but didn’t have anything unnecessary that I didn’t want, like a lockout button for the handlebars.  The reviews made it sound like a well-made, durable fork that would work well for my XC style of riding.

The only downside that I could see was that it was a little heavier than the Reba – 2182 grams vs. 1664 grams.  The difference of 518 grams is about 1.14 lbs.  That’s a significant difference, but how much would it affect performance?  Most riders could make up that difference by eating healthy and losing 5 to 10 pounds or by training more efficiently.  I decided to take the hit on the weight in exchange for the cost savings.  Maybe when I go back to work, I’ll pay extra for the lighter fork, but for now I can make it work.

RockShox XC 32 axle

There is no thru-axle. The fork works with a typical skewer quick-release system.

air pressure valve on RockShox XC 32 Suspension Fork

You can add air pressure with a shock pump through a valve on the rider’s left-hand side.

RockShox XC 32 (Recon Silver TK) rebound adjustment dial

You can easily adjust the rebound with a dial underneath the fork on the rider’s right-hand side.

The big questions…  Was it a good decision?  How does the fork perform?

After 2 months of racing, I feel like I made a great decision.  Honestly, so far I am happier with this suspension fork than I have been with any of my other suspension forks that I have ridden.

I had the fork installed by Breakaway Cycling in Delaware, OH.  This was a great move because they actually discovered some issues with the bearings that I might not of picked up on.  They were full of grit and I had them replaced during the installation.

When I brought the bike home the suspension was a little squishy for my taste.  I easily stiffened it up with some extra air from my shock pump and now it feels dialed in – set it and forget it.

Right now my fork is in a sweet spot where it never bottoms out but still has a lot of cushion to absorb the bumps in the trail.  The fork handles confidently when the trail gets rough.  I’ve tested it while flying down rock-strewn descents at Mohican.  It worked perfectly in the rock gardens at Great Seal.  The roots at Alum Creek are easily absorbed by the 100mm of travel.

Not once since I started riding it this year have I felt like I downgraded.  Usually, I’m not even thinking about my suspension at all.  I think that says a lot.  The XC 32 (or Recon Silver TK) handles the trail with so much comfort and confidence that I can focus on the trail and not on my equipment.

Upper tubes for RockShox XC 32 suspension fork

The upper tubes are made of straight-wall steel. You can see from this photo that I don’t treat my equipment gingerly.  I want tough equipment that will stand up to abuse.

RockShox XC 32 turn-key lockout

The turn-key lockout is easy to adjust. It’s located on the rider’s right side.

James Knott mountain bikes at Mountwood Park

I moved up from sport to expert this year.  I’ve completed my first three expert XC mountain bike races on a RockShox XC 32 suspension fork.  The guy behind me doesn’t appear to even need a suspension fork. 🙂

Although I rarely use it, the lockout is easy to flip on.  I have the rebound adjustment set to “rabbit”.  It’s responsive and quick, but I don’t feel like it’s jerking me around.

Overall, I’d say that this is a great option for a budget-minded rider who values performance and durability over weight.  We ride in a sport where mountain bikers get serious “upgrade-itus,” so it was scary to downgrade a little.  However, in this case, I don’t regret going for the less expensive suspension.  I haven’t missed my old fork at all.  In fact, this fork is so plush that it has felt like an upgrade to me.  I highly recommend this product.

Click here to see reviews and prices for the Reba XC 32 Suspension Fork.

UPDATE 5/13/15: Someone pointed out to me on Facebook that the Reba is a better fork.  I’m definitely not denying that.  The main point of my review is that, while there are better forks out there, the XC 32 is a great value.  You spend less and still get fairly high performance.

Have you used this fork?  Let me know what you think of it in the comment section.  Also, let me know if you have any questions.

RockShox XC 32 Suspension Fork

I consider the RockShox XC 32 (Recon Silver TK) suspension fork to be one of the best bike purchases I’ve made this year.  I’m sure there are better forks out there, but this gives you a lot of bang for your buck.

12 thoughts on “RockShox XC 32 (Recon Silver TK) Suspension Fork – Product Review

  1. graet review , I use the same fork on my new Orbea OCCAM and I was worried about it “cheapness” – but it is really a great deal. I had compared this to my friend’s FOXes 32 , which are much more expensive, and can’t see the difference – wel except for the weight.

  2. Thanks for the review. I’m looking to purchase a bike with this form with 120mm and now I feel more confident I’m not getting cheesy components with it

  3. Hi James! What do you think about the coil version of XC 32? What are the differences between coil and air suspension mechanisms?

  4. I have this on my Trek Superfly hardtail and I like it a lot. The only problem I have is the diving under braking, I easily use half the travel under braking which is too much if you ask me.
    I will probably upgrade the damper to a motion control damper from the Argyle RC soon. That damper does have low speed compression which should reduce the diving.

    Overall it is a good fork especially for the price.

  5. Hi Dan. Maybe late for responding but anyway you have gotten any. I have the coil version and it performs great for an enthusiast level MTB biker like me. Other partners have the solo air version and they said it is more fluid. The significant difference is the weight. Great news are that you can convert the XC32 coil to solo air version just changing the internal parts of the left side. But need to find out a little further.

  6. I recently installed this fork on my bike and the lockout still allows about 1-1/2″ of travel. Can anyone tell me if this is normal?

  7. hey, got this fork stock on my specialized camber and seems to be fine, doing some multi day events with it. was wondering whether anyone had changed any of the internals to lighten it, heard it could be done. was looking to upgrade to a lighter fork as 500-800 grams is a lot but obviously at a cost. id be happy to reduce it buy 300g or so,

  8. Nice review! Just bought this fork & put it on my 2016 Giant Talon 4. Paid $187 from chain reaction cycles. GREAT fork for the price. Coming from a coil suntour suspension I can say you will never go back to coil suspension after making the switch to air.

  9. I have the fork on my GT 27.5 Helion, overall I’m very happy with it. The draw backs – as pointed out are weight from the steel stanchions and lack of low speed damping. I have the remote lock out and I find I do use it. My favorite set-up for the fork so far is to put lower air pressure in than is suggested for my weight – 105 lbs vs. 130 lbs. With lower air pressure it just soaks up the terrain I find myself riding most often – riddled with tree roots, rocks, etc. I have given thought to upgrading to a shock like the Reba, I am somewhat concerned with the durability of the exposed aluminum stanchions, given James’s experience – which I think is inevitable, however while we may have to replace seals etc with the XC’s steel stanchions I would expect them to handle just about any type of abrasion that comes their way.
    I given what upper end shocks cost I am surprised Rockshox doesn’t have a process to have the stanchions replaced. With the exposed Aluminum I’d expect the slide surface to be shot after one or two racing/riding seasons – less if it happens to be muddy more often than not.

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