I have been riding the Rock Shox Reba Team fork in the 120mm travel setting equipped with the Maxle Lite through axle for most of 2009. Here is my long term opinion on this fork that was redesigned for 2009. This fork replaced the original Reba for 29″ers. How has it compared to the classic older design and how is it stacking up against the current competition?

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The Reba Team I received to review is not the U-Turn model. I have kept the fork at 120mm travel for the duration of this test, (one year) and have used it on two bikes. The first was the HiFi Deluxe and for the better part of the test it resided on the Salsa Cycles Big Mama I have on test here. The Reba Team features Rock Shox’s Maxle lite through axle which is a 20mm type axle. The chassis also features “Power Bulges” and Rock Shox’s Black Box Motion Control Damper.

The fork used all of its travel if set up correctly for my weight on bigger hits about once or twice a ride. Perfect. With the compression setting, I could dial in a great feel and avoid most brake dive. The fork also came with a Pop Loc which I found to be a so-so feature. First of all, it was a bit fiddly to set up, and secondly I never really got into using it. I preferred the fork to be active during climbing, but that is a personal preference. The quality of travel is classic Rock Shox. Pretty smooth and linear till near bottom out. Rebound damping worked well for me on my trails. The range of adjustment was a bit vague, but it suited my riding okay, so no real complaints there. The air spring held pressure consistently through out the year. I was pleasantly surprised that my previous settings from a first gen Reba carried over to the new platform.

Chassis stiffness is a world above the old quick release first generation Reba. That said, it still isn’t in the territory of some of the competition. Close, but not quite. And the fork had a Maxle Lite through axle. The flex was mostly fore/aft, but a very slight side to side flex was noticed at times. I can’t imagine the quick release version of this fork feeling any better. So in terms of chassis stiffness, the Reba Team is adequate, but nothing to crow about. Not in light of some of today’s competition.

The Maxle Lite is brilliant. I really came to like this feature. No tool front wheel removal is good, and it never let me down. That said, the threads of the Maxle Lite are not very coarse, and look like they could easily be stripped. Care with installation is recommended. Other than that, I give the system very high marks. The post mount disc brake was a new feature for 2009. I never had any issues with different calipers and removing/replacing the studs. That said, you will need to pay attention when installing fasteners into the post mounts. Threading by hand in a careful manner is recommended here. Otherwise you are good. Is post mount better? Truthfully, I can not tell the difference. The brakes worked as well on the old bracket system. I didn’t see any increase in braking efficiency with post mounts.

Finally, some of the newer tire rim combinations that may come out may be at the limits of what the Reba can deal with. I found this out with the Gordo/Dissent rim/tire combo recently. On a fork with this much travel, set ups like the one I tried will be looked at for the Reba. I experienced some tire rub on the fork brace with the Gordo/Dissent combo. Other tires should be okay though. It is worth noting that it is reported that other fork brands seem to have better clearance with the new big, monster 29″er tire.

Conclusions: Over all the fork performed well and was trouble free over the course of testing. I felt confident that it would continue to perform consistently whenever I rode it. The Maxle Lite worked great, and the through axle set up was definitely better than the old quick release model I was using. The forks features were an improvement over the first generation Reba, but with newer forks hitting the market that rival the suspension feel and surpass the Reba in over all chassis stiffness, the Reba isn’t the top of the heap fork it once was. It is very good, but not “great”. Some things like the Pop Loc seem odd to me in their finicky nature on a fork this expensive. Considering the approximately $700.00 MSRP on this fork, it is pushing the limits of value for the buck spent. Still, it is hard to argue with this models reliability and performance over the long haul. If you have longer travel on the brain, like simpler set up procedures, and want a killer through axle set up that is easy to use, the Rock Shox Reba Team fork is worth a look. Are you a big guy or need a rock solid stiff chassis and are not impressed with Pop Loc? You may want to look elsewhere.

Note: This product was provided to Twenty Nine Inches at no charge for reviewing. I am not being paid or bribed for this review. I will give my honest opinion or thoughts through out.