RockShox Vivid 5.1 MTB Shock Review


Ten days ago I reviewed the RockShox Totem fork and I mentioned testing the matching Vivid 5.1 rear shock as well. Now it’s time to let you know a little more about this shock.

The RockShox Vivid 5.1 is chock full of features but first I want to talk about its construction. Using race proven, hard anodized forged aluminum construction and a 12.7mm hard anodized 7075 aluminum piston shaft, this shock can take a serious drubbing. The Vivid also sports an intelligently laid out control system which allows you to get to the knobs without too much worry.

Speaking of controls, the Vivid 5.1 lets you tweak beginning and end stroke, rebound, and low speed compression. You can also adjust the spring pre-load (common on sprung shocks) and the drop stop bump stop.


Setting up the Vivid 5.1 just right took a bit of work. Using the trailside tuning guide that comes with the Vivid is a great start – it even includes a section for you to note your set-ups for specific courses. I recommend writing everything down, including temperatures and soil conditions as well (just in case).

My Opus Nelson was set up with a spring rate of 400lbs which was a touch too soft so I decided to get the 450lb spring from Rockshox. I set up the preload to about 20% sag and continued with the shock adjustment. RockShox mentions an initial set-up of 3-4-10: 3 clicks low speed compression, 4 clicks ending stroke rebound, and 10 clicks beginning stroke rebound.

I hit the trails with the preliminary settings and quickly realized I need to make adjustments. My local trails are mainly on the harder side of things with small patches of loamy and soft pads. Based on the conditions I went with a softer compression setting (2 clicks) which gave me a bit more grip when the tire was looking for traction. The end stroke rebound setting was the toughest one to nail down but I managed to get it right after carefully adding a drop of synthetic lube to moisten the seal and working the adjustment a bit. I ultimately ended up with 5 clicks on the end stroke control and it felt great. On the beginning stroke rebound, I dialed back to 8 clicks which was a bit too quick of a return so I ended up with 9 clicks, which felt just about right. Note: these adjustments may seem minor (just one click in either direction from the initial settings) but trust me, it makes a huge difference in performance!


The Vivid 5.1 felt comfortable hitting everything from rock gardens to step downs to major jumps. Fully dialed in for the terrain and your riding style, this versatile shock works very well. The internal hydraulic circuits are sensitive enough to control both slow and fast shaft speeds with equal efficiency thanks to the Dual Flow adjust technology. The control dials need to be worked loose a bit so I added synthetic lube to the seals which made it easier to turn the knobs. Other than that, I found the Vivid 5.1 to be a good rear shock with no need for using air to control the bottom out resistance like some other shocks I’ve tried. Rockshox wisely opted to used a nitrogen charge that you won’t need to fiddle with.

This shock is for anyone who has a bike with 6 inches of travel or more and intends to hit the trails and slopes hard. And with the Vivid 5.1, the harder you hit the trails, the better it performs. You’ll also find the Vivid 5.1 adapts well to the varying terrain beneath your wheels. My test bike, with 7.2 inches of travel, felt like it magically gained an extra inch of with the Vivid 5.1. The progression of dampening worked great in compression, with a smooth increase in resistance near the end of its stroke. I don’t think I ever bottomed out the suspension but if I did, it was so smooth when hit the drop stop bump stop that I didn’t feel a thing.

Give the Rockshox Vivid 5.1 ($343 MSRP + $30 spring) a test for yourself and I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a solid choice. Before you order you may want to contact your bike manufacturer and ask them what spring rate would work best for your weight and riding style. Sometimes it may take a few days for a reply but it will be worth it in the end.

I would like to thank the folks at RockShox for sending over the Vivid 5.1 for product review.

Specs from RockShox

Weight 412g (.91 lbs)
Damping Low Speed Compression
Configurations 267 x 89mm (10.5 x 3.5), 240 x 76mm (9.5 x 3.0″), 229 x 70mm (9.0 x 2.75″), 222 x 70mm (8.75 x 2.75″), 216 x 63.5mm (8.5 x 2.5″), 216 x 60mm (8.5 x 2.36″), 200 x 57mm (7.875 x 2.25″), 200 x 51mm (7.875 x 2.0″)
Spring Steel Coil/ 200 – 650lbs In 50 Lbs Increments Available
Spring Adjust External Low Speed Compression, Beginning And Ending Stroke Rebound, Spring Preload, Drop Stop Bottom Out System
Shaft Material 7075 Aluminum
Shaft Diameter 12.7mm
Body Material Hard Anodized Forged Aluminum
Options A and B Tunes available Aftermarket