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The top 3 best budget rear shocks in 2023

With this article I’ll be giving you my thoughts on the best budget rear shocks out there, no small task considering the staggering prices you need to pay for a sample of one of the established brands.

By simply doing a little math you can find out that the average price of a rear shock crosses 500 USD. There’s less choice in rear suspension than in front suspension, and choices are limited to premium versions of shock types (the Ultimate and Factory versions).

That’s because a lot of cheaper versions are only available as OEM installed, so you’re either left with buying something second-hand from somebody who’s already upgraded, or buying something that might not be as budget-friendly as you would like it to be.

As with front suspension cheaper rear shocks faill into the XC and trail riding category mostly. Enduro and downhill shocks use piggyback technology and usually need to benefit from multiple compression and rebound settings. It not only adds complexity to the shock, but also bumps up the price significantly.

Every shock offers rebound adjustment. Almost all of them offer low-speed compression adjustment and XC and trail shocks also come with either two or three damping settings. So that would be either an open setting for riding your trail, a firm setting for climbing or getting to your trail on tarmac, and sometimes a setting in between to prevent pedal bobbing.

There’s this common misconception that only premium suspension can offer plush and fun rides. That’s obviously not true. With a well set up shock with dialed in compression and rebound settings there’s nothing stopping you from enjoying trail riding and doing it fast and comfortably. Especially if you take good care of your suspension, it goes a very long way in offering just about everything you’d want out of it.

The biggest issue I’ve seen with suspension is not that they offer not enough adjustability. It’s because they were either set up incorrectly, or worn to the point of breaking.

So with that small introduction out of the way, let’s head over my list of the best budget rear shocks.

RockShox Monarch RL

RockShox Monarch RL side view
RockShox Monarch RL front view

The RockShox Monarch RL is the big brand’s budget lineup when it comes to rear shocks. One step up from the Monarch R, it not only features rebound adjustment, but also a lockout lever. Making this an excellent mid-tier option for both XC and trail riding.

Compatible with lockout levers, it’s the basic functionality you should want in a rear shock, and the price sitting under 300 USD makes it a solid upgrade for those of you who still want to be able to pay their mortgage.

The shock has been in RockShox’s lineup for ages and has seen very little innovations. It holds the Solo Air air spring, which means you can pressurize it using a single Schrader valve. This makes for a less complex setup, which is easy to service, even by yourself. And considering the popularity and widespread use of this shock, there are many YouTube tutorials out there to help you along the way, saving you even more cash should you decide you want to.

With so little configurability it can be hit or miss considering the setup, and you only have air pressure to work with and firm up the shock. But unless you’re an outlier in terms of weight, or you have a bike with a non-average geometry, the shock performs admirably and should cover the needs of the majority of enthusiastic mountain bikers.

RockShox Deluxe Ultimate

RockShox Deluxe Ultimate side view
RockShox Deluxe Ultimate front view

Covering a much broader range than the SIDLuxe for a much lower price, the RockShox Deluxe Ultimate offers versatility and external tunability right off the bat.

By moving away from being lightweight as the top requirement, RockShox could decide to add the 3-dial low-speed compression adjuster, which sits underneath the lockout lever. The effect it has on your riding is that it doesn’t impact the shocks ability to let the rear wheel track the ground at high speed, but it does provide you with the ability to negate rider input better, which equates to less pedal bob.

To make the two types of compression, high and low-speed, feel really distinct, the Deluxe borrows technology for the bigger Super Deluxe chassis to prevent oil flowing back through the compression adjuster during either compression or rebound.

Overall the newer style damper, with a larger diameter shaft, bigger air can with thicker walls, offers better consistency, better sealing, higher durability because of less flex and accompanying wear on the piston. All-in-all a great damper.

Marzocchi Bomber CR

Marzocchi Bomber CR front view
Marzocchi Bomber CR side view

The Marzocchi Bomber CR takes up a special place around coil shocks. Offering the basics of suspension (low-speed-compression, rebound adjustment and coil preload) it’s one of the best shocks for people moving into coiled rear suspension.

Where other brands are in a race to cram more technology into ever lighter chassis, Marzocchi has gone the route of offering standout suspension products which keep riders their sanity from a tunability standpoint, for a more than respectable price point.

Its relatively simple design ensures an increased durability, easier serviceability and tunability, with about the same ride quality for the average rider as you would get out of a shock which is twice as much. As a companion to the great Bomber Z1 (or more expensive Z2) fork, you’ll get a suspension setup to tackle just about any trail out there.

Obviously it has to deal with the shortcomings of just about any coil shock, which is end stroke and bottoming out support, caused by the lineair spring curve. But there are many ways to deal with this or at least mitigate its effect to some degree. And knowing which frame is well suited for coil shocks is one of those things.

On the flipside the Marzocchi Bomber CR offers the expected small bump sensitivity and traction anyone who installs a coil shock is looking for, for a small sacrifice in liveliness and pop.

Comfort, traction, the ability to ride longer with less fatigue, all for a decent enough price are part of the winning formula that’s called the Bomber CR.

Specifications budget rear shocks

standard imperial sizes
standard metric sizes
Trunnion metric sizes
buy at Amazon
RockShox Monarch RL
289 USD
165×38, 184×44, 190×51
open, firm lever
rebound adjustment
RockShox Deluxe Ultimate
399 USD
170×35, 190×37.5, 190×40, 190×42.5, 190×45, 210×47.5, 210×50, 210×52.5, 210×55, 230×57.5, 230×60, 230×62.5, 230×65
165×37.5, 165×40, 165×42.5, 165×45, 185×47.5, 185×50, 185×52.5, 185×55, 205×50, 205×57.5, 205×60, 205×62.5, 205×65,
open, firm lever
3-click low-speed compression
Marzocchi Bomber CR
299 USD
7.5×2.0, 7.875×2.0, 7.875×2.5, 8.5×2.5, 8.75×2.75, 9.5×3.0
210×50, 210×55, 230×60, 230×65, 250×75
185×52.5, 185×55, 205×60, 205×65, 225×75
10-click low-speed compression adjustment
10-click rebound adjustment
coil-spring preload adjustment
390 (w/o spring)
bio vanseijen

Johan van Seijen

FoundeR Restoration.bike

Johan van Seijen is the founder of restoration.bike. His passion for cycling in general, and restoring older bikes turned into a website to share his knowledge with a broader audience. Starting out on his father’s road bike and riding classics as the Amstel Gold Race and Liege Bastogne Liege he has shifted his attention to trail, XC, and gravel riding since. No matter how much he loves writing about everything related to cycling, nothing beats actually using his ever-expanding bicycle collection.

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