There has been a great deal of interest in RFY Shocks, not just here, but also on other websites and forums. Rightfully so, the shocks are available on eBay from around $80 to $100 and they come in a myriad of colors and sizes. This presumably allows people to pick and chose to suit their needs and tastes while replacing there bounced out 40 year old models. Given the low price point and the ability to pick your color it’s not a hard purchase to make. There are plenty of people on the web both raving about these shocks and at the same time others are denouncing their quality. Since I’m building my bike and like to take things a part I decided that I too would purchase a set, but before strapping them on my multi-thousand dollar machine would take them a part just to see what is inside. Both for science and safety.
Before taking my RFY’s apart, the best information I had was posted by user Crazypj on the DoTheTon.com forum. He took his shocks completely apart and then made a few upgrades of his own, but since I am not going to steal his information you’ll have to head over there to find his post.
Here is a semi-exploded view of my shocks. Give it a look then scroll down.
The above photo shows the shock almost completely disassembled. All that remains is the shock seal, shaft, and piston in the shock. The bladder fits on the cap and is pressurized externally using the Schrader valve. The gas in the bladder does not come into contact with the damping fluid. This bladder colapses as the shock shaft displaces oil. The circlip holds the bladder and cap assembly in the reservoir of the shock, and bladder seals to the interior of the reservoir preventing fluid from escaping. Upper left in the photo is a semi-translucent washer. This washer goes between the upper spring perch and spring. I assume it’s primary function is to provide a surface that won’t chafe as the spring moves on the perch do to compression.
Here you can see the entire shock rod and all of its components. The piston and stacks are of most interest, though the components are all pretty standard. Which, in my opinion, is a good thing. Overall quality appears good, though there were challenges in disassembling the shock this far. The overabundant use of high strength thread locker was the main obstacle. A nice addition to the shock is the rebound bump stop which has a spring and should help prevent adverse wear and tear when your wheel suddenly extends to full droop.
My impression is that these shocks are more than usable. They do appear to be copied from an Ohlins shock. All things considered, they are in fact very nice. I wouldn’t however buy a set off the shelf and install them expecting a good ride. On my set, the factory assembly would have provided an ill working shock. These shocks are completely rebuild-able, and I was able to disassemble mine without ruining any of the parts. Without modification, I was able to reassemble my shocks while preventing the introduction of air into the system. Additionally, if one were in need of different damping characteristics, the stacks could be changed to accommodate.
The bottom line, if you want Ohlins, pony up the cash. If you want to go racing, get Ohlins. For the rest of us, if you want a shock that has the potential to perform like shocks that cost twice as much, the RFY is a great choice. Just know that before hand that you will need at least a partial rebuild to get them right.