RockShox was founded by Paul Turner and Steve Simons in North Carolina (USA) in 1989. It moved to California a few years later. Turner, who rode motorcycles in his teens, founded a company that sold motorcycle parts at the age of 18. He would go on to work for the Honda Motor Company as the factory motocross team's mechanic, which put him in touch with suspension designers and other motocross industry leaders.
Former professional motocross rider and entrepreneur Simons designed a shock absorber for Fox Racing Shox and then went on to found his own company Simons Inc. to develop suspension forks. He obtained two patents on suspension forks, one of which he licensed to the major motorcycle and suspension companies.
In 1989 Turner approached Simons to develop a suspension fork for mountain bikes. In 1987, Turner had presented a full bike with front and rear suspension at the bicycle industry trade show in Long Beach, with the help of Keith Bontrager. The industry was not impressed. Two years later Turner and his wife Christi were producing suspension forks in their garage using parts they bought from Simons. Turner soon became partner in Simons Inc.
Simons became CEO at RockShox. Turner brought in Greg Herbold as a test rider and company spokesman. Herbold became the first world champion in downhill mountain biking on one of the first suspension forks made for mountain bikes. In August 1990 the company produced its first 100 suspension forks, the RS-1. The start-up was financed by the East Asian bicycle parts manufacturer Dia Compe, the founders, and other investors. Dia Compe manufactured the next series of forks but later withdrew from manufacturing and disposed of its shares.
From then on, forks were primarily manufactured at RockShox.