Product Courtesy of Kian Hong Cycle
The spotlight for 2010 Fox forks rested squarely on their newly revamped 32mm family. Forks in similar segment have always been the bread and butter for most fork companies and Fox has refocused on this segment for 2010 to stay relevant, if not to raise the bar. At first glance, the 2010 forks do not look vastly different from prior year model since both shared similar chassis, which was upgraded in 2009. But this is where the similarities end. All RLC model in each series (F-series, Vanilla, Float and Talas) got updated with the new FIT (Fox Isolated Technology) damper. FIT damper is also available on the RL Remote model. The new close circuit damper promised to enhance the forks small bumps compliance. Since less oil is required for the new damper, the new forks also enjoyed considerable weight loss in the process. For the record, the new F100RLC weighs less than 3.2lbs, making it one of the lightest 100mm travel fork available in the market. For the first time since Fox inception, the F-series will be a real contender for the lightest and best performing fork in the market. The R line has been dropped from the aftermarket lineup. The open bath, rebound and lockout adjustable (RL) fork will become Fox?s new entry level fork. Also new for 2010, is the 150 Talas (150mm?130mm?110mm) which has another 10mm of travel added to meet the increasing demand for more travel.
Upon closer inspection of the Talas RLC 140 (140mm?120mm?100mm), you will notice various changes to the adjuster knobs. The rebound damping and lockout threshold adjustors have swapped places, with the former now at the bottom of the right leg and vice versa. While some argued that the new layout is more logical as rebound damping would not require on-the-fly adjustment once dialed-in, I personally felt indifferent between the two. The travel adjustor on the left leg has been enlarge and also re-designed with better ergonomics. The bigger knob provided better leverage and I found it much easier to switch between the different travel settings even on the move. The air chamber valve is still located at the top of the left leg. However, to unscrew the valve cap, you will need to change the travel setting to its lowest (100mm). When you do that, the air valve will pop up and allow easy access to the valve cap.
The proprietary FIT damper is actually a technology passed down from the 36 and 40, and has been a proven technology. It has been used on the bigger Fox for the last two seasons and been in development for couple of years prior to its first commercial application. On paper, the closed system is supposed to produce very little friction, if any. The isolated damper is purged of air and this prevented aeration of the oil, ensuring consistent damping performance throughout its stroke. A newly shimmed rebound circuit is also incorporated and enhances the fork?s speed sensitivity. Last but not least, the new forks have modified air spring curve that help it to better utilize its full travel.
Mushy! Mushy! Mushy!
The marketing preach seemed too good to be true. The stanchion was bone dry and felt a little ?sticky? right out of the box. But the moment I took the Talas RLC out of the garage, it was all smiles as I put the fork through its paces. I got the fork pumped to 60 PSI for my 70 kg bodyweight. Rebound is set 5 clicks from the lightest (fastest) damping and low speed compression is set in the mid point.
The improvement in the low speed compression can be felt immediately and I am talking about leaping improvements. With the low speed compression set to four clicks (total of eight click adjustments) to maximum, I can actually crank down and get a platform feel without using lockup. The same be done on the older models, but would mean certain compromise on the small bump compliance. This is not the case on the new Talas. Small bump compliance in its initial stroke remained supple. If you are willing to trade brake dive for plush travel, it is possible for it to replicate the suppleness of a coil fork on the Talas.
The revamped travel adjustor has also scored well in this review. I tried adjusting the knob on the move and found it a breeze compared to the old one. A quick 170 degree twist and you have your travel shorten from 140mm to 100mm. In addition to fact that little effort was needed, it also provided a very precise feedback of its position.
While the 15mm QR is not new, this is my first time on one. Needless to say, the stiffness over the conventional 9mm axle is much appreciated when leaning into corners with the front wheel tracking the terrain resolutely. It yearned for me to push harder into each corner. Non-converts might be worried about gaining additional weight with the 15m QR, but it is really not the case. When compared to a conventional 9mm Talas, there is almost no weight penalty if you include the weight of that 9mm skewer in the equation. But if you are still on a pre 2009 Fox, then you will be glad to know that you can still shave some weight even when you upgrade to a 15mm QR fork. When compared to my 2008 Float, the new Talas is about 30g lighter. One more plus point on the 15mm QR is the convenience in removing the front wheel. With grooves at the bottom of the leg, you can simply rest your wheel axle in them and take your time to skew the quick release through. There is a micro tension adjuster on the opposite end and that allow you to lock in the wheels at your desired tension level, always.
For the older Talas, some users might not be able to obtain full travel from the fork, though the issue can be rectified by approaching Fox Service Centre to customize the spring curve. But with modified spring curve, the review fork was able to attain its full travel even in the maximum low speed compression setting. This is attributed to the new spring curve which ramped up at later stage of the travel and in a more linear manner. I also find that it is able to retain the same ride characteristics in all travel setting.
Thoughts for the Day
Fox has put together a nifty package for the new Talas. It has shown marked improvement in the small bump department with the adoption of the new FIT damper. Coupled that with infinite adjustability, improved spring curve to better utilize full travel and more travel options, Fox has raised the bar once again. I will be hard pressed to find fault with them except for its price. True, they are not the most affordable forks around and there are other forks that provide better value, but buyers must recognize that the Talas is in the top echelon where diminishing marginal returns is inevitable. And if you begin to stack the Talas with others in the same echelon, they actually represent the best bang for the buck. The Talas is ideal for any rider seeking a top performance fork with strong service support from its distributor and has a deep pocket.?