2009 Fox Vanilla 32 RLC 15QR Fork Review


Since Fox Racing has come on the suspension fork scene, technology has come a long way. Both the Fox 32 and 36 lineups are some of the most sought-after suspension forks on the market today–with good reason. They are typically bombproof in their design and track straight through even the harshest terrain.  Add on top of that more years of suspension design experience in general than everyone but Marzocchi, Fox continues to push the limits of suspension feel, durability, light weight and long lifespan.

For 2009, Fox Racing and Shimano have jointly-developed the new 15mm thru axle standard. It has been met with mixed emotions as some are calling it pure marketing hype while others are embracing it with open arms. All are in agreement that the current 9mm quick-release needs to go away and fast, but should it be 15 or 20mm? After riding the new Vanilla 32 with 15QR over the past two months, I’m sold.

2009 Fox Vanilla 32 RLC 15QR Fork Review

About the 2009 Fox Vanilla 32 RLC 15QR Fork

Smooth travel and no-brainer setup are the hallmarks of the Fox Vanilla 32 platform. And for 2009, add on top of that the 15mm Quick-Release option, a stronger crown, lighter and stronger lower brace and casting, smoother operation and added stiffness overall and you’ve got the new 2009 Fox Vanilla 32 package.

Fox and Shimano have put a ton of development into the 15mm thru-axle design and are looking forward to a strong adoption moving forward. I featured the new Fox 15QR design in June 08 and got some good feedback (positive and negative) about it. Thus far, the Marzocchi 44 ATA Micro and the new DT Swiss XMC 130 and XMC 150 forks are the only other 15mm thru-axle forks that I know of for 2009. (We’ll see what Interbike brings.)

Features of the 2009 Fox Vanilla 32 RLC 15QR Fork:

  • Low speed compression
  • Lockout force adjust
  • Lockout switch
  • Coil spring pre-load (150-180 lb installed, 180-210 lb & 210 lb+ included)
  • Post-style disc brake tabs
  • Weight: 4.46 lbs
  • Travel: 5.5 inches (140mm)
  • MSRP: $675

2009 Fox Vanilla 32 RLC 15QR Fork Review

Fox Vanilla 32 RLC 15QR Fork Review

Yup, I dare you to say Fox Vanilla 32 RLC 15QR really fast 10 times… a mouthful, but all those specs are important when it comes to this fork. Each one represents an important piece of the puzzle and is why this fork is so bomber.

Being an early-adopter isn’t always easy. I remember when OnePointFive came out, I was onboard early and had issues getting a headset. With the Vanilla, I had some issues getting ahold of the proper hub.  But, thanks to Shimano, I was able to get set up with a 2009 XT front hub with the standard 6-bolt rotor mount. Once in my hands, a quick trip to Go-Ride and my wheel was ready to ride. This was in early-August and the crew at Go-Ride was amazed that I had that hub since they had yet to see one. It pays to know the right people, I guess!

At this point, there are many more 15mm hub and wheelset options available or soon-available from WTB, DT-Swiss, Shimano, Ellsworth, Hope and others. This will continue to improve and by Spring 2009, you’ll have plenty of options!

Back to the fork… It’s built as a do-it-all trail fork with a no-nonsense “ride-and-go” setup. The black lowers are a great look on the white 2009 Santa Cruz Blur LT that I’ve been flogging. Not only does it look good, it matches up perfectly with 140mm travel front and rear.

On the trail, the simplicity of the Vanilla 32 shines. No need to bring along a shock pump, just hop on and go. You can adjust the rebound as needed and/or lockout the fork on long climbs, but other than that, you just ride it–a welcomed feature in a world of 6-way adjustable shocks!

Once broken-in (2 good rides), this fork is super smooth on all types of trails. You can definitely feel the difference between this fork and the 36 TALAS that I reviewed earlier this year, but it’s by no means overmatched on anything I’ve thrown its way. The stout 32mm stanchions and smooth open-bath travel is buttery. When pushed hard through drops and rock gardens, you can top it out, but on everything else, it just begs for more.

Tracking is where this fork shines. I’ve long been a fan of 20mm thru-axles because of the stiffness they provide. So, I didn’t need much coaxing to jump onboard the 15QR! With a 15% increase in torsional stiffness and 25% increase in transverse shear stiffness over standard dropouts, the 15QR simply blows away any 9mm QR fork I’ve ridden. The extra confidence you’ll feel when bombing through babyheads or hammering hard into a turn will pay back in spades. It’s so stiff that I’ve really noticed just how laterally squirrely the Mavic 321 rims are on my bike.

On long climbs, I’ve engaged the lockout, but most of the time I don’t bother because it’s not that easy to reach on-the-fly. And, I don’t find it terribly necessary unless I’m hammering up the road. Rebound clicks provide a noticeable difference in the fork’s attitude, but I just settled in on a couple of clicks in from the fastest rebound setting and have found it acceptable in all conditions.

Good Vanilla 32 RLC 15QR

  • Set-it-and-forget-it suspension design
  • Open bath and coil spring pre-load provide a smooth feel
  • Super-stiff overall design tracks straight
  • 15QR dropout is easy to use and secures the wheel with authority
  • A solid value at $675

Bad Vanilla 32 RLC 15QR

  • 15mm hubs are still hard to find, but getting easier
  • Can top it out if you ride it hard
  • You may need to buy a new bike rack

2009 Fox Vanilla 32 RLC 15QR Fork Review

The Bottom Line on the 2009 Fox Vanilla 32 RLC 15QR Fork

In a market full of endless suspension adjustments, the Vanilla 32 RLC shines as an example of what has worked well for years. My first open-bath Marzocchi was buttery-smooth and this one from Fox Racing continues along that same path with a simple design that just plain works. The extra stiffness and confidence provided by the 15QR dropout goes without saying. You’ll kiss your standard 9mm forks goodbye and hopefully never look back.

Buy Now: Find Fox Racing Shox at CompetitiveCyclist.com

About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.


  1. I have an ’08 talas 32 currently and I am disappointed with how much the lowers of the fork flex when going over the small stuff. Does the 15qr flex much in this respect or would it be wiser to consider an 36?

  2. Are you talking fore and aft flex, or lateral flex? Either way, the 15mm or 20mm thru-axle makes a HUGE difference. I honestly can’t tell the difference between the 15 and 20 mm’s. When a fork flexes, you notice it (I really noticed it on the Manitou Minute 29 that was on the Niner RIP 9 I rode all summer), but when it doesn’t, you don’t focus on it.

    With the Vanilla 32 with 15QR, you won’t even think about the fork… you’ll just ride it. Either fork (32 or 36) would be a great option on the SC Blur LT2, Yeti 575, Ellsworth Epiphany, Pivot Mach 5 or any other trailbike you’re looking at.

  3. I am giving serious thought to changing my Talas 36 RLC’s for the 32 Vanilla RLC 15QR. The Talas’s are a bit sticky and not as plush as other forks I have used. They are complicated to set up (too many knobs!) and a tad heavy. The Vanilla looks a better (simpler) options and with the 15mm through axle should almost as stiff.

  4. The only thing you may miss would be the travel adjustment. Unless you are DH-ing, you won’t notice the difference between the 15 and 20mm thru-axle.

    I’ve ridden the TALAS 36 and found it to be very plush, but yes, it can be complex to set up properly. Vanilla’s are simple point-and-go forks.

  5. I have the same SC Blur LT(2) and ride along Wasatch front, (use Go-Ride too). Love the thought of a) coil spring, b) no fuss point-and-go riding c) stiff 15mmQR set up. AND like lower cost and lower maintenance with the Vanilla vs. air forks. Have had trouble with every other TALAS I have owned (2).

    However, I am very hesitant to leave the travel adjust for climbing the canyons around here. Riding in the south at Gooseberry, Little Creek, etc. not a big issue.

    Your opinion with that bike and fork…can I get away with NOT having the travel adjust when climbing up east canyon, Solitude, puke hill to crest, etc.?


  6. I didn’t have any instances where I really felt I needed to lock it down on that bike. I would have liked it, I’m sure, but it seemed balanced enough.

    It will wander a tad when things get steep, but if you keep powering through, you’ll be fine. If you can squeeze the TALAS, the travel adjustment would be sweet, but I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary.

    Any interest in looking at a Lyrik? A lot of value for the money with that fork. Travel adjustments are available at a lower pricepoint. Fox is top-notch, but the Lyrik has also been a solid performer in all my tests and can be had for a little less money.

  7. Hi,

    QR15 seems like a good idea of Fox and Shimano. However, does the stiffness difference between 15 and 20mm axle is noticeable (it’s well obvious that there’s a big difference between 9 and 15)?

    I prefer adjustable fork so I wont go for the VAN but what do you think about TALAS 150 QR15? Did you test them? Can you feel the difference in stiffness between the 32 and 36 TALAS?

  8. Every TALAS fork I’ve ridden has been outstanding. Most recently, I reviewed the Fox 36 TALAS:


    It was one of the best-performing and versatile forks I’ve ridden. Can I tell the difference between the 15 and 20mm thru-axle? I haven’t ridden them side-by-side, so I don’t know for sure, but the 15qr inspires just as much confidence as the 20mm does. I’m thinking you’ll expose the weaknesses in your wheels way before you’ll feel the difference between a 15 and 20mm axle.

    However, the 36 is definitely overbuilt, so it should be stiffer overall, but how much of that is due to the size of the thru-axle likely very little.

  9. Hi again,

    Thank you for your prompt answer.
    As for 36 TALAS – do you think it’s versatile enough to used as XC fork once on a while? (BTW, do you know how much does it weight including the axle? In Fox’s website weight indication is without the axle).

    As for 32 TALAS 150, how strong do you think it is? Most of the time I do AM/trail, sometimes XC and sometime (light) DH – 2-3 feet drops as max.

    Last one, any idea where to find A2C measurement of both 32 and 36 TALAS?


  10. Define “once in awhile”… if you’re talking racing once in awhile, then it’s way overkill, but you do have the travel adjust. I’ve got the weights for the 2010 models (09 weight might vary slightly) right here in front of me:

    36 TALAS RC2 w/Axle: 4.99 lbs for 1-1/8″ steerer
    32 TALAS 150 RLC w/Axle: 3.96 lbs for 1-1/8” steerer

    The 32 TALAS is going to be bombproof for all-mountain and light-freeride action. In other words, the majority of us. It could also do well as an occasional XC racer on the right bike. What bike are you slapping it on?

  11. I do not race (at least not professionally). My biggest concern is versatility, anywhere between XC – AM to 2-3 feet drops (MAX) of DH.
    I believe TALAS 150 will be just perfect and the 36 TALAS will be a bit overkill.
    I ride on 2008 Heckler.

    What do you think ?

  12. Eddie… you can’t go wrong with the TALAS 32. A pound lighter weight, nearly as stiff and a little more versatile for normal day-to-day riding. It’s a perfect match for that bike too.

  13. Great. 10x for the tip.

    BTW, What do you think about the compression ability in the fork?
    I have tried any “C” Fox’s fork so I cannot tell if it’s useful or not.

    I can disarm the compression feature from the fork and same few grams and $ (something like 90$ less).

  14. Hi Jason,

    Regarding the 2010 TALAS QR15 150 – I’ve seen that it will be available only with the FIT system. Is that so?
    I think it will priced much higher than the current generation.

  15. Yes, I believe most forks in the lineup will now come with the FIT dampening system. I haven’t seen the price sheet to compare, but if I do I’ll re-post with that info. From the sound of it, the FIT system should be stellar.

  16. Great review… was wondering what you guys thought of a 32 Talas 150 QR15 on a new ’09 Titus El Guapo?

    I recenlty moved from the midwest out to SLC and need a more aggressive bike for the conditions out here. Every review of the El Guapo I have seen have been using the 36’s (Float and Talas), but I am trying to build it up lighter to handle XC/Enduro, all the way upto some light chair access riding.


  17. @joshish… welcome to SLC!

    That fork would be stellar on the El Guapo, but I’d check with Titus on the axle-to-crown height difference between the two forks to see how that would affect the geometry. It might make your head-angle a degree steeper, but I don’t know… it all depends on the axle-to-crown height difference.

    As far as performance, the 32 with QR15 would be solid, no question.

  18. Hi Jason,

    What do you think about Revelation 2009 140, 20mm and Pike 454 compares to the TALAS 150 QR15? Which one will perform the best? Who will be more versatile? Prove more stiffness?

  19. The Revelation is a great all-mountain trail fork. It’s not quite as beefy as the Pike or Lyrik, but with the new 20mm Maxle Light, it’s stiff and strong yet still light.

    I’ve been impressed with RockShox as of late. I rode last year’s Revelation extensively and really thought a lot of it. I also rode the Lyrik and loved it. You could save yourself some coin going that route.

  20. Actually I can buy the 150 TALAS and the Revelation at almost the same price (50$US difference). In this case, what would be your choice?
    The versatile-more stiff than 9mm – proven TALAS or the light-20mm Rev?

    DO you think the Rev is more stiff than the TALAS? I know it has bigger axle but the TALAS looks more stable ..

  21. If you can buy the Fox, I’d go with that in a heartbeat. The Revelation is nice, but at nearly the same price… the TALAS gets my nod. BUT… let me say this, I’ve not yet ridden the Revelation with 20mm Maxle, only the standard 9mm QR.

  22. Actually I have ridden on the Rev 20mm. It feels like PIKE but much lighter and a bit let stiff. A solid fork indeed.

  23. So now question is Rev as a light version of PIKE (and a bit less solid) vs Talas 150. What will be you choice and why?

    BTW, I’ve read all your posts and enjoyed them a lot. Well done !

  24. Eddie… I don’t know what to tell you at this point. 🙂 You’ve got to go out on your own. Like I said, the Revelation I rode was a standard QR and it was last year’s model. Travel was smooth, but it was also 130mm and not 140mm. I don’t have enough recent context to tell you either way. Thanks for the props!

  25. Hey Jason,

    Do you know anything about the upgrade path for those who just bought the RP23 and Talas RLC 150 15QR (2009) I checked the Fox web site and the ProTune only shows a revalve at this point.


  26. @Dave… I haven’t heard. Was there a recall or an assembly defect that they are issuing repair calls for? I can check, but no I haven’t heard anything directly.

  27. No recall. I just read http://bicycling.com/blogs/toolbox/tag/fox-2010-suspension-products/

    where they talk about an upgrade path/trade in for the 2010 models. It is a pretty good article especially since I own a 575 with the 09 stuff. The article points out “Unlike the ‘09 model there is no harshness on bumps with high levels of low speed damping dialed up.” and Instead of blowing open with harshness, the Boost Valve equipped model transitions smoothly even in the most aggressive #3 lever setting. It really transformed the 575 giving it more active climbing traction and a wallow free feel.”

    The article shows the product should show up in shops around June, but I thought may be you had an in.

  28. Hi,
    Great reviews and replies. Hope you can help…
    In an attempt to save some money, I’m thinking of going for the 2009 140mm Fox 32 Vanilla R QR15 – but would really like your opinion on whether the Rebound only version is versatile enough & good enough value compared to the RLC?
    These are to go on my Ellsworth Epiphany (absolutely brilliant bike by the way).
    Cheers, Steve

  29. @Steve

    That fork should be just fine if you’re in a pinch. I rarely use the front lockout on any of my forks–only on extended climbs or on short road stints.

    That wouldn’t be my first choice on that bike (I’d go air vs. coil), but if you’ve got a good deal in sight, you would do just fine.

  30. I have been ridding a 09 Float 140m 32 RLC QR on an Ibis Mojo for the past year. The 3rd generation Fox Float is a great fork. The L(lock out) is nice for the rare out of saddle pump or riding on the road. IMO the C(Compression Adjustment) is a must. For me at 225lbs and riding in all the varied conditions in Utah I move the C dial a couple clicks depending on the day. Maybe the Float R valving is perfect for a 160 to 175 lb rider but not a good match for me.

    You might want to email the Fox Tuner Pros at PUSH Industries. They have lots of experience tuning Fox and Rock Shox forks for Rocky Mountain Riders and can help you make a good decision based on your needs.

    I wish I had the qr15 lowers. I have had days on the Wasatch and in Moab that the added stiffness would be a plus. I picked up an 08 Mojo last Sept with the first 09 Float RLC hitting the market before the QR15 was an option. Switching now would cost me $300 for the conversion. My recommendation flip the sofa cushions, hold a garage sale and spend the extra $100 and get the Float RLC QR15. Heaven forbid if you decide to move on to a new fork the RLC will have better resale. Might cover the extra investment to go from the R to the RLC.

  31. Jason, great review. I am building up either a blur lt2 or epiphany this winter. I have the chance to buy either a 2010 vanilla 32 qr15 or a 2009 float 140 rlc 15qr for a good price both forks so close in price that price is not a concern. probably leaning towards the blur. what fork would you recommend? thanks Dean.

  32. I think the Float would be a better match if you’re just going to use the bike for trail riding. I personally prefer air shocks for their ease-of-adjustment and fine-tuning. The Float is a great fork… heck so is the Vanilla. I just give the nod to the air fork for its flexibility.

    If you go Float, the Epiphany would be an ideal match.

  33. Hi Jason

    Just bought a sc blur 4x frame, got the choice between a 2010 fox float 36 R or a (cheap)2009 fox 32 vanilla RLC 15QR. Selling the DH bike and the xc bike to build my dream ‘do-it-all’ mtb.
    What do you think?
    Any help much appreciated,


    • If you want your Blur 4X to ride more like an all-mountain machine, you should probably try to drop the head angle slightly and definitely have an adjustable travel fork. Looking at the spec, the 4X has a head angle of 68.5 deg. with a 471mm axle-to-crown fork. That puts you into a 100mm fork if you’re going with Fox (believe it or not).

      If you put a 32 Vanilla (140mm) on there, your axle-to-crown will be 510mm. If you put a 36 Float on there, you’re looking at a 545mm axle-to-crown. In other words, they will be very raked out should you choose to go with either option.

      If you do go for a fork of that much travel, you should opt for an adjustable travel fork to drop the front-end down and steepen the head-angle for climbs.

      In general, a 4X bike will not make that great of a “do it all” bike, IMO, but you could make it work.

  34. Thanks Jason

    Think i’ll go with the 2010 36 float R (can’t afford a talas) as it’s internally adjustable down to 100mm (probably run it at 140mm). Was reading a review on the SC 4x on ‘bikeradar’ and they say with a rockshox pike it’s the sh*t for hardcore xc riding which i think i’m leaning towards in my old age. Anyway, past the point of no return now, so will continue with the 4x build, hope it turns out to be what i’m looking for.


  35. Alec… Do me a favor and report back how it rides. I’m purely going by angles and geo here since I haven’t ridden the Blur 4X. On paper, it looks sketchy, but reading out on a few forums, a lot of folks are stoked on their 4X’s.

  36. Hi Jason, thank you for your review which I have read and reread and reread…I can’t really find reviews for the 15qr forks online.

    My dilemma- For roughly the same price I have been offered new on special the following:
    2009 Fox 32 Vanilla RLC QR15
    Fox 32 Float RL 150mm QR15 (OEM- open bath/none FIT)
    Rockshox Pike 454 coil Uturn.

    I am relatively heavy (210lb) and ride some technical/rocky trails.

    I also have a Blur4x – Neither the Fox’s have travel adjust but the main thing is…..when the trail heads down does the Pike get overwhelmed compared to the dampening on either the Fox’s? I’d happily live with the Pike if it doesnt feel like your hands are being shaken off compared to the Fox’s…

  37. Mark… glad I can help you out and I’m glad I can be a resource.

    Regarding your dilemma between the Fox 32 FLOAT and Vanilla or the RockShox Pike 454, all three forks are superb. Granted you do weigh nearly 40 lbs more than I, but I’m confident each of those forks will work well for you.

    As you can see in one of my above comments, I was chatting about the Santa Cruz Blur 4x and the need to have an adjustable fork to keep the front-end down while climbing. On paper, mind you, I can’t see how the 4X climbs worth a darn without an adjustable travel fork. Again, I’ve never ridden one, but I can’t see it being all that fun unless you can drop the front end down.

    That said, I have full confidence in the RockShox Pike. I owned the 2006 PIke 454 and it was one of the smoothest forks I’ve owned. Very light, very responsive and super-plush. I dig the feel of Fox forks and am a huge advocate of their suspension, but don’t discount RockShox. Their forks are solid and the Pike is no exception. I think you’d enjoy it.

  38. Thank you Jason. I just can’t get my head round a float fork with even longer travel than the previous 9mm qr that wont be flexy.

    The 15mm qr cancels out the flexy nature of the 140mm 9mm qr…so you then extend the travel an additional 10mm …surely the extra 10mm puts the forks back abit/cancels out the stiffer axle and makes it more flexy like the old 140 fork (in theory?!).

    A thought……buy the Pike and at its first service….PUSH them. It’ll then be on a level playing field with the Fox.

    Thank you again.

    • Don’t fear the 15QR… it’s stiff and solid. I can’t really tell the difference between it and a 20mm Maxle Lite. There may be a difference on paper, but I’m not feeling it on the trail.

      You could PUSH the Pike… indeed.

  39. Jason, I have a ’05 Spec Enduro 130 w/Marzocchi EXR Race 120mm Fork. LBS has a used ’09 Vanilla 32 RLC 140mm 15 QR for $350 installed. Upgrade path was to bias XC but the Vanilla Fork seems too nice to pass up. I wanted a 2010 F120 FIT 15 QR but they’re pricey. I am concerned about the geometry changing on the bike. I don’t have the experience to know if I’ll have issues/problems with the Vanilla. Any insite will be appreciated. Thank you. John/Folsom CA

  40. John… I’m not super-familiar with the Enduro 130, but 20mm change in travel (and potentially a different axle-to-crown height regardless of the 20mm travel difference) might make things a bit wonky.

    That’s a killer deal on the fork+installation, but without any travel adjustments, I think you might have a bit of steering flop on technical climbs. It may descend well, but I’d be concerned about climbing.

  41. Jason, thanks for the quick reply. I measured the Marzocchi and it seems to be exactly 510mm axle to crown (same as the Vanilla). Measured from center of skewer (wheel removed) to rear top of crown its right at 510mm. I understand that I can have a spacer installed to lower travel from 140mm to 120mm. Will this lower Axle to Crown 20mm or will it maintain the 510mm? I understand climbing may be an issue but I’m certain it’ll be vastly improved to the old Marzocchi. Your excellent article convinced me to give 15mm T/A a try. Thank you. John

  42. Pingback: 2009 Santa Cruz Blur LT Bike Review - FeedTheHabit.com

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