When it comes to suspension, few companies bring as much expertise to the table as Fox Racing. Their R&D crosses into more activities than any other mountain bike suspension manufacturer on the market today. Motocross, baja racing, street bikes, race cars… check, check, check and check. Yes, tons of experience, but all I care about is how their designs perform in my racetrack–Utah singletrack trails.
I’ve had the privilege of flogging the new 2010 Fox 32 TALAS RLC fork for a couple of months now on my Ibis Mojo–and what a perfect combination. With a slew of changes for 2010, is Fox’s world-domination solidified with this new offering, or is there room for Rockshox, Marzocchi, Manitou or others to slip in to give them run for their money?
About the 2010 Fox 32 TALAS 150 RLC
As the top-of-the-line 32mm fork offering, the TALAS leaves nothing on the table. Adjustable travel (150/130/110), air pre-load, rebound, lockout and lockout threshold all wrapped in the all-new and much-anticipated FIT dampening system… anything else? Oh yeah, pick your steerer (1-1/8 or Taper) and your axle (9mm QR or 15QR) and you’ve got the makings of your very own “choose your own adventure” book.
Features of the 2010 Fox 32 TALAS 150 FIT RLC:
- New FIT RLC damper
- 150mm travel (140mm option available)
- TALAS adjusts from 150 to 130 or 110mm on-the-fly
- 15QR axle
- 1-1/8″ standard or tapered steerer tube option
- Low-speed compression
- Lockout force adjustment
- Lockout dial
- Air spring pre-load compression
- Rebound force adjustment
- Weight: A svelte 3.96 lbs (includes axle)
- MSRP: $960
2010 Fox 32 TALAS 150 RLC Fork Review
The new 2010 32 TALAS arrived a few weeks prior to its intended steed, the Ibis Mojo, and it took all I could muster to keep from hacking the steerer for installation on another bike in the stable, but in the end I was patient and that patience has paid off in droves. I’m drawn back to my first real experience with a quality front fork and that was nearly 10 years ago. The fork was the Marzocchi Z1 and the smoothness of the travel was something to behold. On rare occasions since then have I found its squishy equal, but I think this is one of them.
The beauty of the TALAS design lies in the air spring, which allows for fine tuning to your heart’s content. While coil/oil combos are notoriously smooth, they lack the infinite adjustments of an air sprung fork. And, with the advances in air spring technology, the only time you should consider a coil sprung fork is if you race, huck your meat or like to beat the tar out of your newly-acquired machine.
I’ve tuned the fork for cross-country performance, downhill pleasure and everything inbetween–all via a few short strokes of the included pump. With air pre-load pressures from a low of about 65 to a high of about 85, I was able to try out the fork in a variety of modes. Essentially, you can XC this thing out by putting in 85 psi. and dropping the travel, then reduce the air pressure and increase the travel for a smooth-riding trailbike feel. As to be expected, at higher pressures, high-speed compression is a bit stiff, so small bump compliance suffers, but when a big hit comes, it will blow through most of the available travel. At the lower psi. settings, you get buttery-smooth performance with super-bump-soaking capabilities, but the front end will dive a tad under hard cornering and climbs.
Once you get used to the ride characteristics of both lower and higher pressures, it becomes very comfortable in all conditions. At lower pressures, I utilized the lockout, but at higher pressures, it was really unnecessary.
In the end, for my weight (175 lbs.) and riding style, I settled in on approximately 72 psi. This gave me smooth bump-soaking goodness with enough efficiency so as not to have to utilize the lockout unless it was a long, consistent climb.
At first, I was questioning the location swap of the rebound and lockout force knobs in the right leg. The FIT system swaps those knobs from their locations on 2009 models. With the rebound adjustment at the bottom of the lower-right leg, it became more of a “set and forget” adjustment–mainly because it was out of sight and out of mind. Had it been placed at the top of the leg, I think I would have tweaked it slightly on downhills, but I forgot about it. I realize that Fox engineers have done a fabulous job with the new system, but I really do still wish the rebound setting was on the top.
Are you concerned with having this much travel on long climbs? No worry, dropping the fork down to 130 or 110 mm travel is easy. The TALAS knob is easy to adjust on-the-fly and I found myself switching between 150 and 130 quite often… I only used 110 on a couple of road climbs. The combination of TALAS with infinitely-adjustable lockout threshold yields a super-efficient climber should you elect to utilize all the gizmos available at your disposal. Honestly, under most up-and-down trails, I just left it at 150 or 130 mm and didn’t mess with the lockout settings–only on long, sustained climbs did I feel it necessary.
Another note about the TALAS system. While in lower travel settings, the fork still behaves in a similar fashion as it does at full travel. Compression and overall travel quality is maintained–all in a lower-travel setting with a steeper head angle for faster handling. On cross-country terrain, the 130 setting was ideal and if things got sketchy, I wasn’t worried at all since the ride quality was maintained.
The combination of the 15QR and beefy stanchions, crown, arch and lower legs provides for solid tracking and confidence-inspiring stiffness. Not once did I feel the front end wander or get squirrely.
While the 15QR is an awesome axle system, I sometimes wonder why not go with the full 20mm utilizing the same design. The Rockshox Maxle Lite system competes with the 15QR axle on weight and performance, but it is a more standard diameter. Oh well… I guess since most hub manufacturers offer adapters for 9, 15 or 20 mm axles, it’s not a huge deal. The only rub comes with roof racks, but I haven’t used a fork-mount bike rack in years. However, many consumers still use and like fork-mount racks, so it continues to be a concern worth mentioning.
The new-for-2010 FIT Damping system appears to perform well. I compared the ride of this fork to my 2009 Fox 32 Float and I did notice a slightly smoother ride overall, but since I didn’t do a head-to-head on the same bike, it’s hard to say so definitively. I will say this… the new 2010 fork provides amazing performance in a lightweight and capable package that’s hard to beat–it is the perfect match to my Ibis Mojo.
Good 32 TALAS 150
- Adjustments galore can fine-tune the performance of this baby
- Air spring offers infinite compression adjutments
- Very stiff and stable… tracks well in the hard stuff
- Buttery-smooth performance on burly, technical terrain
- Ability to lock things out on long climbs
- 15QR design is easy to use
- Sub-4 lbs… yup, this thing is light for the travel you’re getting
- TALAS system is money… dropping from 150 to 130 is stupid simple
Bad 32 TALAS 150
- Though I love the 15QR, people will continue to scoff until it becomes even more accepted
- Dropping pressure to use the full travel results in an inefficient climber, hence the need for the lockout
- I’d still prefer the rebound setting on top of the crown instead at the bottom of the fork leg
The Bottom Line: 2010 Fox 32 TALAS 150 RLC Fork
Hit the trails and hang on tight because the new Fox 32 TALAS fork is solid and smooth. For 150mm travel, this fork is light and tracks as straight as forks with much more beef. The myriad of adjustments should put this fork at the front of the pack when shopping for a new suspension fork or completing that custom build you’ve been drooling over.