As suspension fork designs have evolved over the years, the sweet spot over the past 2-3 seasons has been in the “all-mountain” category. While dual-crown forks have been mostly relegated to DH-only duty, the long-travel single-crown fork has become the staple for freeriders and all-mountain riders alike.
Initially, Manitou thought it had found the ticket when the 1.5-inch steerer tube was introduced. Single-crown forks were finally supposed to be burly and light enough to withstand roof-droping punishment without deforming your head tube. While the 1.5-inch head tube has provided some great benefits, the misleading marketing hype was that 1 1/8-inch head tubes weren’t burly enough to handle a long-travel single-crown fork. That argument has since been proven a farce.
I’ve been riding the 2008 Fox TALAS 36 RC2 fork on the Rocky Mountain Slayer SXC 70 over the past few weeks and have been very impressed with its performance. Here are my thoughts.
About the Fox TALAS 36 RC2 Fork
Since Fox Racing introduced their first fork line in 2001, their 34 years of suspension design experience has been put to work building some of the most successful and sought-after suspension forks on the market. When the 36 line was introduced, everyone knew that Fox was onto something big. A lightweight, 6-inch travel fork that was built with legendary Fox guts would be an instant success… and it was.
The Fox TALAS 36 came along in 2006 with huge 36 mm stanchions that simply dwarfed all other forks on the market at the time. At Interbike in 2005, I got to ride on a few bikes with the new 36 fork and loved it. Since that time, the 36 line has continued to evolve and improve. The TALAS represents the best of both worlds with unsurpassed adjustability, stiffness and suspension feel.
Here are a few highlights:
- On-the-fly travel adjustment from 160 – 130 – 100 mm
- Tool-free 20QR front axle (New for 08)
- Lighter and stiffer crown (New for 08)
- Post-mount disc brake tabs (New for 08)
- 1 1/8 or 1.5 steerer tube options
- Low and high-speed compression adjustment
- Air spring pre-load
- Rebound adjustment
- Tire Clearance: Up to 2.7
- Weight: 5.1 lbs (0.2 lbs lighter than 2007 model)
- MSRP: $1100
Fox TALAS 36 RC2 Suspension Fork Quick Review
While riding the Rocky Mountain Slayer, I couldn’t help but be impressed with the performance of the Fox TALAS 36 RC2 suspension fork. This was the longest stint I’ve had on the TALAS 36 and I was completely blown away with its performance.
Fox’s 36 fork line went through major changes for the 2008 model year. Weight reduction, new 20QR dropouts, cable guides and post-mount disc brake tabs required a complete external re-design. Performance and reliability continues as the fork rides like a dream over all terrain.
Climbing, the TALAS switch was easy to operate as I dropped things from 160 mm to 130 mm when the trail got steep. That reduction in travel dropped the front-end and kept the bike tracking straight. A quick flip and a fork compression effectively drops things down. While in 130 mm mode, suspension characteristics remain essentially the same with all compression and air spring settings seemingly unaffected.
On the downhill, this fork screamed for more. Railing on high-speed singletrack and dropping off drops and through roots, the TALAS 36 was a dream–and that’s just in 130 mm mode! Yup… the only drawback of adjustable travel is forgetting to switch things back on the down. But, luckily, this fork performs so well in 130 mm mode that I didn’t know the wiser until the next day when I started my climb only to notice that it was still in 130 mm mode. That alone speaks volumes about this fork.
In 160 mm mode, the front end was raked out just a tad more for even better performance. Speed, drops and high-speed cornering allow the TALAS 36 to show off just how laterally stiff it is. It’s no wonder that dual-crown forks have pretty much disappeared from everything but DH bikes because this fork is just as stiff fore and aft as any dual-crown fork I’ve tested.
All adjustments on the fork do their job quite well and provide a level of performance at the top of the MTB suspension market. With a svelte 5.1 lb. weight, there is little competition in the market in the weight-to-performance ratio.
Since I only rode this fork for 3 weeks, I can’t speak to its long-term durability. However, I can say that it has been on a demo bike that’s been ridden hard for a couple of months and it is showing no signs of letting anyone down. It rides perfectly despite the inevitable demo bike abuse.
Good TALAS 36
- Stout construction provides no lateral or fore/aft flex
- Smooth travel throughout the stroke in all travel settings
- Easy-to-use 20QR system
- Quick travel adjustments
- Post-mount disc brake tabs are easier to adjust
- Lightweight at 5.1 lbs
Bad TALAS 36
- Aftermarket price is steep ($1100), but on par with comparable forks from RockShox and Marzocchi
- TALAS travel lever could use a little more noticeable “click” between settings (looks to be improved for 2009)
The Bottom Line: Fox TALAS 36 RC2 Fork
Head-to-head with the RockShox Lyrik (one of my other long-travel favorites), I think the Fox TALAS 36 wins out in overall performance. With the 5.1 lb. weight and adjustable travel from 160 mm to 130 mm and 100 mm, you can drop the front end enough to tackle any climb. Overall suspension feel is smooth and buttery (man air sprung forks have come a long way). The TALAS 36 is the fork to beat if you’re looking for a long-travel do-it-all fork.