Fox Racing Shox 36 TALAS 180 FIT RC2 Review

Forks Pro Reviews

The TALAS 180 is a superb fork, offering a buttery smooth plush ride, and incredible riding traits, along with excellent features such as the TALAS (180-140) travel adjustment, FIT R2 damper, and slippery Kashima coated stanchions. Fox has a winner with this sucker, and you can call it a Rock Star (pun intended), and it really shows the advancements in fork technology, especially in the All Mountain and Freeride realm, where the boundaries are being pushed. This fork can be ridden up and down terrain, as its more than just a shuttle or lift serviced entity.

Fox 36 Forks
For 2011 the Fox 36 has two versions, a 160 mm (All Mountain) and a 180 mm (Freeride) fork. The 36 160 comes in three flavors, the TALAS, FLOAT and VAN, specifically: the TALAS FIT RLC, FLOAT FIT RLC and the VAN RC2 (coil). The 36 180 also comes in three flavors, the TALAS, FLOAT and VAN, specifically: the FLOAT FIT RC2, TALAS FIT RC2 and VAN RC2. Every version comes in an Open Bath only version, aka the R. There was a slight change to the TALAS version, as it now uses two steps instead of three. The 160 variant is 160-120, while the 180 is 180-140. The 160 version has changed to the RLC damper in contrast to the previous years RC2 (the VAN remains the same), while the 180 is all RC2. The 180 has an elongated bushing overlap, and a below axle tube design, for an increased stiffness and lower axle-to-crown.

The Fox 36 TALAS 180 FIT RC2 fork, has 36mm stanchions, a 20QR thru axle, either 1-1/8 inch straight or 1.5 inch tapered steerer, post style disc brake mounting (directly accepts 203 mm rotor only), two-position TALAS (180-140), FIT RC2 damper, Kashima coated stanchions, Black Diamond color scheme, and adjustments for TALAS, low-speed and high-speed compression, air spring pressure and rebound.

Technical Features
The Travel Adjustable Linear Air Spring system (aka TALAS) on the 36, has two positions, allowing the fork to be dropped from its fully open 180 mm (7.1 inches) down to 140 mm (5.5 inches), using the knob on the top of the right fork leg. The travel adjustment gives the fork good versatility, offering climbing efficiency, or copious plushness and full travel. A pop up cap for the air pressure resides in the middle of the TALAS lever, and turning it to the lower setting causes it to raise.

The FIT RC2 inverted damper is located within the right fork leg, and offers a wide range of low-speed and high-speed compression, and rebound adjustments (RC2=Rebound Compressionx2). The rebound knob is located on the bottom, and is encased with a protective cap, while the other adjustments are residing on top. The FIT (Fox Isolated Technology) system uses a damper cartridge, and the suspension fluid is isolated, so that it’s sealed away from air and crud, so that fluid aeration and contamination won’t occur, which causes damper performance degradation. The new FIT damper design reduces oil volume, which helps lighten the fork. The cartridge uses a rubber bladder, which provides low friction, and allows fluid expansion as the suspension system’s temperature fluctuates (heats up) during usage, creating a linear damping throughout the travel stroke.

Kashima Coat
The Kashima Coat technology has been used for years across the motorcycle and automotive industries, and Fox has teamed up with the Miyaki Company of Japan, to add this slippery coating to their forks. The hard anodized aluminum tubes are sent to Japan, where they add molybdenum disulfide via an induction process that deposits the material into pores of the anodized surface at 70 billion pores per cm². The MoS₂ adds better lubrication characteristics, higher hardness and abrasion resistance (durability), and a significant decrease in friction (stiction-free).

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About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, skiing, or sport climbing. He takes those same strengths and a good dose of insanity to his reviewing and writing on mountain biking products, creating technical, in-depth articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on the trail.

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  • Lee Lau says:

    “The Kashima coating has been very durable, and adds another layer of buttery smoothness to an already slick fork. ”

    To be honest. I can’t tell the difference between Kashima and non-Kashima. Perhaps it adds wear-resistance but I haven’t used the fork long enough to tell

  • Chris says:

    I was also blown away when I got this fork last summer. It works better than anything I have owned up to this point. At some point I want to try out the Manitou Dorado as I have only heard good things about it but for a single crown for I think the 36 180 is hard to beat.

    One think I wanted to comment on was the use of the Talas feature. It seems that there is a lot of negative press about this feature out there, or that if nothing else they say it is not of any benefit. Personally I find that in the right situation such as climbing really steep sections or going around sharp switchbacks it actually does help to be in the 140 mode. I’ve actually tired a steep climb several times without success then remembered that I could drop the fork and cleaned it the next time. It is also good for longer climbs with out of the saddle efforts because the lower setting will reduce bob. Another place it is a plus is on downhill sweep turns because it speeds steering up a bit and reduces dive.

    So to others, don’t write it off because someone else has said it doesn’t help until you have given it some time. I just wish that there was a bar mounted actuator to go between 180 and 140.

  • Mark says:

    Kashima: Scam. Doesn’t make much of a difference in the durability of the stanchions and no difference I’ve noted in friction. Marzocchi and Rock Shox has been making forks for years with conventional, durable anodization, yet Fox can’t figure it out.

  • Brian Mullin says:

    Chris: Thanks, never did try the 140 going down switchbacks? You just reminded of a weakness that I will add, bar mounted actuator!
    Lee: The Kashima and non-Kashima difference is subtle, but it’s smoother, and I mainly feel it as less stiction.

  • Lee Lau says:

    Brian – it might be that Fox’s non-Kashima coated forks are so good. I’ve got a Kashima and non-Kashima 160 and I can’t tell the difference in a blind test

  • Brian Mullin says:

    Mark: Marzocchi now uses Nickel coated (and the EVO has Ti Nitride), while Rock Shox still has normal ones, though they have been playing coatings themselves. I live in a very sandy, dirty and rocky place, and the Kashima coating has shown less scratching and gouging in direct comparison to the normal coatings? Öhlins has been using coatings for shocks (motorcycles) for a very long time. Regardless of marketing hyperbole, I think it actually works, and the durability is definitely obvious, while the smoothness is more subtle.

    Lee: stop riding your bike blind!

  • nicholas poetker says:

    Great review!
    You gave great detail to the fork and its awesome riding attributes.
    I have been on the 180mm float for about 6-7 months now correlated with a banshee rune and love it.
    The fork is superb with all the same riding ability as you have mentioned about the talas.

    However My one gripe is the fork which seemed very stiff without any noticeable flex has become very flexible recently.
    It kind of scary. The forks action is superb and unharmed but it makes the loudest of pops and clicks as I tune corners hard or land a jump or drop.
    Just pushing the fork still in the parking lot makes horrendous clicking cracking nosies.
    I dont know if this is of good measures but its becoming increasingly worse.
    Do you have any suggestions?

    Outstanding review!
    The fox is a smooth stable fork and would be enjoyed by anyone!

    • Derek P says:

      you need to get a rebuild your oil seals and dust wipers have become to loose and the stanchions are just rattleing around inside the lowers

    • Derek P says:

      you need to rebuild your fork and replace all the different seals because they have become weakend by the long use and now your stanchions are rattleing inside your lowers.

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