I received the 2011 TALAS 180 just after Christmas, but it sat dormant waiting on my new bike arrival. Once the sweet Ibis Mojo HD frame arrived a month later, the bad boy was installed as quickly as possible. I have gotten around three months of good usage (or abuse-age) on the fork, and even though I tossed a new bike into the brain confusion of the test, the fork it has turned out to be one of the best forks I have ever used, period! It’s buttery smooth and a plush Meister, and has a very linear feel though most of its travel stroke. In a nutshell, the fork is firm on small bump compliance, plush from small/medium through large, and ramps up in stiffness for big hits, and has a nice bottom out bumper, which has some decent give. The fork is one stout beast, and I can’t feel any significant flex, no matter how much torture I can toss at it. The stiffness at the lower end of the forks is greatly enhanced by the double clamped 20mm thru axle, and the elongated bushing overlaps, and the underhung design of the lower tubes (2 inches below axle). I have slammed it into some heavy duty local technical terrain, such as Palmer Park, Pueblo South Shore and the Monument Preserve, and it has come through with flying colors.
The fork rides quite nicely on normal terrain, and it seems to sink down into its sag, and then finds a static zone where its sits without wallowing, deflecting terrain that it encounters, with no overt mushiness while spinning, so it doesn’t suck up valuable energy. On long flat sections, you’ll still feel a small amount of softness, but it’s a 7 inch suspension fork, and it does a mighty fine job riding on cross country trails, where this sort of beast shouldn’t seem to belong. It sits pretty tall in the saddle (568 mm axle-to-crown), and on occasion when encountering and steering through things on shallow terrain, doing small wheel hop’s or wheelie’s helps with more precise control, but you can smash into anything, and the fork allows the wheel to roll over objects. You can really drive the fork hard, and use all that plush suspension, and it still keeps a firm enough feel that it doesn’t dive into things. When it gets into anything remotely rough, tough and big, it rises to become a supreme master of the terrain, and it eats things up like crazy. It provides amazing traction characteristics as it follows and undulates with the terrain, making it stick like glue to everything in encounters.
“If you don’t eat yer meat, you can’t have any pudding! How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat yer meat?!”
I really noticed how stable the bike remains when dropping into ugly and heinous terrain, while the fork itself undulates and sucks up things in its way. It seems to give the rider and bike the ability to stand up straighter. An example that comes to mind is watching a pro mogul skier flying down through the terrain, and their upper body stays static, while the legs (forks in this case) suck it all up. When it’s ripping down anything, it shines like a star, and whether it’s going fast or slow through any terrain, it seems to make things feel as though one was floating through powder (another skier analogy). Even when slamming it hard off a ledge, nose diving it or into a squared off rock, it doesn’t dive or toss your weight forward, and it seems to pull you along through rock gardens, ledges, etc., without any undo encumbrance. The lessening of fatigue in the hands and arms, is quite noticeable, and allows an extra amount of endurance on long rough sections and rides, as it keeps the energy depletion to a minimum. This fork needs an adjustable seatpost to maximize its usefulness, since you will be moving it up and down regularly on any ugly ride or technical terrain.
The two position TALAS has been very useful, and on technical climbs (even short ones) the 140 setting helps in taming the tall fork. When it comes time to climb something steep, just turn the TALAS knob (right hand side) clockwise, push your weight down, and the 140 travel setting is engaged. It worked wonders to help on climbs, and it gives better traction due to the optimized weight balance. The 140 setting isn’t as plush as the 180 (just a tad), and sometimes feels congested, but the slightly firmer feel and platform are nice while grinding up steep hills or doing technical maneuvers. It’s pretty amazing that this fork can climb so well, and I think the 140 setting is the perfect compromise point for climbing on this 180 fork. The lower height and weighting make the bike rail around switchbacks with ease, and allow quick slice and dice steering moves, and keeps a great sense of traction control to the rear end. To disengage just turn the knob counter clockwise, do a wheelie or unweighting of the front end, and its back to the full 180 travel. You can climb short sections in the 180 mode, but you need to be more careful of the body weighting, and keep the front end down and the seatpost high. Even being able to use either travel setting, on long arduous climbs, it’s a heavy air fork (2493.5 grams/5.5 lbs), and some energy depletion will occur, but the expense is well worth it for the joyous descent. At Palmer Park, which has trials like technical terrain, being able to lower it came in handy for many of the wicked short climbing moves, and it was nice to pop it to either 140 and 180 as needed. I do wish it had a remote control lever for the TALAS, so that it could be actuated from the handlebars. I use the system so frequently, that a remote would be an incredible feature.
The tallness of the fork on the Ibis HD, produced a 1 degree slackness in the steering, and it sometimes made technical moves a tad dicey, though I have gotten used to it. The last couple of weeks I have been testing (review forthcoming) the Cane Creek Angleset with the fork and bike, and it has allowed a steepening back to the normal 67 degrees, and it has greatly increased the precision, control and the steering attributes.
The fork runs pretty good right out of the box, with all the factory adjustment settings, just using the appropriate air pressure setting for sag. However, to take the full privileged of this wondrous fork, you need to play with the tuning, as it makes it immensely functional, for your body weight, riding style, and terrain. Caveat emptor, as I made some changes recently per someone’s recommendations, and it screwed the fork up for me, and I had to revert to factory for it to feel some semblance of normality. I weigh 155 lbs, and I alternate the air pressure between 40-50 psi, which gives me around 45-30 mm of sag, and I change it depending on the type of terrain I will be riding in, the speeds I will be traveling at, whether it might be a long climb or steep crazy decent or jumps, and so on. Please go by the amount of sag, as I have found that the high pressure shock pumps are widely inaccurate in the pressure readings at lower psi. I tweaked some of the setting’s past their factory defaults (middle of settings), making the Low Speed Compression 17 out of 26 (+4), to alleviate some slight fork dive, the Rebound at factory, and the High Speed to 14 out of 23 (+2).
The fork is an 8 inch post mount for the brakes, so no adapter was required to run a massive 203mm rotor. At first the 203 mm rotor seemed like overkill, but now I am liking it, and after doing some sick steep runs on my local nemesis trail, which has brutally ugly rock slabs and ledges, I am a convert, and I just recently added a 180 to the rear for a nice synchronous pair. Braking was exemplary, working in great synergy for the control of traction, steering and speed.
- Weight (uncut) – 2493.5 grams/5.5 lbs (1 1/8 inch straight steerer)
- TALAS – 183 mm and 146 mm/7.2 inches and 5.75 inches
- Axle to crown – 568 mm/22.4 inches