Fox 36 TALAS FIT RC2 Review

Forks Pro Reviews

TALAS on Yeti ASR 7

Reviewed by Brian Mullin aka Gram and MTBR.com Pastajet
http://www.gramslightbikes.com/

I got around 5 weeks of enjoyable testing of the new 2010 Fox 36 TALAS FIT RC2 fork while I was demoing a Yeti ASR 7 (review forthcoming). The TALAS has just about every adjustment possible crammed into the fork, making it a functional and practical beast. And it sure is a beast! The stout 36mm stanchions, and stiff arch keep any hint of flex virtually unnoticeable, giving forth a stable and smooth platform. The FIT cartridge damper system is a really nice feature, as is the upgraded crown, which is lighter and stronger. The TALAS was one primo All Mountain fork!

Note: For cross comparison I have had short term use of the 2010 Fox 36 Float, 2008 Fox 36 Float, 2010 Fox 32 Float 150, Rock Shock Lyric 160 and long term use of the DT Swiss EXC 150.

Features
The 2010 Fox 36 fork suite is comprised of the FLOAT (air spring, fixed travel), TALAS (air spring, travel adjusted 160-130-100) and VANILLA (steel spring, fixed travel) models, all using the FIT damper. TALAS stands for Travel Adjustable Linear Air Spring, and with a twist of the knob on the left leg, you can adjust the travel from 160, to 130 or 100mm. The new TALAS III system has changed air spring curves in each of the three travel settings (they call it optimized), and has better seals to prevent external contamination. The damper is the Fox FIT (Fox Isolated Technology) cartridge, which is a hydraulic position-sensitive damper. The FIT damper is a sealed system, so the damping oil and lubricating oil are isolated, reducing foaming issues and their ill effects, and offering more consistent damping during a ride. The FIT includes a bladder instead of a floating piston for reduced friction, and as an oil compensator and separator.

AdjustmentsAdjustments

Additional adjustments are the air spring pressure, rebound, low and high-speed compression. The air is located in the middle of the TALAS knob, while the rebound adjuster is on the top right leg, nothing too fancy about either of their functionality. On the lower right, are a set of covered stacked knobs for the high and low-speed damping, each separately adjustable, allowing a plethora of tunability. A new crown, steerer and chassis produce lighter weight, and enhanced stiffness.

“You Can Tune a Piano but You Can’t Tuna Fish”

The 36mm lowers feature post-style disc brake mounts, 20QR quick-release thru axle system, an axle-to-crown measurement of 545mm and comes in 1-1/8″, 1.5″ or 1.5″ to 1-1/8″ tapered steerer.

Setup
Sag is controlled by the air pressure, and Fox recommends between 20-40mm, but I rarely go by the book, and instead tweak it until it feels right on the local terrain and my riding style. I ended up with slightly more air than recommended. I set the rebound faster, but kept it pretty close to average.

High and Low Speed Compression Adjusters

High and Low Speed Compression Adjusters

I set low speed compression (small blue knob) in the middle, and high speed compression (big blue knob) to the firmest setting. Setting the high speed to firm helped alleviate the fork dive on slow speed drops and big hits, and it really didn’t change the amount of available travel. Due to the nicely engineered Yeti ASR suspension system, the low speed adjustment didn’t require much tweaking.

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About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian has been part of the Mtbr team since 2007, where he has become an integral member of the review and test staff, specializing in technical articles. He likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, extreme 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 and hyperbolic articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on extremely technical singletrack.


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  • Elsinore says:

    The best way to remove the air valve cap is to turn the TALAS travel dial to the “100″mm setting. When you turn the travel dial the air vale cap rises above the dial and its very easy to take off.

  • matt says:

    How could the qr20 be complicated? Thread in the axle, flip two levers… done. You failed to mention the advantage of the guides built into the lowers for the hub. The fork just slides onto the hub in perfect position and sits on it, waiting to thread the axle through. No having to snake the axle into the fork, through the hub, out the other side, sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t…

    Maybe you don’t ride 20mm forks often. Ever tried Manitou’s? There’s a process!

  • Brian Mullin says:

    Elsinore:
    I no longer have access to the fork, so I will try it at Sea Otter or my LBS, thanks for the tip, hope it helps!

    Matt:
    I have used quite a few 20mm and 15mm systems, and rarely use 9mm anymore. I found that the hub did not always line up, but it didn’t requite much snaking like the Manitou. I currently use a 26 and 29 inch Manitou, so I know the system well! My preference is the DT Swiss RWS (my fave) or the RS Maxle. They are both tough as nails and don’t require the silly axle clamps. My job is to be picky!

  • Doodles says:

    brian, for some bits i think u are right. but would help for the negative parts of the talas u could cite a reference fork that you use to compare.

    for the steering part, maybe due to the changes in HA at 160mm, it might become sluggish. i did feel it that way.. but over time i learnt to ride it differently..

    for the QR20, i am not a big fan of fox. but the lever part is one of the easiest in the market…

    I am done away with the talas and now a lyrik. now that is a fork u would want to review.

  • pastajet says:

    Thks for the info, I will add my fork comparison list to the review. I would like a test of the Lyric!

  • Erik says:

    I have to disagree that the Fox 20mm axle is difficult. I have used it for years, and it is simple, easy and reliable. I don’t worry about stripping anything, I DON’T NEED A TOOL, and nothing sticks out despite my not needing a tool. It is secure and quick. I fail to see the problem. I don’t like Marzocchi’s because the lever sticks out, and the Maxle because it requires a tool.
    As for compression, I find it interesting that you said that increasing high speed helped with brake dive. As I understand, brake dive is a function over the low speed compression. HS is the compression circuit that you use on hard hits such as drops. You said that you cranked up the HS, and you also said that you couldn’t get full travel out of the fork. I’m pretty sure those are related. Personally, I run the compression knobs all the way out (after setting sag and rebound), and I will increase the HS one click if I bottom out, a second click if I continue, and so on until I don’t bottom. I really like the LS backed out, but I dial it in to help with brake dive.

  • Brian Mullin says:

    Please note I never said brake dive? “Setting the high speed to firm helped alleviate the fork dive on slow speed drops and big hits…”

    Low-speed controls the influence of the rider’s weight shifts and bike attitude under braking, while High-speed controls the force it takes to move the fork through its travel and how the wheel reacts to a bump.

    I like to take big drops off ledges, and hit squared edged obstacles, so by firming up the high speed it helps the dive that I experienced. With some other forks I would add extra shims in the high speed circuit to prevent the oil from accelerating to fast through the needle ports. The changes I made did not seem to alter the available travel.

    I never needed a tool for the Maxle nor the RWS? Just a personal thing, not a big deal.

  • WalterN says:

    I have been riding this fork on a SC Nomad for about 6+ Months and concur with most of the details and impressions in this article. One point I would interject is that this fork does feel a bit “notchy” when it’s new, but that can be smoothed out by using some finish line stanchion lube – http://www.finishlineusa.com/products/stanchion-lube.htm

    Also, the published air pressures are complete BS.. you have to feel it out over a few test rides to get it right. I used a RS and then a Marz on my bike before this. The Fox really stands out as the best all around shock. You can actually climb steep hills without the front end rising and you don’t have to spend any time winding the travel down like with a Marz TST or a RS coil shock.

    My only complaint is that there are so many adjustments that you end up F’n with it for months before you get it right.

  • RyanF says:

    Jeez, the air knob placed in the TALAS adjustment is pretty easy to get at, even with gloves and fat fingers. Plus, the double clamp is confidence inspiring, and looks more sturdy and secure than my friends’ Lyriks.

    There is a point at which there is too much adjustability, and expectations are that the fork will be perfect for every situation, but there are so many things to compensate for. If you get it set to point that comfortable for 75% of the riding you do, just roll with it. 3/4 of the time you’ve got everything perfect. 25% of the time, you’ll have to live with imperfections. Not bad, in fact, better than most other things in life.

    What are you guys like with your cars? I’d love to see a report on how your suspension is dialed in your daily driver.

  • Brian Mullin says:

    I updated the article with the following:

    Air cap – I was informed by a couple of readers that by turning the TALAS to its lowest setting the cap popped up for easy removal. At Sea Otter, I did play around with this tip, and it did pop up somewhat, but I still found it a pain to take off. Might be my old fingers?

    20mm axle – At first I complained about the over complicated 20mm Quick Release System, but after speaking with the engineers at Sea Otter, I am altering my viewpoint. I asked them why they didn’t make a system like their 15mm for the 20mm? They inferred that the 15mm was really just morphed up 9mm (to a degree), while the 20mm has a different functionality. By locking down each end of the axle with the clamps, it helps isolate and stabilize the axle for maximum strength and support, something that is required with the longer travel forks.

    suspension tweaking – I never played with my trucks suspension, but I have played deeply with my Aprilia Tuono street motorcycle, specially when doing track days. I do tweak my suspension settings depending on terrain.

  • sean says:

    You have no clue how to set this fork up. I am disgusted about your setup. This fork is a whore. Use it all and treat it like one. It will take it!!!

  • Brian Mullin says:

    Sean…Thanks for the kind words. Perhaps a response with your ideas about proper tuning could be shared with the readers instead of ridiculing and belittling me? None of us has all the clues nor answers. The forums, and this website in general, is here to share information and ideas, hopefully in a conciliatory manner.

  • kam says:

    re: not getting 160mm of travel. I have a 2009 36 Talas RC2 and have the same problem. Bummed to hear the newer model is the same. What gives? I think this fork can’t be considered “excellent” when it doesn’t deliver the stated travel. Fox should address this, or at least explain what you can do to obtain full travel.

  • Leonardo says:

    I have the 36 talas rc2 2009 too. No way to use 20-30 mm of final travel, even on big drops. I am using HS and LS damper all open (-), put a 5w oil in the fit cartridge instead of 10w density oil, lowered float fluid in order to increase air volume in the talas cartridge, without a result. I am really disappointed with Fox.

  • Brian Mullin says:

    When I get the 2011 36 TALAS 160 to test I will see if any changes have happened. I had good luck with the Fork Ace high volume enhancer on my FLOAT forks to get all the travel out of a Fox fork, but I am not sure if the connector will fit? http://www.gramslightbikes.com/2008/11/fork-ace-test-and-daily-musings.html and http://www.gramslightbikes.com/2008/11/rollonthrottle-fork-ace-high-volume.html

  • vondur says:

    A fork that sucks on small bump compliance, yet can’t get full travel gets 4 out of 5 chilis! Sounds like a winner to me!

  • Brian Mullin says:

    I stated “Weak small bump compliance”, not it sucked? Every shock made is not going to be completely linear, it will have certain sections of the travel curve in which it shines, the Fox does excellent on the mid (a predominate area for All Mountain riding). It is rare to ride a fork (properly tuned for all conditions) that will give you full travel, my Manitou Minute w/ Absolute+ does, I have always found Fox to be a tad worse in getting full travel in comparison to some other, it was still a good fork and merited a 4.

  • Mr. Sawang Chokdee says:

    I used fox talas It felling well and soft

  • Ryan Berny says:

    Man oh man! This shock is so sweet on paper and then I read these posts lol! Can’t find the last 20-30mm of travel? are you kidding me? I sure as heck hope it’s there and it’s just reserved for 270lb dudes that haven’t smashed it over a 5′ drop yet!!! I mean common! $1,000 shock (FOR A BICYCLE) should always deliver what it says it does! Should I buy a 150mm Rock Shock Revelation Team over this one? Even that RS $500 shock has problems with the U-turn breaking. What the heck is up with these companies stealing our money with poor quality !?!? Reasearching hardcore about a bike basically just keeps you from buying a new one at all! Car shocks, full coilovers, that cost $1,000 for 4 are infinitely better than these darn MTN bike shocks. It’s a joke really. A joke on the consumers. Koni needs to make bike shocks!

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