The TALAS took some effort to tune (at least for me), but once I set the pressure properly and tweaked the high and low compression it started to provide better plushness, and less fork dive. I still got a tad of fork dive (compensated with body English), and I was never able extract all the travel (max 142mm), but it still provided deep amounts of usable suspension. I started to use the adjustable travel (160-130-100) on the TALAS, and it was an excellent feature for climbing and doing technical moves. I never used the 100mm setting, since I personally found it dropped me to far forward, even on steep terrain. The 130 worked great on steeper terrain and long climbs, and it was also nice on some trials like terrain, since it helped dampen the front end, giving it a somewhat mild locking functionality. The TALAS was slightly notchy, and had less small bump compliance in direct comparison to the normal 36 Float, but overall it’s pleasantly smooth. It comes into its own for medium to big hits, where it becomes quite plush, although it does ramp up slightly at the very end of the stroke. I did notice that I would sometimes forget to take it back out of the lowered position when I turned around to descend. Oops!
The big 36mm stanchions, beefy arch and 20mm axle add up to an impressive front end, that gives excellent control, stability and inspires confidence. Plowing down rock gardens, technical terrain and pretty much anything ugly belays a great deal of control, and it just keeps the front end connected and glued to the tarmac. Of course it also makes you ride at higher speeds, and leap off bigger objects!
“There’s no need to fear, Underdog is here!”
Steering was a tad sluggish and not very precise, but you can plow over anything to compensate for that idiosyncrasy. I also noticed how cushy it made terrain feel, and objects would just disappear beneath you (sort of like gliding along), giving a comfortable ride and less fatigue. I really noticed the fatigue factor, allowing me to ride more difficult terrain for longer periods of time, and feeling more rested post ride.
Brake control was excellent, with very little induced diving, even during hard lever pulls. Although you can install 160mm rotors, this big fork pretty much requires a 180mm, and perhaps a 203mm, since speeds tend to be greater and the terrain somewhat crazier. I tended to adjust the air pressure quite often, and its valve cap, which is centered in the TALAS adjustment knob, is extremely difficult to remove. I just ended up leaving the darn thing off, due to this problematic issue. I think they need to send the designer back to ergonomic engineering school!
EDIT/UPDATE: 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?
TALAS Adjustment and Air Pressure Valve
EDIT/UPDATE: 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.
20mm Quick Release System