Fox 36 Van 160 FIT RC2 Review

Forks Pro Reviews

Testing was performed on my medium Ibis Mojo HD, predominately using the 2012 RP23 with Adaptive Logic rear shock, and lately with the Cane Creek Double Barrel Air. I used a set of Easton Haven wheels, and a slew of fat tires, including the Schwalbe Hans Dampf and ultra sweet Continental Trail Kings (2.4″). I am 5’9″, weigh in at 155 lbs and have been riding since the inception of the RockShox RS-1, and started out on a Bridgestone MB-2 for my first MTB steed. I have mostly ridden in the West, including vast portions of the Colorado Front Range, Sedona, Moab, Fruita/GJ and many parts of the Colorado mountains. I tend to frequent extremely technical terrain, with rock gardens, slabs and rock ramps, and love exposure, tricky climbs and descents, and trials like maneuvering.

Impressions
I have gotten close to a year of testing on the fork, and it has turned out to be a phenomenal technical fork, which likes to play rough! The fork is one stout and stable beast master, and I never felt any flex or sloppiness in the front end, no matter how much torture and abuse I 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. I have used and abused the fork through some heavy duty local technical terrain, such as Colorado Springs Palmer Park, Buffalo Creek’s Blackjack, Pueblo South Shore and the Monument Preserve, and it has come through with flying colors, which is admirable due to the continual heinous nature of my favorite trails.

Its travel pattern throughout the stroke is different than other coil forks I have ridden, including the older Vans, and it’s greatly due to the new SKF seals, updated FIT damper and Kashima coating. It has exquisite small bump compliance, and firms up slightly on small/small-medium stuff. It’s quite plush and liner throughout the small-medium to medium-large section, and then stiffens up moderately towards large bumps and obstacles, and ramps up significantly at the end of its stroke.

It’s difficult to give a clear picture of how the fork feels, since it’s more complex than one realizes, and it must be ridden to be appreciated, but I will do my best to convey its uniqueness. It doesn’t have the buttery feel of the Zocchi coil, or the mid-range plushness of the TALAS/FLOAT, but it has some properties that set it apart from the others. It sits up high in its sag, so it feels tall in the saddle, and it doesn’t wallow, even when setting things pretty soft. Although it has plushness outside of its sag point, it likes to remain statically sitting at the sag, unless the fork needs to respond to the terrain, and this firmness offers incredible stability and control. When it does need react to obstacles, the fork offers excellent compliance and ride quality.

The fork pleasantly spins along on normal terrain, whether it’s flat, undulating or semi-rough, and its superb small bump compliance eats up things, so you feel like you are gliding along. Standing up and sprinting, or sitting and cranking out some power strokes, never causes any undue wallowing or energy loss. Since it sits pretty tall in the saddle, on occasion when encountering and steering through things on some terrain; boulders, rock steps, ledges, etc.; small wheel hop’s or wheelie’s greatly assist with overcoming the objects.

It’s an amazing fork when slamming and jamming through rock gardens, technical terrain, and anything nasty, and that is where it seems to be the happiest. I love this fork when it’s in my favorite heinous terrain, which is slower speed rock gardens and slab moves (super technical), as it just makes things a blast, and it offers incredible composure and control. I can feel the new SKF seals, as they have a lot less stiction, making things move along as smooth as silk.

It provides amazing traction as it follows the terrain, making it stick like glue to everything it encounters, and it keeps the rear end firmly planted, which means you usually need to roll down one gear lower to prevent the front wheel from lifting. I think the combination of the small bump compliance and staticness around the sag, work in synergy for the increased stability.

The fork isn’t the plushest in ugly terrain on bigger bumps, so you slightly feel the burden of things sometimes, but being able to make precise steering and control corrections anywhere and at anytime more than makes up for it. This incredible control is amazing to have in super technical and heinous terrain, and allows one to make pinpoint steering alterations in a split second, no matter what the speed or obstacles being encountered. It’s like you are automatically given extra sticky tires, giant brake rotors and ultra wide handlebars! It was nice to have a fork with plushness, compliance, stability and control, which also offered an added margin of safety. Braking and cornering was exemplary, with excellent traction, control and steering, and I didn’t have any issues with diving.

I am not much of a huck master, but this fork loves to jump, and I found myself sailing off things more frequently, and choosing lines that result in air time. It was certainly a hoot on trails like Porcupine Rim, were air launches are the norm.

Maintenance/Durability
I have used the fork three days a week for almost a year now, and I have never had any maintenance or performance degradation issues with it. The seals have been tough as nails without any leakage, and the Kashima coated stanchions haven’t scratched. The travel has remained consistent, and I haven’t performed any service, since it hasn’t been needed.

Measured Specs:

  • Weight (uncut) – 2429 grams/x 5.36 lbs (1 1/8 inch straight steerer)
  • Stanchion length – 164 mm/ 6.54 inches
  • Available Travel – 154 mm/ 6.09 inches
  • Axle to crown – 545 mm/ 21.46 inches

 

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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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  • Warp says:

    Is the sag figure correct? 35mm of sag on a 160mm fork is 21%. That maybe was why it was riding high in its travel.

    OTOH, if that figure is with the Purple spring, you weight 155 pounds and you only get 21% sag, then lighter riders may be out of luck with this fork. I weight 140 pounds, so even the purple spring would be too heavy for me, if your numbers are correct.

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