“How come Fox doesn’t make a 29er fork?”
This might be one of the most common questions heard on the mtbr 29er forum. The dealers and the Fox reps got an earful too I’m sure. Well the requests have been heard and the fork is here.
It is the Fox F29 RLC. MSRP is $699 and it weighs 3.9 lbs uncut. It is an air fork with travel shipped at 100 mm convertible to 80 mm. Axle to crown is 500.8 mm and 480.8mm respectively for 100 mm mode and 80 mm mode. Fork offset is 44 mm. Trek bikes with this fork will have 51mm offset but aftermarket shocks for the rest of us will sport the 44 mm offset. Zzzzz… sorry, those specs are for the die-hard 29er crowd.
On original Equipment spec on bikes, this fork is available only with Trek and Gary Fisher Bikes. They helped fund the project and in return got a one-year exclusive for spec’ing them on their bikes. But the great news is any consumer can buy this fork. In the aftermarket, the fork will be available to anyone.
It is white and it comes with post brake mounts. I believe all 2008 Fox Forks use these brake mounts now. This fork is the RLC which stands for Rebound, Lockout and Compression adjustable. This is the same as what comes in their F100 and Talas forks and what Fox has earned their living at.
RLC and Lockout Blow-off Valve
Rebound – This is the red knob that controls how fast the shock comes back up. It goes from very fast to fairly slow. The basic logic is run it fast if you want the most supple ride on high-speed, rutted, washboard descents. Slow it down if you take drops and jumps and want to control the kickback of the shock after compression
Lockout – This a two position lever prevents the shock from compressing. This is used when riding on a smooth road or on a extended climb. Fox shocks are very active and supple. But that can translate to power loss as you crank down the pedals and some of your power goes into compressing the fork. Now here’s the Fox magic. At the bottom of the leg is a lockout blow-off valve. The lock-out is not a full fork lock-out by design. The fork will compress when met with a significant opposing force. How significant? Well this blow-off controls that and you can dial it in. If you’re a casual rider and you often forget to unlock your fork before a big descent, set the blow-off low and the fork will compress when taking those big hits. If you’re an XC racer and you want all your power going to the wheels when locked out, then set the blow-off valve high.
Compression – This is the blue outer knob with several clicks and it adjusts the low-speed compression of the fork. Low speed means compression forces that come at a fork slowly, like pedaling forces. This is the opposite of high-speed compression like rock hits or jumps. This is a great adjustment as it provides as stable pedaling platform and prevents brake dive. Crank in the knob if you want fork that doesn’t bob too much under pedaling. The beauty is you can still run low pressure and get maximum travel on all the trail hits. Of course, this will come at some cost of suppleness so dial out the compression knob if you want the smoothest fork possible.
The weight is 3.9 lbs with an uncut steer tube. The shock is shipped with a nice brake cable mount. Shock pump is included too. Travel at 100mm travel setting is legitimate as we measured a full 103 mm until it bottomed out.
So how does it ride? Well on the parking lot, it is as supple as any Fox Fork I’ve tried. Smooth out of the box is the Fox mantra. Stay tuned. First ride is this afternoon. This fork might look good with the white Syncros wheels. I feel a bike makeover coming on!
And that’s a good thing. So out of the box, the shock is buttery smooth. It goes through the action with no stiction it soaks up bumps with no fuss. As the trail got interesting, the shock took all the drops and rocks with aplomb and there was no hint of bottoming out. There was no funny squishing, hissing or clunking sounds. The shock just did its job quietly. It also felt like it had a little more travel than 100mm.
It’s a Fox and the bonus is it’s connected to a big wheel. Yesterday I hit a log obstacle at speed with a 26er and Fox 160mm fork. Today I hit the same obstacle with the F29 at the same speed and I braced for a bigger impact. Blup-pup and I was over with less fuss. The big wheel did some of the work and the F29 did the rest. Very nice.
Steering was excellent. The front end felt stiff and the front end tracked just where you pointed it. There was little need for correction. Leaning the bike over was easy as well as there was hesitating or kicking back. The stiff Syncros wheels might have had something to do with that.
Finally, the adjustments were awesome! I dialed in some low-speed compression damping so the fork wouldn’t bob under power. Three clicks on the rebound adjustment and I had fairly fast rebound for the fast terrain. And I used the lockout on an extended climb. When I forgot to unlock the fork on a descent, The blow-off valve did it’s job on a big rut and let the shock compress. It also let out a loud ‘pffft’ to let me know the fork was locked but under diress.
More testing will come but first impressions are: It’s a Fox!