Update Nov 4th – Final Thoughts
I have now been using the 2014 Factory 34 TALAS 29 140 FIT CTD w/Trail Adjust for around four months now on my Ibis Ripley, and I am highly impressed by the ride quality, travel adjustability, CTD capabilities and improved air spring. I have taken the fork into all sort of conditions, from mellow x-country, to bike parks, technical terrain, and lots of just plain gnarly rock gardens, and I have been amazed at how it has shone and was rarely fazed by much of anything. When pushed to its limits, I squeezed out every last bit of travel possible, and throughout its stroke, it offered smoothness and control and support.
Refer to First Look: 2014 FOX TALAS for an in depth technical analysis and overview of the 2014 TALAS fork’s new features.
Although this is an upgrade over the previous year’s TALAS, albeit a pretty substantial one, it might be easier to think of this fork as a sort of brand new model. The new TALAS cartridge feels like they tossed out the book on their predecessors and started with a clean slate, although it’s fairly obvious that they took their engineering expertise into account during its design. The new TALAS feels very FLOAT like in its feel and travel, and unless you’re using the travel adjustment capabilities, you’d be hard-pressed to differentiate them. The travel throughout its stroke is supple and buttery smooth, with low stiction and drag, and under the right conditions, it offers a very plush ride.
The fork offers excellent small through medium bump compliance with a high degree of plushness, and ramps up in stiffness for big hits and larger stuff, though it feels a bit harsh on the bottom out bumpers. The fork does require almost double the air pressure of its predecessors, and you need to make sure it stays within a specific range else it can lose its composure, especially on the low end of things. It really behooves one to carry a shock pump if you’re going to be alternating between mellow to aggressive riding, so you can keep the fork in its ideal pressure setting. If you get the pressure too low, and you’re riding gnarly terrain, you’ll find it diving on drops and under heavy braking, and turning the CTD to Trail mode helps but doesn’t alleviate the issue. It’s usually easier to leave the pressure higher to get the best support and composure, with a very minor loss of sag and some softness at the end of the stroke. On most normal trail usage, it’s never an issue, and it’s only noticeable when dealing with very aggressive conditions.
The 34mm stanchions give a good stout platform and are supportive, and some subtle flex is noticed when pushing them to the extreme end of things, in conditions and terrain that a more substantial and heavy 36mm will shine.
The TALAS (Travel Adjustable Linear Air Spring) system was easy to use, and I liked the short throw of the lever, and best of all was how little difference in feel, there was between the short and long travel modes. I sometimes rode it in the lower mode and would completely forget it was there, though when you concentrated, the shorter mode has a subtle amount of firmness in direct comparison. You can run it in either mode without any undue loss of performance in the grand scheme of things. With their optional clip-on spacers, you can fine-tune the travel adjust in a total range of 30mm in increments of 5mm, taking a 140/110 set up to 140/115, etc. Although using the travel adjustment does change the geometry of the bike; I found the shorter mode extremely useful for any sort of climb, since it offers better traction and weighting control, and decreases fatigue. It was even more helpful if you tend to ride with a taller than normal fork, which is more common with Trail and All Mountain bikes.
The upgraded FIT CTD has increased damping, which was much appreciated and worked extremely well, and offered less diving, more support, control and composure. The three modes, Descend, Trail and Climb were useful, though I really only used the fully open Descend on anything remotely rough, and the Trail for smoother terrain and climbs. I’d toss it into the fully locked Climb mode when I was on butt smooth trails and fire roads. The Trail mode has three micro adjustments of soft, medium and hard for additional tuning, but I left it in the softest mode since that felt the most useful. The updated air spring curve and reduced seals (from three to one) create an overall smoother stroke and lower friction movement, for a better overall ride.
Measured weight of 34 TALAS 29 140 – 2158 grams or 4.76 lbs
The 2014 FOX 34 TALAS is an impressive fork, due to the substantially upgraded TALAS cartridge, revised CTD damper, upgraded air spring curve and reduced seals. The new TALAS feels buttery smooth and supple, and just darn plush, but it still retails good composure, support and control. The short and long travel modes feel very much the same, with a slight firmness to the shorter setting, with little performance loss with either. I really enjoyed having the capabilities of the travel adjustment, and used the shorter mode on long and steep climbs, and found it increased traction and reduced fatigue. The 34mm stanchions are fairly stout and sturdy, and only when pushed extremely hard is a subtle amount of flex felt. The CTD system is simple and the three modes are very useful, though it comes at a loss of more tunability that separate low and high speed compression adjustments would allow. I used the Descend and Trail mode quite a bit on rides, and found the Trail mode helpful on smoother and rolling terrain by decreasing energy loss and inherent wallowing, and giving better overall tracking.
The 2014 FOX 34 TALAS offers a great ride, that is plush, smooth and supple, with support and control, and the significant features of the two-level travel adjustment and CTD damper are highly useful and functional.
- Reduced stichion and breakaway force – fewer seals
- Upgraded air spring curve
- Plush, smooth and supple
- Revised CTD
- Upgraded TALAS
- Harsh on bottom out bumpers
- Low pressure can cause dive issues – only on aggressive terrain
- No Low and High speed compression tuning capabilities
Overall Rating: 4.5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers
- 26″ – 32 140mm/110mm and 150mm/120mm (3.73 lbs), 34 160mm/130mm (4.3 lbs), 36 160mm/130mm and 180mm/140mm
- 27.5″ – 32 140mm/110mm (3.83 lbs), 34 160mm/130mm 4.3 lbs)
- 29″ – 32 120mm/90mm (4.2 lbs), 34 140mm/110mm ( 4.6 lbs)
- Pricing – $1085 to $1120