Review: 2014 FOX TALAS

27.5 29er Forks Pro Reviews

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

Bottom Line

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
  • Heavy
  • Expensive
  • 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

TALAS Specs:

  • 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

About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, 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 articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on the trail.

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  • bw says:

    This fork does not have the G2 offset that the Ripley recommends, correct? I am curious if you have noticed anything different when the offset is different or normal?

    • Brian Mullin says:

      It is the proper 51mm offset that is recommended for the Ripley. I did try another fork brand with a 48mm offset, and I didn’t like it very much. The steering just felt very odd.

  • Andy B. says:

    This is by far the best fork that I’ve installed on any of my bikes. I get so excited when I get to point it downhill along the Colorado Front Range. I’ve been visiting locations (more technical) that I’ve avoided with less capable rides. I’ve been having more fun riding than I have been in a looong time 🙂

  • Roger says:

    Didn’t fox just have a major fork recall? Can we get real on these reviews so that these bike manufacturers can get real feedbacks and actually make products that work? If the product suck then say so instead of sugar coating everything whitch ive noticed on MTBR….I get my real source now on Pinkbike.

    • Brian Mullin says:

      The recall was for the Evolution series, which is a simple open bath fork. The fork reviewed here is their top of the line Factory series, and there’s been no recall on that. This fork does not suck, it is plush, smooth and supple, and the TALAS is a joy to have on my Ibis Ripley, which is optimized for a 120mm fork. My nitpick was you need to keep the pressure respectably high, which isn’t very difficult to do, and when set properly it works just fine. I was out slamming it yesterday and today, and it was great to refresh my memory of how excellently this fork performs. If you read the Pinkbike overview on the fork (they did a press camp in Oregon), they had some great things to say on the fork. If you have some issues with the 2014 TALAS, please contact FOX directly with your feedback, as they value there customer’s opinions.

  • TE says:

    So how does it compare to the Pike?

  • RTB says:

    To read your review between the lines, you’re calling it less-than-capable due to weak compression damping options.

    A 140mm 29er fork should be able to ride it all, and having to “tune” it with adjustments to the spring rate (ie: air psi) is unacceptable in any high-end fork. Doing so, you are making major compromises, such as: messing up ride height (aka: sag), reducing small bump at one end and bottom out ability at the other.

    This is what speed sensitive compression damping is for, and I would never pay more than $500 for a fork that does not have that ability.

    It sounds like the fork performs fine within a certain range of conditions, but that is not good enough to justify the asking price.

    • water bottle says:

      Based on my two months of owning the fork I agree with most of the article and 100% agree with your interpretation of the product/review.

      I’m looking forward to getting the Push ‘System Elite’ just to regain the low/high speed compression options at the loss of my handlebar mounted CTD switch, but it will surely make it a better fork. Mainly I feel the fork is still a bit too divey and I’m done trying to resolve it by further experimenting with the air pressure. I don’t think it is terrible though and maybe being 210 lbs makes it hard to get just right, but it hardly feels like a top shelf fork given this issue. I would have certainly been driven insane by the 2013 CTD tune if I had tried it.

    • Brian Mullin says:

      I think you are reading to much between the lines. I am not really tuning the fork with the air pressure, but just mentioned that you need to keep it at the proper psi for your weight (or sag), nothing more than that. For me at 165 lbs that meant 115-125 psi. Keeping it there did not compromise small bump compliance (which by the way is superb), though the upper limit meant it was harder to hit the bottom out bumpers (again it was subtle). I found the upgraded CTD damper to be just fine.

  • Clancy says:

    I have some 2004 90-130 travel TALAS RC’s, properly maintained, and don’t see changing them out soon. I’m not a luddite, I’ve owned some newer forks (RS Reba’s) and ridden the new TALAS’ but didn’t feel the urge to upgrade

  • Pom says:

    How can a fork with so great disadvantages to get a good review? In Europe, a Rock Shox Pike costs half as much as a Fox Talas 34. Keine überraschung warum die meisten auf Rock Shox umsteigen.

    • Brian Mullin says:

      There are not that many disadvantages, and the ones that exist are very minor. I have to come up with a list of Cons, no matter how nitpicking they are. I mentioned keeping the pressure high enough to prevent extraneous diving, that is a simple procedure, and it’s not like the fork loses pressure after each ride. It’s extremely rare to hit the bottom out bumpers, and I did that once in a blue moon. I just went out the other day hammering this fork, and forgot how lovely the suppleness and smoothness that it provides on a ride. My review was how I felt the fork performed when set up properly, and it is offers an exceptional ride quality. This was not a fork shootout, or cross comparison against other forks, its just how I felt about the new TALAS in general. Unless each of the vendors provides me a 29er fork (RS Pike, Manitou Tower, etc.) I can’t provide a direct shootout, though I’d be game to do exactly that. In the US the FOX and Rock Shox are pretty close in pricing.

      • Paula says:

        It may be that the prices are the same in America, but not in Europe. A Fox 34 Talas 160 CTD Kashima costs ~ € 1380, the Rock Shox Pike RCT3 ~ € 730 … The high market share in Europe is only because of the extremely low Fox OEM prices.

  • mtnbike1 says:

    I’ve had three Fox forks with the Talas travel adjustment, the lever stopped working within a year, and yes I’ve kept my bike clean after every ride. Has Fox addressed this problem?

  • Francis says:

    I have been quoted 250 GBP to upgrade my 2013 talas 160 travel adjust cartridge to
    2014 standard, that is doing the work myself I thought this was supposed to be an affordable upgrade?

    • Mark says:

      I’ve forgotten if the UK has a subsidiary of PUSH, but I believe PUSH will be introducing a new cartridge (probably based on the well-respected Avalanche damper, since PUSH has done that before for rear shocks) that will fit into the Fox 34 chassis. I own a 2014 talas, but if I had a 2013 I would seriously look into this PUSH upgrade when it becomes available (April supposedly, not sure).

    • Francis says:

      Ok thanks for the reply the official agent for Fox in the UK Mojo suspension , I might see if push will send one over, as I imported the forks and my DHXRC4 from the US

  • Mark says:

    Brian, if you have access to you’ll see complaints about the fact that this fork weighs 4.8 lbs in the 160 mm 650b version, not 4.3 as claimed. Meanwhile the Pike has an actual weight of about 4.1 pounds i.e. equal to claimed weight. In your reviews it never hurts to include actual weights to help keep mfgers honest. BTW I agree that this 2014 fox talas is a huge improvement over the 2013 version in terms of damping. Not sure why Fox tends to introduce forks with poorly designed damping characteristics (hello fox 40) but they usually get around to fixing the design.

    • Brian Mullin says:

      Sorry, I usually always post the weights, and I am an old weight weenie so I measure things down to the .1 grams still. My 34 TALAS 29er 140 cam in at 2158 grams/ 4.76 lbs. There spec weight was 4.6, so they’re off by .16 lbs. I try to read as much of the stuff from the forums as possible, but unfortunately, its a bit overwhelming to keep track of everything. Again, can’t comment on the Pike since I don’t have access to one.

  • Mark says:

    Thanks. A 0.16 lb discrepancy is a lot easier to accept than the 0.5 lb discrepancy I saw w/ my 150 mm travel talas 34.

    P.S.a correction to my comment above. that PUSH Elite rebuild (with the MX cartridge) is available now, not April.

  • Oswaldo Ocampo says:

    2014 fox 34 160mm performance real bad, works and feels better my old 2011 sid

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