Fox 36 Talas FIT RC2 Review

by Brian Mullin on April 9, 2010

I got around 5 weeks of enjoyable testing of the new 2010 Fox 36 TALAS FIT RC2 fork while I was demoing a Yeti ASR 7 (review forthcoming). The TALAS has just about every adjustment possible crammed into the fork, making it a functional and practical beast. And it sure is a beast! The stout 36mm stanchions, and stiff arch keep any hint of flex virtually unnoticeable, giving forth a stable and smooth platform. The FIT cartridge damper system is a really nice feature, as is the upgraded crown, which is lighter and stronger. The TALAS was one primo All Mountain fork!

Note: For cross comparison, I have had short term use of the 2010 Fox 36 Float, 2008 Fox 36 Float, 2010 Fox 32 Float 150, Rock Shock Lyric 160 and long term use of the DT Swiss EXC 150.

Features
The 2010 Fox 36 fork suite is comprised of the FLOAT (air spring, fixed travel), TALAS (air spring, travel adjusted 160-130-100) and VANILLA (steel spring, fixed travel) models, all using the FIT damper. TALAS stands for Travel Adjustable Linear Air Spring, and with a twist of the knob on the left leg, you can adjust the travel from 160, to 130 or 100mm. The new TALAS III system has changed air spring curves in each of the three travel settings (they call it optimized), and has better seals to prevent external contamination. The damper is the Fox FIT (Fox Isolated Technology) cartridge, which is a hydraulic position-sensitive damper. The FIT damper is a sealed system, so the damping oil and lubricating oil are isolated, reducing foaming issues and their ill effects, and offering more consistent damping during a ride. The FIT includes a bladder instead of a floating piston for reduced friction, and as an oil compensator and separator.

Adjustments

Additional adjustments are the air spring pressure, rebound, low and high-speed compression. The air is located in the middle of the TALAS knob, while the rebound adjuster is on the top right leg, nothing too fancy about either of their functionality. On the lower right, are a set of covered stacked knobs for the high and low-speed damping, each separately adjustable, allowing a plethora of tunability. A new crown, steerer and chassis produce lighter weight, and enhanced stiffness.

You Can Tune a Piano but You Can’t Tuna Fish

The 36mm lowers feature post-style disc brake mounts, 20QR quick-release thru axle system, an axle-to-crown measurement of 545mm and comes in  1-1/8″, 1.5″ or 1.5″ to 1-1/8″ tapered steerer.

Setup
Sag is controlled by the air pressure, and Fox recommends between 20-40mm, but I rarely go by the book, and instead tweak it until it feels right on the local terrain and my riding style.  I ended up with slightly more air than recommended. I set the rebound faster, but kept it pretty close to average.

High and Low Speed Compression Adjustment”

I set low speed compression (small blue knob) in the middle, and high speed compression (big blue knob) to the firmest setting. Setting the high speed to firm helped alleviate the fork dive on slow speed drops and big hits, and it really didn’t change the amount of available travel. Due to the nicely engineered Yeti ASR suspension system, the low speed adjustment didn’t require much tweaking.

Impressions
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!

Talas Adjustment and Air Pressure Valve

On the rare occasion, when I had to remove the front wheel, and I found the QR screw-through axle, a pain to use (overly complicated), and not very quick. The outside lever of the QR seemed to open prematurely often, and just sort of hang there drooped out?

20mm Quick Release System

I do understand the additional safety and redundancy of the axle clamping system, but it just seems slightly burdensome?  My preferred system is the DT Swiss RWS, but even something along the lines of the simple Rock Shock Maxle would have been adequate. 

Talas in Action!

Bottomline
The 2010 Fox 36 TALAS FIT RC2 is an excellent fork, with some nicely engineered functionality, and plethora of features. The TALAS itself is a great feature, and the ability to change between 160, 130 or 100mm of travel on the fly makes it very useful. The adjustments via the air pressure, and especially the high and low settings allow tuning for a large breadth of riders and terrain. The TALAS is a well built fork, that could take any abuse plowed at it. It remained composed no matter what the terrain, allowing for great control and stability. The stout legs, beefy crown/arch and 20mm axle made for a stiff and stable platform. The wonderful mid plushness and big hit abilities were high appreciated, giving one the feeling of floating over obstacles.

I had a minor quibble with the darn air cap immersed deeply in the TALAS knob, but a major gripe was an inability to extract anywhere near 160mm of travel?

All things considered, the 2010 Fox 36 TALAS FIT RC2 would be an excellent fork on any All Mountain rig!

Strengths
-Stiff: 36mm stanchions, improved crown, 20mm axle
-TALAS adjustability 160-130-100
-Excellent mid stroke plushness
-Good big hitter

Weaknesses
-Notchy
-Weak small bump compliance
-Air valve cap is difficult to install/remove
-Axle install/removal complicated
-Unable to extract full travel

Overall Rating:

Fox 36 TALAS url: http://www.foxracingshox.com/bike/10/forks/36_TALAS

36 TALAS FIT RC2 Specs
MSRP:
-$1,168.00
Weight:
– (1 1/8″ steerer) 4.99 lbs (2.26 kg)
– (1.5″ straight steerer) 4.90 lbs (2.22 kg)
– (1.5″ taper steerer) 4.95 lbs (2.25 kg)
Travel:
– 6.3 inches (160 mm)
– TALAS travel adjust 160-130-100
Adjustments:
– Low speed compression
– High speed compression
– Travel – TALAS travel adjust (160-130-100mm)
– Air spring pressure
– Rebound
Damper:
– FIT
Lower Leg:
– 20QR thru-axle system – post-style disc brake mounting
Steerer:
– Standard: 1 1/8″
– Option: 1.5″
– Option: 1.5″ Taper
Spring:
– Air
Fork Color:
– Titanium
Intended Use:
– DH, FR, AM

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

mjaremko April 13, 2010 at 10:59 pm

Dude,
love reading your site.

Just bought a 36 Talas, found that turning the talas knob to the 100mm setting allowed for easy access to the valve stem cap.

mj

Reply

Brian Mullin - Gram and Pastajet April 14, 2010 at 4:27 am

MJ,

Thanks for the info. Next time I get my hands on one I will try that out.

Brian

Reply

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