Sea Otter – 2012 Fox Forks and Shocks

by Brian Mullin on April 21, 2011

Fox has been busy this past year, and they have revamped the product line, added a long travel 29er fork, and titanium crown/steerer fork, tweaked the FIT damper, changed seals, and added Kashima to rear shocks.

The new family grouping covers their entire suspension line, and everything is now divided into three entities, Factory, Performance and Evolution.

  • FACTORY – Best: has their latest, greatest and most advanced technology
  • PERFORMANCE – Better: FIT on 32, open bath on 36 and 40, less advanced technology and adjustability
  • EVOLUTION – Good: entry level, open bath forks, simpler technology

Kashima
The Kashima coating was introduced last year for aftermarket only, and they have now opened the doors (or flood gates) for OEM usage, so you’ll be seeing the fancy gold color on significantly more bikes. The coating has been tweaked, and it should appear as a darker color, and be slightly more slippery. Only the Factory series will have the coating, and it has now been added to the FLOAT RP23, DHX Air and DHX RC4 rear shocks, including portions of the air sleeves (RC4 is shaft only). For manufacturing reasons, the coating has to be added to both the inside and outside of the air sleeve, so thing’s slide on a smoother surface internally.

Forks

The other unique new fork is the FLOAT Ti, which has a one piece cast titanium 6-4 (Ti-6Al-4V) crown and steerer. It will be available in FIT Terralogic, FIT RLC and FIT Remote, all with either 100 or 120mm of travel, 9mm or 15mm axle, and tapered steerer. The forks weigh between 2.91 lbs to 3.46 lbs, and will come with a very trick Kashima coated top cap, titanium bolt and expansion plug. Ti Pricing: FIT RLC $1240-$1275, Terralogic $1290-$1325, FIT Remote $1275-$1310

For the long travel 29er market, they created a new 34mm stanchion group, and it has a whopping 140mm of travel. The fatter lowers and bigger arch, will assist in reinforcing the tall 29 inch system, offering more stability and rigidity in the stressed induced environment of the longer travel. The Factory forks come in a Float 29 FIT RLC, and TALAS 29 FIT RLC version. This Trail and All Mountain fork is available in only 15mm thru axle arrangement and tapered steerer, and weighs in at 4.32 lbs for the Float or 4.54 lbs for the TALAS. The TALAS is an adjustable travel from 140mm to 110mm. The fork uses the updated FIT damper, which has adjustments for rebound, low speed compression, lever actuated lockout (with force adjust) and air spring pressure. The Evolution versions of the forks (TALAS and FLOAT) are open bath, with adjustments for rebound, lever actuated lockout and air spring pressure. Pricing: Factory TALAS $1030, Factory FLOAT $970

Fox has tweaked the FIT damper with new internals, and the new seal head has less stiction at the start of its stroke. They had a simple demo unit to compare the 2011 and 2012 dampers, and in direct comparison, it was definitely a noticeable feel, and felt much smoother, without any notchiness. They have two tunes for the FIT, a cross country one for 120mm or less (firmer tune), and a trail for 140mm and greater (plusher tune).

I received some clarification on the FIT tunes, direct from the FIT designer Sante Pelot:
“The trail tuned 130mm+ travel dampers are for FIT RL and FIT Remote only (because the user cannot adjust their low-speed compression setting as it is set at the factory). The trail tune is still firmer in low-speed compression than last year’s FIT RL or FIT Remote so that it is less wallowy/brake-divey than previous model years. For all FIT RLC, RL and Remotes we reduced the high-speed compression damping from last year so that the fork is less harsh on square-edge hits and drops to flat. But RLC’s are the same exact tune whether it is 80mm or 160mm of travel (because the user can adjust their low-speed compression setting to wherever they want it).”

Fox has partnered with the giant Swedish firm SKF, who is famous for their motorcycle seals, to use them on their forks. The seals use a different compound, shape and height, which greatly reduce friction and stiction. The seals use a different compound, shape and height, which greatly reduce friction and stiction. Using another demo tester, it was quite obvious how much smoother the new seals were on a fork.

Rear Shocks

Besides the addition of Kashima to the shafts and air sleeves (inside and out) on the FLOAT RP23, DHX Air and DHX RC4, the other new product/feature is the Adaptive Logic ProPedal on the RP23. The Adaptive Logic Pro Pedal is only available on the Factory RP23, and it’s a reversal of how the old ProPedal functioned. Factory Pricing: RP23 Adaptive $420, DHX Air 5.0 $515, DHX RC4 $595

Now it will always be in a ProPedal mode, and has a climb and descending setting. In the Climb position (the old ProPedal), it will be set to 3, or firm. When engaging the descend mode, it has three levels of adjustments, 0 (open), 1 (light) and 2 (medium), which are set using the pull up dial. I tested it on a bike, and the settings were very discernible, and it should be a useful feature out on the trails. The new 3 is firmer than its predecessor, though still not close to a lockout. The settings should be handy for tweaking the descending characteristics for varying terrain and rider desires, while the firm climbing mode should be great on multiple environments, like on a fire road or smoother trails.

The rebound has been altered, and now has more clicks, and is smoother when moving the dial, though the overall rebound still remains the same.

Gallery

www.foxracingshox.com/bike

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