Just In – 2012 Fox RP23 and VAN 160

by Brian Mullin on August 15, 2011

Fox was kind enough to send along a 2012 VAN 160 and the RP23 with Adaptive Logic for a long-term test on my Ibis Mojo HD. Both shocks use the slippery Kashima coating, and the VAN has SKF seals and a new FIT cartridge, while the RP23 gets an entire rework of the Pro-Pedal system.

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

Fox has tweaked the FIT damper with new internals, and the new seal head has less stiction at the start of its stroke, and in direct comparison (on a simple test unit at Sea Otter), it was definitely a noticeable feel, and felt much smoother, without any notchiness. 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 Kashima coating has been tweaked for 2012, 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.

36 VAN 160 FIT RC2

Specs:

  • Factory family
  • Visit the Fox VAN 160 website
  • Weight (w/ 20QR axle) – 5.13 lb / 2.33 kg (1 1/8″ steerer), 5.12 lb / 2.32 kg (1.5″ taper steerer)
  • Travel – 6.3 inches / 160 mm
  • Steerer – 1 1/8″ straight aluminum, 1.5″ tapered aluminum (optional)
  • Adjustments- Rebound, Low-speed compression, High-speed compression, Spring preload
  • Lower leg – 20QR thru axle system, post style disc brake mounting
  • Spring – Coil
  • Fork color – Black Diamond
  • Riding Style – All-mountain, Freeride
  • Kashima Coat – Buttery-smooth, Genuine Kashima Coat is available only from FOX Racing Shox. Its distinctive gold color is backed by its high performance attributes—properties that provide an exceptionally smooth feel and extreme durability.
  • FIT – FOX Isolated Technology, Air and oil do mix, and in the world of suspension, it degrades performance. Our isolation technology employs a bladder system that simply keeps the oil and air from mixing to provide optimal performance in all riding extremes.
  • 20QR – For those who go big instead of going home, a 20QR axle is in order. Alongside Shimano, we created an axle that is extremely light and stiff, in a tool-free design. It’ll give you the confidence you need when charging rough, steep lines and airing it out.

Impressions
It has beautiful small bump compliance, and firms up slightly, and stays firmly plush all the way towards a stiffer ramp up at the end of the stroke. It sits up high in its sag, so it feels tall in the saddle, as it doesn’t wallow much, even when setting things pretty soft. It’s an amazing fork when slamming and jamming through rock gardens, technical terrain, and anything nasty, and that is where it seems to be the happiest. It isn’t the best climber (tuning?), since it sits too tall, and it takes a lot of effort to react to steering input on the spinning or normal pedaling type of terrain, but I may need more time in the saddle to get used to the very different feel? I have been using the TALAS 180 with a Cane Creek Angleset, so I was able lower it to 140 and have the slackness, plus it sits down deep in its sag. I sure do love this fork when it’s in my favorite heinous terrain, which is slower speed rock gardens and slab moves (super technical), as it just makes things a blast!

I can feel the new Italian SKF seals, as they have a lot less stiction, making things move along as smooth as silk. I can’t comment of the new FIT, since I don’t have a direct point of comparison to last years model, but let’s assume it’s an improvement? I need some more time tuning this beast, as the fork feels different than other coil forks that I have used. I might even put in the lighter spring?

FLOAT RP23 Adaptive Logic Boost Valve

Specs:

  • Factory family
  • Visit the Fox RP23 Adaptive Logic website
  • Weight – 0.46 lbs / 208 g (6.5″ x 1.5″ no reducers)
  • Length / Travel – 5.50 x 1.00, 6.00 x 1.25, 6.50 x 1.50, 7.50 x 2.00, 7.875 x 2.00, 7.875 x 2.25, 8.50 x 2.50
  • Adjustments – Rebound, ProPedal on/off, 3 Position compression adjust, Air spring pressure
  • Spring – Air
  • Riding Style – XC, Trail, All-mountain
  • Kashima Coat – Buttery-smooth, Genuine Kashima Coat is available only from FOX Racing Shox. Its distinctive gold color is backed by its high performance attributes—properties that provide an exceptionally smooth feel and extreme durability.
  • Adaptive Logic – Adaptive Logic provides a greater range of ProPedal tuning options and increased BoostValve effectiveness. With the flick of a switch, the rider goes from the stiffest level of ProPedal — or ‘climb mode’ — to their preferred level of open — or ‘descend mode’. Three levels of descend mode adjustability allow the rider to adapt to any trail condition for optimal traction and control.
  • Boost Valve – Our patented BoostValve technology has a lot going in its tight little package. Simply put, BoostValve provides a feeling of endless travel and plushness like that of a downhill rig, but with XC pedaling efficiency.

Impressions
The first thing I noticed was how much better the small to small-medium bump compliance was, giving it a slightly plusher feeling ride. The new addition of the Kashima coating, both inside and outside, combined with the new seals, reduced the stiction significantly, and it did feel buttery smooth in direct comparison to the 2011 model. It felt firmer towards the mid-stroke, and didn’t seem to bottom out towards the end of the stroke. I ran less pressure than the 2011 model, and never blew through the end, and hit the bottom out bumpers with the usual relative ease.

What is Adaptive Logic?
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. 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.

I played around with the Pro-Pedal setting, but I found it best to leave the descend mode fully open or 0, and use the firm 3 climbing mode for use on fire roads, long steep climbs and certain terrain. This is an excellent shock, and a great improvement over last years, with less stiction, a buttery plush feel, and it requires less pressure and doesn’t blow through at the end.

Fox sent me the RP23 tuned for my bike, meaning it was matched the OEM internal compression, rebound and boost settings, and my weight.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous August 16, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Just an errata:
SKF is not an Italian company, it was was founded in Sweden.

Reply

Brian Mullin - Gram and Pastajet August 16, 2011 at 5:55 pm

You are correct. The SKS group doing the seal work is from Italy. I met the Italian engineer while at Sea Otter. They also are tightly tied in with Ducati motorcycles. Thanks for the info!

Reply

Unknown August 27, 2011 at 11:39 pm

I'm currently running a 2011 Van 36 RC2 on my ASR7 and love it. Are there any differences in the newer Kashima Coat? Mine is lacking the nifty Kashima logo….is it just cosmetic or did they make some changes to it?

Any tuning insights are appreciated too

Reply

Brian Mullin - Gram and Pastajet August 28, 2011 at 1:25 am

The newer Kashima coating is a bit smoother, but not that much, what is widely different is the new SKS seals, they make a huge difference, and are currently order-able from Fox as a replacement/upgrade

Reply

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