If the devil is in the detail, then the new version of Fox’s 32 TALAS fork is a whole soul in debt with Old Nick – but the results are sinfully good. While it's not as smooth as Fox's fixed travel Floats, it's a great fork for fettlers.
While most of the changes for '09 are evolutionary, the obvious place to start is the big new feature: the Fox/Shimano co-developed QR15 quick-release through-axle.
There are all sorts of arguments about why they haven’t gone with the already established 20mm axle standard. After all, this has inherent stiffness and a wide range of existing hub bonuses, with very little increase (if any) in weight compared with a 15mm axle.
What we do know is that QR15 – along with other structural improvements in the crown, brace and lower legs – creates a noticeable increase in stiffness compared with 2008 Fox quick-release forks.
Even with big 200mm rotors and Shimano Deore XT brakes, there’s none of the slightly disturbing twist or ﬂutter at the tips of before. You can lean the 32 TALAS right over on its ear without any obvious sideways slop or shear, either. Even the longer 150mm version we’ve tried feels more like the big bolt-through Fox 36 than the previous 32.
It’s all good from a practical point of view too, with a positive lock from the broad quick-release cam. Unlike RockShox's Maxle 20mm axle system, the closing angle is adjustable, and at 1,768g with a cut steerer it’s no heavyweight either. In fact, it's 66g lighter than last year's quick-release version.
Fox have also signiﬁcantly changed the TALAS (Travel Adjust Linear Air Spring) system. You still click 20mm up or down with each quarter-turn of the dial (140-120-100mm or 150mm,130mm, 110mm), but now that’s all done with a single air chamber. This means a smoother, more Float-like feel than the slightly notchy older TALAS forks.
It’s actually plusher in the shorter travel settings than the longer one, which aids climbing traction, and there’s less initial suspension reluctance. The travel changes happen faster, too, and the simpler system promises even better reliability than before.
As well as less of a two-part feel on the TALAS models, all Fox forks get further evolved damping for ’09. In compression terms, there’s more mid-stroke control to stop overdive under braking. We actually had trouble getting it to full travel at ﬁrst, until we knocked a few more psi out of it than we usually would.
Small bumps are sucked up, step-downs swallowed and even fair old drops collected calmly and conﬁdently every time. However, it’s the random mayhem of mogul ﬁelds, washed-out steps and old rocky riverbeds where the fork really shines. Better mid-stroke control and improved rebound ﬂow, plus the improved chassis stiffness, mean the new fork stays totally composed and ﬂoated.
On test sections where we know every other fork in its category loses the plot, the TALAS stays on line and in control. Lockout threshold, low-speed compression damping and rebound are all independently adjustable for complete ﬁne-tuning, too.
They don’t quite match Floats, but they’re still ahead of RockShox's Motion Control forks and other brands once the successive big hits get into double figures.
The only trouble we had is that having so much control up front really puts the heat back onto brakes, tyres and rider as you suddenly ﬁnd yourself pushing new lines or going a lot, lot faster than you probably should!