Fox 36 Van FIT RC2 fork £849

Travel increase for 2011

BikeRadar score 3.5/5

After much anticipation, the new 180mm-travel (7.1in) Fox 36 fork is finally here. We’ve always been big fans of the 36, especially in its coil sprung (Van) guise. But we’ve been keen to see a 180mm version in the range. Well, now it’s here, designed to accommodate every element of gravity-based riding.

The first thing you’ll notice is the golden finish gleaming on the stanchions. This is the Kashima coating that was developed in conjunction with some of Fox’s top riders, including reigning World Cup downhill champion Gee Atherton. They claim it'll increase the fork’s durability and decrease friction.

Other noticeable features include the inverted FIT damper, putting the high- and low-speed compression adjusters at the top of the right stanchion and the rebound adjuster and the bottom of the lower leg. This does seem like a logical move and in practice it makes any on-the-fly tweaks to the compression settings much easier.

The lower legs feature extended, below-axle tubing that accommodates a large bushing overlap.This makes for a reassuringly stiff chassis and precise steering. And like its smaller brothers, the 180mm version of the fork also features post mount disc brake mounting.

It took a few runs and some big hits to get it bedded in properly but it’s clear from the outset that the Kashima-coated stanchions do indeed improve the fork’s sensitivity. The more supple action will pick off the smaller bumps with ease, helping to keep the tyre on the floor.

Both compression and rebound adjustments give a wide and usable range of options that allow you to get the fork dialled perfectly. We only changed ours very slightly after the guys at UK suspension tuners Mojo sorted the base settings, removing a little of the high speed compression and increasing the rebound by another click.

This left us with a fork that worked efficiently, absorbing impacts with minimum hassle and lots of precision. The 36 180 Van will take the big hits admirably and remain composed through the repetitive stuff without battering your hands. Over the months we’ve had the fork fitted it’s held up extremely well and remained consistent.

We’re big fans of the changes Fox have made for this new model, and the sturdy chassis that the 36 has always been synonymous with. When it comes to weight, the slicker Van version comes in at 2.68kg (5.9lb). That might be a little more bulky than the Float (air) version but we still love this fork.

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