Fox 36 Talas RC2 fork review£840.00

Lighter and smoother for '09

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Fox’s mighty 36mm-stanchion single-crown forks might look way too big for trail use, but the 36 family are the one big-legged fork species that can cut it on long day rides. 

At just 2,275g the 36 Talas RC2 is nearly 200g lighter than the RockShox Lyrik U-Turn, and 400g lighter than its other rivals the Magura Wotan and Marzocchi 55 RC3. The three-step top cap-twist TALAS III travel adjustment only adds 70g over the standard 36 Float too. It’s 100g lighter than last year, but it’s still one of the stiffest steering single-crown forks around.

It’s easy and intuitive to use too. The screw-through 20mm axle gets a pop-out handle to wind it in and out, with a quick-release on the front of each leg to clamp the dropouts shut. We were doubtful at first (a similar system used by Manitou was a disaster) but after nearly three years using the system it’s proved totally reliable and secure as long as you clean and grease it occasionally. Seal, cartridge, bushing and general reliability is excellent too.

The actual suspension quality of the TALAS III forks is good too. The single air chamber makes setup easy and evolutionary changes in Fox’s FIT damping for this year reduce previous issues. Essentially it spends more time in the mid-stroke rather than diving deep and there’s less of the notchiness and slow oil flow moments evident in the TALAS I and II systems.

The TALAS III is still noticeably less smooth initially and through the mid-stroke than Fox''s non-adjustable Float forks, though. It’s never too off-putting and overall control levels are still excellent but there is a sensation of toast crumbs in the otherwise buttery action. 

The range of low- and high-speed compression settings on the RC2 version is also too high, meaning most riders we know run them at minimum all the time, wasting the extra £110 spent over the basic R version.

The choice of travel stages is out of kilter with most of the bikes it would otherwise be the perfect fork for. We never use the ‘stumble over the front’ 100mm setting, and often 130mm can be too short too. A 160-140-120mm spread would suit our long-term Santa Cruz Blur LT and other similar bikes like the new Intense Tracer, Ventana El Ciclon or Turner 5 Spot much better.

Overall, it's still a light but very stiff, easy to use and controlled big-hit trail fork. We’d recommend the cheaper R version to most riders though and the Float is an even better fork if you don’t need the travel adjust.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 44
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster tfhan the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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