The 29er cross-country suspension fork conflict is about to kick off, with Fox lining up their new long-legged weapon of wagon-wheeled war – the 32 series F29 models – to face off against the about-to-be-released RockShox SID 29. We grabbed this 1,880g F29 RLC QR15 with 100mm of travel (adjustable internally to 80mm) for a full shakedown.
For non-Fox users R stands for rebound, L for lockout and C for compression – the three external adjustments this flagship tapered-steerer fork can boast. A non-taper version will save you £20. Terralogic versions are £839, and £869 for the taper steerer version.
The build of the fork is standard Fox technology, that's to say, pretty special. A very stiff set of magnesium lowers uses the integrated through-axle QR15 axle system to add chassis stiffness over the traditional open dropout 9mm version for only a few grams' weight penalty.
Fox have aimed to trim and massage the 2012 F29’s tech in all areas to improve the overall ride rather than find one single element to ‘fix’. The spec list includes improved Kashima coating on the upper legs for a smoother action, a reworked FIT damper unit with lower oil volume (saving around 70g over a 2011 model) and improved small bump compliance, as well as tweaking the air spring curves for more usable travel and lower compression ratios. The fork felt more supple in the mid stroke – more like the RockShox Reba 29 than last year’s F29. Outwardly, apart from the darker Kashima stanchion coating and some matching gold decals, it’s essentially unchanged.
We put the fork on our Niner Air 9 carbon and raced it at the Mountain Mayhem event and with five minutes of pressure setting and knob fiddling to dial in our preferred ride we were off chasing down other riders. We immediately felt the bike gain a level of stability that allowed us to make even more daring passing attempts. It’s amazing how little trail you really need to pass another rider if you know the bike is going to track the wafer thin line you’ve spotted. The F29 never put a foot wrong, even if we managed to a few times. Technically, the fork leaves us with nothing to criticise other than the fact that it’ll not be as light as the top end SID 29ers. Yes it’s expensive, but it’s currently the state of the art, and the rule is, if you want the best you’ll have to dig deep.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.