Updated: Fox 32 Vanilla RL review£449.00

Superb value trail fork

BikeRadar score4/5

The cheapest Fox fork is a smooth coil-sprung legend whose simplicity is its strength, and recent price drops have increased value.

While the RLC version (£569) gets the latest FIT damping cartridge, the RL sticks with Fox’s original open bath damping system. This means there's no 15QR axle option.

However, keeping travel at 140mm (5.5in), plus the Vanilla's tendency to sit further into the stroke than Fox's air-sprung offerings, makes a screw-through axle less essential for reasonable rigidity.

While the FIT cartridge uses a lot less oil and controls flow better for excellent handling on long stepped or rocky descents, the drawback is increased stiction, which means slightly less sensitive small bump performance.

The Vanilla RL's coil spring stroke combines with the more sensitive, less sticky 2009-style damping for a succulent, traction-rich feel. The result is a very supple ride that follows every ripple of the trail, and the damping is equally smooth and controlled.

The smoothness of the coil spring also offsets the odd hiccup from the rebound circuit when you’re driving the fork downhill. The RL still gets a range of low-speed compression to full lockout settings through the fork top lever. Different strength springs for different rider weights are supplied in the box and, despite the extra metal, it’s under 2kg.

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: 45
  • 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 than 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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