Fox 32 Vanilla R review£309.00

Brilliant but simple 140mm fork

BikeRadar score4/5

If you’re going to get any 140mm travel Fox fork this year, the simple, super-plush Vanilla is our recommended flavour.

Structurally it’s exactly the same as the other 140mm 32 Fox forks – so by default, it’s a relatively twitchy, flexy fork when you start braking or hitting bumps hard. However, because the coil internals tend to ride a fair bit lower in their stroke, there’s more internal overlap and less leverage on the fork tips.

The smooth coil suspension stroke also increases traction and confidence, to the point where you’d certainly think the Vanilla was a stiffer fork than its air-sprung brethren. The phenomenal ‘catch’ and control of bigger or successive hits, which come courtesy of Fox’s new damping circuits, make it a great fork to really push hard, too.

Obviously the coil spring adds a fair bit of weight (198g, to be exact) over the air forks. That might put serious racers off, but it’s a great fork for the more aggressive rider who doesn’t want to – or can’t afford to – go to the new-wheel inconvenience of a 20mm through-axle fork.

There’s something naturally very calming about coil-sprung suspension, too. Most of this relates to just getting on your bike and riding, with your mind totally on the trail rather than always having a niggling desire to ‘tweak the air pressure a bit’ at the back of your brain.

We really like the fact that Fox supplies a heavier and a lighter spring in the box as spares. This way, you go home pretty much guaranteed of a good ride, whatever weight or fork feel preference you have, rather than having to scurry back to pay extra for a new spring before the shop shuts.

Over the years, Fox has quietly, gradually improved its quality control and longevity, both inside and out. We’ve been hammering sets through totally vile conditions for over a year, without a hint of a strip-down or even a post-ride spray-down, and they’re still running fine, with no grinding or stanchion notching or scarring.

Compared with the air forks and the cost of other obvious competitors, pricing is very much on the simple Vanilla’s side, too, making it our favourite high-value ‘All Mountain’ fork.

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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