Fox’s TALAS (Travel Adjust Linear Air Spring) concept has evolved into a quick and easy three-stage system; a small but significant click of the lever on top of the left leg sets the travel to 140m m (5.5in), 120mm (4.7in) or 100mm (4in) – the most common fork lengths in the range. Previously, it adjusted through the travel range in 2mm increments.
The 32mm stanchions and forged hollow crown combine superb strength and stiffness with a reasonably low 1.9kg (4.1lb) weight. Some riders probably won’t want to change the fork’s travel by as much as 40mm, but it’s nice to have the option, especially if you want to lay the bike back slightly on drops or tip it forward to stiffen things up on climbs. You’ll need to unweight the fork slightly to extend the travel, but it’s easy to do on the move. By playing around with air pressures and damping, you can use sag to mimic the effect of any amount of travel in between.
Air springs are usually progressive in action, which means as the fork compresses the air gets squashed and the fork starts to feel stiffer. However, Fox designed the TALAS with an extra air chamber that is controlled by an independent floating piston. This creates a very smooth linear compression feel, almost like a coil spring. We really like this, and the compression and rebound set-up is easy to fine-tune, with dials on top of the right leg. There’s a lockout lever there too, and three independent controls on one leg top are still remarkably easy to use, even on the move.
A blow-off threshold adjuster on the bottom of the right leg lets you set the fork’s behaviour in lockout mode. In other words, you decide how big a bump the fork has to take to make the suspension kick in.
Out on the trail, the 32 RLC is incredibly smooth and predictably consistent. We’ve been riding it for just over two months, on three different bikes, and it still feels as buttery plush as it did out of the box. It’s ever so simple to tune it in to different bike characteristics, it’s light enough to be the finishing touch to a fast crosscountry bike, but it’s still sturdy enough for big-hit trails. If previous incarnations of the TALAS are anything to go by – and we’ve no reason to suspect they aren’t – then it should remain smooth and unflustered for many months of hard riding without needing attention. Superb.