Fox has revamped their entire lineup for the 2012 production year. As a part of this revamp Fox has delineated the lines between their products so that you and I can understand them a bit better. The top-tier Factory line is where you can find the Talas 150 FIT RLC and all the latest and greatest technology by FOX. The mid-level gear is under the Performance category, using conventional coatings on the components and a slightly simplified damper. Finally, the Evolution line features high-quality entry-level forks that are priced for people looking for true quality at a real bargain.
The 2012 Talas is truly something else… “revamp” doesn’t even begin to cover the advancements! For starters, the Talas features the new Kashima coating on the stanchions. To assure you that you got the real deal, the stanchions are now printed with a genuine Kashima coat logo, so that you and all of your friends know it! Kashima is a very low friction hard coating on the stanchions that is designed to extend the service life as well as provide a super low friction surface for the seals and bushings to ride on.
After my 1 1/8″ steering tube was cut to size (7 7/8″ or 200 mm in length), the Talas weighed in at 3.8lb – pretty respectable for a fork with 5.9″ (150 mm) of travel when extended. The Talas is offered in both 9mm and 15mm QR configurations, but truthfully a fork with this much travel should really be run with the 15QR. If you’re still sitting on the fence thinking about going to 15QR, just stop thinking and go for it.
The last Fox 32 fork I reviewed was the 2010 32 Float 150. At that time it had the non-FIT damper, but this time around the Talas 32 runs a FIT damper cartridge. That in itself is a great feature to have on a fork. The FIT (Fox Isolated Technology) essentially runs a damper inverted with the single walled bladder holding all the suspension fluid. This prevents aeration (the production of tiny air bubbles) and improves the overall performance of the fork. First introduced back in 2005 on the 36 and 40 models in the RC2 dampers, the 32 FIT has benefited from all that development to now provide a 32 version with as little internal friction as possible.
Another big benefit that comes from inverting the damper is the location of the dials. Up top on the damper cartridge you have the low speed compression control, the lock-out adjust, and the lock-out lever. The rebound knob is located down below on the bottom of the fork leg, which makes more sense as the rebound setting is something that is changed less frequently, primarily only when tuning. The TALAS 2-step lever is located on the left leg, and in the middle of the lever is the rather stealthy air valve.
Installation of the Talas 32 150 RLC should only be attempted if you have the proper tools. With a price of about $880-$895 (depending on steering tube), you don’t want to screw things up and cut the steering tube too short. For this job you will need:
- Threadless saw guide
- Vise or stable bike stand
- Tape measure
- Lower race tool (length of aluminum pipe which fits over the lower race)
- Star nut tool
- Torque wrench
- Hex Keys
Begin the installation by removing your existing fork, being careful not to damage the brakes, shifters, or anything else you need to reuse. Once the old fork is off the bike, carefully remove the lower race and then measure the steering tube length. The measurement is taken from the face of the fork where the race fits to the end of the tube (be sure to check out our fork installation guide).
Once everything is installed it literally takes 5 minutes to set up the fork. I started setting sag by placing the fork at its 150 mm length and then playing with the pressure until I got 20% sag using 90 psi in the air spring. I ended up setting the fork with 4 clicks from soft on rebound, 10 clicks on the lock out, and 7 from soft for compression. I found that this combo worked great for the majority of terrain that I have ridden around Southern Ontario.
So what does Ontario offer? Well, depending on where you ride, there is soft, loamy terrain, slate, and some really rocky areas. It is definitely a great mixed-bag of terrain that is perfect for testing out any suspension.
I used the Talas on my 5.5″ Opus Crate, which is my go fast(ish) trail bike, so I use it for a variety of conditions. I have used the fork on step down drops of 6ft with smooth transitions, fast rolling terrain, and technical rocky sections. The Talas hasn’t let me down in any of those conditions.
I found that once I had tuned the fork it was almost a set-and-forget situation. Once the settings for compression and rebound were dialed in, the damper was so effective at keeping me in a good riding position that, aside from a few long climbs, I almost never used the lock-out. In spite of that, the lock-out is easy to get to with or without gloves.
On the technical climbs (usually the rocky ones) the Talas adjustments come into play nicely. Dropping the travel down from 150 mm to 120 mm steepens the head angle and lowers the center of gravity a bit more, allowing for a better position while climbing. Once the climb is over, the control knob on the Talas’s side is, again, easy to get to with or without gloves. Just remember to lean back a bit or cycle the fork to get the bike back into full travel.
The inverted FIT damper with the compression knobs up top, like its bigger cousin the 36 FIT, makes a lot of sense. I find that I tend to play around with the compression much more than rebound, so having the controls up top allows me to access it easily if I have to.
Based on my experience riding with the Talas, and having tested many forks in the past, I think that the 2012 Fox 32 Talas 150 FIT RLC provides superior performance! The fork offered good control over both the small bumps as well as the bigger hits… just what a fork like this is designed to do. The Kashima and low friction seals make a huge difference over older, non-Kashima coated forks. And the 15QR makes for hair-splitting precision steering, even when glancing off rocks. “Control over the wheel” should be the mantra here.
The buttery feeling of zero stiction, the precision tracking from the improved stiffness in the fork lowers due to the 15QR, and the positive click feel to the controls all enhance the performance and repeatability of this fork. But most importantly, take all the tech away, and what you have is a tool to enhance your ride that makes itself known to the rider.
The 32 Talas 150 FIT RLC is listed at $895 MSRP, though some places may sell them a little bit less. Check out Fox for more information and stay tuned for a write up on the RP23–coming soon!
I would like to thank Fox for sending down the Talas for review.