By Justin Steiner
Hot damn, that’s a pretty fork with its gold-colored stanchions and all. Gold represents…you know…money. This is where you readers who whine about us testing expensive products should stop reading. Those of you interested in reading about one of the most impressive and expensive forks I’ve ridden in a while should continue.
The fork in question is Fox’s new 2011 TALAS 29 FIT Terralogic 15QR Disc Kashima. In English, that title means "the Fox 29er fork with all of the bells and whistles." Those features being TALAS—"Travel Adjustable Linear Air Spring," Terralogic—BrassMass-controlled compression damping circuit, FIT—sealed damper, 15QR axle that is now 21g lighter, and finally Kashima Coat—a new gold-colored stanchion coating. Let’s tackle each of these topics individually…
Kashima Coat is new to the Fox lineup for 2011. The Miyaki Company of Japan developed this super-hard and super-slippery stanchion coating of molybdenum disulfide, which is deposited into the micro-pores of the hard-anodized aluminum stanchions via an electrochemical process. Not only is this coating four times tougher than standard hard-anodized aluminum, it is also very slippery, which makes for less friction and noticeably improved small bump compliance.
Terralogic—return of the BrassMass—is a "brass mass" (shocking!) that controls the compression circuit of the fork. On smooth terrain the BrassMass is closed, effectively locking out the fork and isolating rider input. When the fork experiences a bump force, the BrassMass opens to allow the compression circuit to operate normally until smoother terrain allows the BrassMass to close again.
Like many of you who’ve ridden the early X-series Fox forks, I thought the idea of putting a BrassMass in your "trail" fork was a foreign, if not horrible, idea. The early versions of the Terralogic worked OK, but you always felt and heard a distinct "clunk" as the mass opened—hardly a seamless transition.
Skeptics: prepare to be disproven. The newest iteration of Terralogic is a marvel of modern engineering. There are no less than 15 threshold settings, ranging from fully closed (0) to fully open (15); "15" completely bypasses the BrassMass. If you want a nearly locked-out fork, select the "0" setting and marvel at how firm the fork feels until you hit a bump, then marvel at how seamless (I’ll be using this word a lot) the BrassMass activates to allow the fork to compress. There is literally no transition that I’m able to perceive, and I’m a stickler for these sorts of things. On the other hand, you can run the fork wide open, so there’s literally zero threshold.
Teamed with my 100mm suspension bike, I found settings "14" and "13" to balance the firmness of the rear suspension beautifully. If I were racing, I’d likely turn the Fox rear shock’s ProPedal on, and click to setting "12" on the Terralogic to firm things up just a touch front and rear. Not only did the BrassMass allow the fork to better match my rear suspension, it went a long way to help combat and control brake dive.
TALAS has been around for a while, but this is the third iteration of the design, with two travel settings instead of the previous three. On the 29er TALAS forks, the options are 120mm or 95mm, which matched wonderfully to my 100mm suspension bike. Simply rotate the knob to the 95mm position for the steep climbs, then reverse to 120mm for the descents and enjoy the eerily linear travel as you bomb down. Beautiful.
The FIT damper is Fox’s new closed system compression and rebound damper, as seen in the test of the Fox F29 in issue #148. The FIT damper is a sealed unit said to reduce weight by 71g (2.5oz.) and reduce oil aeration (air bubbles in the fork’s oil) for more consistent performance. As air bubbles pass through a damper, the effectiveness and consistency of the damping will diminish.
Sorry about all the techno-speak—there’s simply a lot going with this fork. Going into this test, I was stoked about the travel adjustability, but skeptical of Terralogic. I’m certainly happy to report that my fears were unfounded—the new BrassMass performs worlds better than the old and offers a huge range of adjustment. I can totally see running this fork on a singlespeed with the Terralogic on or near the firmest setting, running it on an XC race bike in the middle of the range, or running it on a trail bike on the open side of things, like I did. At least a grand buys you major versatility.
Kudos to Fox for building such a damn fine fork. www.foxracingshox.com