Fox's latest-generation 32 Talas 150 FIT RLC 15QR fork is an excellent fit for the latest crop of aggressive cross-country riders who call six-inch bikes their everyday home yet still need to climb on a regular basis.
The move from a three-position to a two-position travel adjuster sheds 10mm of total adjustment range but the simplified 120/150mm system that remains is still an improvement in real-world trail conditions.
Simply twist the big finger-friendly crown-mounted knob a quarter-turn to lower the front end for steep ascents then leave the fork fully extended for everything else – no need to worry about what to do with that awkward middle setting anymore.
Convenience updates aside, the new Kashima Coat stanchion surface treatment and a notably more linear air spring curve substantially changes the fork's overall personality as compared to last year's model.
Static and kinetic friction are both markedly reduced throughout the stroke for a much smoother ride quality on washboard and stutter bumps, less jolting through the bars on square-edged hits, and less confusion overall when hitting a wide range of terrain features at higher speed.
The more coil-like spring rate feels more bottomless than Fox's fixed-travel Float range, too, though careful tuning of the low-speed compression damping is needed to prevent excessive brake dive, especially on steeper terrain.
In fact, some riders may find the spring rate too linear now so be sure to compare if possible. Our recommendation would be to pair the TALAS fork with similar feeling rear suspension designs like the Trek Remedy whereas something more progressive like Pivot Cycle's Mach 5.8 would likely be better matched to the Float.
Either way, damping performance from the sealed FIT cartridge damper is absolutely faultless with superbly controlled motion on an incredibly diverse range of terrain plus a usefully wide adjustment window for low-speed compression and rebound damping as well as lockout blow-off threshold.
Toss whatever you can throw at this thing during a typical trail ride and it's likely that the TALAS will not only handle it but charge through with confidence.
Especially challenging conditions are where the FIT cartridge excels the most, as Fox's open-bath design could very occasionally struggle to keep up in extreme situations – no more here as the oil is always separated from the air to keep foaming at bay and the internal tuning always feels spot-on.
The rebound knob's relocation to the bottom of the leg also makes more sense to us than the older arrangement. Rebound is something you're likely to dial and leave be whereas riders are more apt to fiddle with the threshold adjuster during the course of a ride depending on the conditions.
Impressed as we are with the Kashima Coat, though, it still doesn't completely offset the main drawback of the FIT design, namely the reduced oil volume for bushing lubrication. When the oil's fresh and present in the right quantities, the Kashima-equipped TALAS is remarkably supple.
That small volume of oil still has a somewhat short lifespan, however, and while the stanchion coating does help extend the service intervals and keep fork a little more freely moving than without, it's still nowhere near the months-long intervals of the older open bath setup.
Thankfully, it's an easy service to perform (taking as little as 10-15 minutes once you've gotten the hang of it) but one that we'd prefer not to do.
One of our testers has also reported that his FIT-equipped sample seemed more sensitive to cold temperatures than older open-bath models, too.
From a structural standpoint, the 15mm quick-release thru-axle is still as effective and simple to use as it's always been, lending some additional steering precision to the 32mm tubes in this stretched-to-the-limit longer-travel application.
While we found the chassis stiff enough in most situations overall – especially for the trail bike category at which this fork is directed – riders that tend to put bigger demands on their equipment will still want for more. Those folks will likely want to consider the burlier 36 series but they'll have to give up the 32 TALAS's respectable 1.69kg (3.72lb) weight (without axle) to get it.
Weight: 1,688g (3.72lb) w/190mm tapered steerer, w/o axle (+70g)
Pros: Unflappable damper performance, wide adjustment range, simpler two-step travel adjust, reasonably rigid chassis, lightweight thru-axle, slippery Kashima Coat stanchions, do-all personality
Cons: Still prone to occasional stickiness, frequent service intervals, spring rate may be too linear for some, expensive
More information: www.foxracingshox.com
Cyclingnews verdict: 4 stars