First Impressions: 2014 Fox TALAS & Float X
Fox's all-mountain shock and travel adjust forks receive some much needed updates. You may have read the press releases, but do they live up to the hype?
To run their new pogo sticks through the ringer, Fox invited a few of us media clowns up to Hood River, Oregon and pitted us against each other in our own, very handicapped “media” class at the first round of the Oregon Enduro series. Upon arrival, several Fox technicians installed new 34 TALAS CTD forks and Float X shocks on each of our bikes and aided in initial setup.
After a few days of sliding around in the mud and fine tuning my freshly-installed 34 TALAS fork and Float X shock, I started to get a good feel of what this new stuff is all about.
THE IMPROVED TALAS FORK
For 2014, Fox has completely redesigned the TALAS system to provide a spring curve that matches the fixed travel 2014 Float forks. They also wanted to achieve that same spring curve in both travel settings, so the fork is actually rideable in it’s shorter travel mode. To do that, they separated the travel-adjust mechanism from the air spring, allowing them to tune the spring rate more accurately.
The new TALAS system has much lower friction than the current (2013) version, as the new design reduces the number of seals required. If you want to customize your travel range, you can do so in five-millimeter increments just by unthreading the top cap and adding or removing spacers. We rode the new TALAS system on the 34-millimeter platform, but it will be used across all platforms and all wheel sizes. If it’s a TALAS fork, it will have the new cartridge. Oh, and by the way, since it’s a drop in type cartridge, its retrofittable.
On the CTD damper side, FOX made some changes based on rider and racer feedback. One of the major complaints they heard was that the fork wasn’t providing enough support in the mid-stroke, that is to say the fork felt too “divey”. For 2014 the overall compression ratio increases, with the mid-stroke valve getting an extra boost to provide the extra support.
I found the fork to be a vast improvement over previous offerings. Immediately I felt the improved support in the mid stroke, but it didn’t feel hindered in the chunky stuff. Sitting higher up in the travel, I was more confident when the going got steep, and cornering was much more predictable. Since the spring curve performs well in short travel mode, I found myself riding tight sections and switchbacks with the fork in its low position. This new TALAS fork felt eerily similar to a Float, which is the first time that can be said. I do hope that given the complexity of both the damper and spring sides of the fork, reliability won’t be an issue. Overall though, the new TALAS is much better beast. If you’ve given up on TALAS based on prior experience, it’s time to give it a second chance.
THE NEW FLOAT X SHOCK
Now let’s talk about the Float X shock. Based on the DHX Air, but fully redesigned with a new CTD damping system and increased oil flow to prevent high speed spiking. In order for the shock to perform well both up and downhill, engineers separated the climb circuit from the trail and descend modes. This allows the climb mode to be firm, while not compromising performance in trail and descend modes. As with the fork, trail mode on the Float X has three firmness settings.
The new Float X shock provides pretty much the same great feel and control of the Float shock, but with an emphasis on more aggressive riding. With frame kinematics having such an impact on how rear suspension feels, Fox simplified the spring curve and ramp up to avoid redundant bottom out resistance, for instance. After some initial setup, I felt completely comfortable with the Float X. The bike didn’t squat while cornering or wallow in the mid stroke, and it ate up everything in its path without one gripe. With the DHX Air pretty much dead in the water, this new Float X is a much needed and welcomed update to the fox all-mountain lineup.