Earlier this year, Fox and Shimano shocked the industry with the introduction of the 15mm QR TA on the Fox Talas 140 RLC. Much of the debate and most of the articles have been written about this controversial subject which begs the question.
Does the industry need another standard?
The answer to this question will be sorted out over time, but for the purpose of this article…we need to see how the fork performs.
The Controls on the Fox Talas
Talas Travel Adjust/Air Pressure Adjust
One of the better features of the Fox is the Talas travel adjust. This three step travel feature is perfect for trail riding. For the 140 RLC, you can switch from 100/120/140mm with a turn of the non-drive side knob. Turn the knob clockwise and push down to decrease and a counter-clockwise click brings the fork back up automatically. It doesn’t get much easier than this for travel adjustment. Rock Shox has the 2 Step and U-Turn travel adjustments, but…in my opinion…the U-Turn is too many options and the 2 Step is not enough. The “3 Step” Talas option seems to be the best of both worlds.
To adjust the air pressure, unscrew the center cap and attach a shock pump. The redesigned Talas feature is easier to use, but that comes at the expense of the air chamber valve. It can be difficult to remove the cap and some pumps may be harder than others to get on the air chamber valve.
On the top of the drive side fork leg you will find the compression/lock out lever, rebound adjust and low speed compression dial. Having the rebound adjustment on the top of the fork leg is a huge plus for my riding. There are other forks on the market that have to relocate the adjustment to the bottom of the damping leg. With it on the top, you can make necessary adjustments while riding.
Your lockout/compression lever is in easy reach and the low speed compression is easy to use. I didn’t notice a significant change in the LSC through smaller clicks, but going from one extreme to the other does create a change in pedal induced bob vs. small bump feedback.
Lock-Out Blow Off/QR TA Adjustment
On the bottom of the damping leg, you will find the lock-out blow off adjustment knob. When you have the fork locked out via the compression switch on the top of the leg, there is a threshold that the fork will “blow through” to suck up the obstacle. You adjust this through that blue knob.
The dial with the numbers 1 through 18 written on it is your thru axle adjustment. According to the Fox instructions located on the provided cd (pain that there isn’t an included printed copy…I am not next to a computer while I am wrenching.):
If the 15QR lever cam tension is either too loose or too tight when the 15QR lever is positioned between one (1) and twenty (20) mm forward of the fork leg when it’s closed, use the following procedure to correct this misadjustment.
It the forks shipped setting, it worked perfectly, so I didn’t change a thing.
How does the Fox Talas 140 RLC ride?
Ok…enough of the formal presentation. I installed the fork on the Ibis Mojo test mule and set everything to my liking. After messing with the air pressure some, I ended up around 70-75 psi for my riding style. At 140mm of rear travel and a sub 30 lbs. overall weight, the Ibis is a perfect match for this fork. The rear shock is a Push Industries tuned RP23 and the rest of the component group is a Hope, XTR and SRAM X.0 group on a Hope Pro II/Stans Flow rim wheelset built by John Kovachi at Kovachi Wheels. The switch to post mount brake mounts on all 2009 fork models make for a much easier install process. The Fox cable keeper is also a nice feature. I screwed in the Fox 15mm QR TA and was ready to ride.
For my first ride out, I took the bike to our local trail, Blankets Creek, to get a feel for the fork where I knew every rock. The second ride was at the Tanasi trail system in Tennessee. Tanasi offers some of everything…including one of the best cross country downhills in the southeast. Thunder Rock Express has worn out nets on the side of the trail to catch riders as they flew off the mountain. This rocky, rooty descent would really put the 15mm QR TA to the test.
Small Bump Absorption
This is one area where the fork really shined. It took the small bumps in stride and I never got the feeling that the fork was jarring under the bike. In the breaker bumps and small bumps in fast succession, some forks struggle to keep up. The Fox Talas was smooth over these transitions. Pedaling feedback was easily controlled with the LCS and compression switch. For most of my riding, I didn’t even touch the compression switch, but I did end up with the LSC a little less than halfway. This seemed to be a great compromise between small bump plushness and arm pump feedback.
I kept the rebound setting a little slower than halfway through its adjustment. This allowed the fork to recover fast enough without springing down. Overall, the damping performance in small bump situations was perfect.
Coming down from large hits and fast stroke situations was controlled, but the fork tended to ramp up through the end of its travel. Some of this ramping is positive as it doesn’t allow for hard bottom outs, but I found that I wasn’t using all of the travel as much as I would have liked to. For fun…I took the carbon ride off a 5 foot to flat and I still didn’t feel the fork bottom. The landing was smooth and controlled, but if the travel is there…I want to use it. I tried letting some air out of the fork, but that came at the cost of the small bump and climbing performance.
The Fox is stiff for a 140mm fork. For redesigned the crown and lowers for 2009, so when you combine that with a thru axle, the new Talas feels much stiffer than last years QR model. I also feel a noticeable difference between the current QR vs. the TA. Fox really stepped up to the plate to make sure that their forks would not deflect through the rough stuff.
This should be no surprise to anyone. Cross country riders are really starting to see the distint advantage of thru axles on light weight forks. The bike tracks better through corners, holds a better line through technical sections and it bulletproof by design.
Fox Talas 140 RLC Conclusions
In every article, forum post or blog…no one has argued that Fox makes a great product. The large question is why Fox and Shimano went with a 15mm TA instead of the already proven 20mm. For the purposes of this review…that is an argument for another day.
Where this fork performs its best is in the beginning and mid-stroke of its travel. The damping and rebound action is very smooth and controlled. Towards the end of its travel, the spring rate ramps up to the point that I never felt like I used all of the travel. Overall, this fork felt and rode like a perfect compliment to the Ibis Mojo. It is also stiff enough to handle the duties of a more “All Mountain” styled 140mm bike.
The Fox TA on this fork weighed in at 93.55 grams for those that were wondering.
- Great small bump absorption
- Excellent beginning and mid-stroke performance
- Easy to use thru axle
- Post mount brake mount
- Talas travel adjust
- Easy access to necessary controls
- Consistent rebound and damping performance
- Lightweight – 1899 grams uncut w/axle
- Less friction than previous Fox models
- High cost of entry – $850.00 does not include the need for a new wheel build.
- Hub selection – As of right now, you are limited to Hope, Shimano, DT Swiss and Industry Nine. It is going to be some time before companies like Chris King are able to jump on board.
- Spring ramping on high speed hits
- Access to air pressure valve difficult
Last Thoughts on the Fox Talas 140 RLC
The 140mm fork market is in an all out fight. The reigning king…Rock Shox Pike 454…it being closed in on by some new TA 140mm counterparts. Fox has come out swinging. The good news…thru axles are taking over on the cross country side of mountain bike forks. Death to the QR is on the horizon…