Fox Racing Shox has been at the top of the mountain bike suspension game since they first entered our market, and with the release of their 2011 product line, it's obvious Fox is not slowing down anytime soon. Let's take a look at the 2011 long travel forks and coil shocks that were debuted at Sea Otter and are now trickling in to retailers as you read this.

Introducing Fox 180mm Single Crown 36 Forks
The biggest news in the 2011 Fox fork line up is the introduction of the 180mm travel 36's. Bridging the gap between downhill and all-mountain, the 180mm 36 Vanilla, Float and TALAS are modern, do-it-all forks that speak to the future of mountain biking. At just 5.22lbs for the 36 180 Float (air spring) and 5.98lbs for the 36 180 Vanilla (coil spring), these forks give the rider who only has a one-bike stable, a strong, viable single crown option with enough travel to attack legitimate downhills.
   The 36 180 TALAS gives aggressive all-mountain riders something to ponder as they can access long travel with on-trail adjustability. Weighing only 5.4lbs the 36 180 TALAS uses the new two-position TALAS system, travel can be switched to 140 or 180mm, making this fork a super all-mountain warrior, both uphill and down.
   The 180mm forks keep ride height in control with their axle placement on the fork leg. The lowers on the 180mm forks are not the same as the 160's. The fork leg drops lower on the 180mm forks to accomodate the increased travel, while minimizing axle-to-crown height.

Riding the 2011 36 160 TALAS FIT RLC with Kashima Coating
The spiffy, gold coating on all of the aftermarket Fox forks in 2011 is called Kashima. There's little doubt all of you techno fans are not hearing about this for the first time, but the coating is more than a look alone. During the 2011 Fox Shox ride camp, I had the pleasure of riding a 36 160 TALAS with the Kashima coating on a kick-ass trail in the Santa Cruz area.
    The lack of stickiness during the initial stroke is evident immediately. On most forks, to activate the suspension from a static position, you need a modest amount of force to overcome friction between the seals and stanchions. With the Kashima coating, the amount of force needed to overcome that friction felt greatly reduced. I felt considerably less vibration through the bars on smaller, high-frequency bumps...bumps that other forks may not be able to deal with as well because of their friction. The 36's lack of friction allowed the fork's internals to do their job better which resulted in less fatigue at the end of the ride for this guy.
    The ride had a killer descent with berms, jumps, rocks and roots. A few times I had to remind myself I wasn't on a DH bike, but the fork and the Ibis Mojo HD handled everything this overweight kook could throw at it...even when I grossly misjudged a few g-outs.
    Fox made a great decision by only offering two positions on the TALAS travel adjust system this year. The 36 160 TALAS can be set at 120mm (with the option of locking it out) when you're grinding uphill, then popped back to 160mm for the descents. The lever is on top of the fork leg, so you'll have to reach and be prepared to make the switch, but having only two positions to deal with makes the process a lot more practical on the trail.
    The adjustment and ride quality of this fork felt bar-none considering I only had this one ride on it. The new, inverted FIT Damper provides a huge range of low- and high-speed compression adjustability, which I didn't get to explore in depth during our quick ride at the camp, but Fox is graciously sending this same fork out for my  Carbon Nomad, which will be ridden hard all summer. I'm stoked to do more tweaking with the adjustments and see how it performs over the long-haul.
   
Rear Shocks
The DHX RC4 continues its reign at the top of the rear coil shock line, but the rebirth of the VAN RC is an eye-catcher in 2011. As a budget rear shock, the VAN RC has speed sensitive compression and rebound damping inside with low-speed compression and rebound adjustment externally. It uses the same architecture as the DHX coil models, but does not offer the Boost Valve adjustment, which should be more than ample for those looking for good coil suspension on a budget.

The Future is Here
Remember when "freeride" forks had 4, maybe 5-inches of travel and weighed 7lbs? Well, those days are long gone and with the forks and shocks in Fox's 2011 lineup, there has never been a better time to be a mountain bike rider. The combination of reliability, strength, weight and travel have finally melded into a near-perfect formula for those seeking adventure on their bicycles. For more information on the 2011 Fox Racing Shox lineup (including the 32 series forks and rear air shocks), visit www.foxracingshox.com and thank your lucky stars companies like Fox have pushed suspension technology to new heights so we can get out and ride up, down and over anything in our paths!

Fork assembly in the Fox Factory in Watsonville, California

A variety of the 32 models waiting for you in the factory

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