Mid-sized wheel, full sized performance.
After decades as the preferred tire size for loaded touring, adoption of the 27.5in, or 650B wheel standard has been slow in the world of mountain bikes. But, in comparison to the decade-long, uphill battle 29ers experienced, it's gaining momentum quite quickly. This is due to products like Fox 's travel-adjustable Talas 27.5 160 CTD FIT Fork, which benefits from lessons learned refining components for the larger wheels.
This mid-size wheel offers the same benefits a 29er does over a 26in wheel, but it's easier for manufacturers to package it in a more compact, quicker-handling, full-suspension platform or hardtail. This is particularly beneficial to average-stature riders that are finding 29ers too tall or too long. The Talas 27.5 offered here gets all the bells and whistles for 2013, including Fox's latest terrain-selectable damping.
Fox forks have traditionally been featured packed, offering the ability to make all adjustments needed to tune the fork for any condition. The only problem was the difficulty for the average rider to make knowledgeable tweaks to the forks. High- and low-speed compression, lockout threshhold, preload, and rebound are all common adjustments, but, for the guy who wants to ride, and not relentlessly and aimlessly tune a fork, this can have a negative result on performance and user experience.
With CTD (climb, trail, descend), one lever quickly and easily switches the fork's compression to ideal settings for the task at hand. The climb setting adds plenty of low-speed compression to mitigate bobbing when standing on the pedals. Trail mode offers moderate low-speed compression to balance efficiency with optimum trail manners, and it's also independently adjustable with three settings; soft, medium, and firm. Finally the Descend setting features high- and low-speed compression for plush action on steep and aggressive sections of trail.
Another key feature to this new Fox is a redesigned spring curve for forks 130mm and above. There's now a more linear spring rate. This is achieved by using a longer negative spring and by reducing the air spring’s compression ratio. The resulting curve gives these air forks a more coil-like feel, and it also uses more of its travel because the preload won't ramp up.
More good news comes from the lowers as well, for 2013 Fox has dropped about 50 grams from last year's models. While that may not seem significant, keep in mind dropping mass from the lowers effectively reduces un-sprung weight — which affects the amount of inertia the damper needs to control, resulting in enhanced suspension action. To drop the weight, Fox's engineers retained the Float's respected torsional stiffness by redesigning the brace, dropouts, and wall thickness.
This is also the first time Fox has offered its 34mm stanchion on a platform other than a 29er. These forks offer comparable stiffness to the 36mm stanchions forks, but weigh in at about a half pound lighter. The 2013 Fox 34 Float 27.5 160 CTD FIT Fork comes in White with the smooth and durable Kashima coating on the stanchion tubes. It's offered here with a tapered, 1.5 to 1-1/8in steerer, and a 15QR axle.