As easy as it is to baulk at the asking price of the 2013 Fox 32 Talas CTD, there’s no denying it looks a million dollars. And the slippery, gold Kashima-coated stanchions not only turn heads, but help to reduce stiction, giving the 32 Talas excellent small-bump sensitivity.
New for 2013 is the CTD damper. Just as point-and-shoot cameras use modes like ‘sports’ and ‘portrait’ to simplify set-up, Fox has devised a three-position compression damping adjustment designated Climb, Trail, Descend. In Climb mode, the low-speed compression damping is at its firmest, reducing movement when you’re out of the saddle. Trail mode is the mid setting and much more dynamic, but with enough damping support to keep the fork from diving excessively under braking or on steep descents. A further three-position dial allows you to independently adjust the level of compression damping within this mode.
Although CTD is intended to make life easier, the catch-all settings don’t always produce the best results (just like a camera, then). For instance, while the Descend mode works well on rough trails with mellow gradients, we found that steep descents better suited the lightest Trail setting as there was more support and control. In the end, we used this mid-position more than any other, although the combination of reduced travel and Climb mode felt brilliant on granny-ring ascents.
Talking of which, the Talas knob is a little on the stiff side and doesn’t feel very nice to operate. Encircled by this switch is the positive air valve; an ideal location in terms of accessibility, particularly as it pops up in short-travel mode, but the aluminium valve cap is infuriatingly difficult to remove.
A simple owner’s manual gives starting points for sag and damping, but we’d like to see this printed somewhere on the fork to make life really easy. After all, who reads the manual? In the end we ran 15 per cent sag, significantly less than Fox’s starting point, yet we still got the benefit of full travel (148mm) straight out of the box.
Our first test loop was typical trail centre singletrack, with shallow gradients, plenty of rock and stone poking out of the dirt and a smattering of braking bumps for good measure. Here the Talas was supple on trail buzz and very supportive when loaded up through berms with the CTD set to the lightest Trail mode. Accordingly, geometry was kept stable without any of the rocking-horse effect you can get with some forks.
Faced with the second challenge — a steep, loose and rooty bridleway climb followed by a very rough downhill track peppered with rocks, roots and bomb-holes — the golden legs of the Talas really began to shine. Plunging ever deeper into its stroke as we dropped into the deep G-outs, Fox’s damping never missed a beat, giving us the control and confidence to ride faster than with either of the other forks. Coupled with excellent stiffness, it proved once again that the performance of the Fox 32 is worth its weight in gold.
MBR rating: 9
Axle to crown: 525mm
Stanchion diameter: 32mm
For a review of 2013′s Fox 32 Float 26 120 Fit CTD fork, click here.