Sea Otter: 2012 Fox Racing Shox

For 2012, Fox Racing Shox has some big, dramatic changes to existing models, plus a couple of completely new ones.

Just showing that companies do actually listen to riders, and pay attention to how people use their stuff, Fox has changed the ProPedal lever system on the RP23 rear shock. Instead of the two positions being ‘No Pro Pedal’ and ‘Pro Pedal 1, 2, or 3′, the lever now allows you to have two different amounts of Pro Pedal. Basically, in the ‘on’ position, it’s like having the Pro Pedal 3 on. This is constant. When you flip the lever ‘off’, you can now have a choice of Pro Pedal on 0, 1 or 2. This lets you set up your shock with a bit of permanent light Pro Pedal, perhaps to keep the bike up in the corners, or on particularly wallowy descents, while always having that ‘steep road climb’ stiff shock position.

The other thing you notice about the RP23 (in its top-tier Factory version) is that there’s Kashima coating everywhere. This only comes on the top models (though it will also be available to OEM’s this year too) but it’s expensive because it all has to be sent to Japan for coating. Much of Fox’s work this year has been to reduce friction and stiction wherever it can.There are new seals and wipers on its forks, and the rear shock has been completely coated (to coat the inside of the air can means doing the outside as well.) Although it may not match all bikes, it’s a pretty handsome, neutral colour.

A magic top cap… If you have one of these, you’re pretty special. They only come on one of the new Fox forks, the Fox Float Ti. Starting at the top cap, it uses a titanium bolt for its rubber expander, rather than a Star Fangled Nut – this is because… the steerer (and the hollow crown) are made of investment cast 6/4 titanium.

Using the magic metal, which Fox reckons is lighter than a carbon crown/steerer, it allows the fork weight to drop to a low of 2.9lbs (QR version) and a mere 3.25lb for the one with all the options (15QR, RLC)

The Float Ti has a completely hollow crown and one piece tapered steerer and crown.

 

The minimal looks seem to suit it quite well. Expect to see top Fox athletes like Adam Craig on this fork at Dalby Forest next month.

Fox has called on the seal experts at SKF to make its new wiper seals. There’s a noticeable difference between these and current year seals.

And talking of seals, even the damper rod seal has been upgraded (right) over last year’s (left) – and this is something you can feel in isolation when cycling the damper. The whole effect of these bits together gives you a very plush fork. So that you don’t have to crank up the fork pressure to combat all this, and to make the fork sit nicely in use, Fox has increased the slow-speed compression and removed some of the mid-speed compression. This means you can have your fork set up quite stiffly, but it’ll still move on the smaller bumps without diving. And when you do hit a big bump, it’ll still move out of the way. There are two different damper tunes too – one XC tune for forks from 80-120mm and a more aggressive, all trail tune for forks from 140-200mm.

There is another new fork in the range… This is in response to the more hardcore 29er frames coming out from the likes of Niner. This is the Fox 34 which, as you might guess, has 34mm stanchions, and 140mm of 29in-wheel-only travel. It’ll come in tapered and 15mmQR only. Rad!

These are all shots of the new 29er fork, but you get the idea of the smart dark gold and black livery. For 2012 Fox is dropping its previous range names and now going for:

Factory – all the stuff here. The top of the line, racer-boy level of components, Kashima and titanium all over the place.

Performance – Regular high performance forks and shocks

Evolution – a slightly more affordable level, with less swish components, no Kashima and some open bath forks.

 

And, finishing as we started, with the rear shocks…

 

Kashima coating too on the DHX Air. The bushings for the mounting hardware too have been exactly sized when finishing in order that they move freely too. It’s all very slippery.


So far I’ve spend about six or seven hours of riding on the new forks and RP23 and I reckon that they’re going to make a good product even better. It’ll come at a price, but a factory ride doesn’t come cheap…

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