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The Swedish squisher’s new range of World Cup XC focussed suspension comprises new Öhlins RXC34 m.1 forks and TXC1 and TXC2 Air rear shocks. We had a play on them. In Sweden and everything.
- Öhlins TXC1 and Öhlins TXC2 Air – £609
- Öhlins RXC34 m.1 Air – £1,310
- Öhlins RXC34 m.1 Carbon Air – £1,485
Öhlins are synonymous with two things; the colour yellow, and some of the best vehicle suspension in the business. To be a little more specific, some of the best damping.
Whether it’s cars or motorcycles, on road, circuit or off road the striking yellow springs and gold anodised dampers can be found pretty much everywhere at the top of any given sport. That includes most top-level motorsport from F1 to Supercross.
Öhlins invited us to their headquarters outside Stockholm for the launch of their range completing XC suspension (more on this later). First, they gave us a tour of the factory where F1 and Moto GP dampers are designed, assembled, and tested.
I’m an engineer by trade. I’ve worked across aerospace and defence for over a dozen years now and few engineering facilities I’ve visited come close to the level of quality I witnessed at Öhlins.
They’re a company where the engineers rule the roost, the products speak for themselves, and the marketing is done by winning topflight motorsport races. Where teams buy their suspension from Öhlins because the raw performance is the best available.
More recently Öhlins have branched out into mountain biking. You may have noticed Loic Bruni and his rainbow jersey winning from time to time on an Öhlins DH38 fork and TTX22M rear shock. Racing success is certainly something they’re used to here at Öhlins.
The Specialized Gravity partnership isn’t just about winning. It’s a major development and testing process for Öhlins. How better to develop the best suspension products in the world than to test and develop them at the highest level of downhill mountain bike racing?
In developing their new XC suspension, Öhlins have partnered with the BMC Racing. Continuing their expected racing pedigree, Titouan Carod has won World Cup XCO races and finished second overall in 2022. Mighty impressive yet again.
XC Product Intro & Feature Summary
Ohlins new Öhlins RXC34 XC fork is based around the brand’s current 34mm chassis (Öhlins RXF 34 m.2 review here) with completely new spring and damper internals specifically designed for the rigours of cross-country racing.
The 34mm chassis is intended to be stiff enough to deliver race winning performance in topflight cross-country racing. Things have moved on in recent years with 120mm travel bikes and 2.4in tyres becoming the norm as tracks get increasingly technical. There are 100/110/120mm travel versions of the fork that will be available with a regular aluminium crown and steerer or a lightweight integrated carbon crown and steerer option which saves ~100g.
The Öhlins RXC34 fork air spring is all new and designed with seated pedalling sensitivity in mind at the start of the travel ramping up to bottom out resisting support at the end of the stroke. The new larger negative air spring is a key feature that’s helped achieve this.
The new TXC1Air shock features a smaller tapered air can and is primarily designed for bikes with the shock-under-top tube arrangement with tight clearance. The TXC2Air shock features a larger volume air can for frames with more generous clearance.
The air springs in each shock are easily tuneable for volume and stroke and are available in the relevant trunnion and eyelet mountings up to 210x55mm.
Both fork and shock dampers are based around the brands TTX damper which uses twin tube damping technology to isolate adjustment crossover when dealing with different shaft speed inputs. Öhlins considered and tested the use of simpler, lighter damper designs but the TTX offers a significant performance advantage despite the additional complexity. One of the key features of the rear shock is an additional ‘serial shim stack’ on the low-speed compression circuit where conventionally there would only be a bleed valve. This has allowed Öhlins to tune the low-speed characteristics of the shock for seated pedalling whilst creating a supportive shock for pumping speed from the terrain.
Another feature of both the fork and shock is the 3-position lever with open, pedal and locked modes. Each of the three modes can either be manually switched via a lever directly at the fork/shock or by Öhlins new 3-position bar mounted lever.
The new lever is intuitive to use and can switch between each of the modes quickly and simply. The cable pull ratio has been engineered so that you can use other 3-position levers on the market if you have a preference. There is an adaptor kit to enable this.
First Ride Review
First impressions are good and after the factory tour, expectations are high. Having ridden plenty of XC suspension, I’m aware of some of the compromises that exist in the market.
It can often be difficult to find the sweet-spot with short travel suspension aimed at pedalling efficiency and traction. I’ve often found that these setups can be lacking in pumping support as well as unexpected big hit control. On/off lockouts are also a bit of a turn off for me, especially the ones that are sprung to lock by default.
Öhlins prepared us their entire test stock of the new products across a range of bikes. I located myself a maroon Specialized Epic Evo with the bar operated ride mode lever and hit the trails.
We were riding at a Swedish trail centre of sorts. The kind of place you might find a cross country race. There isn’t a lot of elevation whilst at the same time there is constant undulation across granite slabs, roots, gravel berms, wooden ladders and jumps.
First lap of the trails is in fully open mode. The fork responds to sharp roots with the tsst-tsst-tsst sounds of a hard worked damper. All I can feel at the bars is dull aftershock of the terrain I can see in front of me.
The shock is very similar in its high speed chattery bump response. Both ends of the bike are more than capable of providing the supple ride required to pedal, seated or standing, over chattery terrain.
There are lots of short sharp climbs which require some significant out of the saddle pedalling inputs. Support and traction are excellent. The serial shim stack in the low-speed compression circuit is making its presence felt and keeping the back of the bike stable despite my wallowing legs.
I decide to do some repeated testing on a few sections of trail and work out how good the pedal mode is. The Öhlins engineers are particularly proud of how they’ve managed to tune this feature of the fork and shock.
A few back and forth runs across a particularly rooty section of trail in open mode and then pedal mode and I can hardly tell the difference in the bump response. In pedal mode it feels that 90% of the supple traction remains.
I head over to another section of trail with jumps and compressions as well as some optional gaps over the granite slabs. Again, the suppleness remains but this time I can feel a huge increase in support when pumping up take-offs and through compressions as well as when getting out of the saddle and sprinting.
As a subjective estimate I’d say there’s a ~40% gain in low-speed support for a ~10% trade off in suppleness. Overall, the pedal mode is excellent and certainly much more useful and less compromised than I was expecting.
Towards the end of the session, I took to lapping a section of the trails with some bigger features. Getting carried away on one of the drops followed by a gas-to-flat tabletop proved that I couldn’t really find a chink in the performance of Öhlins new products.
The ‘big hit’ performance on landings and overshooting jumps is very good. Not quite the same sensation as with a long travel setup but very good for a short travel machine. That last 20% of travel really ramping up in terms of spring support to prevent a harsh bottom out as well as the high-speed compression taking the sting out of the situation and keeping me right side up.
I’m mighty impressed with what Öhlins have managed to achieve with their new products. Although, bearing in mind how the brand operates with their methodical engineering led approach to problems and vast damping expertise, it’s a predictable outcome.
We have a Öhlins RXC34 fork and TXC Air shock on the way to us as we speak for a more thorough testing. Watch this space.
Oh, here’s the full press release…
Öhlins enters the Cross Country Product Sector Unveiling Premium Performance Orientated Range
New XC range from Öhlins boasts superior handling and precise steering, enabling riders to push their limits on the most challenging XCO tracks.
8 June 2023, Upplands Väsby, Sweden: Öhlins today announce the launch of their long awaited XC range with the debut of the Öhlins RXC34 m.1 forks, TXC1Air and TXC2Air shocks. Building on their racing success and category leading product in the Enduro and Downhill categories, the brand is now utilising their wide experience in technology development and broadening their product offering into the XC segment.
Öhlins core focus on racing and innovation saw the unveiling of its partnership with Team BMC Racing earlier this year, this has already provided the perfect space for Öhlins to further develop their technology and create the next generation of race winning products.
Several new technologies including air spring design and serial shim stack have been packaged together with race proven inventions including a floating axle and Öhlins signature stiff chassis. It has already been tested by Team BMC with a real focus to perform on the technical tracks in Paris at the 2024 Olympics.
Suspension innovations have resulted in a new damping system for both the front fork and rear shock. The Öhlins RXC34 fork boasts a new OTX14 damper and an updated 2-chamber air spring. This system provides next level traction and wheel control in a stiff chassis with a superior feel and excellent handling. In the racing environment, the suspension allows the bike to efficiently absorb the terrain and maintain rider momentum.
Bringing twin tube technology to XC for ultimate performance and rear wheel control. TXCAir is highly adjustable with race proven setting bank to match rider style and bike linkage.
- Hydraulics optimized for XC racing with serial shim stacks
- 3 ride modes developed and tested to save seconds on the race track
- Rider friendly volume spacer system to adjust air spring progressiveness
- Reducers can easily be installed to adjust stroke
- Lighter, slimmer and more progressive TXC1Air
- Larger, more versatile TXC2Air
- Remote and manual control options
- Manual control option adding 16 clicks of LSC
- 12 clicks of rebound
- TXC1Air available in 165/190 – 37.5/40 and 185/210 – 47.5/50
- TXC2Air available in 165/190 – 37.5/40/42.5/45 and 185/210 – 47.5/50/52.5/55
- TXC1Air from 245g
- TXC2Air from 255g
Öhlins RXC34 m.1
Lightweight OTX14 damper.
- Highly adjustable with race proven setting bank to match rider style and bike
- Hydraulics optimized for XC racing
- 3 ride modes developed and tested to save seconds on the race track
- Up to 5 positive volume spacers to adjust progressiveness (depending on travel)
- Up to 7 negative spacers to adjust initial sensitivity
- Race version in 100mm with carbon crown at 1476g
- 110/120mm carbon version at 1496g.
- 110/120mm aluminum version at 1598g (100mm version will be available later)
- Remote and manual control option
- Manual control option adding 12 clicks of LSC
- 12 clicks of rebound
These developments give riders extra confidence to push even harder and go even faster, with the stiff chassis and pedal platform giving efficient power transfer, there is also an adjustable settings bank which can be tailored to suit the rider, the bike and the track. The three ride modes, open, pedal and lock out have been developed in parallel for front and rear to create balance on the bike whether descending in rough terrain, climbing or sprinting.
Thomas Westfeldt, Product Manager MTB at Öhlins said: “This range has been in development for a long time, not only is it raced at the highest level, it’s now also available for XC riders around the world. Our focus on performance enables riders to have the confidence to go faster while being in control, on XCO tracks and on weekend rides”.
|Product:||RXC34 m.1 Air, TXC1, TXC2 Air|
|Price:||£1,310 (£1,485 Carbon Air), £609, £609|
|Tested:||by Rhys Wainwright for|
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