Van 36 air vs coil – opinions please.

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  • Van 36 air vs coil – opinions please.
  • wl

    Has the gap in performance narrowed so much that there’s no point opting for Vans over Floats in the 36 range? I’m in the market for some new forks and I’m trying to shed a bit of weight but not at the expense of plushness, big-hit capability and long-term reliability. Any views from Fox users? Ta.


    Air forks aren’t as plush as coils… so, will the weight difference *really* matter more than the extra ‘plushness’?


    Air forks are a lot better than they were and I am pretty impressed with the current range, although improved damping helps.

    It’s all down to weight really.


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    Just got a set of ’09 Van’s and they weigh exactly the same as my Pike coils. They’re waiting for a frame to arrive so no comments on the ride just yet. Ridden the floats a bit and they’re very nice and plush. I’ve gone coil for perceived reliability really.

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    I’m running some float 32s on my ht and van 36 on my big bike. No issue with either. If I was buying again, I’d be happy to get the float 32 and save a bit of weight.

    Get coils. Air is balls.


    just to confuse the issue 😳

    bos deville, work just as well as the float. (better imo but the last 36 i had was a 05/06) cheeper, lighter and need a service once a year, not every 20 hrs.


    I recently switched from a Rockshox Lyrik Coil to a Fox 36 Float. The Fox is the better all round fork, when I take into consideration the 1lb+ weight the Fox saves over the Lyrik, the performance of the damping and the stiffness of the fork.

    In a carpark test, you can tell the difference in ‘plushness’ between the air and the coil forks but out on the trail I prefer Float 36 to RS Coil Lyrik any day of the week.


    I’ve always used coil forks until my current 2010 36 Float RC2. I think they are a brilliant fork and have no hesitation in reccomending them.

    A front forks runs a far lower pressure and higher volume than a rear shock and I think thats why it works. I did read that the Float ramps up towards the end and thus you only get 155mm vs. the full 160mm available on the Van… but since I’ve never bottomed mine out with a clunk despite running a stupid low 45psi in them I can live with that.

    I bought the Floats having spoken to Mojo to confirm that if I hated them the springs from a Van can be shoved in (at a cost obviously). A year down the line and I don’t see me buying springs etc.

    I recently rode a friends Marz 55 RC3 Ti and we both agreed that my Floats felt worse in the car park but better on the trail… bizzare but true.

    I can’t say if the Float is better than the Van… but it is brilliant.

    PS – a friend with Deville’s really likes them – but prefers the plushness of the Float.


    I have both 36 Van RC2’s and 36 Float R’s. Initially the Vans were running a standard medium spring which felt a bit harsh over small bumps and only really got working when the going got tough. I swapped it out for a softer spring and while the small bump response improved I started suffering a bit of brake dive and some top out on f*cked up front heavy landings and big drop offs. Some but not all of these issues were dialled out using preload and high and low speed compression adjustment so I ended up with a custom ti spring. This made the world of difference and I ended up with an almost perfect fork.

    Last year, in a bid to save some weight I started using a rear air shock and I picked up a 2nd hand set of 36 Float R’s. My initial thoughts on the Floats were that they worked “ok” but weren’t in the same league as the Vans. However, after changing the oil and ensuring the seals were clean and foam rings lubed I noticed a big improvement in feel. I also played around with the air pressure and settled on 50-55 psi. I’ve now had the Floats for 9 months and I doubt I’ll go back to the Vans. The Floats have great small bump sensitivity yet handle the big descents just as well as the Vans did. I was worried that running them at such low pressure would introduce the dreaded brake dive and not having and compression adjustment might have been an issue but they’ve been fine.

    Neither fork has suffered any reliability issues but I do open the Floats every couple of months or so to check the foam rings and stanchions. The Vans rarely get touched other than for the odd oil change or seal replacement.


    After the fact of having a lighter front end, Float have the (perhaps) considerable advantage of being able to have a perfect spring weight. Moving from Marz’ 66 RC2X and RC3, my last two forks have been air – 36 RC2 and now on a 36 RLC – and I wouldn’t go back to coil spring.

    Well-damped (compression and rebound) air is just as consistent and predictable through its cycle as coil, it’s just different.


    Stuff I hear/read suggests the 2011 Floats have really narrowed the gap between air and coil, but if the gap hasn’t closed completely, I’ll probably opt for the coils.

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