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Over The Bars

Gear Review: Fox F80X
By Rob Manning

Fork You!

2007 Fox F80X
80mm of TerraLogic Intelligence
Weight: 3.52 lbs
32mm stanctions
Air Spring/ Oil Damping
International Standard Disc

Letís cut to the chase- youíre wondering if dropping 8 bills on the F80X will provide the missing ingredient thatís been keeping you from the podium. Or at the very least, can it improve the experience of tearing up your favorite ribbon of singletrack? It just so happens that the crew from MBT has been wondering the same thing. We slapped a fresh F80X on our Felt RXC Elite (hardtail) and went out to find some answers.

The F80Xís main spring is quite tunable so long as you feel comfortable wielding the air pump to add and remove pressure in small increments until you get the feel youíre looking for. After the pressure is set, all you need to adjust externally are the rebound and the TerraLogic bump threshold. Once set, the fork doesnít require a whole lot of tweaking. It took us about 45 minutes to get the F80X exactly where we wanted it and we didnít have to touch it again.

So whatís the deal with the much-hyped TerraLogic you wonder? Fox devised an internal inertia valve that responds to terrain feedback. In other words the fork locks itself out on smooth terrain but switches to fully active mode (on the fly) as the front tire encounters bumps. Does it work? Yeah it does but itís not for everyone.

Hopping on a F80X equipped bike is a genuinely cross country inspired sensation- especially in the sprinting department. Go ahead and mash the pedals in the small chain ring, stand up and give the cranks all youíve got, the front of the bike remains firm and floaty. Itís not quite rigid-fork firm (we estimate about 7mm of travel are at your disposal, even when locked out) but itís pretty darn close. Once the speeds begin to increase, donít devote a whole lot of focus dodging obstacles or waste a lot of time selecting the smoothest line around the course, the F80X literally snaps into active mode once the terrain starts demanding it. However we must point out that the transition is by no means instantaneous even in the softest settings of the bump thresholdís adjustability range. The first bump in a series of uneven terrain is likely going to jam up into your wrists before the F80X slips into active mode. There were times that we actually managed to skip across a section of multiple bumps and dips without the TerraLogic valve bothering to take note.

Make no mistake though, once engaged the F80X feels wonderfully active and plush. Fox manages to make the most of what is quickly becoming considered a little bit of travel. However, getting the fork to release can sometimes become a bone jarring affair. While we didnít experience it ourselves, many riders at the trailhead complained of perpetually leaking seals (even after service directly from Fox). Our unit exhibited the typical oil seepage around the dust wipers at the end of a long ride, but nothing that we havenít witnessed in forks from all of the major brands.

Once the rider becomes accustomed to the fact that the first bump in lock-out is going to be a bit of a wake-up call, the F80X becomes a worthy companion. The main benefit is that it requires none of the dial turning/ lever flipping that most lock-out forks demand. Simply point the bike in the direction you want to go and mash away. The F80X wonít hold the downward push of your pedaling against you. Just donít expect the same kind of compliance that comes with fully active forks.

Fox Racing Shox- Website
MSRP: $775

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