Each year suspension designers try to come up with new designs and suspension improvements for mountain bike forks. It is easy to see why this product area of mountain biking is so hotly contested each year. Your suspension, be it front or rear, is a major part of your bike that can very dynamically change your riding style, pleasure, and confidence out on the trail. Your suspension is also an easy part to change out when you want to upgrade. While new frames cost a lot of money to upgrade, a new fork isn’t nearly as expensive and can easily breathe new life into an older frame.
To ring in the new year I’ve created a 2014 mountain bike fork guide that highlights the best 29er products available. I’m going to cover all of the manufacturers highlighting their unique features and models you should look closely at. This will be a multiple part article that I link together in the table of contents as I progress. Be sure to check back often to see each new page. If you have any personal experience with theses mountain bike forks, feel free to comment. We’d love to hear what you have to say.
2014 29er Mountain Bike Fork Guide Table Of Contents
- FOX Racing Shox
- White Brothers
2014 FOX Racing Shox 29er Fork Guide
For 2014 FOX went back to the drawing board to fix their CTD damper. A lot of riders were not happy with the 2013 model because it over used its travel in a lot of situations. For 2014 they also introduced a hydraulic TALAS system that was independent of the air spring to control high and low travel spring curves.
Quick and dirty details of FOX’s 2014 29 fork line:
- FOX offers 29er forks in 100mm-120mm-140mm travel models with 32mm stanchions
- For 2014 FOX also has a 140mm travel fork with 34mm stanchions
- All 29er models offer an air spring with a few TALAS 2 position travel adjust models
- Forks are available with 1.5 taper steerer or 1 1/8″ steerer on some models (some just 1.5 taper)
- Options for both 9mm and 15QR axles are available on models
2014 29er Fork Features:
- iCD – iCD is FOX’s new handlebar mounted electronic lockout toggle that switches a fork between climbing and descending mode
CTD (Climb, Trail, Descend) Mode – This is FOX’s compression damping mode adjustment. When set to Climb mode the low speed compression is set firmest. The Climb mode of each fork is set up specifically for the amount of travel for the fork. Less travel means firmer riding. In Trail mode the low speed compression is a bit less firm to strike a balance between efficiency and tackling terrain. In Descend mode the low speed compression is wide open for a plush ride and large obstacle tackling.
- Trail Adjust – Trail Adjust allows you to tune the Trail setting of the fork to the level of compression you prefer in this mode. You can set it to soft, medium, or firm.
- New Hydraulic TALAS System – For 2014 FOX completely rebuilt their TALAS adjustable travel system. They have now made the air spring independent of the TALAS system. With the new system FOX is able to modify the spring curve in both short and long travel modes, allowing each mode to respond to the trail for the specific ride height. A nifty side benefit of this new system is there is only one seal compared to 3 in the previous version. This allows the fork to more easily move through it travel without stichion.
How Does This Transfer To The Trail?
I mentioned at the top that riders really didn’t like the compression damping on the 2013 version of the CTD damper. For 2014 they’ve firmed up the compression in all settings to allow riders to have a much more controlled feel to the suspension. When you ride this fork it’s easy to tell the firmer compression while descending (the fork doesn’t dive nearly as easily) and when you’re sprinting or climbing because it smooths out harsh fork inputs. The feel is a lot more confidence inspiring and allows the fork to be ridden harder and faster than last year’s model.
When they tweaked the TALAS system they also tweaked the air spring in these forks. The end of the stroke has much more ramp, which works with the compression settings to give the fork a nice controlled feel when tackling rough terrain using a lot of travel in the fork. As I mentioned in the TALAS update, the fork now only has one seal instead of three which can easily be felt on the trail as being more supple than previous fork versions.
My Top 3 2014 FOX Racing Shox 29er Forks:
Racey – 32 FLOAT 29 100 FIT iCD (buy at Wrench Science)
Mid-Travel Trail – 32 FLOAT 29 120 FIT CTD w/Trail Adjust (buy at JensonUSA)
Long Travel Enduro/All-Mountain – 34 TALAS 29 140 FIT CTD w/Trail Adjust (buy at JensonUSA)
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