In the “The Lab” we present the latest products and put them through their paces for you. Some undergo long-term tests, while we check others out only briefly. This time we reveal how the Öhlins RXF 36 Coil Fork fared.
Once all but forgotten, coil sprung suspension has been seeing a revival in the trail and enduro sector, marking you out as a ‘rebel fully committed to gravity shredding’. In rear shocks, under great loads, coil can offer many advantages, with less friction inducing seals the spring can move fluidly through its travel with a high level of sensitivity, but does it still work well in forks? Öhlins thinks so, offering their 29er RXF chassis with a coil spring option, available in 140, 150 and 160 mm travel lengths with a 51 mm offset and using their tried-and-tested TTX damper. After spending 6 months on the RFX 36 air sprung fork, UK tester Trev was super excited to try this fork with coil internals. With 7 spring rates available, at 80 kg, pretty much an average rider weight, Trev did not foresee any issues finding a spring rate to suit. Trev started with the 9.7 N/mm 55 lb/in white wrapped spring targeted at a 82 kg rider weight.
The fork broke in almost instantly, smooth and sensitive out of the box, the sag was 19% so seemed about right with just a tiny addition of preload. The RXF coil was beautifully smooth around the sag point, moving through its travel effortlessly with a near frictionless feeling. The RXF chassis is very stiff, holding a line like a cat running on velcro, offering eye-popping cornering. However, after a lot of testing and adjusting the compression damping Trev could not get the fork to deliver the mid-stroke support he wanted. When pushing hard on steep terrain the fork felt too linear, running low in its travel and upsetting the balance of the bike. Closing the low-speed and high-speed compression damping down further than desired did improve the balance of the fork a little but then robbed it of its buttery smoothness. Switching to the 10.6N/mm 60 lb/in spring targeted at 91 kg rider provided much more support at high speeds and over hard trails but was ‘oversprung’ and harder on the hands, even huge hits did not deliver full travel. It may have been that Trev was between the spring rates, but lacking the ability to adjust the progressivity with tokens like the best air forks, he just could not find the perfect setup. While the superb feel and reliability of the fork were unquestioned, with air forks now offering superb ‘coil-like feel’ and adjustability, switching back to the simple coil seemed like a step backwards, not an upgrade.
The Öhlins RXF 36 Coil delivers beautifully smooth travel that is sensitive and easy to set up. However for riders looking for support for aggressive riding we would choose The RXF 36 air model everytime.
- Very sensitive
- Stiff and powerful chassis
- Limited adjustability
- Mid stroke support underwhelming
Duration: 6 months
Price: € 1,235
Weight: 2,295 g (with 9.7 spring)
More info: ohlins.com
This article is from ENDURO issue #033
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