Words by Adam Englander
With almost 50 years in the suspension game, Öhlins has become known for crafting some of the most beautiful and high performing products on the market. Their signature gold can be seen on everything from motocross and street bikes, to mountain bikes and cars. Basically, if it has wheels and suspension, Öhlins has a product for you.
Needless to say, when Öhlins asked if we were interested in testing their product, it took me all of about 2 seconds to scream, Hell Yes! First up was the RXF36 m.2 TTX Coil fork. Available in both coil and air, I opted for the coil version as I had never tried a coil fork and felt it was time to change that.
Coming in stealth black, the fork looks sleek and mean. The gold decals and air top cap really stand out and speak to the quality of the product. The thing just feels and looks solid, no cheap plastic or anything like that. And for what you are paying, that should be expected. One of the coolest features of this fork is the interchangeability of everything. Riders can swap back and forth between air and coil forever due to the design of the cartridge and air spring. This is a pretty damn cool option considering most aftermarket conversion kits and forks don’t allow you to go back to air once you convert. Not the case with the RXF.
The fork can also change travel between 120mm - 180mm for the air, and between 120mm - 170mm for the coil version. The offset of the fork can be adjusted as well by swapping the CSU. They also used the TTX air cartridge which is the same one they use in the DH fork, only this version has been tuned for trail use.
The RXF36 has 36mm diameter stanchions, the same as the Fox 36 that it was replacing. As far as stiffness, I would say the two are pretty damn close but I will give the slight edge to the RXF on this one. It also features a threaded fender mount on the bridge so you can mount a fender if you ride in muddy or wet terrain. Tire clearance has also been improved since the last version of the fork. Now, 27.5 riders can fit up to a 3.2” tire and 29 up to a 2.8.” For the record, I am running a 2.5 Assegai upfront with no issue at all.
Ohlins was nice enough to send us their fork and coil shock. For this review though, we will only be focusing on the RXF36 fork. I mounted it to my Yeti SB150 which comes stock with Fox suspension. Ohlins offers 7 different springs for the RXF fork, I weigh around 170lb and was set up with the stock spring intended for a 180lb rider with a rate of 55lbs/in.
We only swapped out the fork to start as I wanted to really focus on how much of a difference it felt from stock.
The first ride out was on some fairly mellow local trails with a few chunky downhill sections. As far as climbing, I did notice the extra weight slightly but became used to it within 5 minutes or so. Traction on the climb felt great, the bike felt planted and stable which made climbing a breeze. The same was true on the descents, wherever I pointed the front wheel, the bike went there like a rocket ship. Off the top feel was extremely smooth and predictable. Again, I had never tried a coil fork before so my first ride on this thing was a pretty eye-opening experience.
I have now spent just over a month riding the RXF fork on my bike and have been more and more impressed after each ride. I really want to avoid calling the RXF supple, but damn this thing is buttery! Sure it doesn’t have the same pop of an air fork, but I expected that going in and was totally fine compromising there. Besides, I am not really the kind of rider that likes to jump and send it off of everything. For me, being able to smash anything in my path is so damn satisfying and exactly what this fork is great at.
Not only did the fork enhance my ride and make it more enjoyable, but the confidence gain was next level. I found myself looking for new drops and hard lines more often and going through them easier than ever before. Since installing the fork on my SB150, I have earned personal records on all of my local trails. Coincidence? I think not.
Now for the question you all have been asking...how does it compare to the Fox 36? Well, right away I will tell you that it is heavier and more expensive. But, if you are looking for a top of the line long travel fork that can go between coil and air, there is no better option. To be fair though, I have not tried a Fox 36 with a coil conversion kit which would be a much more even comparison. That being said, I truly enjoyed riding the Ohlins and for the type of riding I like to do, I found it to be more fun, comfortable, and confidence-inspiring.
If you are looking for a long travel fork that can swap between coil and air, this is your fork. I really didn’t know what to expect going into this review and came away loving the Ohlins RXF36. The build quality is on point and swapping to a coil fork was the exact change I was looking for. Yes, it is a bit pricey, but damn did it make riding more fun! And at the end of the day, isn’t that what it’s all about?