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Ohlins RXF 36

os·cil·late – move or swing back and forth at a regular speed.

I purchased a 2017 S-Works Fuse just over 3 months ago. I was stoked to have a 6fattie hardtail that was lighter, included a SWAT Door and the new SRAM Eagle group. However, my excitement was ultimately around trying the recently released Ohlins RXF 36 fork that came stock on the bike. My first impression was a bit of a head scratcher as it did not feel like other forks that I had ridden and acted differently than I expected. I liked it, it was just different.

Having spent the last 3 months pummeling this fork with everything I could possible think of as it is attached to my go-to bike, I must say that I LOVE this fork. It is the only suspension component I have ever used that literally made it so I could ride faster. My personal comparison, the same trail on my Fuse vs my Stumpjumper FSR with a Fox 34, I can go faster and feel more confident with my hardtail thanks to the Ohlins fork.

Technical Mumbo Jumbo
xrxf36_4539564550.jpg.pagespeed.ic.lRNnZHUvhKThe RXF 36 is similar to the RXF 34 that Ohlins released a couple of years ago just with larger diameter stanchions. It still has the Uni-crown steerer which allows for a stiffer fork while reducing weight. It also has the same TTX or twin tube technology of its smaller brother for damping and a three chamber air spring. This fork uses the same axle and hub system as their motorcycle forks which keeps the fork legs square with the crown at all times, regardless of how tight the axle is or if the hub has some manufacturing variations.

Let’s start with TTX. This technology encorporates two twin tubes for the damper allowing for parallel and separate oil flow. What that means for the rider is that the fork will ride higher in the travel while maintaining optimum bump absorption for great traction and control. It also allows for fully independent high and low speed bump adjustment via the external compression knobs both located on the top of the fork. The external rebound adjustment is found at the bottom of the same leg.

The three chamber air spring allows for the ultimate in fork rate adjustment and all you need is a regular shock pump. The main air chamber consists of a positive and self-balancing negative chamber. This is where you would set your regular preload feel or sag of the fork. There is a third and entirely separate chamber access on the bottom of the air spring that adjusts the ramp up of the fork. What this means, is you can fine tune the spring rate of the fork. Without going to deep into nerdom, with a simple change of air pressure you can make this fork feel however you want. Run it with a low pressure in the main chamber for amazing small bump compliance and more sag while adding to the ramp up chamber to keep from bottoming out. And the possibilities are almost endless.

Initial Impressions

The first thing you will notice when you start playing with this fork is how smooth and plush it feels. Regardless of the settings out of the box, you push, it moves. This is by far the most stictionless fork I have ever seen and I’ve been around the block more than a couple of times. In addition to that smoothness, the build quality of the fork will jump out at you. The knobs are precisely machined CNC aluminum and the click pressure is perfect. It’s there, it’s positive so you know you are moving something, but it’s not so much that you will have any kind of problems adjusting while riding if needed.

Having played with the fork a ton, basically screwing around with every knob, air pressure and rebound setting I could, I recommend using the factory recommended settings found both in the owner’s manual as well as on the back of the fork leg. While playing with the air pressure, I would try something and then slowly move it in different directions and have ended spot on with the pressure they recommend. That doesn’t mean everyone is going to end up there, but they did their research to get you in the ball park so all you have to do is fine tune it.

Local Ride Review

My first ride, I was actually confused as I felt like the fork wasn’t doing anything. It felt like my handlebars just stayed in the same position, always. This was until I was able to watch the lowers of the fork and realize that the fork was working and that it was working so well that my bars weren’t moving at all. It took a sizeable bump to even feel that the fork had moved. I bring this up first as it is key to understanding what this fork can do.

When we begin talking about suspension, the easiest way to think about it is energy control. The suspension takes a hit, absorbing the energy and then rebounding to full extension to do it again. This is the typical way we think about suspension forks. However, if you look at suspension more along the lines of what it is supposed to do, you begin to talk about traction and keeping the wheel on the ground. When suspension does its job correctly, there should be minimal movement at the handlebars (obviously big hits will create motion) while keeping the wheel on the ground to maintain traction giving the rider better control.

Almost all suspension forks on the market today, do the typical suspension thing well. You push down, they absorb and rebound. Where the RXF 36 blows them out of the water is through multiple, hard hits at high speeds. This is where that TTX comes into play. The flow and control of oil within the damper allow the fork to oscillate at extremely high speeds when needed. This means it floats between bottoming out and fully extended, allowing the fork to both absorb the bumps while being ready for the next one. When you bombing down chunky rocks like you would find on Paradise or City Creek, the fork keeps the wheel on the ground and minimizes handlebar movement giving me the ability to ride faster and feel more confident due to the increased control.

The chunkier and faster you ride this fork the more it shines. Places where I would find myself white-knuckled and looking to scrub some speed are now some of my favorite sections of trail. For example, on City Creek riding from the Northwest Red Hills Parkway stepover, you have a short climb. This climb is followed by a rocky, steep descent. Nothing too technical but chunky enough that high speeds can be difficult to achieve. Every ride since getting this fork, I have gone faster and faster. I no longer keep the one finger on the brake lever, just lettin’ ‘er rip.

The triple chamber air spring allows for the fork to be tuned so that fork rides higher in the travel. This gives you a better climbing fork as well, keeping the bars from diving under heavy efforts. Plus, as I have mentioned a million times, it keeps the wheel on the ground.

I’ve fallen so head-over-hills in love with this fork that I just picked up the new S-works Enduro to give a longer travel one a try. I don’t think I can praise Ohlins enough for what they have pulled off. The RXF 36 gets a huge stamp of approval.

Written by Lukas Brinkerhoff


3 Responses to “Ohlins RXF 36”

  1. Frank on 13 Feb 2017 at 7:08 am

    And a proper offset for a 29er (51mm).

  2. Kyle on 20 Jun 2017 at 12:09 am

    Have you had to have the fork serviced yet? If so, how do the process and cost compare to Fox products?

  3. Lukas on 20 Jun 2017 at 9:49 am

    Yes, I have. Complete damper service is about the same as Fox. Their lip seals are a bit more expensive, but tend to last longer and are smoother. So it’s a trade off.

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