OHLINS RXF 29ER FORK
New suspension from moto technology
About Öhlins: The Swedish suspension
company was founded and is still owned
by Kenth Öhlin. Öhlins has been building
suspension components for both two-
and four-wheel performance machines
“the Öhlins way” from the beginning.
The Öhlins’ way means manufacturing
high-performance shocks that can take a
standard bike or car and deliver the same
suspension performance you would expect
from a factory-level machine. The moder-
ately sized company has 280 employees,
and its products are distributed throughout
About the fork: The new RXF 34 is
designed for 29er trailbikes. Öhlins used
the Specialized Camber, Stumpjumper and
Enduro models for testing and development. The fork is available in 120-, 140-
and 160-millimeter versions designed specifically for these models from Specialized.
Everything is held together with a unique,
forged uni-crown for improved stiffness,
The damper uses Öhlins’ patented twin-
tube TTX technology, which was previously
only available for shocks. The twin tube
design enables parallel and separate oil
flow to provide optimal pressure at all
times. Essentially, the designers built this
fork to control the pressure levels through-
out the stroke to provide small-bump
compliance, mid-stroke support, bump
absorption and improved front-end traction.
The RXF also features low- and high-speed
compression, which are externally adjust-
able and easy to access.
There are several unique features on this
Öhlins fork. Most notably, the spring curve
can easily be adjusted via the multiple air
chambers. The fork’s sculpted uni-crown
design eliminates the need for a headset
crown race. The new RXF 34 fork from
Öhlins is available through Specialized retail
shops and sells for $1150. Our 140-
millimeter test fork tipped the scales at
2110 grams, with the steerer tube cut for
our Intense Carbine 29er test bike.
Field test results: We set up the RXF
to the specifications shown on the pressure
table on the back of the fork leg and found
the settings to be surprisingly spot-on.
With 115 psi in the main chamber and
170 in the bottom-out chamber, the fork
felt ready for the trail at 25 percent sag,
which matched the setup of our test bike
perfectly. We then set the compression and
rebound adjustments to the middle of their
ranges and hit the trail.
The first thing we noticed was the
unusual setup of the air spring and compression chambers. They’re reversed.
Whereas you normally find the lockout,
compression and rebound adjustments on
the right side of the fork, they’re on the
left with the Öhlins. This took some getting
used to, but ultimately didn’t affect performance once we acclimated to reaching
down with our left hand to make adjustments on the fly.
The RXF fork feels buttery smooth over
small bumps right out of the box and really
needs no time for the bushings to break
in. Over the course of the test this but-tery-smooth feel remained consistent. The
fork feels very reactive over small bumps
and active when you want it to be. The
chassis is also impressively stiff, probably
thanks to the one-piece crown assembly
and machined stanchion tubes.
The damper adjustments are powerful
and present a broad range of useful control. The low-speed compression damper
can be turned up to make the fork ride
noticeably higher in the travel without
affecting the overall small-bump sensitivity
much. The high-speed compression adjustment is the one you’ll find yourself using
on the fly more. It can firm the fork to near
lock-out mode for climbing and open to full
plushness with a quick turn of the knob.
The twin-tube technology sounds complicated, and internally it is; however, Öhlins
has done a great job keeping the user input
easy to manage.
The most useful adjustment we found
was the second air chamber (the bottom-out chamber). Initially, we felt the fork
dove through its travel a bit too easily for
the aggressive riding we were doing. With
only a few strokes of a shock pump we
were able to give the fork more resistance
toward the bottom of the stroke, which