Fox Racing Shox brought a prototype cross-country fork with an investment-cast, integrated 6/4 alloy titanium steerer tube and fork crown to the Lapierre bike launch in the French Alpine town of Les Gets. The prototype fork, called the Float Ti will be seen as soon as September 2011 in production and on the World Cup racing circuit this season, but that is about all the information Fox officials were willing to commit to. Well, almost all. Pinkbike asked a lot of questions about the technology surrounding the fork - some of which were answered. The weight of the new fork is stated to be 1300 grams (2.866 pounds) with an uncut steerer tube in the RLC configuration. (update) Prices will range from $1240 to $1310 depending upon features options.
Fox 32 Float Ti Fork Specifications
-Purpose: Pro XC racing
-Travel: 80, 100, 120 mm
-Damper options: RLC FIT, Terralogic FIT, Remote RLC FIT
-Features: Magnesium Sliders, Kashima coated 32 mm aluminum stanchion tubes, SKF seals, One-piece titanium steerer and crown
-1.5-inch tapered steerer only
-Post type brake-caliper mounts
-15QR through-axle or 9mm slotted axle options
-Weight: 1300 grams (2.866 pounds) in RLC configuration.
-Price: $2140/1310 USD
Of course, Float Ti forks will sport super-slippery Kashima-coated tapered aluminum stanchion tubes and their new SKF seals. Fox says that only a tapered, 1.125 x 1.5-inch steerer will be offered, as the integrated crown design depends upon the larger base diameter to provide strength and stiffness at the fork's reduced weight. The steerer/crown is a thin investment casting compared with the standard forged-aluminum items. That and the gray matte finish of the bare titanium uppers are a sure giveaway that this is no regular Fox XC slider.
Look for this sticker at World Cup XC races near you. Reportedly, Adam Craig has been racing one during the development stages. The projected debut of the production 32 Float Ti is said to be Fall of 2011.
The inside of the Float Ti fork crown/steerer assembly is hollow and close inspection reveals very thin walls throughout the casting. The reduced diameter under the crown better transfers stress across the crown structure.
Fox states that the 6/4 alloy titanium casting is no off-the-shelf product and that the maker is in the USA, perhaps in Oregon. Those who know the gray metal intimately will tell you that making a strong, repeatable part from titanium is as much a function of controlling the alloy as it is manipulating the material through the manufacturing process. Fox gave no direct answer regarding the use of carbon fiber for the crown/steerer assembly as compared to titanium, but we can speculate that metal parts can be manufactured and tested in a repeatable, more controllable manner. We shall get the whole story soon enough.
Up close and personal, the Float Ti fork crown and steerer look unmistakably different than the stock aluminum two-piece items that grace the present Fox fork lineup. Forks will come with an expander-wedge because a star-nut is not recommended. Other goodies include a Kashima coated cap with a titanium bolt.
Will the Float Ti fork create any new problems for dealers, OEM bike makers or riders? Fox says that you'll need something better than a cheesy pipe cutter or a rusty hack saw to cut the steerer to length. Abrasive-appliqued hack saw blades are sold at industrial hardware stores that will make short work of titanium tubes, but unprepared bike mechanics will certainly get a thrill the first time they give it a go. Abrasive cut-off blades will do the task also, but that''s a lot of noise and hazard for a bike shop.Pinkbike's Take on the Fox Float Ti fork
Fox is known for thinking its new developments through, so we can be sure that the new one-piece titanium steerer and crown have been in the works for a long time. As XC racing is on the far horizon for Pinkbike readers, the new Float Ti fork is not going to move the needle too much for us, but the reality that the titanium brings to the AM, park and trail segment of the suspension market is that a development like this could bring the weight of the Fox 36 160 or 180 fork down - and that is a development that would interest a whole lot of us.
Contact Fox Racing Shox to watch the development of the Float Ti fork series as it goes through racing trials and initial production. If you have any thoughts on the benefits of an integrated titanium steerer and crown, don't be afraid to lay down some opinion.
The new fork looks very striking with its new uppers. Titanium weighs roughly half way between steel and aluminum, and it is nearly as strong as structural steel alloys, so it only takes a little titanium to produce a very strong, lightweight part - providing all is engineered well.