Review: Öhlins New 2022 RXF38 M.2 Fork

Jul 22, 2021
by Seb Stott  
03.06.21. Pinkbike BikePark Wales Rider Seb Stott. PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography andylloyder

It's easy to wax lyrical about Öhlins' illustrious heritage in motorsport suspension, but the Swedish brand's move into mountain bike suspension forks hasn't been the tour de force many were expecting. Tight bushings, firm dampers, small negative volumes and a few reliability issues were serious flies in the ointment. With the RXF36 M.2 trail/enduro fork, Öhlins got into their stride. It was far suppler than the RXF36 EVO that preceded it and, along with the DH38 downhill fork, took the fight to the MTB industry incumbents.

Öhlins already brought out the RXF38 M.1 to compete with the Fox 38 and RockShox Zeb in the long-travel enduro/freeride/ebike market. That fork was OEM-only and used some parts borrowed from the RXF36 and DH38. The M.2, Öhlins say, was designed from the ground up with every part optimized for the application. So is it any good?

RXF38 Details
• Travel: 160, 170 or 180mm
• 29" only
• 44mm or 51mm offset
• 1.125/1.5" steerer (no 1.8" option)
• Air spring only (for now)
• External adjustments: low-speed rebound, low-speed compression, high-speed compression with lockout
• Three-chamber air spring with separate ramp up valve
• 200mm post mount (max rotor 220mm)
• Configuration tested: 170mm travel, 44mm offset
• Weight: 2,315 grams (actual, uncut steerer)
• MSRP: $1,350 USD / €1,238 (excluding tax)
www.ohlins.com

03.06.21. Pinkbike BikePark Wales Rider Seb Stott. PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography andylloyder
Plenty of tire clearance with a 2.5" Maxxis tire.

Design Details

Chassis
Aside from the obvious move to 38mm stanchions in a single crown fork, Öhlins were keen to emphasize the work they've done to fine-tune the flex pattern. The lowers are said to be a bespoke blend of the DH38 and RXF36, matching the stiffness of the lowers with the upper tubes and crown.

03.06.21. Pinkbike BikePark Wales Rider Seb Stott. PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography andylloyder
The axle clamps the hub against the brake side leg, without pushing the other leg against the hub. The pinch bolt then secures the leg to the floating axle.

The thru-axle is a floating design, where a step on the right hand side of the axle clamps the hub against the left hand leg as the axle is tightened. Then, a pinch bolt on the right hand leg clamps the axle to the other leg. This design ensures the legs remain exactly parallel no matter the tolerances or wear of the hub, and that should help keep friction that bit lower. There's no QR option, but both bolts use a 5mm Allen key and it only takes a few seconds to remove the wheel.

Finally, the RXF38 uses a 200mm post mount. That's no bad thing in my book - if you want to run a 180mm rotor you've probably got the wrong fork. With a 200mm rotor, the lack of an adapter and the shorter caliper bolts will save around 24g over a PM 180 fork. Although if you're fussed about 24g, it probably still isn't the fork for you.

TTX18 Compression Rebound Oil Flow

Damper
The M.2 houses the same twin-tube TTX18 damper used in the DH38 and RXF36. The 18 refers to the 18mm main piston diameter, which gives a lighter range of damping adjustment compared to the older 22mm piston, which really was on the brutal side. The external damping adjustment consists of low-speed rebound (16 clicks), low-speed compression (16 clicks) and high-speed compression adjustment. Unusually, the firmest of four high-speed settings acts as a lockout, leaving three high-speed options for descending. If that's not enough tuning for you (for most people it will be), Öhlins have a range of alternative valving tunes which can be fitted through their service center partners.

3 Chamber 2 Piston Air Spring

Air Spring
The cartridge spring is the same three-chamber design Öhlins have been using for years, but for the RXF38, the negative spring volume is a little bigger to soften the beginning stroke somewhat. The negative volume can be tuned with plastic volume spacers if you want a more "old-school" air spring feel with a firmer start to the stroke. The fork I have came with no negative volume spacers and I felt no need to add any.

The three chamber design is similar to Manitou's IRT or EXT's HS3 air spring system in that there's a third chamber with a separate valve to control the progressiveness. But in Öhlins' case, the ramp up chamber is housed in the air shaft and adjusted at the bottom of the fork, rather than the top.

The main spring has two chambers - a positive chamber above the piston and a negative chamber below. A transfer port allows the pressures to self-equalize at the right point in the travel so the ratio of pressures, and therefore the spring curve, is the same for riders at any point on the weight spectrum. So far, so normal. But while most forks use plastic volume spacers (tokens) to decrease the volume of the positive chamber, thereby increasing the compression ratio and making it harder to bottom-out, three chamber forks instead use a ramp up chamber. This works a bit like a volume spacer which reduces in volume as the fork compresses. How much and how early it shrinks in size depends on the pressure in the ramp up chamber relative to the main chamber.

When set up correctly, the air pressure in the ramp up chamber is somewhere around double that in the main spring at the start of the travel. This forces an internal floating piston (IFP) to the top of the ramp up chamber, so it takes up the maximum volume of the positive chamber. But when the fork compresses to the point where the main spring pressure exceeds the ramp up chamber (somewhere in the middle of the travel), the IFP starts to slide down into the ramp up chamber. The higher the pressure in the ramp up chamber, the later in the stroke the IFP will start to move and the less it will move. This means the main positive chamber remains smaller, so the fork is more progressive. Decreasing the ramp up pressure has the opposite effect, making the fork less progressive.

This system has a couple of big advantages over volume spacers. Firstly, the progression can be adjusted in seconds on the trail side with a shock pump (no need to take the fork apart to add or remove tokens). Secondly, because the volume of the positive chamber increases as the fork moves deeper into its travel, the spring curve has more mid-stroke support relative to the bottom-out force. This should help address the common air spring problem of lacking mid-travel support while being hard to use full travel.

Öhlins use a self contained cartridge-style air spring, rather than using the stanchion wall as the air spring housing. This has a couple of advantages too. Firstly, it allows you to remove the air spring for servicing or to change travel (which requires a separate air spring) without having to take apart the fork. Just lay the fork horizontally to avoid oil escaping, deflate the spring, undo the top cap with a cassette tool, remove the foot nut with a spanner and pull the whole spring out. It takes just a couple of minutes to change travel, which could be useful for people who want one fork for different riding styles or terrain types. A second potential advantage is that you could swap back and forth between air and coil springs. Coil springs scratch the stanchion wall in use, so with a conventional air spring, once you go coil you can't go back. The self-contained air spring has no such issues, although Öhlins don't currently offer a coil spring for the RXF38.

03.06.21. Pinkbike BikePark Wales Rider Seb Stott. PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography andylloyder

Servicing
Öhlins recommend performing a basic lower leg service and oil bath change every 50 hours of riding. Every 100 hours or one year they recommend a full service including changing fork seals and bump stops, plus servicing the air spring and damper. The air spring service can be done at home but the damper must be serviced by an Öhlins service center.

The RXF38 M.2 uses 15ml of bath oil in each leg, with the damper side using damper oil instead of regular fork lubrication fluid, presumably in case oil makes its way into the damper during use. Interestingly, this isn't the case for the RXF36 M.2 or the RXF38 M.1, both of which use 10ml of lubricating oil in both legs. Öhlins say they've added a scraper seal to the RXF38 M.2's air spring to prevent lubricating oil from making its way into the spring. It's worth noting that the lower leg oil volumes are a bit higher in the RockShox Zeb (20ml in both legs) and Fox 38 (20ml in the spring side and 40ml in the damper side), which might result in a faster drop off in performance for the Öhlins fork, though I can't comment on this from personal experience because it depends on too many variables.

Objective Measurements

The RXF38 I have on test with a 44mm offset and 170mm travel weighs 2,315g with an uncut steerer; that sits in between the RockShox Zeb (2,297g) and Fox 38 (2,363g).

The axle to crown measures 583mm, which is just a hair shorter than the Fox 38 (585mm) and Zeb (588mm). I measured the full usable travel with the 170mm spring at 165mm. I did this by deflating the spring and fully bottoming the fork out, then I re-inflated and equalized the spring, put the bike in a stand so the front wheel was unweighted, then measured from the wiper seal to the O-ring. Measured in the same way, the Fox 38 provides 167mm of travel and the Zeb delivers the full 170mm.


Before testing, I put the fork on a basic spring tester. This consists of a bottle jack to compress the fork, a force plate to measure the force and a digital scale to measure the position in the travel. Because it's designed to measure shocks, it can only measure the first part of the travel. I used the settings recommended by Öhlins in this test. In the graph above, I've included the readings from the RXF38 alongside its two major rivals, which were measured in the same way. As you can see, the curves are quite noisy due to friction in the forks, so take them with a pinch of salt. But the takeaway is that the RXF38 has a high amount of spring force near the start of the travel, similar to the Zeb, but with these settings, it has a slightly lower spring force in the middle of the travel. Once I started testing on the bike, I found these settings too soft so increased the air pressure in both chambers from the settings measured here to make it firmer in the mid- and end-stroke. This of course will also make it firmer at the start of the travel.

Another, less scientific, test is to compress the fork to sag, then push up and down vertically on the grips without pressing the brake. This tests how much binding friction there is when the force is off-axis to the fork stanchions. Though I can't put a number on it, the Öhlins is impressive in this test, taking very little force to budge from its sagged position.

Setup

When I began testing in early May, Öhlins didn't have a setup chart to start from, but over the phone they suggested around 100psi in the main chamber and 200psi in the ramp up for my 86Kg weight, which is in line with the setup chart opposite. But this was too soft and I was bottoming out too easily. I went up to 125psi in the main chamber and 265psi. I was still able to use almost all of the travel on big hits, with just 10mm or so in reserve for things not going to plan, so I didn't want to go any softer than this in the ramp up chamber.
Öhlins RXF38 setup chart.
I did try dropping the pressure in the main chamber to 115psi, which is on the softer side, but still offers enough support for less steep tracks. My ideal setup was somewhere in this 115-125psi window, with 265psi in the ramp up chamber.

On rebound, my window was 10-12 clicks from closed. Compression is less set in stone but I've settled on 12-14 clicks on LSC and 2 clicks (1 from open) on HSC. There's a useful range of adjustment on all three dials, with neither end of the spectrum being unusable, yet I felt no need to go firmer or lighter than the damping range allowed.

03.06.21. Pinkbike BikePark Wales Rider Seb Stott. PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography andylloyder

On-Trail Performance / How Does it Compare?

I tested at 170mm travel only, aboard a Forbidden Dreadnought and a Privateer 161. I tested on familiar trails in the Forest of Dean, Bike Park Wales and Innerleithen downhill tracks. This included back-to-back tests comparing the RXF38 directly to the Fox 38 on Rim Dinger at Bike Park Wales and Cresta Run at Innerleithen.

On the bike, it's immediately obvious the RXF38 has a firmer feel early in its travel, especially when compared to the Fox 38. Although the initial stiffness appears similar to the Zeb in the above graph, the RXF38 feels firmer at the very start of the travel than the Zeb once set up with 115-125psi. On the other hand, the Zeb will top-out if the rebound is set very fast, while the RXF38 never tops out despite that firm initial spring force, even with the rebound fully open .

When climbing, it stays noticeably higher in its travel than the 38 or Zeb, making it feel almost like the fork is locked out on steep climbs where the front is lightly loaded. On a flatter gradient, the fork will move into its travel slightly, and bob a little under seated pedaling - which is a good sign from a sensitivity perspective. I can't say I ever used the lockout mode on the trail, but occasionally I do like to lock out both ends of a bike to spend a few minutes pedaling out of the saddle, particularly on a smooth climb during a long ride where I want to mix things up and give my bum a rest. It's not a lockout that gets in the way or compromises other adjusters, so why not?

On the descents, there's a good amount of mid-travel support - holding the fork up under braking and cornering loads - relative to the amount of travel it used on the biggest hits. On some descents, the fork wouldn't feel overly soft, yet the O-ring told me I was getting close to the bottom out without pushing too hard. This is arguably a good thing compared to many air sprung forks, which lack support in the middle of the travel yet make it very hard to use the last 10-15% of squish. This is particularly true when compared to the Zeb, which can be over-keen to push through the middle of its travel under braking.

As far as stiffness goes, I haven't ridden the RXF36 for a while so I can't say how it compares with confidence. I have done back-to-back tests comparing the Fox 36 to the 38, and the RockShox Lyrik to the Zeb; in both cases the stiffer forks never felt worse but the 38 and Zeb were less harsh, more composed and more predictable in really big holes, blown-out berms or shoebox-sized rocks. Compared to those other 38mm forks, the RXF38 holds its own in these situations, never losing composure or becoming harsh when smashing through braking bumps or rocks.

The most informative test was on Cresta Run at Innerleithen on a dry day when the track was rough and loose. After riding the Performance Elite Fox 38 all morning on a Forbidden Dreadnought, I swapped to the Öhlins RXF38. While it did a great job of eating up the bumps in most situations, feeling particularly good when loaded up in a bomb-hole or berm, the Öhlins fork didn't keep the front wheel as glued to the trail in a few places. I felt the front wheel skipping off the ground and loosing traction on some fast and rough corners, resulting in some sketchy moments. And though the RXF38 is butter smooth when fully weighted and into its travel, it's noticeably more abrupt when the fork fully extends then reconnects with the ground (which happens quite often when riding rough, fast terrain off the brakes). This occasional harshness took me by surprise especially on my first run after swapping back to the Öhlins fork.

I was using slightly more travel on the Öhlins fork when setup at 125psi/265psi (The Fox fork was set to 96psi, two tokens), but I decided to try reducing the main spring pressure to 115psi and slowing down the rebound to 10 clicks to see if it improved off-the-top sensitivity. This certainly closed the gap on the traction front, but made the fork noticeably less supportive than the 38, and the slower rebound started to make it harsher on high frequency braking bumps.

The bottom line is the RXF38's smaller negative volume results in a firm start to the travel, which reduces traction and creates occasional harshness - or forces you to compromise on support.




Pros

+ Smooth and controlled when into its travel and unfazed by chunky terrain
+ Very usable range of adjustments
+ Able to use all of its travel without feeling too soft in the mid-stroke
Cons

- Noticeably firmer at the start of the travel, which reduces traction and predictability in some situations, particularly when compared to the Fox 38
- More expensive than its main rivals (in some markets)
- Recommended spring settings a little on the soft side





Pinkbike's Take
bigquotesÖhlins has ticked most of the boxes with this fork. It's sensitive and smooth once into the travel; there's plenty of adjustability and a well-considered range of damping settings. The three-chamber air spring makes tuning progression quick and easy and offers good support under braking while still being able to use its travel effectively on bigger hits. But while Öhlins have increased the negative spring volume for the M.2, I think they need to turn it up a few more notches. It's noticeably firmer off the top, particularly when compared to the Fox 38, which compromises traction, comfort and predictability in some situations. Seb Stott



135 Comments

  • 79 0
 This is a great review. I appreciate the detailed comparison to other forks, and the force-displacement plot.
  • 26 0
 Despite curves ending up a bit noisy, it's actually interesting to see that Fox seems close to that coil linearity with the 38. Taken with a grain of salt of course... A similar test with all similary marketed forks would be much welcome nonetheless.
  • 22 0
 The 38 is definitely the one that gets closest to a coil of the stock forks I've tested. I also tested a Zeb with the Vorsprung Secus and it's linear/progressive curve throughout.

www.pinkbike.com/news/review-vorsprung-secus-air-spring-upgrade.html
  • 3 0
 He already did that before he worked for Pinkbike... it's missing the Ohlins fork of course but a good test - www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Y_RliBb0YA
  • 5 1
 The simplest, cheapest way to reduce the noise in these data is to make multiple measurements and then look at the mean and the variance. If 10 or 100 plots of Fork A all lay in a tight line, then good, the variance is low and the wiggly stuff near the beginning stroke becomes smooth by taking the average. And in the future you can scale back how many measurements to take to economize the process. If 10 or 100 plots of Fork A smear out from a tight line into a thicker band, and the same is true for Fork B or C, then you can't make these straightforward claims like A is less than B (because the smears will overlap). This is actually in the readers' interest, because then you don't write the subjective rider narrative with that conclusion in mind, trying to make them agree.
  • 1 0
 Just anecdotally from people running the current Gen fox 36 the new air spring is do linear that people who were running no tokens in the last one are having to run 3-4 in the current one? Not sure. That's better as from my experience tokens seem to add a lot of harshness.
  • 1 0
 @islandforlife: What is interesting is that I don't think there is a clear read that the Zeb/38 are better than the Lyrik/36 for a light rider.
Go back to this review and in the battle of Zeb Vs 38 the winner was Lyrik (with older air spring):
www.bikeradar.com/reviews/components/forks/suspension-forks/rockshox-zeb-vs-fox-38-fork

Also worth noting in the YouTube review that the Z1 coil sounded epic were it not for weight (yawn) and gaps between spring rates (Vorsprung Smashpot has narrow gaps).

Definitely need to get a coil in the Zeb 38 and Ohlins and compare again!
  • 19 1
 "(no 1.8" option)" ...don't even f-kin mention that crap!
  • 6 0
 ...I wonder how many fat e-bikers are doing barspins so they can't go for a dual crown fork if their 1.5" can't handle the loads.

I hope 1.8" ends up like Overdrive2.
  • 16 0
 Now review it with the coil spring. Seems like every forks goal is to feel ‘coil like’. Why not just ride the coil?
  • 9 0
 Weight is the only reason why.
  • 5 0
 Very good question! I love my 36.M2 coil
  • 4 0
 Coil fork grouptest please.
  • 4 0
 I picked up a coil rxf36 and it blows away any fork I had before.
  • 4 0
 Weight and spring rate increments.
  • 2 0
 The EXT Era is a hybrid coil and air solution, and man it rides with all the benefits of a coil without the weight.
  • 1 0
 @jeremy3220: the weight and spring increment difference on the RFX M2 are both small and tight. On my scale the RFX36m2 coil was 175grams more than a 2021 Fox36. Swapping springs in the Ohlins the spring weights are tight enough that most riders could ride 2 different weights and both would feel good.
  • 2 0
 Weight and impossibility of adjusting spring rate without swapping the spring. Springs are not always easy to come by in the right spring rate for your weight and riding style.
  • 1 0
 @hamncheez: I am tempted sometimes to get one of these... but the eye opening experience after throwing a push acs3 conversion to a fox 36 was so good, that combined to the simplicity of the system makes me think these complicated air systems if they have an issue you are screwed (need to send back to shop to be fixed etc)... I also have a smashpot on a 180mm "super flexy" fox 36 and it's also fantastic.. Again, too simple and easy to maintain and move between forks etc.. I'd love to have that ferrari of a fork, but Im good with my subarus ; )
  • 1 0
 @hamncheez: I wouldn't really call it a true hybrid through, it just uses a small coil in the negative spring, similar to the DVO. The benefits of coil are not just about the initial small bump sensitivity...
  • 1 0
 @SonofBovril: that's not correct. It has a negative air chamber, and the spring is at the bottom of the leg.

p.vitalmtb.com/temp_photos/14450/large_internals_272145.jpg
  • 2 0
 @hamncheez: My bad, I was wrong.

That's an interesting little addition that no one else seems to have thought of...
  • 14 0
 So I want this, as well as the EXT Era fork. Is there a way I can run both at once, a la @bicyclepubes ?
  • 3 0
 @iiman: lol that’s great
  • 9 1
 I've been riding the EXT Era fork for the last month. I can say, hands down, in every single dimension, the EXT is the best single crown fork on the market, and probably be best single crown fork of all time.

Suspension Syndicate initially set it up "EWS rider stiff" because I'm an idiot and asked them too, and it was of course wayyy to stiff for me, but even riding with those settings it was smoother off the top and had more traction than any other air fork I've ridden, including DVO.

Once I tuned the pressure and compression down to realistic levels, the mid stroke support never went away. It stays super high in its travel AND is more grippy than anything else short of a coil dual crown.

I can't state how much better this fork feels than anything else I've ridden.
  • 4 0
 @seb-stott Have you had a chance to ride the new EXT fork?
  • 6 0
 @hamncheez: Curious... have you've spend time on a Mezzer? Comparison?
  • 9 0
 @Eatsdirt: So the Mezzer is the one fork I haven't tried, but I've heard great things about it. I'm trying to sell them as a possible OEM for my titanium bike company I'm starting ( www.pinkbike.com/photo/20805694 ) and then the EXT suspension as an upsell.
  • 3 0
 @hamncheez: Oh boy that bike is gorgeous!
  • 1 0
 @hamncheez:

Have you tried the fox 38 and/or Mezzer? Curious how those compare to the ext
  • 4 1
 @Jcmonty: Not the Mezzer. The EXT is better than the 38 or the Zeb. It is a hybrid coil/air fork, and has the benefit of both.
  • 3 0
 @hamncheez: looks awesome man, you've got my interest with that frame!

The only thing I'll add relevant to the thread is that the Mezzer is largely great because of IRT--this can be accomplished on other forks via the aftermarket.
  • 4 0
 @HaggeredShins: I really want to ride the Mezzer, its in the weight category of the 36/Lyrik but everyone tells me it rides as well as the 38/Zeb.

However, the EXT has a dual positive air spring as well (copying the IRT), and the negative spring equalizes at topout, not in the travel itself. On Rockshoxs forks I can feel that "notch" in the travel when the air equalizes. EXT also has a small coil at the bottom of the air spring pushrod, making it a hybrid system where the first inch or so is pure coil movement, and the transition is seemless. As much as I want to try the Mezzer, the EXT is both the most slippery and most supportive fork I've ever ridden.
  • 1 0
 @hamncheez:
At least IME, the mezzers only “flaw” is the initial sensitivity. Whether is the damper or stiction I can’t say, but it’s like an 8/10 there where it’s 9-10/10 everywhere else. Could be setup, but if you read enough, you can see that trend. Most folks run less then recommend pressure and light compression.

Sounds like the ERA improves on that portion

The weight at 2050g of the mezzer is a big plus too . And ease of travel adjust and service
  • 2 0
 @hamncheez: The mezzer also does not have a dimple equalization, it equalizes when the pump is connected
  • 1 0
 @hamncheez: IMO you've got your OEM and upsell options backwards.
  • 1 0
 @Jcmonty: i have a mezzer and can assure you that it has less initial sticktion than my former dvo onyx and the lyrik ultimate
  • 1 0
 @Dougal-SC: how do I have it backwards? I should have the cheaper fork be the upsell?
  • 6 0
 This is such a detailed and well done review Seb. I'd like more and more of this type of side by side comparisons for actual bikes as well please. You know what would be a sick article? Doing a deep dive into geometry performance. Ride multiple sizes of same bike with timed runs to find your optimal geo but also taking into account jumping, cornering, fun stuff. Seems like everything is all about speed on long bikes...tho it'd be interesting to do something similar to EnduroMags review where they tested out the "Long Bike Fallacy" to see not only which are faster, but also which are more jumpy, capable and fun. Throw in a 2018 lastgen bike or two in there and you've got some compelling stuff that's not just "Look at the new thing, I tested it and its great compared to the other new thing". That's gotten stale
  • 11 2
 What's up with no 27.5 option? Now 27.5 is dead?
  • 8 13
flag Bushmaster123 (Jul 22, 2021 at 7:04) (Below Threshold)
 You can always run a 27.5" wheel on a 29" fork. No need to manufacture 2 different sizes.
  • 3 11
flag neimbc (Jul 22, 2021 at 7:30) (Below Threshold)
 @Bushmaster123: Yes, but it steepens the head angle, lowers the bottom bracket and messes with my head!
  • 3 0
 Also it looks weird with a giant gap between the legs
  • 2 0
 Vital MTB tested on 27.5 YT Capra and they liked the fork
  • 5 0
 @neimbc: it doesn't do any of those things(minus your head issues), so long as you run the proper ATC for your bike
  • 6 1
 @DizzyNinja: like when you look in the mirror lol. Sorry couldn't resist.
  • 2 0
 @neimbc: you can put a crown spacer on it to compensate.
  • 2 0
 @Bushmaster123: you are wrecking my life
  • 7 0
 Simply there is still a lot of room to improve in high end forks
  • 2 1
 Like seals that last longer would be fkn nice
  • 2 0
 @DizzyNinja: All i want is more sensitive forks, we are going backwards on that title
  • 2 0
 Did you try backing off the LSC instead of dropping air pressure? If you are running 12-14 from open then that's almost max'd out. To me, that would explain some of the harshness you were feeling off the top because you are hitting a wall of LSC before the HSC can open.
  • 1 0
 I think he said he was running 12-14 clicks from closed, which out of 16 total clicks is pretty close to wide open
  • 1 0
 @panders: He didn't specify for the LSC, as far as I could see, but he did on the HSC which is why I was wondering.
  • 1 0
 That's not how damping works. The LSC only controls the transition into HSC. If you can't ride with LSC closed then your HSC stack is too damn stiff.
  • 1 0
 @Dougal-SC: can you explain a littlle more? I don't know how much total LSC the Ohlins has when fully closed but don't most companies use LSC for climb switches and pedaling platforms? I assumed, maybe mistakenly, if the fork had enough LSC adjustability could it be creating a similar same effect to going downhill with the climb switch on. I realize you probably won't notice most of the time because the forces would be so high it would push right past the LSC but there could be places you would feel it. All that is why I asked if he had messed tried it with less LSC. Your thoughts sir?
  • 3 0
 DSD Runt (ramp up air chamber) has new offerings for the Fox 38 and zeb. I wonder how a 38 with the runt would compare against the field given it’s already superb on the small bump and support.
  • 2 0
 @seb-stott I bet a whole lot of people would be interested in a comparison of a Zeb or 38 with and without the DSD Runt. Prob Zeb b/c less midstroke support. Would be a really interesting way to explore the pros and cons of the 3 chamber air spring.
  • 2 0
 @muscogeemasher: I had a RUNT on my old Lyrik (circa 201Cool and have the IRT on the Mezzer. I am a believer. The 38 is pretty darn good IMO out of the box, but it does sometime seem to lack in midstroke while being a bit hard to use all the travel at least how I have it setup. Nit picking though..
  • 1 0
 @Jcmonty: glad to hear that b/c I just got a runt for my Zeb. Did you do the shim stack mods on the Lyrik?
  • 2 0
 @muscogeemasher: No. I did end up with the Push HC97 which helped with the "spiking" on bigger hits. It's been a while since I rode that fork, but the small bump was fantastic. The Mezzer lacked a bit on small bump, but is super composed everywhere and was a better fork than the "super lyrik". The 38 , I am still getting to know, but so far so good other than what I said earlier. The Runt and the Secus have me intrigued, but honestly, not needed
  • 2 0
 I have the RXF 36 m.2 and have ridden it in both air and coil. Coil is significantly better than air in this regard for the same reasons stated in this review. Ohlins forks still have racy damping and I found it much harder to tune with their lower volume air spring. I really Ohlins releases a coil version of these in the future.
  • 1 0
 Having been on 36 M2s for a while I agree, I had the compression tube dropped from the factory C50 down to C40 - perfect. I weigh 85kg.
  • 1 0
 I have found this with all modern forks too date, I think they are so focused on mid stroke support the compression stacks end up to tight unless you weigh 100kg! And yes the coil is sublime. So controlled and frugal with travel usage yet eats everything.
  • 5 2
 The complaint about the price is weird seeing as it is about 200eur cheaper than the fox 38 you're comparing it too so extensively. And yes that's taking the VAT in account.
  • 2 0
 The 38 is a lot cheaper in the US market and the Zeb is cheaper everywhere I think. I can't find the RRP of the Performance Elite 38 in euros (only the Factory) - do you know what it is?
  • 2 0
 @cxfahrer: Thanks! So according to that link the 38's RRP is 1,234.45 €, so only very slightly cheaper, but they're selling it for 1,049.58€.
  • 1 0
 @seb-stott: 1,234.45 € is without VAT or import tax (I assume you're outside EU). EU RRP is 1.493,69 €
RRP for Factory is 1.686,88 €
  • 3 0
 @seb-stott: Seeing as it is top of the line from öhlins I'd also compare it to top of the line from fox which is their factory model and then you have a significant difference. (Yeah kashima might be pointless but that's another discussion)
Apples to apples and so on.
  • 1 2
 They clearly said... in some markets.
  • 2 1
 @onemanarmy: Yeah now if does but not originally.
  • 3 0
 Probably a bit petty but I wish they'd do something a bit more interesting with their graphics on the fork lowers (I can't afford a set anyway haha).
  • 1 4
 Why?
  • 1 1
 @Neechy: Just feel they look a bit plain compared to some of the competitors. You'd expect Öhlins of all people to be a bit more flash. Meh... still wouldn't complain if they were on my bike.
  • 4 0
 Interesting to see the real travel measured. First time I see this, and 165mm instead of 170 is not a small difference
  • 3 0
 Ah but it’s a pretty small difference, like this:

::holds up hand with index finger and thumb apart, about the thickness of a skinny green bean::
  • 4 0
 Still want the Formula DC Enduro review. I don't buy a new frok if I could not see this review...
  • 1 0
 I have a rxf36 m.2 on 2 bikes and the settings off the chart or from them are not ideal for me either and I run into a similar situation. (Noticeably firmer at the start of the travel, which reduces traction and predictability) . For me what helped was to run way less air in the main top chamber and more air in the lower chamber, then it ends up with a feel similar to a fox fork with 2-3 tokens. I reached out to ohlins usa but got subpar service which sucks since I have got 2 of the forks, have purchased 3 rear shocks for mtb and buy the stuff for my moto it was a bit of a let down. I still like the suspension better than fox and rs on the same bikes but expect to play with the settings and don't be surprised if you are not near the chart settings.
  • 2 0
 Take your fork to your suspension shop and get the compression stack softened 1 stage, game changer. Assuming your in the 90kg or lighter category.
  • 1 0
 The spring force graphs are a good piece of work. What I find interesting though, is the very small difference that can be found between Zeb, 38 and RFX38. One would assume that the added complexity of a dual-chamber positive air spring would bring a more pronounced positive effect and advantage compared to the single chambers used in Zeb and 38. Very well done review overall. Hat's off!
  • 1 0
 "Secondly, because the volume of the positive chamber increases as the fork moves deeper into its travel,"

This is such a weird way to describe it, and not sure if it's technically correct. The volume of the main chamber _must_ decrease through the travel, otherwise there would be no spring effect. I get you mean the effective\equivalent starting volume increases as the IFP moves, but wouldn't it be more accurate to say that the main volume doesn't decrease as fast as it would with static spacers?
  • 1 0
 "Though I can't put a number on it, the Öhlins is impressive in this test, taking very little force to budge from its sagged position."

And yet it felt the firmest\harshest off the top in riding... So this "test" is pretty much useless...
  • 1 0
 Noticably firmer at the start and recommended spring pressures too low are both cons, but they're also at opposition: a potential\common fix for too firm off the top is lowering spring pressure. How can both be bad if one fixes the other?
  • 1 1
 very nice forks, they are having a tough time getting traction however due to their price point, but maybe they have reason to take a more niche position. They are also now being distributed by OGC in Canada, which is hands down the best distributor I have ever worked with no questions. I will eventually make the conversion, but its tough when you buy a frameset that comes with a top tier Fox rear Shock and want to run the whole Olins package, it gets crazy expensive real quick. that is all that's holding me back.
  • 2 2
 I remember when Englund air cartridges came out in the 90s. I remember the stoke of being able to drop a good bit of weight off my Manitou 3, and the disappointment of the cartridges leaking after the 3rd ride. Quite simply, a cartridge air spring will never perform as well as an in leg unit. The increased pressures necessary in the smaller chambers and resulting increase in seal stiction will always work against them.
  • 2 0
 There's a trade-off though because smaller pistons have a smaller seal circumference. Friction is not the issue with that air spring.
  • 2 0
 @seb-stott: True, but I was taught the dynamic seal friction increases as an air spring reaches minimum volume due to the increase in air pressure. This is magnified by the smaller piston area/higher spring pressures in cartridge systems compared to in leg units as the pressure at bottom out will be considerably higher in the cartridge unit when compared to an in leg. I'd be curious to see how the forks compared when run with a Shockwiz. That could highlight where the Ohlins was having a tough go of transitioning and whether it was damper or spring related.
  • 3 0
 Who buy them in Americas besides stock spesh complete?
Price / performance wise there more options
  • 1 0
 Ohlins is spec'd on Mondraker too
  • 2 2
 @conoat: I can't recall the last time I saw a Mondraker on the trails.
  • 1 0
 @conoat: which is Spain based bikes, with limited presence in US
  • 8 8
 Wow, pretty disappointed in the performance of this fork (based on the review). Less small bump compliance/traction. Sits higher in travel during climbing (not desirable for geometry). Overall less "coil like" feel compared to the incumbents. More expensive than the industry standards, despite overall worse performance.

Major bummer from Ohlins.
  • 4 0
 Vital has a review too which paints a different picture if you're up for more reading
  • 1 0
 @palirojo: Hjord claims 'our RXF 36 m.2 test fork was with us for about 20 months of heavy use before requiring a service and a bushing swap' tho the service intervals are 50/100 hours, and the review for O38.2 is full of absolute praise and little data. It's not convincing
  • 5 0
 @ceecee: Im not really sure what you are trying to point out with the quote. Everything is subjective in a test like this so I was merely pointing out another one that came to a different conclusion.

As far as the vital test not being convincing, I agree it was heavy on praise but Hjord has spent more time on the 36 so it makes sense he could dial in the 38 quickly to his liking. In contrast Seb states he hadn't been on the 36 in a while and is way high with his ramp control pressure and seems to have jumped straight from 200 to 265 without trying much in between. Hjord is more in line with the recommended settings and is also running less LSC than Seb even though their weights are 1kg different. Maybe Seb struggled with setup? I don't know.

Lastly, I was a little surprised at this review given that the 36 was a suspension of the year nominee and the DH38 was the winner with the the same tech inside. The main difference is that Dan Roberts did both of those reviews. If he had done this review it might have been completely different because of his experience with the others.

I think the point Im trying to make is that both tests are equal because it's someones opinion and reading different opinions give a better idea of the products capabilities. sorry for the long response
  • 1 0
 @palirojo: if ten hours a week is heavy use, twenty months is 800 hours before service. Either m.2 guts are incredible, or Hjord's estimation of heavy use is more like two hours a week, or the claim is not credible. A question for all these reviewers is: how smooth is butter? And the follow up: if Jack Moir is faster than you on any track on a 150mm Pike, why are you obsessing over this? Give me tribological data or give me death. Stott puts fork on a spring tester--that's not subjective
  • 1 0
 @ceecee: I responded to you because I took comment to mean that the Pinkbike review is credible and the Vital is not, which if true, I disagree with. This might not be true at all but it's hard to know through this format. Jack Moir would be faster than me on a unicycle, ha.
  • 1 0
 "The lowers are said to be a bespoke blend of the DH38 and RXF36." Bespoke means custom made for a specific individual. I think that maybe you mean something like, "model specific lowers."
  • 2 0
 Why arent more companies doing a coil helper spring like EXT do on the Era? Surely that’s the easiest way to increase small bump compliance.
  • 2 0
 Because to cover the rider weight range you need 4-6 different spring-rates and they're a real PITA to change. Manitou pioneered this with MARS back in 2001 but finally dropped it around 2017. EXT are only using one spring-rate. It is simply not credible that a 120kg rider and a 40kg rider can use the same spring.
  • 1 0
 I've been riding the RFX38 M.1 for a while now and it's incredible. Small bump sensitivity is excellent as is front wheel traction. Setup is a little tricky but once dialed in I haven't experienced a better fork.
  • 3 0
 @seb-stott Will there be a long-term review of the Dreadnought?
  • 2 0
 I'll come back when they've got the coil version ready.
  • 1 0
 I have an RXF 38 M.1 for sale if anyone is interested. 170mm. 44os. 29. 197mm steerer tube.
  • 1 0
 So essentially its just not as good as the 38 and Zeb and there's no reason to buy this over them other than the looks.
  • 5 4
 Another great product that will empty your pockets.
  • 1 0
 Another product able to use all its travel whole emptying your pockets prior to the initial stroke
  • 13 1
 I demand that these forks are made available for free, as long as they're covered in adverts
  • 9 1
 Read between the lines: it's mediocre.
  • 1 0
 Price is outta my range personally
  • 1 0
 These are some quite complex product names!
  • 5 4
 This fork looks about as expensive as the imminent paywall
  • 1 0
 I would buy if they were gooooooold
  • 1 0
 Please can you test the boys idylle ?
  • 1 1
 15 or 20mm axle?

Why is this constantly overlooked on fork releases or reviews?
  • 3 0
 The m.2 has a 15mm axle.
  • 3 0
 Are there any newly released single crown forks with 20mm? Not saying that shouldn’t be the standard.
  • 1 0
 @muscogeemasher: Selva can be had with BOOST20. I wonder about it’s DC comrade.
  • 1 0
 @muscogeemasher: Suntour fork as well. DVO Onyx could be as well
  • 1 0
 Great article, love the detail and comparisons
  • 3 6
 Can people stop complaining about prices. These are top if the range brand new forks, what do people expect? Everything in enduro riding that is top quality is expensive, get used to it.
  • 1 1
 More money, less performance. Sounds like a winner.
  • 1 1
 Ohlins USA is a deal breaker. . . . . Never again!
  • 1 3
 No 26" . no deal
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