Ohlins RXF 34 specialized suspension fork (11)

Since the first Öhlins prototype was spotted on a Specialized, the speculation has been heavy. As one of the big hitters in the auto and motorcycle suspension world, there probably aren’t many gear heads that wouldn’t also geek out on the possibility of Öhlins suspension on their mountain bike.

After first appearing as a real product in the Öhlins TTX coil shock on Specialized bikes like the Demo and Enduro Evo, the name appeared again when the STX22 air shock was launched for the Specialized Enduro. For a while it’s been nothing but rear shocks which makes sense – it’s probably easier to scale down a motorcycle shock to fit a DH or Enduro bike than it is to create an entirely new fork designed for mountain bikes. Instead, it would be far easier to develop drop-in cartridges for existing forks which is why their first fork product came as cartridges for the Fox 40. It wasn’t long however, until we started seeing prototype cartridges showing up in what certainly looked like RockShox forks. But we were told these would probably never make it to market since the cartridges were too big to properly fit. Instead, the prototypes were serving as test mules until Öhlins was able to create a full fork platform of their own.

And it looks like that day is finally here…

Ohlins RXF 34 specialized suspension fork (3)

Ohlins RXF 34 specialized suspension fork (4) Ohlins RXF 34 specialized suspension fork (8)

Ohlins RXF 34 specialized suspension fork (6)
Images c. Specialized

It might seem a bit odd to get a notification of a new fork from a bike company rather than the brand that made it, but since the beginning Specialized and Öhlins have had a very close relationship to bring the products to life. Making heavy use of the Demo, Enduro, Stumpjumper and Camber as test platforms, the partnership made sure Öhlins had a great way into the bike industry and that Specialized benefited from suspension tech tailor made to their bikes.

The new Öhlins RXF 34 is not a Specialized specific product, but it will be sold through Specialized initially. The big news here is that this is (according to Specialized and Öhlins) the first trail fork to make use of a twin tube damping cartridge. The ability to separate the compression from the rebound oil allows for both high speed and low speed compression and high and low speed rebound adjustment (Update: the fork just arrived, it is definitely just one rebound adjustment) and ensures more consistent damping performance.

In addition to the twin tube TTX damping circuit, the RXF also makes use of 3 air chambers – two positive, and one negative. Supposedly this will make for better tuning of the suspension curve and provide the ability to make the fork very supple off the top without affecting bottom out performance. We’ll get more into the details on this once our test fork arrives.

Ohlins RXF 34 specialized suspension fork (7) Ohlins RXF 34 specialized suspension fork (1)

Initially available for 29ers with 120, 140, or 160mm of travel, the fork will make use of a 34mm stanchion chassis. Öhlins claims that their use of a forged “unicrown” makes for a 34mm fork stiffer than most 35mm forks and comparable with the 36mm models likely with less weight. Surprisingly, the RXF thru axle is not Boost compatible with a standard 15x100mm spacing. It also doesn’t appear to have a quick release, opting instead for a bolt thru axle with a single pinch bolt.

 

 

Ohlins RXF 34 specialized suspension fork (10)
How ’bout that rear shock? It looks like the STX, but where is the dangly bit from the piggyback?

Sold through Specialized retailers, the RXF 34 will retail for $1,150 and will be available soon. Specialized also mentions that Öhlins USA is now authorized to service and sell shocks, forks, and replacement parts, though everything will continue to be available through Specialized as well.

Have any questions on the new fork? Drop it in the comments below and we’ll get the answers for our next post on the fork.

41 COMMENTS

  1. Looks promising, more competition in this market is good for riders and it sounds like they have the background to become a major player! Now if they would just make the fork with a 20mm axle…

  2. @Tim “…and it sounds like they have the background to become a major player”

    LOL. Major understatement. The question is if they’ll stick with it because there’s a lot more money to be made in their main market where they are regarded as the top shelf option.

    Would love to see Showa do the same but I am sure they just don’t think it’s worth the effort.

  3. Ohlins is a class act. These will probably raise the game. The only “but” I see is that the first few years of triple air forks in dirt bikes were definitely teething years, where the existing single air and/or coil spring tech was still superior.

  4. @ Matt
    Dave is correct, if you’re a ‘heel rubber’ the ‘NE’ are the first to go. Can still see a little of the ‘e’ on the crank.

  5. Antidopedean_eleven Showa actually did design forks for Trek back in the early 90s. Didn’t really step up the game much from existing tech at the time. But hey, times change…

  6. @Antipodean- I wonder if there’s a BR thread without any snark or bile. I keep zero track of automotive tech; my reading about toys is restricted to bicycles.
    As for Showa- they used to make MTB forks, way back in the early 90’s, before disappearing from the market after just a couple years.
    Yes, you’re right, the real question is whether Ohlins will stay in- but if they already have invested this much, I guess we can suppose they will…

  7. Ohlins is a longtime player in motorcycle suspension, it’s fine if you don’t know that but don’t be offended that everybody else does.

    • Well said, words right out of my mouth. However I’m hopeful that this will work out and be a better way to skin MTB Suspension. Time will tell.

  8. Remember when everyone was this excited for fox entering the game. All the same comments “this will make RS step up their game, fox rules, fox is the best ever”. FWD to the last 5yrs and nobody can still make a RELIABLE air fork that’s reasonably priced. Seriously air forks are now basically 1000.00 and the absurd maintenance schedule of every 50hrs. That’s 1 month of riding for me. Fox’s support is no longer a class act. RS just can’t seem to make an air fork worth a crap other than the reba. It’s amazing what air forks cost for mtb. I have ohlins on my aprilia that cost less than most fox air shocks. It’s amazing to me that ohlins for my motorcycle are cheaper than for my XC bike. So do you guys think Ohlin is going to be any different than fox in this market with what has become acceptable. 1000. air shocks that have 50hr service intervals and are still heavy and flexy, and perform..well not really that great.

    I hope everyone is right and ohlins competition will be added value to the mtb fork arena.

  9. @JK,
    White Brothers/MRP used thru-shaft damping cartridges, was not a twin-tube design (unless I’m mistaken and they came out with something completely different years later).

  10. Sssshhhh..Ding don’t talk about prices and reliability..be quiet…these fork companies want guys like Dave who drive an Audi and a BMW to keep dropping big money on bicycle parts.

  11. @Ding, where are you getting new Ohlins moto forks for less than an XC fork? Even $1900US MSRP for an RS-1 isn’t anywhere near MSRP for FGRT ($3300-3500), FG424 ($2400) or MX/Enduro ($3000). For that matter, 15 year old [i]used[/i] R&Ts will bring close to a thousand if they’re in good condition.

  12. Those discussing Showa may be interested to know that one of their head engineers – Ed Kwaterski – joined Manitou around 2013 and redeveloped their entire fork line. Most underrated forks around, IMO. I’ve replaced all my fox forks with them.

  13. It looks like the HSC dial has the large knob for easy on-the-fly access. Is that a production feature? Seems like a very weird choice.

    Also, is HSR adjustable? I Thought the pinkbike article said just LSC, HSC, and LSR.

    Any more info about how the air springs works would of course be awesome.

    This is great, now I can stop waiting for a Cane Creek twin-tube fork to match my DBAir CS. I’m already on a 34mm mrp stage and it’s stiff enough at 27.5/160mm.

  14. @Trail Dog, I was wondering about the HSR discrepancy too. Another curious thing, perhaps just a misprint, was that one of the writups on the fork said that the HSC has a setting that is equivalent to lockout. Maybe there is some internal structure where the HSC can eventually shut down the LSC too, but on most forks it is the LSC that is used to deliver semi-lockout, and the HSC is often left open to allow for a blowoff.

  15. @Quickie: “That seems like too much adjustment for me. Hopefully another option will ultimately help drop the prices on products I prefer.”

    Did you see the Ducati bike in the other BR post?

  16. Back in the late 70s and early 80s when I raced motocross, motorcycle suspension development was on an incredibly steep curve. Front and rear suspension travel went from the 4-6″ range to 11-13″ range over a very short period of time. I worked in a motorcycle shop and had a low level factory sponsorship. This gave me the luxury of getting my gear at or below wholesale. This was awesome because it seemed about every 6 months I’d have to buy new shocks and tweak my forks because of rapid advancements. For shocks, I went thru Bilsteins, Fox, Works Performance, Marzocchi, Fox [first ever all air shock] again and then Ohlins. I had Ohlins on my Maicos longer than any shock. Of course they didn’t make forks back then, but their shocks were awesome.

  17. Excellent!! *Montgomery burns style*

    Bout time someone took advantage of the monopolized price hikes. And that is an excellent price for what is no doubt a top product.

    I’d switch to them in a heartbeat..given the cash

    Lets see though if they will draw in consumers and then increase the costs or if its enough to bring fox back down to earth.

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