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…
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.
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.
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.