I've got a few rides on my new TALAS R, so I though I'd post my impressions. Mostly I am just comparing how the fork rides on my Heckler as compared to the `03 Z1 FR I used since last fall.
First thing I noticed out of the box is the difference in the crowns. The ZI crown is clearly more massive than the TALAS. The other is the weight, but that was expected.
As far as stiffness, I really have not been able to tell any difference.
The TALAS is not as smooth as the Z1, and it is not in the same league as far as it's freeride capabilities. The Z1 is buttery smooth and the travel feels bottomless under anything I have thrown at it. However, the TALAS feels more controlled than the ZI. It dives less under braking. It also feels more efficient than the Z1 (less bobbing). I also like the sharper head angle. I feel like my bike is more controlled and nimble with this fork.
I am surprised at how linear the fork feels. I am actually wondering if there is some way to ramp it up at the very end like I could on the Z1. I have not yet hit the worst of what I sometimes ride, so I can't comment on how this fork compares under the hardest of hits. I know with the Z1 there were times when I hit something thinking "oh sh!t, Jeff, you're really fu#ked now" and then rolled over or through it like it was nothing. We'll see with the TALAS.
I think that in the end the Z1 was just more fork than I needed. The rear end of the Heckler is nowhere near as smooth as the Z1 on the small stuff, and has far less wallow and bob than the Z1. The TALAS just feels like a better match.
The last ride I did on my Z1 was my first real attemt at freeriding. I started doing some drops of about 3 feet to flat and hiting some 3 foot jumps that landed on a downhill. I had a blast. I think that is where I will miss the fork, and having a slack head angle, though I have done some 2-1/2" drops on the TALAS and it feels just as good so far. I think the Heckler would hold me back before the Z1 would.
With some fiddling with stems, I got the handlebar back up where it was, and it is just as easy to lift the front end with the TALAS as it was with the Z1.
Travel. I get 121mm. Oh, well.
On to the travel adjustment. I liked the idea of the eta on the Z1, but I found that it was not always that usefull. The fork by itself was too tall for my tastes for any real climbing, but the eta is rather severe. Once it gets the fork down in it's travel, it's WAY down there and the super stiff, undamped travel can be squrilly. It is unridable except for steep climbing (which it is fantastic for) I like the fact that the TALAS is totally usable at any travel, and that I can set the travel where I want it. On a long climb I often do there is some short down sections as well as some technical stuff to get through. I dropped the fork about 15mm and did it all. I notice that with the stem I have on there right now, the balance for general singletrack riding is perfect at about 112mm (in other words, cranked down 9mm). At first I figured I would just lower the stem about 10mm so it would be perfect at full hieght, but now I think I may leave it like this so that I have a little extra height for when I want to play rough. It is certainly easier to lift the front end at full height right now, but the bars are just tad high for carving singletrack and normal climbing (moderate or short climbs where I am not going to bother messing with travel)
I could go on with more, but I gotta go catch happy hour.
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