How Swede it is.
Anyone who follows the motorsports scene knows how special the name Ohlins Racing is. They also know that those signature bands of yellow and blue on the machines of top moto enduro racers are there not because of sponsorship, but because the athlete sought them out. With the 29in RXF 34 140 Fork, that same sweet, sponsor-be-damned quality is available for the first time in a mountain bike fork.
Ohlins being Ohlins, we're not surprised that it came up with a design that's truly unique in the mountain bike field. In fact, we'd be disappointed if it hadn't. The RXF 34 is the only fork on the market to feature a twin tube damper, which separates the rebound and compression oil flow. Since the twin tube design lets the oil flow parallel and independently, the fork maintains optimal pressure at all times, riding higher with a smoother initial stroke. It maintains consistent, predictable small bump compliance across successive hits to leave you more in control of your lines and with more responsive traction.
The fork's spring also incorporates a unique addition. It's got an additional positive chamber, adding a third member to the typical air spring loadout of one negative and one positive. The presence of two positive chambers means that the resistance can be dialed externally to alter the compression curve, so the fork can be set to maintain that initial suppleness but ramp-up harder to avoid bottoming out on big hits — all without the need for internal spacers. Given the host of absurdly versatile all-mountain 29ers we've been seeing unveiled over the past year, this added versatility in fork suspension is not only a plus, we suspect it'll become a necessary feature by the next product cycle. The fork climbs with confident traction but won't sell you out by diving on rowdy descents.
And now we get to the elephant in the room: those 34mm stanchions. When we first saw a spec sheet for the RXF, we scrolled through looking for a 35 or a 36mm model and were surprised when the only models we saw were 34s. But Ohlins claims that its forged unicrown design is actually stiffer than the ubiquitous 35mm models and on par with the latest generation of 36mm models that have defined the trail market to date — all while benefiting from the reduced weight of 34mm stanchions.
The RXF doesn't feature a proper lockout switch, but the high-speed compression adjustment will effectively smother travel when cranked all the way. It's also built with an integrated crown race, so the list of compatible headsets isn't as long as with forks that make you supply your own race. Given those limitations, lower headset bearings with a 40mm internal diameter (52mm external) and 45-degree bearing angle are the only compatible option. Finally, the fork has a recommended tire clearance of 2.35in, which puts it squarely in line with the happy-medium of mid-sized tires that — we think — provide the best balance of cush, traction, and non-mushy trail feel.