Australian Geographic Outdoor - - Outdoor Bike Lane - RRP $1200­las­ TESTED BY Justin Walker PHO­TOS JW/Out­side Me­dia

WHEN I FIRST started plan­ning my bike build, based around a New Old Stock (NOS) 2010 Rocky Moun­tain Bliz­zard frame, there were a few ob­sta­cles. One was that, not only was I – shock, gasp! – build­ing a 26-inch-wheeled bike, now viewed by ‘the in­dus­try and its new-or­der of 27.5 and 29ers’ as passé, but I had to source a pos­i­tively an­cient 26-inch straight-steerer fork, which have been su­per­seded near-to­tally by ta­pered-steerer forks.

This led to a fair bit of re­search, with a pleas­ant out­come: FOX had the ex­act fork with the ex­act travel (120mm) that I was after, and it was avail­able with the com­pany’s FIT4 (the short ver­sion of FOX Iso­lated Tech­nol­ogy, now in its fourth gen­er­a­tion of de­vel­op­ment). You can get it in 9mm QR front axle, or 15QR.

So, what is FIT4? It is a closed-car­tridge sys­tem that al­lows rid­ers to ad­just the fork’s per­for­mance via three damp­ing set­tings – Open, Medium and Firm. The Fac­tory Se­ries, which is what I have fit­ted to the Bliz­zard, of­fers low-speed com­pres­sion ad­just­ment (in Open mode only) over 22 clicks, pro­vid­ing oo­dles of fine-tun­ing, as well as Kashima-coated stan­chions. For this 2017 model, the com­pany tweaked the tune of the FIT4 damper for more small-bump sen­si­tiv­ity while main­tain­ing sup­port deeper in the travel when brak­ing hard, so as not to in­duce div­ing of the fork. And it works; the low-speed damp­ing def­i­nitely feels like it smoothes out the trail ‘chat­ter’ and move­ment of the tyre when rid­ing over small rocks, loose gravel, twigs, etc., which has the added ef­fect of up­ping trac­tion. Big-hit per­for­mance seems fine as well; the Bliz­zard is an XC/Trail rig so I am not drop­ping off six-foot ledges, but a few smaller jumps and drops have not seen any un­com­fort­able fork div­ing.

By fit­ting this new-tech fork, have gained bril­liant sus­pen­sion per­for­mance that com­ple­ments the Bliz­zard’s sweet steel frame.

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