At just over 4 pounds, it is the lightest coil sprung, 5.5 inch fork on the market. And, thanks to that coil spring and our ultra-refined and patented (RLC) open bath damping system, it is also one of the plushest forks money can buy. There comes a time when you just want to throw marketing jargon out the window and ride. That’s when the vanilla - good old, straight steering, true tracking, velvet smooth vanilla – shines like a diamond.
from glendale az usa
Date Reviewed: September 4, 2009
Strengths: easy set up and very good response on down hill and on rough terrain. never had any issues with this fork. awsome response. lock out is great on climbs. the best fork i ever purchased.
Weaknesses: squeaks every now and then but that realy doesnt bother me, as long as it contiues to do it's job no problems with me.. but i wish the 15mm thru axle was available when i bought the the fork. but aw well. it still is the best fork ive ever used.
bottom line its a great fork. i had a great experience with this fork that i am going to purchase a fox 36 vanilla with 160mm on my next bike, i would like to go to a bigger travel bike, 6inch to 7inch travel.. soon. and the vanilla is the fork i well use..
Similar Products Used: float 120, talas rlc, f120, rock shox pike, magura larin 120.
Bike Setup: titus motolite. xtr/sram xo drive train. hayes stroker brakes. dt swiss wheels/hubs. gravity stem, handle bar and seatpost. fox rp23 shock, fox vanilla rlc 140.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: February 9, 2009
Strengths: plush, tunable, small chatter eater, weight (for dual coil/140mm trail fork), a lot more fun to ride my ML1 with this fork
Weaknesses: weaps a little oil, still trying to get the last inch of travel
I've been using fox air forks for years but this is my 1st Vanilla. Great fork for a trail bike. The weight & performance difference is minimal, compared to the Float series. I weigh 195 and so an extra half lb means little to me. I am also running the lighter springs without any problem. It is an amazing descending fork that tracks flawlessly but it takes a little time to set it up properly.
Similar Products Used: Black, F100RLT, F80RL, F120RLC, 85-125 Talas RLC
Bike Setup: Titus ML1, XTR 960 crank, Easton AM Havoc Wheels, X9 shifters/derailures, Thomson stem and post, BB7 brakes
a Weekend Warrior
from MA, USA
Date Reviewed: September 4, 2008
Strengths: Sounds of compression and rebound damping. lightweight.
Weaknesses: Squeaks oddly during rapids bump absorption. Lock out force knob does not work any longer.
I believe the fork is a great product for all the reasons everyone has ever said about it. My only complaints are with the customer service and their reluctance to back up their product. If you pay 600 dollars for a suspension fork, use it resposibly and maintain it, there should be no problems with in the first year. If there is a problem the manufacture should be able to handle the issues that arise by takeing the product in and servicing it accordingly. As bad as the Spesh future shock E-150 failed by design for the few years it was offered I would still rather have it on my bike because at least it was backed by the company. I like the product I just dont know what I'm going to do with the squeaking, non functioning lock out force adjuster, and any other problem that may arise. Contemplating selling for a Rock Shok
a Weekend Warrior
from Fall City, WA
Date Reviewed: May 31, 2008
Strengths: Predictability. This fork throws no surprises at you. The linear travel is so nice because you just know how the fork will respond. Plush on the descents.
Weaknesses: None really, but I guess adjustability in travel would be a nice feature for climbing, but based on other posts for the Talas, their can be issues with that. Coil sprung forks weigh a little more.
I wanted to upgrade from my manitou black fork. I did my research on mtbr and saw the Vanilla got good reviews. Full Cycles had an 07 Vanilla advertised for $379, but they were out of the 07 and honored the price for the 08 Vanilla. Props to Full Cycles!
The Manitou Black is a lower end air sprung fork and it felt like when I was charging down a trail and compressed the fork 75% it wanted to buck me back in my seat or over the bars (regardless of how I tuned the rebound or PSI) The Vanilla is just so predictable that you don't have to think at all about how its going to respond, I just focus on my line and charge. I bought the RLC, and like the lockout feature when I have to climb the trail or logging road and the blow-off is nice once you get it dialed in just right, which is easy after a couple of rides. At 165lbs, I've got the medium spring in it and feel like it's perfect for me. Love the fork, and I feel like it's a great value compared to the other Fox Forks. Plush, and I've never felt like I was even close to bottoming it out hitting 2 foot drops.
You never see a 32 Vanilla on a new complete build bike, and I can only guess that's because there is a little extra weight to it, but I feel like the half pound weight penalty is totaly worth the added performance for a trail bike. If your thinking about buying the Vanilla, go for it... you won't be disapointed.
Bike Setup: K2 Lithium 4.0 - 5" trail bike. xt rear deore front, hayes nine discs, manitou 3-way shock.
from Long Island NY
Date Reviewed: April 18, 2008
Strengths: Incredibly easy to set up, dialed it in two rides. Tracking and steering is awesome. So plush and responsive makes you forget it's even there. No nonsense instruction manual. Controls on the fork make it very easy to adjust
Weaknesses: None as of yet!
After months and months of searching and disappointment I've finally found a fork that is PERFECT for my Reign 1. I've tried many but the Vanilla has to be one of the best I've ridden. For years i avoided Fox Shox because of the price but you know what you get what you pay for. After years of loyalty Marzocchi I have to give it Fox. They make the better trail bike fork that's for sure!! I still love my Marz 66VF and will never take it off my Kona Stinky till it dies. But so far I'm lovin this fork. So plus and it's so nice to be far away from Air assist or air forks. Had to change out the spring but it was so easy and the instructions in the Fox Manual made it easy. For the price of this slider I will never complain, because so far it has lived up to it's potential! Will write another review in a few months after I beat on it and see how it lasts.
I have had a Fox Vanilla RLC on my Heckler since I bought it in '03. I just updated to the '08 RLC last fall, not because the original wore out, but because I was hanging a few paychecks worth of new components on my Heckler and the fork was the last "old piece". I think I can say with assurance that this is one of the smoothest forks you will ever ride. There is no break-in period that I can discern. You pull it out of the box, hang it on the bike and go riding. For '08 the Vanilla has 140mm of travel compared to 125mm on my old unit. It also now has Post Mounts for the Disc brakes of your choice and a nifty brake hose guide. You get 2 extra springs with the fork to suit either your weight or riding preference. I weigh 170 and just left the stock spring in. I have always liked the feel of the Vanilla. It just soaks up bumps and hits with no effort. It has a bottomless feel to it.You can tune the fork to your liking and the lockout lever is effective and easy to reach. The looks of the fork match it's inside simplicity. Vanilla is a perfect name. It just blends in with the rest of your bike instead of looking like Flava Flav's Clock hanging on your front end. So far the '08 fork has been a nice replacement for the '03. I think that the Post Mounts stiffen it up a bit. I run a 7" rotor up front and there is nothing but a solid feel even when cranking on the stoppers. There is a big difference between a Coil Sprung Fork and an Air Sprung fork. That is not a bad thing. I prefer the feel of a coil myself, but run an air fork on my hardtail. There are endless choices out there. If your staring in confusion at the Baskin Robbins selection of longer travel forks, you can't go wrong with the Vanilla.
Bike Setup: 2003 SC Heckler XTR Drivetrain, Fox DHX 5.0 Air,Mavic Crossmax ST Disc, Formula Oro Brakes
a Weekend Warrior
from Phoenix, AZ
Date Reviewed: December 26, 2007
Strengths: This is a solid fork with great adjustability and smooth as butter right out of the box. Light weight for a spring fork and the multiple setting options on the RLC version give you the ability to dial in the fork for all riding conditions
Weaknesses: Beware if you are a heavy rider and you want to set up the fork with stiff spring resistance. Fox springs have always been a little soft for their ratings and the stiffest spring they offer in the 07&08 model is for a 180-210 rider. I am 6'1" and 190 lbs and this spring is still too plush for my liking. I contacted Fox and was disappointed to hear that they are not manufacturing a stiffer spring but directed me to a float fork. Tough advice since I already own the Vanilla and wanted a spring fork which is why I purchased this one to begin with...
Great fork, outstanding adjustability, bad engineering design that limits the available spring rates. I am an equipment engineer and will probably design a spring stiffener to support this guy. Bums me to have to engineer adjusters to satisfy my ride on a $500 fork!
Have to knock it down to 3 Chilis becuase starting in 07 they are not supporting the heavy riders.
Bike Setup: 07 Kona Dawg Primo. XT/XTR Drivetrain, BB7 stoppers
from Boone, NC, USA
Date Reviewed: November 7, 2007
Strengths: Very plush 5.5" coil fork! I have never ridden a medium size fork that I like as much as this one. I have never bottomed this fork out. I commonly hit four foot drops with out thinking twice. I love the adjustability of this fork. I am 5'10 160lbs and using the medium springs (installed) and love the way they feel. this fork also comes with light and heavy springs (must install). The lockout feature is great for those times when you want to climb. The oil damper makes this fork feel as smooth as most air-sprung forks.
Weaknesses: I am not sure that I am a fan of the post mount disc brake tabs. I think that I would have perfered the Industry standard disc tabs. I removed my brake caliper (Avid BB7 w/ 185mm rotors) to install new pads and clean the dirt/ mud off of and out of the caliper. Upon reinstallation, due to a mis-calibration in my tourque wrench, I actually damaged the magnesium. The bolt was a hair too long and push the magnesium out so far that it was rubbing slightly on the rotor. I contacted fox and they waranteed my for without any problem!!! Fox is awesome!!!. Fox installed a now lower for me, even though it was partially my fault.
This is an amazing fork! However due to having to have it waranteed three months after purchase I have to give it only four flamin chili's. But I must add, that Fox is awesome and they were very willing to help me out!
Bike Setup: Rebuilt 2001 Kona Blast (Ford edition) hardtail Freeride rig.
from Marietta, GA, USA
Date Reviewed: August 23, 2007
Strengths: Great small and large bump absorption. No pedal bob while seated. The adjustments actually make a difference, and the fork can be set up exactly to one's riding style. The lockout with force adjust works pretty much as well as Specialized's Brain except in the front. The travel is extremely smooth. It is a coil fork so you don't have to mess with air pressures or have to worry about blowing it out.
This fork is sweet. It isn't very heavy, it works well for any application. It is simple to replace the springs, which it comes with!!! And the travel is sooooooooo smooth.
Bike Setup: Sette Riddik 4" travel trail bike w/ Manitou Swinger 4 way Air shock with SPV, RaceFace Evolve XC cranks, RaceFace DH bottom bracket, Hayes HFX 9 brakes, WTB dual duty FR rims, Shimano XT hubs and drivetrain, Time ATAC pedals, SRAM PG-980 casette and PC-99 chain, Goodridge braided brake lines, WTB Pure V Saddle, Sette bar, stem, and seat post. ODI Ruffian lock on grips. Tires vary. FSA Z-S3 integrated headset.