Fox Racing Shox Transfer Performance Elite Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: short stack height, easy setup, great lever
Cons: Lever sold separately, above average weight
Manufacturer: Fox Racing Shox
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Our Analysis and Test Results
As one of the biggest names in high-performance mountain bike suspension, it seems natural that Fox is well-positioned to engineer a top-shelf dropper post. While we weren't exactly disappointed with the old version of the Transfer, it didn't quite stack up with the best models we've tested. The 2021 version, however, is a different story. Fox managed to make this post more competitive in multiple areas by reducing the stack height, insertion depth, and weight while improving the saddle clamp and remote lever. The 2021 version of this post is among the most well-rounded models we tested, scoring among the best in almost every metric.
Smoothness and Functionality
The 2021 Transfer packs the same basic internals as the older version of the post with a nitrogen-charged spring and a fixed return rate. We really liked the functionality of the old post, so we weren't worried about the lack of a change. Out on the trail, we found the same smooth, fast action that we enjoyed before. The post moves quickly and easily through all of its travel in both compression and extension. It doesn't take much weight to get the seat to drop once you've engaged the lever, and there is almost no resistance on the way down. When the trail turns back uphill the saddle returns very quickly and tops out with a satisfying thunk, which we found serves as a good signal to let off the lever and sit back down. Although the return rate isn't adjustable you can feather the lever to bring the seat up more slowly if you want.
In our previous test of the Transfer we had some issues with some rotational play in the post that was noticeable while pedaling and occasionally caused some rattling, but the 2021 version was rock solid. Out of the box the post had no play whatsoever, and we didn't notice any developing over the course of our field test.
Early in our testing process, we learned that it's important to closely follow the 5.1Nm torque spec on the seat collar to ensure that the post functions optimally. Like most droppers, if you apply too much torque to the seat clamp the post can struggle to move smoothly through all of its travel or get sticky when fully extended. When we first set our 2021 Transfer up, we approximated the torque and got it slightly high. On our first ride, we had some issues with the post sticking at top out, but once we got the torque wrench out and set it properly our problems disappeared. It doesn't take much extra torque to hinder this post's functionality, so we recommend using a torque wrench upon installation.
In our opinion, the saddle clamp is the key improvement to the 2021 Transfer. The redesigned head reduces the post's stack height fairly significantly. This should allow riders who were on the borderline between travel options to step up to a longer drop and dramatically improve the quality of their ride. The old Transfer had a 60mm stack height with the saddle compressed, and the new post cuts that number all the way down to 38mm. It isn't quite the shortest stack height on the market today, but it's a close second place behind the OneUp V2. We can't overstate how important the stack height number is to improve the quality of your ride. The shorter the stack height, the longer travel post you can run to keep that pesky saddle out of your way when making dynamic movements on the trail.
In addition to the reduced stack height, Fox also managed to improve the seat clamp's functionality in the redesign. The new design isn't a huge departure from a traditional two-bolt clamp system, but we found it significantly easier to use. The system comprises two custom bolts that thread into cylinder nuts at either end of the post's head. The top side of the bolts fit into the upper clamp piece and can swing free from it without being completely unthreaded from the post. As a result, the top half of the clamp can be fully removed without having to remove the bolts and deal with multiple small pieces. You can simply remove the top piece by swinging the bolt heads out of the way, set the saddle rails in the grooves, replace the top piece, and swing the bolts up into place. Like standard two-bolt clamps, the saddle's tilt is controlled when tightening the clamp bolts. We found the whole process faster and considerably less frustrating than the typical saddle replacement, and we think it's a nice benefit to the 2021 Transfer.
Along with the redesigned 2021 Transfer Fox also devised a brand new remote lever. Frankly, we think the new lever is great, but before we gush too much about it we should be clear that it does not come standard with the post. If you want to match your Transfer post with the new 1x lever you will have to purchase the lever separately for a decent chunk of change. Many companies that offer cable-actuated droppers sell their remote levers separately because they're cross-compatible between brands, but we still don't like the idea of having to purchase a post and lever separately.
With that disclaimer out of the way, we'll say that the new Fox 1x lever is one of the best we've ever used. We would recommend it for use with any compatible cable-actuated dropper. It's available with a standard clamp as well as Sram matchmaker or Shimano I-spec configurations. The lever we tested used the Ispec mount, which offers sliding adjustment left to right as well as the standard two mounting location options. The lever itself mimics a shifter lever using a large, ergonomic paddle with a textured surface that feels natural against your thumb. The lever moves on a sealed cartridge bearing, which gives it a very smooth and robust feel, and the body is thin and flat, allowing for a wide adjustment range without interfering with brake levers. We were able to quickly and easily dial in our lever to the perfect position.
While Fox managed to lower the Transfer's weight with this update, it isn't a massive improvement over the previous version. The post's heft is still its biggest weakness in our opinion. Fox claims that the new version is 25 grams lighter across the board. Our 175mm test post tipped the scales at 733 grams including the lever, housing, and cable, putting it on the heavier end of the posts that we tested. At 4.2 grams per millimeter of travel, it's competitive, but not super light. It isn't quite as heavy as the Reverb AXS, but it's still on the upper end of the spectrum. For reference, many of the posts we tested came in under 700 grams.
The weight is a drawback of this model, but realistically for most riders, it shouldn't be an issue. Unless you're planning on using this post to chase hill climb records or race cross country we don't think you'll notice the extra grams. Functionality and longevity should be much higher on most riders' lists, and this post certainly checks those boxes.
Ease of Setup
Like most cable-actuated dropper posts, the Transfer is a breeze to set up—especially when compared to hydraulic posts like the Reverb Stealth. Setup-wise there is no change from the old version of the Transfer to this one other than the improved seat clamp. The barrel end of the cable fits into a cylindrical bushing that sits in a cradle at the bottom of the post, and the cable housing fits securely into a port just below that. The cable end is clamped with a small set screw at the lever where a barrel adjuster makes cable tension adjustment easy.
Depending on the type of frame you're installing the post on, it's likely that running the cable housing through the frame will be the most difficult part of the process. Some frames have internal tunnels to guide the housing to make the process simple, but others will require some fishing around to get everything in the right place. Dialing in the housing length can take a little bit of extra time as well, but it's nothing compared to shortening a hydraulic hose.
This post lands pretty close to smack dab in the middle of the dropper post price range. Considering that it's one of our favorite models, we think that it's well worth the price. Fox made some significant improvements to this version that make it one of the best droppers on the market, and it comes in considerably cheaper than the only two posts we rated more highly. We would love if the remote lever were included with the post, but even without it, we think this is a good value.
Fox did a great job of addressing the Transfer's weak points with the 2021 update. The lower stack height, reduced weight, and improved lever turned what used to be a mid-pack dropper into one of the best available. With tons of travel options, most riders should be able to find the perfect post for their bike with this model.
Other Versions and Accessories
We tested the Performance Elite version of the Transfer, but Fox also offers a Factory version of this post with a gold Kashima coating. The two versions of the post are exactly the same other than the coating, but the Factory version will cost you a handful more.The Transfer is available in 30.9 and 31.6 diameters and travel lengths of 100, 125, 150, 175, and 200mm.
— Zach Wick
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