Fox Shox has a long history in the world of shocks in both mountain biking and motocross, but their first mountain bike suspension fork was launched back in 2001. It proved a huge hit and this 32 chassis was quickly followed by the burly 36, downhill 40 and then the trail 34 forks, all available in a number of specs to suit different budgets.
Our guide will run you through the current Fox Shox front fork range, including all the different models, the specifications available for each of those and what all means, in order to help you find which one is best for you and your budget.
Fox Shox fork range
All Fox Shox forks follow the same naming convention, where a number tells you the upper leg diameter in millimetres, which in turn gives you an idea of the end user the fork is suitable for. Roughly summed up, the 32 series of forks are made for cross-country and light trail use, the 34 forks are meant for all-around trail use, the 36 is for heavy duty trail/all mountain and enduro use, while the dual crown 40 is made for downhill and extreme gravity riding. All of Fox's aftermarket forks use air springs.
In addition to these base chassis designs, here are a number of different specification levels for each of them, which is why the Fox Shox fork range adds up to a huge 144 different models...
Factory Series forks
This is the highest level of Fox fork and is priced accordingly. All these models have high-end FIT4 and FIT GRIP 2 dampers and use the distinctive golden 'Kashima' coating on the upper legs to reduce friction and increase wear life. The Kashima treatment creates microscopic pores on the upper legs that retain lubricating oil as the forks cycles through the travel, making it much slippier.
Performance Elite forks
This is the middle of the Fox forks range and while they share the same high-end damper technologies as the Factory forks with FIT4 and FIT GRIP2 options, the upper legs just have a black anodised finish rather than the Kashima coat.
This is the entry-level specification of Fox forks that are available on the aftermarket. Different, less complicated FIT GRIP dampers are used and the upper legs are again black anodised. The lower legs are the same as the higher end forks, however.
This is an original equipment (OEM) only level of fork that you'll on see specced on complete bikes from manufacturers. The Rhythm forks have slightly less damper adjustment from a GRIP damperand the lower legs are cast from a heavier but more affordable grade of aluminium to keep costs down.
Step Cast models
Fox has introduced 'Step-Cast' versions of both the 32 and 34 series, which use a narrower stance plus slimmed down, stepped lower legs to help reduce weight. They're pitched at the lightweight cross-country and lightweight trail markets respectively.
There are also E-bike specific versions of the Fox 34 and Fox 36 series. These use thicker walled upper legs to increase stiffness and so deal better with the extra bulk of an electric bike. The trade off is that they're heavier.
Fox Shox 32 fork range
The Fox 32 Step-Cast is available for 650b and 29" wheel sizes in Factory and Performance spec, all having 100mm of air-sprung travel, a tapered steerer and standard or Boost hub spacing with a 15mm through axle.
Factory-level forks get a sealed FIT4 cartridge damper which has a three-position compression adjuster with open mode fine-tune adjuster, plus rebound damping adjustment. There is also a two-position bar mounted lockout available.
Performance forks use a GRIP cartridge damper which offers three-position compression adjustment.
There is also a special version of the 32 Step-Cast called the Fox Step-Cast AX or Adventure Cross. It's specially modified to work on gravel bikes with 700c or 650b wheels and has just 40mm of travel from a specially converted spring. It uses a FIT4 damper.
The Fox 32 Factory fork is available in both 29" and 650b wheels with 120mm of travel, a 15mm through axle and a tapered steerer. The FIT4 damper and Float air spring are used, though there is the option of a two-position bar mounted remote instead of the top cap mounted adjustments the FIT4 has as standard.
The Fox 32 Performance fork is available in 26", 650b and 29" wheel sizes, all with a three-position GRIP damper. The 26" fork has 100mm, 120mm and 140mm travel options with either an open 9mm or bolt-through 15mm axle, plus straight 1.125" or tapered steerer. The 650b fork only comes with 100mm travel and a 9mm open axle and a tapered steerer, while the 29" fork comes in 100mm with a 9mm dropout or 120mm with a 15mm through axle.
Fox Shox 34 fork range
Again, there is a Step-Cast range of 34 forks, which start with the 34 Step-Cast Factory. Available in both 650b and 29" wheel sizes, it only comes in 120mm travel with Boost hub spacing and a tapered steerer. As always, it's got Kashima coated upper legs and uses the FIT4 damper with remote option, though both this and the air spring have a dedicated tune. There's clearance for 2.8" tyres on the 650b fork and 2.6" rubber on the 29er.
There's also the 34 Step-Cast Performance fork, which only comes at a 29" wheeled, Boost spaced, tapered steerer 120mm travel model with GRIP three-position damper.
The standard chassis range is topped by the 34 Factory which comes with the FIT4 three-position damper. The 650b fork is available in 140mm and 150mm travel, while the 29er fork comes in 120mm, 130mm and 140mm travel. A tapered steerer is the only option but you can get it in Boost and non-Boost spacing for a 15mm axle.
The 34 Performance Elite does without the Kashima coating but retains the FIT4 damper. It has the same travel options in the 650b fork, but there's no 120mm travel option for 29ers.
The 34 Performance uses a three-position GRIP damper and the 650b fork gets 140mm and 150mm travel options, but it's only available in 140mm as a 29er fork. Boost or non-Boost hub spacing is the only additional option.
When it comes to e-MTB specific models, there's only one. The 34 E-Bike Performance gets a GRIP damper and black anodised upper legs made from thicker walled tubing than the conventional range. It only comes in 120mm travel with Boost spacing, whether in 650b or 29er form.
Fox Shox 36 fork range
The hard-hitting 36 lineup is topped by the Fox 36 Factory which is available for 26", 650b and 29" wheels and only comes with a Float air spring.
The 650b fork comes in 150mm, 160mm, 170mm and 180mm travel options, with either the FIT4 damper or four-way adjustable FIT GRIP2 damper on the last three travel options. It's tapered steerer only, with Boost or non-Boost spacing available.
The 29" fork comes in 150mm, 160mm and 170mm travel options, with a FIT4 damper or FIT GRIP2 on the latter two.
When it comes to 26" wheeled versions, these use a different chassis based on an older version of the 36. There's a dirt jump bike specific model called the 36 Factory 831 26 which only comes in 100mm travel, plus a trail model in 160mm and 180mm travel options. Both have a FIT GRIP2 damper with a non-boost 15mm axle that can be converted to 20mm. There are straight or tapered steerer options.
Fox 36 Performance Elite forks share the same damper options, but the 650b fork comes in 160mm or 170mm travel and the 29er fork is only in 160mm travel. You can only get boost spacing and a tapered steerer in these forks.
The 36 E-Bike Factory fork is only available as a 29" fork with 160mm of travel (though of course 650b Plus tyres fit into this model) with a FIT GRIP2 damper, Boost spacing and tapered steerer.
The 36 E-Bike Performance fork has the same wheel size, travel, steerer and spacing options but has black anodised upper legs and uses a three-position GRIP damper.
Fox Shox 40 fork range
When it comes to aftermarket options, you can only buy a Kashima coated, air sprung Fox 40 Factory, but there are a trio of wheel size options, with 26", 650b and 29" options. All have 203mm of travel, FIT GRIP2 dampers and straioght 1.125" steerers. The 26' and 650b forks have a 20mm through axle, but the 29er - also known as the Fox 49 Factory - gets a 20mm Boost axle.
There are also Fox 40 Performance level forks, but these are original equipment for manufacturers only.
Fox Shox fork technologies
Fox has a number of technologies that they use exclusively on their forks.
- Float EVOL air spring: This is Fox's air spring system used across the entire range. The EVOL part stands for 'Extra VOLume' and indicates that it has a larger negative air spring than previous Float designs in order to make . the initial part of the travel more linear.
- FIT 4 damper: This is one of Fox's premium cartridge dampers. The name stands for 'Fox Isolated Technology. It has a three position compression adjust via the blue lever on the top car with fine-tuning adjustment in the open mode via the black knob, or there is a two-position remote lockout available. It also has rebound adjustment at the bottom of the leg. It uses a sealed design with a rubber bladder to compensate for displaced oil as the damper cycles through the travel.
- FIT GRIP damper: This is the damper fitted to more affordable models in the Fox fork range. It has three-position compression damping adjustment from a blue lever at the top of the leg and rebound at the bottom. It is a semi-sealed cartridge that uses a sprung piston to compensate for displaced oil, with a feature that allows it to bleed excess oil as needed.
- FIT GRIP2 damper: This is a premium damper seen on Fox's gravity focussed forks. It has the same basic architecture as the FIT GRIP damper - namely a sprung piston - but it has much more adjustment, with both high and low-speed compression damping adjustment and independent high and low-speed rebound damping on offer too. It uses something called Variable Valve Control adjust the high-speed rebound damping, which alters valve flex rather than preload, which Fox say "provides the same effect as revalving high-speed rebound but without the need for damper disassembly". It also has a different mid valve, plus various friction reducing treatments over the standard GRIP damper.
- Kabolt axle: This is an axle than can be used to replace the standard flip-lever 15mm through axle found on Fox forks. It's lighter than standard but require a 6mm Allen key to undo.
- Kashima Coat: This is a hard anodising surface treatment created by Miyaka Company of Japan. It consists of" lubricating molybdenum disulfide deposited via electrical induction into the billions of micro-pores on the surface of hard-anodized aluminum for better lubrication and less abrasion and wear."
- Volume spacers: All Fox Shox forks allow the user to control how progressive the ending stroke of the fork is by using volume spacers. These require you to undo the top cap of the fork's air spring side leg and then add or remove clip-on spacers. Adding more increase the resistance to bottoming out, while removing them does the opposite. The volume spacers are specific to fork models and colour coded to match. The thicker legs on E-Bike specific forks require you to use a spacer from the fork below it; a 36 E-Bike fork would use the spacer for a standard 34 fork, not a standard 36 fork.
You can see the entire Fox Shox fork range here.
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