Words by Flow | Images by Flowtographer

The not-so-minor details

Product

FOX 36 Float 160

Contact

SOLA Sport
www.ridefox.com

Weight

2.04kg

Positives

FOX seem to be back on their game in a big way!

Negatives

Urm....

The FOX 36 was the original high-performance, long-travel single crown fork. When FOX first brought this beast to market in 2005 its 36mm-legged chassis seemed absurdly chunky, like some kind of cartoon drawing of a fork. But the 36 weighed far less than its looks would indicate, and it soon became the gold standard for hardcore all-mountain riding.

Fox 36 First Bite-7

Since then, this segment of mountain biking has blown up like a gouty toe, and performance of long-travel single crown forks¬†has increased at a ridiculous rate; lighter, stiffer, more control on both the climbs and descents. Rockshox launched a huge salvo in the war for all-mountain dominance in 2013 with the Pike (which we’ve reviewed here), right at the same time as FOX were copping a bit of a battering as some riders found their forks under-damped and occasionally suffering from stiction issues.

But FOX have rallied the troops and resurrected that original no-holds-barred ethos of the 36 for 2015. While we haven’t got our new test fork onto the trails yet, at a glance, we’d have to say the results of their efforts are pretty damn impressive.

Fox 36 First Bite-5

The 36 uses an RC2 damper, not a CTD. While the CTD is a great system for trail riding, FOX recognise that 36 riders are after a more sophisticated level of damping control, so the RC2 offers independent high/low-speed compression adjustment.

The new 36 really is new, there’s an awful lot to talk about with this fork, so we’ll save the full discussion of all the features for our final verdict. But what stands out to us is how far FOX have gone in their efforts to combat friction with the 36 – each and every 36 that rolls off the production line is fitted to a dyno that checks the fork for bushing friction. The fork also runs the new FOX Gold Oil lubricating fluid, which is claimed to reduce friction by 33%, and the damper seal head is now a very expensive, very slippery SKF number. The polishing process for the legs has been changed too.

Fox 36 First Bite-3

It’s possible to run the 36 with either a 15 or 20mm axle. Remove the silver inserts, fit the supplied 20mm axle and you’re ready to roll with even more stiffness.

The weight of this fork is another highlight, FOX have scraped every excess gram out of the lowers and our test fork weighs in at 2044g. Part of the weight saving comes from a new air spring assembly; rather than running a coil for the negative spring, the 36 uses a negative air spring which automatically equalises with the positive chamber. This arrangement should not only be lighter, but should deliver the best possible ride quality, no matter what the rider weight (unlike the coil spring, which was optimised for a 75kg rider).

Fox 36 First Bite-4

Further adding to the fork’s tunability are these air-spring spacers. Much like the Rockshox Bottomless Token system, adding spacers will increase how progressive the spring curve is.

The 36 is available in a pretty impressive range of configurations, with options for 26, 27.5 and 29″ wheels, travel adjustable TALAS formats, and in 160mm or 170mm versions. Worth noting too, is that travel can be internally adjusted with the Float versions of the fork, right down to 11omm. Interestingly, the 36 can be run with either a 15mm or 20mm axle – that’s a unique option we didn’t expect. Next up, we’ll be fitting this fork to our new Norco Range Carbon 7.2 long-term test bike. It’ll be replacing a Rockshox Pike, so making a head to head comparison of the performance should be easy.

Fox 36 First Bite-8

 

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