Decent geometry, tyre choice and frame design developments on 29ers are letting them push further into aggressive trail use. Up until now one of the major limiting factors has been ﬁnding a suitable fork. Thanks to Fox’s new 34 that’s not true anymore.
The new architecture is based on a 34mm stanchion size – 2mm larger in diameter than Fox’s usual 26 and 29in trail forks. It’s not just a scale-up of the existing structure – the brace is lower, squarer and deeper, with large recessed sections on the front to create an I-beam cross section.
To maximise stiffness Fox are only producing it in a 1.125-1.5in tapered steerer and QR15 screw-through axle version. You do get to choose between a ﬁxed-travel 140mm version or the quick-release 110-140mm TALAS version here. At 2,099g with a steerer cut to the same length it’s 246g heavier than the 32 TALAS 29 we took off. It also costs £110 more. The ﬁxed-travel Float version saves you £60 and 100g though.
Even the stiffest 29ers tend to chew and maul hard turn-ins, off cambers and root spreads like a cheap kitchen knife, but the 34 is a proper Sabatier. Combined with the Easton carbon wheels we’re running, steering inputs were sliced into the trail with clarity and authority. The extra 20mm of travel and fore aft stiffness means deep drop, slow speed steps that are normally off the menu on 29ers because of twist under braking are the staple diet of the 34.
FIT compression damping is as controlled as ever and the Kashima coating plus new-for-2012 SKF seals mean excellent small bump and rebound sensitivity. Being able to ﬂick the fork back to 110mm is useful for technical climbing. We’ve been running it at full stretch everywhere else, and our test team equate the experience to their ﬁrst ride on Fox 36 forks compared to the 32 series.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.