Fox has expanded its Step-Cast line of lightweight suspension forks to include a 34 chassis suited to the growing number of light and capable mountain bikes that straddle the cross-country and trail bike categories.
We've spent a bit of time getting familiar with this promising new fork. Read on for the details.
Fox 34 Step-Cast Float highlights
- 120mm travel (100mm version on some production bikes)
- 27.5 and 29in versions
- 51 or 44mm offset
- FIT4 Damper
- 110x15mm spacing w/bolt-on thru-axle
- Available now
- Actual weight: 3.64lb / 1,650g (29in, uncut steerer w/axle)
- Pricing: $943 / £1,009 / AU$1,519
Built for the new breed
Frequent BikeRadar readers may have noticed the growing number of short-travel 29ers that approach cross-country weights with geometry suited to aggressive trail riding.
The 34SC caters to bikes such as the Santa Cruz Tallboy 3, Pivot 429 Trail and other lightweight trail bikes that could see use in stage races, such as the BC Bike Race, Breck Epic, or the Epic Rides series.
Like the 32 Step-Cast, Fox sought to shave grams by developing a purpose-built chassis.
Unlike the 32SC, Fox didn’t narrow the fork’s crown, which resulted in decreased tire clearance and necessitated stepping the inside of the lower legs to create room for the hub flanges, brake caliper and rotor.
In the case of the 34SC, weight savings come from a lighter-weight crown, an arch with fewer reinforcements, and stepped contours on the outside of the lower legs.
The internals have been refined to save weight as well. The air spring is specific to this 120mm fork travel, and the damper uses a smaller rod — 8mm instead of 10mm.
In keeping with the versatile nature of this fork, tire clearance has not been impacted. The 27.5in version can fit tires up to 2.8in wide, while the 29er model will clear 2.6in tires.
This 120mm 29er fork weighs 3.64lb / 1,650g with a full-length steerer tube and Kabolt thru-axle. For comparison, a standard 120mm 29in Fox Float Factory 34 fork weighs 3.94lb / 1,787g.
The 34SC shaves 137g from the 34 standard chassis. I didn’t have a non-Step-Cast 120mm 32 fork on hand for comparison, though Fox claims the 34SC is both lighter and stiffer, both of these claims are easy to believe.
Fox 34SC Float Factory ride impressions
This slimmed-down 34 uses the FIT4 damper, which offers adjustable rebound, 22 clicks of low-speed compression damping in the open mode, a pre-set intermediate platform position, and a firm but not rock-solid lockout.
The EVOL air spring has been updated on Fox model year 2019 forks with fewer dynamic seals to improve small-bump sensitivity. Like the standard 34 fork, riders can tune the progressivity of the air curve through the use of volume spacers.
My air pressure settings were similar between the standard Factory 34 and the Factory 34SC. I did find I needed two additional clicks of compression damping.
On the trail, there is a notable difference between the 34SC and last year’s Factory 34 in terms of suspension performance. Small-bump sensitivity is improved and the air spring ramps up nicely towards the end of the stroke.
In keeping with the nature of the bikes this fork will be bolted to, mid-stroke support is very good. It handled repeated high-velocity impacts from matted roots and sharp-angled rocks with poise.
As a lightweight rider, I couldn't discern any difference in steering precision on back-to-back test laps between the 34SC and the standard 34.
Fox 34SC Float Factory early verdict
The weight savings of the 34SC come at a slight price increase over the standard 34 that will turn off some riders. If, however, you are looking to cut weight without sacrificing steering precision or suspension performance, the 34 Step-Cast is worth considering.
The Fox 34SC Float Factory offers ultralight performance for short-travel trail bikes
Check back soon for our long-term review.