Fox 36 Float Factory FIT GRIP2 fork first ride review£1,139.00

Fox adds new GRIP2 damper to 36 series; more adjustments, less friction promised from new internals

For 2019, Fox is introducing a new GRIP2 damper and an updated EVOL air spring housed in its 36 series Float forks. The new internals are claimed to increase performance through less friction, improved compression damping and wider adjustments for additional refinement.

2019 Fox 36 Float highlights 

  • Wheel sizes: 26, 27.5, and 29in options available
  • Axles: 15x100, 15x110, 15/20mm thru-axle
  • Travel: 26in: 160, 180mm, also 100mm for 831 dirt jump fork / 27.5in: 160, 170, 180mm / 29in: 150, 160mm
  • Steerer tube: 1.5in taper, 1 1/8in for 26in option only

The updated EVOL air spring claims to improve small bump sensitivity, mid-stroke support and allow more tunable bottom-out progression
The updated EVOL air spring claims to improve small bump sensitivity, mid-stroke support and allow more tunable bottom-out progression

FIT GRIP2 damper features

Fox's new FIT GRIP2 damper replaces its RC2 internals and the company reports quite a few improvements. The first-generation GRIP damper is still found in 32 and 34 series forks.

GRIP2 features four-way adjustments and is said to be smoother than ever with less friction throughout
GRIP2 features four-way adjustments and is said to be smoother than ever with less friction throughout

With the previous RC2 damper, rebound and high- and low-speed compression were adjustable. The GRIP2 cartridge bumps that up to four-way tuning with high- and low-speed compression paired with high- and low-speed rebound. 

According to Fox, its variable valve-control rebound adjuster lets riders tune the valve stiffness instead of dialling in more preload. The variable valve control is claimed to be similar to swapping out the valve shims (the little washer-like openings that the oil flows through to control the fork's movement).

Fox claims small-bump sensitivity has been improved through the use of fewer seals. 

Lastly, the range of compression adjustments has been increased for additional support and tuning options.

Updated EVOL air spring

A new EVOL air spring promises a smoother ride with less trail noise getting to the handlebars
A new EVOL air spring promises a smoother ride with less trail noise getting to the handlebars

Fox's EVOL air spring has been around for a while, debuting in Float rear shocks back in 1999.

Short for Extra Volume, EVOL air springs allow for more linear feeling suspension throughout the first part of the travel, which provides better sensitivity over small hits. 

The updated version claims to take all of the EVOL air spring's positive attributes further. 

Fox is stating its latest EVOL technology increases small-bump sensitivity, and through the use of volume spacers, provides more mid-stroke support and allows a more tunable bottom-out progression. 

The result according to Fox is less feedback through the handlebars. 

Fox 36 Float Factory FIT GRIP2 fork initial ride impressions — Rob Weaver

I bolted the new 36 FIT GRIP2 fork to my Whyte G-170 C Works test bike, opting to run 170mm of travel and a 44mm offset. While the new fork offers more adjustment than the FIT RC2 fork it’s set to replace, Fox’s set up guide is pretty accurate when it comes to getting a solid footing from which to build from.

Weighing in at 68kg (kitted up), I did find myself creeping over Fox’s recommended air spring setting by 7psi, leaving the Float spring set at 74psi. Both the rebound and compression damping base settings seem more pin-point from the get-go though.

I ended up running seven clicks (from fully closed) of low-speed rebound damping and six clicks (from fully closed) of high-speed rebound damping, and while I was quite happy with 10 clicks (from fully closed) of high-speed compression damping, I did add a couple of extra clicks of low-speed compression damping over the recommended setting, settling on eight clicks out from fully closed.

For 2019, Fox's 36 forks have a new GRIP2 damper sucking up the bumps
For 2019, Fox's 36 forks have a new GRIP2 damper sucking up the bumps

This left things feeling just the right side of lively without feeling pogo stick quick or resulting in any unwanted diving when tackling steeper sections of trail.

On the hill the grip and overall sensitivity of the new fork is really quite astounding. We’re big fans of the 2018 36 FIT RC2 fork and early on in the stroke, when compared to the FIT GRIP2, there’s not much in it. Both sit easily into their travel and feel beautifully supple early on. But it’s the level of control and composure that the new fork delivers in the all-important mid-stroke that really stands out.

Point it at an ugly root spread and it’ll smooth it out and swallow it up with ease, recovering quickly between the uneven, square edged hits rapidly, all the while keeping the front of the bike propped up and the bar calm while you pinball the back wheel through at pace.

Of course, we all know the RC2 can handle these sorts of situations with ease too, it’s just that the FIT GRIP2 fork flattens those edges that bit better, with no hint of harshness even when slapping the front wheel into the nastiest bumps with a total disregard for finesse.

It’s comfy over long, rough runs too. While the RC2 fork is still extremely supple, during a long day of back-to-back testing against the GRIP2 fork, the newbie certainly has the edge, feeling that bit smoother on the really roughed up sections of trail, even during the later runs in the day when my arms and hands were feeling more fatigued.

The new damper has enabled Fox to deliver a more usable range of adjustments also. While I would always run the high-speed compression adjuster on the RC2 fork fully open (adding even just a few clicks of high-speed compression could make the fork feel harsh in certain situations), I’m now skirting around the half way mark on the GRIP2 fork.

While there’s still the option of dialling in more support to the fork, it also means I can get things feeling even plusher and more forgiving if I want.

Overall chassis stiffness feels the same, though weight weenies will want to note that the FIT GRIP2 fork gains a few extra grams due to the extra oil used in the new system.

Fox 36 pricing and availability

The new 36 Float forks with GRIP2 dampers are available now. 

  • 36 Float Factory with FIT GRIP2: £1,139 /  $1,065 /  AU$1649
  • 36 Float Performance Elite with FIT GRIP2: $973 (£ and AU$ not available)
  • 36 Factory with FIT4: $994 (£ and AU$ not available)
  • 36 Performance Elite with FIT4: $899 (£ and AU$ not available)

Fox 36 Float Factory FIT GRIP2 fork early verdict

Fox has delivered another top-class performer and I can’t wait to get it up against the 2019 RockShox Lyrik to see for myself how the two compare. Keep your eyes peeled for a full review soon.

Russell Eich

Tech Writer, US
Russell fell head over heels in love with bikes in the '90s, and has been involved in the bike industry ever since. Between wrenching in bike shops, guiding professionally, and writing about bikes, Russell has honed an appreciation for what works, gained knowledge of what doesn't, and can barely contain his enthusiasm for what comes next. His two-wheeled passion continues in the Rocky Mountains high above Boulder, Colorado.
  • Age: 39
  • Height: 6'3"/190cm
  • Weight: 175lb/79kg
  • Waist: 34in/86cm
  • Chest: 42in / 107cm
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: High altitudes, forgotten singletracks, bike parks, roads without cars
  • Current Bikes: Custom Meriwether steel hardtail, Specialized S-Works Enduro 29, Kona Jake the Snake, Trek 69er, and a bunch more
  • Dream Bike: Yeti SB5c, Intense Tracer 275C, Black Cat custom road
  • Beer of Choice: Gin + Tonic
  • Location: Rollinsville, CO, USA

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