Fox 36 Float Factory FIT4 27.5 170 fork review£989.00

A reliable suspension investment

BikeRadar score4.5/5

Fox’s 2017 FIT4 36 is the most versatile version yet of its iconic big legged fork, maximising user friendly, all-trail convenience while keeping its ultimate flat out, tightly controlled race feel performance.

The obvious structural change in 2017 is that the old 20mm axle option is gone from the 36 roster. That won’t be an issue for most riders though as 20mm front hubs are almost extinct on most modern wheel sets.

Besides, when we tested them on our static workshop rig, stiffness gains were slight and the angle adjustable QR15 skewer is far more convenient than the five bolt 20mm axle set up.

The massive 36mm stanchions and fat crown still mean it's plenty stiff anyway, particularly in a fore and aft plane, when it comes to slapping through square edged blocks and braking bumps.

Travel is adjustable from 110 to 180mm travel internally (it’s a partial strip down job) and TALAS external travel adjust versions are also available.

All external adjusters are crisply finished, and the hose guide is neat and secure with paint tough enough to stay looking good over time.

At just over 2kg it’s 30g lighter than its obvious adversary, the RockShox Lyrik, and is certainly not an excessive amount of weight to add to your bike for aggressive trail use, considering the performance it adds.

Travel is adjustable from 110 to 180mm travel internally
Travel is adjustable from 110 to 180mm travel internally

The real stand out performance clarity comes from within though. The FIT4 cartridge shim stack has been updated for a noticeably more supple feel at low shaft speeds, while high shaft speeds are handled with the same tune as the supportive 2016 forks.

That means that while the big hit, high-speed supremacy of the 36 was previously at the expense of a comfortably soft top-end, and hammered arms at the end of a long descent, the FIT4 is now plenty smooth and forgiving all the way down the hill.

The increased sensitivity connects you to the tyre knobs with amazing HD clarity and tactile grip even in sliding, fading traction situations, and not having battered hands and arms obviously helps you be reactive to the information you’re getting.

The Open setting now has 22 micro tune sub-levels to play with too, so there’s enough to keep even the most 'princess and pea' fork tweakers happy.

The result is that however hard, relentless or random the impacts are, or relentless the trail, the intelligently metered compression circuits keep the 36 totally consistent and immaculately communicative so you can attack the ride from start to finish.

While the high-speed damping and spring curve is spot on for most riders it’s easy to add volume spacers for a more progressive feel if you’re in the aggressive bracket. The fact you can also flick its compression into a harder ‘Medium’ setting or ‘Firm’, which we'd rate as for emergency movement only, means you can run it soft without affecting climbing/pedalling performance too.

Alternatively, the ‘fettlers favourite’ RC2 version (£1,059) hides independent high- and low-speed compression adjustment under a dustbin cover on the lower leg. Either way, Fox’s reliability is legendary, making the cost a fair investment rather than an excessive expense.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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