The all-new Fox 32 Taper-Cast Gravel has finally arrived as the company’s lightest-ever suspension fork.
Fox says it has brought mountain bike levels of adjustability to bear on this minimal gravel design, with the 32 TC Gravel joining an increasingly crowded suspension market that includes rivals from Lauf, RockShox and Cannondale (with the Lefty found on the Topstone gravel bike).
The 32 Taper-Cast (TC) is a gravel-specific design and will be available in 40mm- and 50mm-travel options, with 50mm tyre clearance on 700c wheels.
It will be available in Factory, Performance Elite and Performance models, with either Fox’s FIT4 or GRIP damper options. Prices start from £849 / $769 / CA$1,039 / €1,039 and rise to £1,039 / $949 / CA$1,279 / €1,259.
Fox 32 TC Gravel: what you need to know
- Lightweight air spring optimised for short travel
- Dropped crown design to provide clearance for most gravel frames
- Integrated fender/mudguard mounts
- Available in 40mm- and 50mm-travel options
- 50mm tyre clearance for 700c wheels (not 650b compatible)
- 45mm and 50mm rake options
- 1-1/2in to 1-1/8in tapered steerer tube
- Claimed weight 1,226g
- Available in Factory, Performance Elite and Performance models
- Prices start at £849 / €1,039 / $769 / CA$1,039, rising to £1,039 / €1,259 / $949 / CA$1,279 for the Factory model
Fox majors on gravel suspension
Much teased over the past year or so, the official launch of the Fox 32 TC gravel fork has been a long time coming.
While Fox was the first to release a gravel-specific telescopic fork with the original AX in 2017, it wasn’t exactly the suspension solution we were hoping for.
The AX was essentially a shortened version of the Fox Float 32 SC cross-country fork.
Alongside requiring a whole bunch of volume spacers to get the air spring working as it should, it also had a mountain-bike derived shape to the crown, which meant it clashed with the down tube on many gravel frames when you rotated the bars.
It’s safe to surmise the original AX didn’t exactly set the gravel world on fire.
Fox hopes the new 32 TC will change that.
First, Fox says the 32 TC’s short-travel air spring should mean “there is no need for more than a few spacers, max”.
The fork also features a rearward-facing fork brace, a crown that’s tapered to clear frames and low-profile adjusters atop the fork legs, along with hidden rebound adjustment, partially tucked into the lower leg.
Fox says it has positioned the rebound adjustment here to maintain a sleek side-profile appearance, but that the knob has been sized and knurled to “easily spin and count clicks when adjusting”.
Lightened and tightened
At a claimed 1,226g, the 32 TC is the lightest production fork Fox has ever made.
Our test fork weighs in at 1,290g in Factory spec with 50mm of suspension travel, an uncut steerer (350mm) and 12mm thru-axle in place.
In comparison, the RockShox Rudy Ultimate gravel fork tested by our technical editor-in-chief, Rob Weaver, tipped our scales at 1,250g, with axle and star nut fitted.
Meanwhile, Cannondale’s latest carbon Oliver Lefty gravel fork weighs in at a claimed 1,170g (though it requires a dedicated wheel) and Lauf’s Grit SL a claimed 850g, although that has a leaf-spring design rather than telescopic.
All things considered, it looks as though Fox’s top-spec Factory fork is competitive in terms of weight.
Fox says weight reduction was key when designing the fork.
For example, the 32 TC’s fork brace has been placed on the rear, which means it’s at a lower point on the tyre, requiring less material (and reducing weight) for the same level of stiffness.
As the name suggests, the fork legs also taper to save weight. Because the 32 TC is a short-travel fork, the entire lower leg isn’t needed for tube overlap through the suspension travel, enabling Fox to use the tapered design.
As an aside, Fox claims this also reduces the frontal area of the fork, giving the fork a small aero gain to boot, if gravel racing is your thing.
The fork also incorporates an open truss-like design on the rear of the lower legs, removing excess material. The fork brace has the same trussed design but on the forward-facing edge, so mud being flung by the tyre hits a smooth surface rather than a mud trap. Smart thinking on Fox’s part.
There’s no remote lockout option available for the 32 TC. “Our testing has demonstrated that locking out the fork does not improve performance in most scenarios, and adding a remote lockout adds weight, complexity, cost and cockpit clutter,” says Fox.
Fox has committed to a steerer tube standard that tapers from 1-1/8in to 1.5in at the lower race, as found on most gravel bikes. With a long steerer (350mm), it should fit a wide range of gravel frames and sizes, too.
“We realise there are some frames out there that do not use 1.5in lower bearings, and we wish we could’ve offered a solution for those riders, but due to the supply chain challenges of COVID-19, we had to pick the single most common size,” says Fox.
Two options of fork offset are available – 45mm and 50mm – and the axle-to-crown length is between 435.5mm (40mm travel) and 445.5mm (50mm travel).
The fork is compatible with flat-mount brakes, with either 160mm or 180mm rotor sizes. The 32 TC is not compatible with 140mm rotors.
700c wheels only
The Fox 32 TC is also designed for 700c wheels only. Fox says the tapered shape means the narrowest point on the lower legs happens to be exactly the same place as the widest point of a 650b tyre.
That limits 650b clearance to only 30mm – very narrow for a gravel bike tyre.
Most riders switch to 650b wheels to take advantage of increased tyre volume.
However, the 32 TC’s generous 50mm clearance for 700c means there’s little need to drop down to the small wheel size, according to Fox. It also says a larger 700c wheel has better roll-over capability on rough terrain.
Yes, you can have mudguards
We like that Fox has chosen to include proper fender/mudguard mounts into the design.
This reduces the maximum tyre size to 45mm with guards in place – a trade we expect some riders will happily make for a dry behind come winter.
All the forks use the same 12x100mm lightweight Kabolt thru-axle standard.
Fox 32 TC Gravel range and pricing
Much like Fox’s well-established mountain bike forks, the 32 TC comes in three flavours: the range-topping Factory specification, the mid-range Performance Elite and the entry-level Performance.
Fox 32 TC Gravel Factory
Factory specification means the Gucci-looking golden hue of Kashima-coated legs and the FIT4 damper system, as found on Fox’s premium cross-country and high-performance trail forks.
FIT4 is a good option for gravel riders because its high-tolerance sealing should be fairly low-maintenance for multi-day adventures (and the lazy among us).
FIT4 means there’s a three-position lever to set the fork to open, medium or firm damping on the fly, along with a secondary dial to tune low-speed rebound. Plus, its lighter and more compact than Fox’s premium DH/enduro GRIP2 system.
- Price: £1,039 / $949 / CA$1,279 / €1,259
Fox 32 TC Gravel Performance Elite
The Performance Elite comes with the same FIT4 system, but without the high-grade Kashima-coated legs.
- Price: £949 / $TBC / CA$TBC / €TBC
Fox 32 TC Gravel Performance
When it comes to the standard Performance fork, this is the one you’ll more than likely find specced as original equipment on gravel bikes.
It uses Fox’s GRIP damper, which is a semi-sealed system with three-position compression adjustment and a simple rebound setting.
- Price: £849 / $769 / CA$1,039 / €1,039
Our test fork
We’ve got the top-spec Factory fork in for testing, with a 45mm offset and the maximum 50mm travel.
We’ll report back as soon as we’ve had ample time to put the 32 TC through its paces, to see how it compares to what is a steadily growing range of competitors.