Updated 10 March 2017
After spotting several teaser images on Instagram, we finally got a first-hand look at the Fox AX 'Adventure Cross' suspension fork at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show, in Salt Lake CIty, Utah.
NAHBS showcases the latest custom creations from frame builders. This custom bicycle expo is often used to debut new products that fit many of the niche markets catered to by custom builders. Given the number of gravel and adventure rigs on the show floor this year, it seems like the perfect venue to debut this road-oriented suspension fork.
The Denver-based custom frame builder Alchemy Bicycle Co. had the new Fox AX fork mounted to the front of its new titanium gravel bike, the Kratos.
Here's what we know so far about this new fork so far.
To keep the axle-to-crown numbers in line with gravel and cyclocross forks, the Fox AX fork uses a 27.5in version of the Fox 32 Step Cast chassis. The Step Cast is the lightest Fox fork, with a weight of 2.98lb / 1.35kg for the 27.5in version that the the AX is based on. We don't yet know the weight of the actual AX fork, but it's likely in this ballpark.
The Fox AX fork is for 700c wheels.
The AX uses the Fox FIT 4 Damper, which offers an adjustable open position, platform mode and a fully-locked out position. It has 40mm of suspension travel, which is 10mm more than the Lefty Oliver used on the Cannondale Slate.
Since it's based off the 27.5in SC 32 chassis, it uses a 15x100mm thru-axle and has 44mm of offset.
Given the growth of gravel racing and adventuring touring, plus the existence of similar suspension products by Lauf and Cannondale, there does appear to be a market for short-travel suspension forks for road applications. And if the number of 'monstercross' and gravel bikes on display at NAHBS is any indication, this is a trend that will continue in the coming years.
Specialized recently launched its new Roubaix endurance road bike with the "Future Shock" spring suspension system atop the head tube.
Fox declined to comment on the record about the development of a road/gravel-specific suspension fork. Even so, this may be more evidence that everything in the cycling industry is cyclical. Products improve over time, but we keep retracing our steps by experimenting with the same concepts.
Some BikeRadar readers may remember the 700c RockShox Mag 21. It was designed around road caliper brakes and featured 30mm of suspension travel.
The road version of this venerable suspension fork was ridden in the Paris-Roubaix multiple times in the early 1990s. In fact, Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle rode it to back-to-back victories in 1992 and 1993.
Follow the links below to learn more about the history of road bike suspension at this iconic race.