2015 Fox 36

For 2015, the Fox 36 became their flagship fork, imbued with all of their latest technology to deliver new levels of control, adjustability, smoothness and light weight.

Having ridden a number of Fox forks over the years and feeling the ups and downs of their internals from model to model, the new 36 had quite a bit resting on its shoulders. After all, not only did it need to live up to the hype, but its technology would be paving the way for Fox’s future forks, too.

Everything about the 36 is new. The outer casting and thru axle system, the seals, bushings and sliding parts, the oil, the air cartridge and even the Kashima coating. The goal was to create a world class fork for the burgeoning enduro market that led its category in stiffness, weight, adjustability and functionality. For a deep dive on all of its tech, we’ve covered the product launch here, ran through the seal and damping tech here, and took a look at the new FLOAT air system here. In this review, I’ll recap the highlights, put it on a scale and let you know how it handled itself on Western North Carolina’s mountains…

2015 Fox 36 29er suspension fork review and actual weights

The Fox 36 is available in 26″, 27.5″ and 29er wheel size options, all colored Diamond Black. You can get it with either the new Float air spring with travel ranging from 140mm to 180mm depending on wheel size (29er is offered in 140, 150 and 160) or their TALAS adjustable travel  spring with 30-40mm adjustments topping out at 170mm. In other words, you’ve got options.

Ours came with the heritage stickers, and others are available aftermarket. The lowers’ casting is updated to drop weight without sacrificing stiffness, and it’s made for a minimum of 180mm brake rotors.

2015 Fox 36 29er suspension fork review and actual weights

Up top, you have the standard air valve cover on the left and compression damping controls on the right. With such a big fork, a lockout lever or remote just doesn’t seem right, and I didn’t miss it at all. Instead, the space is used for something all modern forks should have (IMO): dual high and low speed compression settings. Being able to externally dial in both makes it easy to get the fork tuned to your body weight, riding style and terrain far better than single-control models. At the moment, the 36 is the only way to get this on a single-crown Fox fork, but rumor has it that may trickle down to the others, too. Fingers crossed.

I found the adjustment range plenty adequate, but it did take a few rides to really tweak it to 95% right. From there, I’ll still fiddle with it on some rides to suit the different conditions. But 95% is pretty darn good, setting the balance between small bump sensitivity and big hit/hard landing support.

It’s worth plugging our Suspension Setup Series here, a must read for anyone looking to get the most out of their suspension.

2015 Fox 36 29er suspension fork review and actual weights

On the bottom is the rebound knob, which controls all of the rebound damping with an emphasis on low speed control. That’s because there’s a shared rebound circuit and the knob controls the size of the return port on the damper’s shaft.

The actual bounce is provided by an air spring that can be tuned via easily installed volume spacers.

2015 Fox 36 29er suspension fork review and actual weights

2015 Fox 36 29er suspension fork review and actual weights 2015 Fox 36 29er suspension fork review and actual weights

The arch is heavily shaped to add stiffness. There’s about 3.25″ (82.5mm) between the arch where the tire is widest. I ran Onza 2.25 tires for the duration of the test, with ample room on either side. My hunch is a 2.6 would be a safe max tire size.

2015 Fox 36 29er suspension fork review and actual weights

Same for the crown. Except for a single 26″ model with straight steerer, it’s available only with a 1.5″ tapered steerer.

2015 Fox 36 29er suspension fork review and actual weights

The 36’s dropouts use a bolt-in design that accommodates both 15mm and 20mm axles. For 20mm, just bolt the axle directly into the fork. For 15mm (tested), two inserts bolt in and have the lipped guides that the hub slots into, then the axle threads in using an allen wrench.

2015 Fox 36 29er suspension fork review and actual weights

While 27.5″ is getting most of the attention in enduro, brands like Niner and BMC continue to push the big wheels down the mountain faster and faster. The trick with adding more travel to a 29er is keeping the handlebar height at a reasonable level, so Fox paid particular attention to the axle-to-crown ratio significantly. The new 36’s virtually match the dimensions of the 34 series. This keeps the front of the bike lower for better control and rider position without the use of wildly negative-rise stems. Here, the new 36 150mm (left) is shown next to a prior year’s TALAS 34 140mm fork. With the axles sitting parallel, their 10mm travel difference is basically matched in the A-to-C height differences…which is a big improvement over prior model year 36 forks.

2015 Fox 36 29er suspension fork review and actual weights

Fox doesn’t have published weights as of this review for comparison, but the 150mm 36 FIT 29er with axle, brake hose guide and uncut steerer came in at 2,060g (4.54lb). Not too shabby for such a beast!

2015 Fox 36 29er suspension fork review and actual weights

It also comes with a sticker and star nut. MSRP is about $1,050.

RIDE REVIEW

 

2015 Fox 36 29er suspension fork review and actual weights

Put simply, the Fox 36 is a bruiser. I mounted it to my Niner RIP9 RDO and headed straight for Asheville, where it proceeded to tear through anything that got in its way.

In Pisgah’s notorious mix of roots and rocks, that meant full speed assaults behind locals that knew what was coming up even if I didn’t, trusting that the fork (and good brakes) would get me out of trouble. It also meant being able to ride the paths less taken, not worrying about whether they were the smoothest line, but whether they were the more fun, more challenging line. It simply gobbled up anything I could throw it at, which made for some dizzying descents.

2015 Fox 36 29er suspension fork review and actual weights

The 36’s sturdiness proved itself run after run at Beech Mountain’s downhill race course, where large rocks are strewn this way and that. The steep angles of some sections make it near impossible to pick your way down at a crawl, particularly when it’s wet. Speed is rewarded, but only if the equipment is up to the task.

The rotund stanchions kept the front wheel tracking where I aimed it, allowing me to focus a bit further down the trail rather than threading through each and every rock. All of the care taken to smooth the fork’s internals paid dividends over the little stuff, letting it react quickly and make the world a bit flatter. When a big hit came, it absorbed it in real time without bucking the front end upward.

2015 Fox 36 29er suspension fork review and actual weights

The fork proved so capable of smashing through obstacles that it quickly overpowered the RIP’s 125mm of rear travel. To help keep the rear end from blowing through its travel, I installed a spacer to reduce air volume so it’d ramp a little quicker and sit higher in it’s travel. Ideally, the front and rear travel would be more closely matched, but this is worked surprisingly well at balancing the bike out on all but the most extreme trails.

Compared to the stock 110-140mm TALAS fork the bike came with, the 36 is head and shoulders above in every way. The suspension feels so much more plush, the lowers glide over the stanchions like butter even after half a year of riding in wet and mud, and it’s far more solid. Yes, there’s 10mm more travel, but it’s what’s making the travel happen that’s the real improvement, and the fatter stanchions give it a rock solid platform on which to operate. Unless you’re building an XC bike, this is the Fox fork you want.

2015 Fox 36 29er suspension fork review and actual weights

If you’re swapping this in apples for apples, then you’re overall handling may be a bit tighter thanks to the lower A-to-C than what it’s likely replacing. For me, the extra 10mm did make the front end wander more on the climbs, requiring extra attention on slow uphill grinds. Without any sort of platform or lockout, standing sprints generate suspension bob, but less than expected, generally staying in the top third of its travel even when really whipping the bike around to scuttle up a short hill. It’s a sacrifice worth making for the amazing downhill performance.

At the end of the day, all of the improvements made to the fork are about speed. If you have more control, whether through damping, steering precision or being able to hold a line through the rough, you gain confidence. And with confidence, you can go faster. This fork inspires a scary amount of confidence, both for the rider and for Fox’s future forks.

RideFox.com

16 COMMENTS

  1. This seems cool and all but I was hoping for a new front hub standard. Why can’t the fork manufacturers be more like the rest of the industry? They give us a new rear hub spacing size about every month but you guys keep using the same front hubs. It’s almost like you just don’t care about us.

  2. This comment is NOT to knock Fox Racing Shox (as it is what I have been riding for a long time), but I am more interested in BOS Suspension Forks. IMO Fox doesn’t seem to be quite as progressive as of recent. A BOS will most likely be on my next mtb.

  3. On a fork that one will want to pedal uphill, wouldn’t most of the market prefer a fork with external platform/lockout? How many riders tune their bikes for every ride? I’m qualified to service and rebuild forks and so I know h ow to tune one… And I’ve changed my settings maybe 2x over the last 8 months, but hit my platform every ride while getting to the trailhead.

  4. Unless I’m riding on a pavement to the trailhead I don’t usually bother locking out the front end… It doesn’t bob much sitting down (though if you wanna stand up and hammer you probably shouldn’t be riding a 150mm travel fork…)

  5. @BubbRubb – how soft are you running your fork? Or maybe you need to smooth out your riding…IMHO, well tuned suspension should not bob excessively, and a little movement should not be an issue at all.

  6. @reformed roadie, I’ve been riding trail for over 20 years, and Like I said, have serviced forks (for a living) so it’s not like my setup on my fork is bad. I run my pike a little stiffer that I should for my weight (call it 5-8 psi over), but I still hit the platform switch when riding road to the trail, or on extended climbs. On my Lyrik, I just settle for sitting and spinning, but that’s the trade off I guess. On long slogs I’ll add 5 clicks of low speed compression but on both forks, I’ll almost never change the compression or rebound settings more than 2x a season. I just think that a rider looking on the short end of the travel scale that the 36 offers, they would want a switch. At over 150mm, yes a switch is probably unnecessary.

  7. Can the low speed compression dial be cranked up easily during climbs to provide a pseudo-platform, like on a Pike RC?

    It’s good to see Fox back in the game!

  8. Tom – You probably could, but then I’d recommend marking the “riding” position you like for non-climbing with a Sharpie so you can quickly get it back to the right spot at the top of the climb. That said, when seated and climbing, there’s really no bob or mushiness, it’s only when standing and really cranking the bike around. During my riding, the instances when I wished it had a firmer platform were so few and far between that it wasn’t an issue. That said, a simple lever on the low speed knob would make it much easier to make those types of mid-ride adjustments.

    It’s not as big and burly, the Manitou Mattoc’s compression knobs also make it a bit easier to do it by putting a lever on the low speed compression knob. The lever is big and easy to grab, and the indents are clear and well spaced, making it very, very easy to get it back to where you want it for normal riding. I prefer this type of compression damping switch to any fixed “climb” mode (Fox or otherwise) because the range on their damping is huge and is so easy to use that you can really dial it exactly where you want it. And it makes it easier to get it back to where you want it since the lever’s position makes for quick visual reference. I’ve only ridden the Mattoc a couple times this past summer on a demo bike, but it’s great to see more options with separate external controls. (C’mon, Manitou, make a 29er version!!!)

    http://bikerumor.com/2013/08/29/eb13-first-look-manitou-mattoc-long-travel-enduro-suspension-fork-finally-hammered-out/

  9. I had a float 34 on my tallboy ltc for a couple of years and recently upgraded to a pike. It was a significant upgrade because the float always dived and felt soft were as the pike sits higher and has a firmer and more progressive feeling. on a side note
    I noticed in the article you are running reynolds tr 29 wheels how do you like them?? I also noticed that your front hub looks like an industry nine hub. Was that hard to swop out from the reynolds hub that comes with the wheels?? were you not happy with the quality of hubs provided? the wheels look great all black with less red that comes stock. thanks.

  10. Ben – The wheels were built by I9 using the Reynolds rims since Reynolds used to (maybe still does) provide the carbon rims for I9 before I9 developed more of their own offerings. At any rate, they’re more of an XC build, but they’ve held up really, really well. If you haven’t ridden carbon rims, they’re amazing, and both Reynolds and I9 make great stuff that’s served me well over the years.

  11. Hello, what is the travel of the fox 36 in this particular Set-Up.? That niner Rip 9 rdo you used only accomodates 130 – 140mm fork.
    Was that fox 36 Talas?

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