FOX have updated their family of 34mm stanchion trail forks with a lighter, stiffer chassis, smoother internals, and they are more tuneable than ever. Of note is the Fox 34 SC with the new Step Cast design making it their lightest iteration ever for uncompromising XC race performance. Eliot Jackson shows us just how capable the 2022 FOX 34 fork is…
2022 FOX 34 Trail and XC Forks
Trickling down from the MY21 FOX 36 and 38 enduro forks are a host of features said to improve the stiffness, smoothness and tuneability of the 2022 FOX 34 Trail and XC fork. The chassis has seen a complete redesign, with the lowers featuring that same leaning arch shape we see on the longer travel siblings.
That arch is said to optimize the stiffness to weight ratio. You’ll see it also juts out further forwards than the arch of the MY21 FOX 34; that’s to accommodate the trend for burlier head tubes, ensuring sufficient clearance at full travel.
At the back end of the lowers you’ll find channels that serve to increase air volume within the lower legs. The consequence of that is reduced pressure ramping, ensuring the fork is able to achieve full compression. The channels also serve to circulate bath oil to the upper reaches of the lower legs, continuously lubricating the foam rings and bushings as
the fork compresses.
|FOX 34||FOX 34 SC|
|Damper Options||GRIP2, FIT4, GRIP||FIT4, GRIP|
Why Step Cast?
Because it’s lighter. The Step Cast chassis has shortened upper tubes making them lighter, though still long enough for sufficient bushing overlap. The shorter tubes raise the floor of the lower leg assembly creating a hollow lower section.
The Damper Side
The FOX 34 is available in 120mm-140mm travel options, with the GRIP, FIT4 and top-of-the-range GRIP2 damper. The latter features FOX’s patented Variable Valve Control (VVC) technology. That brings 8-clicks of external adjustment to the high speed compression circuit, in addition to the rebound circuit. Basically, it adds a higher quality of valving adjustments, feeling more like what you’d get by tearing down the damper and revalving it.
The more race-ready FOX 34 SC doesn’t get a GRIP2 damper option. FOX say the FIT4 damper is the best option for XC and Marathon riders, as it’s 75g lighter than the GRIP2 damper while still offering three on-the-fly compression settings. And it’s remote compatible.
Updated EVOL Air Spring
The EVOL spring in the 2022 FOX 34 forks now has an enlarged negative air spring said to assist with mid-stroke support. Both the standard FOX 34 and the 34 SC benefit from this, but only the latter has the option to run a volume spacer in that negative air spring.
Fox say this gives riders the option to run a firmer off-the-top setup for XC racing, or a more supple trail feel for downcountry style riding. Adding and removing a volume spacer to the negative spring isn’t as straight forward as doing this for the positive spring, however. It requires disassembly of the lower leg assembly and removal of the air spring. That said, it simply clips onto the air spring shaft like a regular token.
Why doesn’t the 2022 FOX 34 have lower leg bleeders or a floating axle?
While the new FOX 34 gets a stiffer arch and lower leg bypass channels to match those of the MY21 FOX 36, it doesn’t get some of the other features such as the bleed ports or the floating axle. That’s because weight places higher up the list of priorities for these trail and XC forks.
Bleeders, while offering an advantage in certain conditions, do add a marginal amount of
weight. FOX encourage riders looking for this feature to move up to the burlier FOX 36.
In shorter travel applications, there is less opportunity for chassis misalignment, therefore they deemed the floating axle unnecessary.
Pricing & Availability
The 2022 FOX 34 and 34 SC run boost spacing only. However, FOX are continuing to offer the previous model of the 34 in a non-boost configuration.
The MY22 FOX 34 fork is available in Factory, Performance Elite and Performance models, retailing at $769 – $969 (USD) / $1079 – $1399 (CDN) / €1069 – €1389.
The FOX 34 Step Cast model is available in Factory and Performance models only, retailing at $849 – $1089 (USD) / $1149 – $1469 (CDN) / €1129 – €1459.