The Fox 36 still offered unparalleled control in rough terrain.
The Fox 36 is the long-travel fork against which all others are measured. With its glistening 36mm Kashima upper tubes and pinch-bolt lowers, it is one of the stiffest forks on the market, making it the ideal choice for heavier or more aggressive riders.
Fox appreciates that convenience often trumps performance, which is why it also offers a 15mm QR option for anyone that can’t be bothered to pull out a 5mm Allen key to remove the front wheel.
The owner’s manual that comes with the 36 Factory fork is packed with detailed information on set-up. We found the recommended spring pressures to be bob-on, but the proposed damping settings were too fierce for all but the smoothest trails.
Push down on the fork to pump the terrain, or simply slam the Fox 36 into a square-edge hit and it would get bogged down in the travel, the damper hissing at you in the process. Opening up the rebound to 18 clicks from closed (Fox recommends six) made a massive difference — the fork floating over successive hits rather than pausing to think about what to do next.
It’s a similar story with the compression damping on the Fox 36. You basically need to run the high and low speed close to fully open, otherwise the damping builds too quickly.
Even so, we still managed to achieve a really impressive set-up on the 36. With one orange 10.8cc volume reducer and most of the damping wound off, the 36 provides a direct connection to the front tyre, allowing you to load up the contact patch for traction without your inputs being absorbed by the fork. As such, swapping from one edge of the tyre to the other can be performed with supreme confidence.
More surprisingly, with such a firm set-up, the 36 still offered unparalleled control in rough terrain, where the extra support on steep tracks has got to be worth a couple of degrees in the head angle alone.
This set-up was hard fought, however, and even though the Fox 36 had a slight edge over the RockShox Lyrik, we’re certain the 36 could be even better with a lighter touch to the damping.
This would certainly offer a more usable range of adjustment and give the option for a softer, more comfortable set-up for big mountain riding.