Delivers a pitter-patter suspension performance with such superb sensitivity it feels like your front tyre has 5psi less pressure
Fox 36 Float Factory FIT4 is targeted more at riders who treat heading up, down and around the mountain equally, rather than simply prioritising the downs.
Fox offers two separate 36 Floats forks – the FIT4 and Grip2 – both sharing the same sturdy chassis. Last year we tested the Fox 36 Float Factory Grip2, and it scored an excellent 9/10. Now it’s the turn of the newly revised, but less complex, FIT4 model.
The fork retains its three-position firming lever (that can almost lock the fork for climbing), and adjustable dial to tune damping support in the open mode. This Factory model uses slippery, Kashima-coated stanchions with a sealed damper cartridge, and it’s in here that the biggest changes lie.
FIT4’s latest damper uses technology carried over from Fox’s XC Step-Cast forks, with the shaft diameter reduced from 10mm to 8mm. Less damper oil is therefore displaced during a high-velocity impact; so harder hits are absorbed more smoothly. The adjuster dial should also be capable of more compression damping without adding extra harshness.
Whether it’s this new design, or the oversized, EVOL negative air spring helping the fork into its travel, the 36 slurps at the ground for tracking and grip. Even straight out of the box, it’s fantastically smooth around the sag point with as much outright sensitivity as anything else out there.
On the longest descents (running the same handlebar height and similar sensitivity levels), the Fox rides marginally lower than a RockShox Lyrik, so we added an extra volume spacer for more progression and support on steeper tracks. It’s then harder to utilise the full 160mm travel as effectively as the new Lyrik on the biggest hits though.
The 36 has a smooth, rounded feel when absorbing spikey impacts like deep root webs and small drops and hits. We’ve always run older FIT4 forks fully open for maximum sensitivity and hand comfort, but the result can be a more hyperactive and hectic feel, so we tested Fox’s claims about the new FIT4 working better with more compression damping.
At three or four clicks in (in open mode), there’s a sportier feel on most trails but the fork retains great suppleness. Although really aggressive riders who work the chassis hard might notice the 36 feels marginally less smooth than RockShox’s Lyrik when charging jagged braking ruts and big repeated rocks. On the exact same terrain, it transmits more feedback into the forearms, so it’s harder to look ahead and ignore what’s going on underneath your wheels.
With a good set-up, Fox’s pricier multi-adjustable Grip2 model brings another level of damping smoothness, stability and composure to the 36 for pure descending, but it lacks the lock out option and ultra-sensitivity of this truly versatile FIT4 model.