First Ride: Fox 32 Step-Cast fork

Announced in April this year, the 32 Step-Cast (SC) fork is the lightest cross-country fork Fox has produced starting at around 1,355 grams. Designed and optimized for 100 mm travel from the outset, the 32 SC has some unique features.

Fox 32 Step-Cast Fork 9.jpg

 

32 SC Chassis & Damper Design


The chasis of the Step-Cast (SC) is noticeably different to the regular Fox 32 and most other forks available. To save weight, the width of the upper tubes on the 32 SC measure 120mm which is 10mm narrower than that of the standard, non-Boost Fox 32 fork. In order to have sufficient clearance for the spokes and disc brake rotor, Fox created a stepped design by flattening the inside edge of the hollowed out lower legs (where there are no moving parts), narrowing each leg’s profile by about 10 millimetres. Further weight saving has been achieved by eliminating excess width and material in the crown and bridge. Fox makes use of a new lighter and cleaner looking Kobalt Axle which alone saves about 40 g over the standard thru-axle.

 

Fox 32 Step-Cast Fork 1.jpg


Fox 32 Step-Cast Fork 8.jpg

Fox 32 Step-Cast Fork 3.jpg


The FIT4 Damper has been upgraded to Fox's FIT RC2 10mm shaft architecture which provides more oil flow through the base valve. Dual circuit rebound allows better controlled return from hard hits and quicker recovery from successive impacts. The fork also features a 32 SC-specific cartridge design and damping tune.

 

There is the familiar 3-position on-the-fly adjustment that lets you select Open, Medium, Firm modes. Fine tuning is possible in Open mode with a low-speed compression adjuster that offers 22 clicks. Forks with the optional remote will thankfully retain the ability to tune low speed compression in Open mode. Taking inspiration from their Moto designs, the new GRIP damper uses FIT sealed cartridge technology combined with a coil-sprung, independent floating piston. This allows excess oil to purge through ports at the top of the damper to maintain consistent damping and increase durability.

 


Fox 32 Step-Cast Fork 6.jpg

Fox 32 Step-Cast Fork 7.jpg

Fox 32 Step-Cast Fork 5.jpg

 

The Float Air Spring utilizes Fox's self-equalizing positive/ negative air spring which is said to result in smoother performance with reduced friction and less vibration feedback through the handlebars. To further boost tunability, the feel and performance of the fork can be tweaked with air volume spacers that adjust the amount of mid stroke and bottom out resistance.

 

Specifications:

  • 15QR x 110 Boost and 15QR x 100 Kabolt axle options
  • 27.5” and 29” wheel options
  • 100mm travel
  • FIT4 and FIT GRIP three position damper for improved control
  • Lockout for increased efficiency
  • Factory Series models feature Genuine Kashima Coat
  • Gloss Orange, Matte Black, Gloss White
  • 120mm upper tube spacing (32 model uses 130mm)
  • Max tyre size 2.3”
  • Max rotor size: 27.5”- 180mm, 29” – 203mm
  • Rake: 27.5” – 44mm, 29” – 44mm or 51mm
  • 32 SC 27.5 100mm = 1,355g - 225g less than MY16 32
  • 32 SC 29 100mm = 1,360g - 255g less than MY16 32
  • Actual weight as tested: 1.35kg with a cut steerer (29", 110 Boost)

On the Trail


We only had the Fox fork for a three day long weekend but managed to get the SC 32 out for a ride on each day. We were fortunate enough to have a Silverback Sesta Pro on test. We made full use of the opportunity as it is the style of bike the 32 SC was made for - a light, capable XC bike. The fork came off the Fox South Africa Brand Manager's bike, so most settings were already dialled with only the air pressure needing some tweaking in order to achieve the correct sag.

 

Fox 32 Step-Cast Fork 4.jpg

 

As soon as I hit the dirt, the fork felt like a major improvement over previous models. Initial stroke was very supple without diving into or through its travel with good mid stroke support and ramp-up towards the end of its travel. This is something that can be adjusted by playing with the combination of air pressure and volume spacers, but the base setting is already good and any further adjustments would only be to tune it to your personal preference.

 

There is some noticeable flex when loading the fork in big turns but there is little to no sign of that when hammering along the trail in straighter lines. With Cape Town's extended summer, our trails are showing severe signs of brake ruts - this however did not faze the 32 SC one bit as it soaked up everything in its way. Technical sections, like we have come to know on XCO courses, were dealt with with great composure allowing me to simply focus on line choices rather than holding on.

 

I'm not a fan of unnecessary wires, cables and hoses so was glad to see this one came without a remote and at no point did I wish I had a lever to flick between the three compression modes. Close to all my riding on the fork was done in the full open mode allowing the suspension to soak up small bumps and offer the extra traction that comes with it. Pure race snakes may prefer the optional remote, but that would be down to personal preference only.

 

Verdict


We only had the fork for a very short period and in no way can we comment on long term performance or how it felt to different testers. My early impressions are very good though with the Fox 32 SC being a clear improvement on the standard Fox 32. I really do like the fact that it has been optimized for its travel and is not trying to cater to a unrealistically wide market. Keep in mind that the 32 as we know it will continue in Fox's lineup for those looking for a 120mm fork.

 






6 Comments

FCH, Jun 13 2016 08:57

$$$???

MTB TG, Jun 14 2016 09:51

Do you get a remote lockout for the Fox forks? I love riding with one and its also a mission to change lockout positions in a race.

Iwan Kemp, Jun 14 2016 11:35

$$$???

 

Price and availability TBC. We will update the article as soon as we know.

Iwan Kemp, Jun 14 2016 11:35

Do you get a remote lockout for the Fox forks? I love riding with one and its also a mission to change lockout positions in a race.

 

Yes, there is an optional remote.

SCD, Jun 14 2016 11:38

How does it compare to the SID XX WC?

Iwan Kemp, Jun 27 2016 09:07

How does it compare to the SID XX WC?

 

We will have a go at the new SID soon and will be able to better answer that question then.