- New self-equalizing positive/negative air spring
- Utilizes patented Float shock transfer port technology, first introduced in their circa 1999 Float shock
- Smoother performance with reduced friction
- Less vibration feedback through handlebar (thanks to the negative coil spring being replaced by an air version)
- 219 grams lighter in 27.5 and 297 grams lighter in 29er
- Highly tunable with air volume spacers that account for 10 CCs of volume per unit
- Adjustable mid stroke and bottom out resistance
Roll on 2016 and the 34 borrows design cues and structure from the 36, featuring a slimmed crown, arch, dropout and, most crucially, the FIT4 damper is the same 10mm shaft architecture found in the FOX 36 and 40 which increases oil flow to the base valve.
While the FIT4 damper has three compression positions, Fox has done away with CTD and it's “climb, trail, descend” moniker for “open, medium, firm.” Another big change comes with the small "trail adjust" black knob, which tuned compression in the middle "Trail" setting, making way for 22 clicks of low speed compression adjustment in the open setting – just like RockShox’s Pike. Providing compression adjustment in the open setting makes sense as this is where riders will be looking to dial in the best possible descending performance. In addition, a dual circuit rebound allows the fork to keep up with high frequency impacts, and to recover from deeper hits in a more controllable manner.
The new FIT4 damper features a new self-equalizing positive and negative air spring, doing away with the negative coil spring used before. Since the negative air spring is self-adjusting when charging the main chamber air pressure, lighter and heavier riders are all served equally with the optimum negative pressure and small bump compliance.
Ours came with the 3-position remote lever that simultaneously changes the setting on the fork and shock. While I do understand that some riders may like it, I'm not a fan. Every so often I will flick a shock into the middle Trail / Medium setting when out riding or when pedaling away on long up hill sections. I would, however, hardly ever take a fork out of the full open mode. Something that was highlighted with the 2015 CTD Forks / Shocks: descend mode wasn't really rideable which meant I kept the fork in the middle Trail / Medium setting, but if I were using this remote it would set the shock to the middle setting as well. This results in a compromise in terms of setup and on trail use. Maybe makes sense on a bike designed to race XCO, but I still need to be convinced that it has a place on a trail or Enduro bike.
Rebound adjustment is done by turning the red knob at the bottom of the right lower. There are 9 clicks from slowest to fastest. I found Fox's setup guide to be spot on in terms of amount of clicks needed to match the psi I was running.
On the Trail
We were fortunate enough to be sent a 130mm FLOAT 34 Factory Series to test on the Momsen Bikes VIPA TRAIL running prototype. Claimed weight for the fork is 1,81kg which is close to 300g lighter than the comparable model from 2015. This was achieved by removing 34g from the steerer tube, 31g out of the crown, 53g from the upper tubes, 49g out of the lowers, and 130g with the new Positive / Negative Float air spring. A job well done by the Fox engineers.
Let's start with what you're really here for: the MY16 34 is a night and day improvement over the 2015 model. There's the usual tuning that needs to happen in order to extract the maximum out of the fork and to get it to your liking, but I can't imagine anyone riding this fork and not being able to feel the improvement in performance straight away. Forget what you know about the CTD 34 - this is not merely an incremental or evolutionary release.
No longer is setting up the fork one of compromise. All the changes made add up to a highly tuneable fork with a wide range. You could, for example, set the air pressure lower (within reason) for initial small bump sensitivity and then add air volume spacers as needed to make the fork ramp up in compression force to prevent bottoming out during big hits. Riders of all weights and levels can now tune the spring curve of their fork to maximize the travel for their needs.
System friction has been reduced to levels only ever read about. Making the 2016 FOX 34 buttery smooth all the way through its travel. Trail performance is controlled without showing any signs of "dive" under braking or when landing bigger jumps or drop-offs. I'm very happy to report that the full open mode is now rideable.
Out on the trail, I have not missed the external adjustment for high-speed compression as found on the 36 RC2. Maybe I don't ride hard enough or just too focused to hang when the speed picks up! Speaking of which, once at speed the fork tracks and steers with razor sharp precision showing no sign of flex or letting up.
Thanks to the sorted on trail performance there was no need to fiddle with the 3-position remote lever.
While we obviously can't comment on long term reliability just yet, things sure are looking rosy for Fox. With the new 34 FLOAT FOX does not only close the gap created by RockShox's Pike, it takes it head on for the crown. It is plush, smooth and stiff all while being class-leading light. Fitting the FOX 34 Float to the VIPA TRAIL breathed new life into the bike and gave the frame the fork it needed to reach it's full potential.
Trail and Enduro riders rejoice.
Factory Series available in
- 27.5" FLOAT (140 or 150), TALAS (140/110, 150/120) - Starting weight 1.78kg
- 27.5+ FLOAT (120 or 140) - Starting weight 1.82kg
- 29" FLOAT (120, 130 or 140), TALAS (140/110) - Starting weight 1.81kg
- 27.5" FLOAT (140 or 150) - Starting weight 1.78kg
- 29" FLOAT (140) - Starting weight 1.81kg
Recommended retail pricing: R14,395 for the model as tested
From the manufacturer:
Designed for the aggressive trail rider, the 2016 34 has been completely re-imagined from the inside out, featuring an all-new FIT4 damper, FLOAT air spring, and super lightweight chassis. It drops significant weight over its predecessor while providing improved trail performance that instills confidence and control.