There are certain products that redefined an entire sector. The first time we played Snake on a Nokia 3210 we knew that phones would no longer be just for making phone calls. The 1st Generation iPod killed the popularity of CD’s overnight. When the first FOX FLOAT 36 suspension fork dropped, it showed the world that hardcore riding no longer needed a triple crown fork.

Fast forward a decade or so and now the market is brimming with aggressive 160 – 180mm enduro forks, all offering superb performance and control. FOX released a new E16 tuned FOX FLOAT 36 version last year, and today they have now surprised us with an entirely new 2018 model. Here is all you need to know about the new 2018 FOX 36 FLOAT EVOL.

The latest FOX FLOAT 36 EVOL looks the same externally, but is a very different beast inside.

The new FOX FLOAT 36 EVOL at a glance

  • 2018 Factory RC2 £1129/€1399 | 2018 Factory FIT4 £1049/€1309
  • New FLOAT air spring with EVOL
  • HSC/LSC, FIT4 and GRIP damper options
  • New PTFE damper oil
  • 15QR x 110mm, 15QR x 100mm or 15/20mm convertable axle configurations
  • Travel options, 27.5″ 140-180mm; 29″ 140-160mm; 26″ 160-180mm.
  • 1.5″ tapered or 1 1/8 steerer
  • E-Bike specific chassis available

It contains more muscle inside.

For the first time, FOX will be rolling out their EVOL (Extra VOLume) negative spring into their fork lineup. A negative spring pushes against the mainspring, helping the fork start moving and increasing small bump absorption and reducing vibration at top-out. The extra volume in the negative air spring means that the new FOX FLOAT 36 EVOL moves more linearly through the first 25% of its travel when compared to the previous model, but is unchanged in the later parts of the travel where more support is needed. The EVOL cartridge will be rolled out onto the 32, 34, 36 and 40 forks in 2018.

The new FOX FLOAT 36 EVOL has fewer internal seals.

Inside a fork it’s important to keep oil and air where they should be, and not mixed, this is where seals play an essential role. Seals add friction to the movement of the fork, so it’s important to use ‘just’ enough. The new FOX FLOAT 36 EVOL has fewer dynamic seals than the previous model, reducing friction and increasing performance.

While the new FOX FLOAT 36 EVOL looks unchanged from the outside, inside it has received huge updates.

New lubrication with PTFE.

The new FOX 36 uses a PTFE based lubrication oil, the same material that is used on non-stick pans. This new oil improves flow in the compression and rebound circuits.

It’s lighter than its predecessor.

There’s a school of thought that we agree with, that with a fork with such hard hitting aspirations as the 36, counting grams becomes less important. However, to many riders, weight is still very important. We weighed our 29-inch model at 2032 g, putting it right in the mix and lighter than some of it’s direct competitors.

The new FOX FLOAT 36 EVOL will be available with HSC/LSC, FIT4 and GRIP dampers, all featuring new PTFE damper oil.

Black is the new orange

Hold on, it’s orange? Yes and no, this distinctive orange colour signifies our test fork is exclusive and from the FOX Race Department, reserved only for team racers – lucky us. The new FOX FLOAT 36 EVOL will only be available in a sexy matte black, perfect for those who like their bikes to look a little more stealthy.

It’s available in a wide range of options, including 26!

The new FOX 36 retains maximum axle compatibility with a 15QR x 110, 15QR x 100 and 15/20 mm Thru Axle. To work with a wide variety of bikes the new 36 will be available in 140 mm – 180 mm in 27.5, 140 – 160 mm in 29 and surprisingly 160 – 180 mm in 26. A 100 mm 831 dirt jump version is still available. For those who want to fit the fork to an older frame, a 1 ⅛ steerer tube is still available in the 26 er version

First Ride Impressions Of The FOX FLOAT 36 EVOL

We first encountered the new FOX FLOAT EVOL 36 during secret testing with Trek Factory Racing and Lewis Buchanan. FOX sent us our own fork direct from their Race Department so we could get some pre-launch impressions.

We quickly built up the new FOX FLOAT 36 EVOL fork onto a Santa Cruz Hightower.

While we have only been running the new FOX FLOAT 36 EVOL for a few days, first impressions are very good indeed. A nice new addition is the long-overdue fork pressure guide sticker on the leg, providing a suggested base setup for those who are not suspension nerds. Our 75 kg test rider immediately dialed in the suggested 75 psi, and 6 clicks of rebound. Although we worried that the rebound felt a little slow in the car park test, the new EVOL damper responded sublimely on the trail, recovering immediately between fast hits with superb control. The addition of the EVOL negative spring changes the spring curve through the first 25%, while some may argue that is mainly taken up by dynamic sag, we felt a noticeable improvement over the previous FOX 36 over small bumps and trail chatter, even through carbon bars and stiff ENVE wheels, perhaps in part also due to the new damper oil with PTFE properties. Through hard rock gardens, both the support and control of the damping were both extremely impressive and we immediately felt confident to open up the speed and push as hard as we could. Racers looking for more progression will certainly want to tune the spring curve with the easy to add volume spacers, we found two to be the sweet spot for full gass hooligan behaviour. We will be putting together a complete setup guide very soon.

We need to spend more time on the setup and adjust the spring rate with tokens, but we felt confident to go flat out almost straight from the box.

More time will be needed to optimize the fork before a full review can be given, but early signs suggest that the new additions to the FOX FLOAT 36 EVOL make a noticeable improvement over the already exceptional FOX 36, one of the best just got better. We expect to see a lot more Orange on the EWS podiums this year.

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Words & Photos: Trev Worsey

About the author

Trev Worsey

A keen biker since the early 90’s Trev began his professional career as a research scientist and statistician, but it was the lure of the mountains that finally called him. After seven years working as an international Mountain Bike Guide he joined the ENDURO team and now coordinates exciting news, reports, reviews and group tests from the UK office.