Posh suits are tailor made, new cars can be configured to suit your needs and high-end ski boots are moulded around your feet. Customisation goes global! And now – thanks to the FOX Factory Tuning-Program – you will also be able to customise the suspension on your bike.

When we hear mountain bikers talking about suspension settings we quickly realise that there are as many preferences, needs and expectations as there are riders. And this is no surprise; We all have a unique riding style, different body types and we all ride on a multitude of different bikes and trails. And still the core and mechanics in our forks remain the same (provided we’re talking about the same model). We can change the behaviour of our suspension with some basic and effective interventions such as changing the air pressure, adding tokens and playing around with rebound and compression settings. And yet some riders will seek for even more performance. So far there were only two ways of achieving this. Buying new, very expensive forks and shocks or getting your old ones pimped up by a professional. Unfortunately the second one automatically voids any sort of warranty of the manufacturer.

Not only the bikes are different, but also the riders. Especially light or heavy riders will benefit from a tailored setup.

FOX recognised the issue and developed the FOX Factory Tuning (FFT) program in collaboration with a number of engineers, seasoned racers and selected riders. The program offers every customer the opportunity to set forks and shocks to their individual needs or update older fork models (from 2016 onwards) to the latest state of the art standards.

How does the FOX Factory Tuning work?

The simplest and most affordable upgrade from the FOX Factory Tuning is a set of brand new decals. However, those of us who are looking into the FFT will expect more than just pretty stickers. Before your fork or shock is taken apart and tuned, a FOX employee will call you to discuss all the details about yourself, your bike, your preferences and possible related issues. The next step is planning the tuning procedure thoroughly. In this stage almost everything is possible. The damper for example can be entirely customised and you also have the option of upgrading your existing air chamber. A FOX employee will then explain why and how the changes to your suspension will affect your riding and why these changes make sense in your specific case.

The FOX Factory Tuning is like an open heart surgery to the core of the fork: the damper.
The possibilities of the FOX Factory Tuning are endless!
Turning old into new: The redesigned AirShaft with an enlarged EVOL air chamber can be retrofitted into the FOX 34 fork at a small cost.

How much does the FOX Factory Tuning cost?

The conversion of spring elements is usually carried out as part of a comprehensive service. This will cost you more or less € 139 depending on the country you live in and is recommended as a standard procedure once a year or after every 100 hours of riding. In most cases the tuning itself is a very affordable option. If added to a standard service, the tuning of the damper only costs around € 20, while an enlarged EVOL air chamber for a FOX 34 sets you back about € 45. But there are also more expensive options. Since the 2018 FOX 36 features a completely revised inner core, the EVOL chamber-upgrade requires an entirely new upper assembly. With an eye-watering price-tag of € 465 this upgrade really puts a dent in your wallet and only make sense for a handful of riders. The € 20 damper upgrade on the other hand is still an incredibly cheap option.

What is the FOX Factory Tuning capable of? Two days of test-riding with the boys gave us a great insight into the FFT program.

Testing the FOX Factory Tuning

We’ve already had the opportunity to test the FOX Factory Tuning for you. The starting point for our test was a 2016 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Expert with a FOX 34 Factory fork and a FOX FLOAT DPS Factory shock at the rear. We travelled to the Palatinate Forest (Pfälzer Wald) and visited the FOX Germany-HQ to test the possibilities and effects of the FOX Factory Tuning. The first step was adjusting the current fork and riding a test lap in order to adapt our suspension settings to the trail. After this we re-built the fork from scratch.

Our test bike: a 2016 Specialized Stumpjumper.
Out with the existing cartridge, in with the new setup!

In this test we brought new life into the inner workings of a FOX 34. In order to do this, we swapped the Air-Shaft for a 2018 EVOL air chamber and updated the shim-stack. The cost of this operation: € 65 plus the price of an already-due service. An individualisation of the fork-settings wasn’t necessary in this case as our test rider Benny was happy with the existing setup. After all the changes, our 34 test-fork sat noticeably higher in the travel without losing sensitivity. An improved mid-stroke support made it easier to hold or correct lines in rough root sections and rock-gardens.

In order to analyse and compare our test results accurately we reeled off one descent after another.
Small part, big change: replacing the damper piston on the shock made a huge difference!

After all the changes made to the fork, the rear end no longer felt right. The standard damper in our test-bike features a digressive piston, allowing the oil to flow easier and providing smoother travel through the mid-stroke, this makes the bike feel very comfortable but also a little undefined. In order to restore the balance between the front- and rear-end we first added a volume spacer to increase the end progression of the damper. This change resulted in more control at the end of the stroke with the same SAG. Despite the noticeable improvement we still felt like the rear-end couldn’t keep up with the performance of the fork on fast consecutive hits. We could only achieve the desired balance by swapping the existing digressive piston with a linear one, with smaller ports the piston provides more support in the mid stroke by reducing the oil flow. The damper conversion summed up to a total of € 42,90 (€ 16,65 for the valving-mod plus € 25,95 for the linear piston), plus € 119 for the standard damper-service.

  The differences became clear in our comparison-test

Our conclusions for the FOX Factory Tuning-Program

To be honest we were quite happy with the performance of the suspension even before the upgrade. However, both the conversion and the test proved how much potential was still lying dormant in our bike. If we take out the price for the already-due service, a price of just under € 110 for a fork- and damper-update is more than fair. If you’re planning on servicing your suspension this winter, you should consider the FOX Factory Tuning. But be aware, not every update makes sense. We wouldn’t necessarily spend over € 400 for new tops on a FOX 36.

This article is from ENDURO issue #031

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Words: Benjamin Werling, Christoph Bayer Photos: Chris Trojer, FOX