As FOX’s current lineup of gravity-oriented fork dampers approach their 6th birthday, the American manufacturer has allowed them to ease into a well-earned retirement as they introduce three brand new dampers. The new GRIP X2, X and SL dampers will come standard in all new FOX forks, and we’ve already put them through their paces – and there were quite a few surprises!

Apart from the golden finish on our special edition test models, the new 2025 FOX forks look pretty much unchanged over the previous generation, at least from a distance. This comes as no surprise, as all of the exciting changes have happened on the inside. We’re talking about new damper cartridges, which have been developed around the existing FOX chassis. The American suspension colossus is introducing three new dampers: GRIP X2, GRIP X and GRIP SL, which are meant to replace the proven GRIP2 and FIT4 models.

The cool thing about the new dampers is that they’re backwards compatible with modern FOX forks, the only other differences being the new bushings. Alongside the golden 50th Anniversary edition we tested – which won’t be available just yet – you’ll be able to choose between the usual black and orange finishes. FOX also released a damper with a special tune for e-mountainbikes, which provides softer compression damping.

Prices for the available forks range between € 1,259 and € 2,399. Except for the golden anniversary version, the forks are available from now in both 27.5″ and 29″ variants. The previous GRIP damper, which delivers a tremendous performance on the trail for its price, remains in the portfolio.

The following models will be available in the aftermarket:

Fork + Cartridge Price
FOX 32TC Factory Series GRIP SL € 1,259
FOX 32SC Factory Series GRIP SL € 1,259 – 1,359 (with remote)
FOX 34SC Factory Series GRIP SL € 1,359 – 1,459 (with remote)
FOX 34 Factory Series GRIP X € 1,289
FOX 36 Factory Series GRIP X oder GRIP X2 € 1,449
FOX 38 Factory Series GRIP X2 € 1,659
FOX 40 Factory Series GRIP X2 € 2,399

The new 2025 FOX GRIP X2 damper cartridge in detail 

The new FOX GRIP X2 damping cartridge is the flagship model in the new lineup and is meant to replace the existing GRIP2 version. It comes standard with the 34, 36, 38 and 40 mm fork models, and it’s aimed at uncompromising downhill performance.

To keep all you tech nerds happy, we’ll take a deep dive into the technology of the new damping cartridges. For the new GRIP X2 damper, FOX have moved away from their previous VVC system (Variable Valve Control) for the compression adjuster, which was only introduced a few years ago with the GRIP2 damper.

Top: The old GRIP2 damper
Bottom: The new GRIP X2 damper

The Variable Valve Control in the compression stage primarily influences the high-speed setting. VVC uses a leaf spring which presses against an ovalized track on a cover at the top of the shim stack. As you turn the HSC knob, the spring rotates from the widest to the narrowest part of the oval, increasing the spring rate in the process, leading to a progressive increase in damping force without a corresponding increase in breakaway force. In theory, this allows you to increase big-hit resistance without losing sensitivity, offering a wider range of adjustment with only 7 shims in the stack, without the need to open up the fork to replace shims.

The new GRIP X2 damper relies on a classic shim stack, but with a lot more shims – 23, in fact. Turning the HSC knob changes the preload of the spring that acts on the upper end of the shim stack. According to FOX, this simplified design should allow for a more sensitive response compared to the previous VVC system, while the higher number of shims still provides a wide range of adjustment, without the need to modify the shim stack. That said, it’s still possible to get the fork re-valved to best suit your needs.

Furthermore, FOX updated the base valve through which the piston rod displaces the oil – this has grown from 20 mm to 24 mm in diameter. This allows the actual shims to regulate the oil flow better, and thus to increase adjustability. FOX still rely on the VVC system for the rebound damping, however.

The new 2025 FOX GRIP X2 damper allows for the following adjustments:

Low-Speed Compression (LSC): 18 clicks 

High-Speed Compression (HSC): 8 clicks

Low-Speed Rebound (LSR): 16 clicks

High-Speed Rebound (HSR): 8 clicks

Of course, you can still add volume spacers to the positive air chamber, and FOX also retained the bleed ports on the back of the lowers, which allow you to equalise the pressure inside the fork with atmospheric changes.

The new 2025 FOX GRIP X damper in detail

The new FOX GRIP X damper is aimed specifically at trail and enduro riders and was designed to deliver a high performance on the trail, both up and downhill. As the new mid-range damper in FOX’s portfolio, it’s meant to replace the existing FIT4 version, and it can be found on 34, 36 and 38 fork models.

Top: The new GRIP X damper
Bottom: The new GRIP X2 damper

The new GRIP X damper allows you to turn the high-speed compression knob by 170°, whereby the last position shuts off both the HSC and the LSC, providing a firm setting for the climbs, in place of the “Firm” mode on the old 3-position FIT4 damper. Of course, there’s also a “blowout function”, which opens up the oil flow again from a certain pressure if you forget to switch back the HSC knob into the downhill position.

Here you can adjust the high and low-speed compression damping. The small lever shows you which position your HSC is currently in.
However, the new Grip X damper only allows you to adjust the low-speed rebound damping – HSR is set from the factory.

The on new 2025 FOX GRIP X damper offers the following adjustment options:

Low-Speed Compression (LSC): 16 clicks

High-Speed Compression (HSC): 15 clicks

Low-Speed Rebound (LSR): 17 clicks

Of course, you can still add volume spacers to the positive air chamber and there are still bleed ports on the back of the lowers, which allow you to equalise the pressure inside the fork with atmospheric changes.

The new 2025 FOX GRIP SL damper cartridge in detail 

The FOX GRIP SL damper has been developed specifically for XC and downcountry riding. This makes it the damper of choice for the FOX 32 with the standard lower legs, as well as the slimmer FOX 32 and 34 versions with step-cast lowers. According to FOX, it’s 60 grams (100 mm travel) lighter than the previous FIT4 damper.

The new FOX GRIP SL features a three-position low-speed compression dial, which allows you to switch between a Firm, Middle and Open setting. Of course, this can be paired with a handlebar remote. Like the new GRIP X damper, it has a “blowout function”, which opens the oil flow again if you take a bigger hit in lockout mode. However, this should activate at a much lower oil pressure compared to the downhill-oriented damper models, as it’s more common in XC to hit obstacles in locked-out mode.

The new 2025 FOX GRIP SL damper allows for the following adjustment options:

Low-speed compression (LSC): 3 clicks

Low-speed rebound (LSR): 17 clicks

With the GRIP SL variant, you can still add volume spacers to the positive air chamber.

While they were at it, FOX redesigned the 32 Step-Cast fork from the ground up, improving stiffness while at the same time reducing weight. The new design includes a new arch design, which has been moved behind the stanchions, as well as a brand new fork crown, which shaves off an additional 9 grams. All in all, the new 32 Step-Cast is said to weigh 107 grams less than its predecessor (100 mm travel).

Our first impressions of the new FOX GRIP X2 and GRIP X damper cartridges

At the end of March, we were invited by FOX Suspension to sunny California to test their new suspension lineup on the trails around the FOX headquarters. Despite bringing our own trusted bikes, the testing session wasn’t particularly conclusive. This is mainly down to the fact that, alongside the new FOX forks, we were also given some Race Face carbon wheels and handlebars to test, which made it difficult to tell which components were responsible for which riding characteristics. This was compounded by the unfamiliar trails, giving us no frame of reference.

Fortunately, we were also able to do some more test runs on our home trails and local bike park using familiar wheels and handlebars and swapping around parts in between, which helped us write these first impressions.

The new FOX GRIP X2 damper on test

To test the FOX GRIP X2 damper, we bolted a 160 mm FOX 38 fork to a Specialized Stumpjumper EVO. The 38 won’t be available aftermarket in a 160 mm travel variant – this will be an OEM-only option, but you’ll still see plenty of them on the trails fitted to bikes like such as the Specialized Levo. For the initial setup, we followed FOX’s recommendations to use the three pre-installed volume spacers, but we removed one after a few laps. We also reduced the recommended air pressure by a few PSI and opened the LSC a few clicks, to get more weight onto the front wheel. Since the chassis and air spring of the 38 fork have remained unchanged, we’ll jump straight to the characteristics we attribute to the new GRIP X2 damper.

Specialized Stumpjumper EVO Expert | 160/150 mm (f/r) | 29”/27.5” | Manufacturer’s website

As soon as you drop into the trail, you’ll notice that the fork sits significantly higher in its travel than its GRIP2 predecessor, thus enabling a more active riding position. This encourages you to pump harder and to carve through corners more aggressively. The new GRIP X2 damper also feels as though it offers more mid-stroke support when playing with trail features, making it easier to pop the bike into the air. Just one click of low-speed compression has a noticeable effect on both your riding position and the fork’s mid-stroke support.

However, in this first test we didn’t notice a big difference in response and sensitivity. Although the fork sits higher in its travel, you don’t have to fight for traction at the front, meaning that we had more than enough grip in our natural riding position. When bottoming out, the new GRIP X2 behaves similarly to the old GRIP2 model. Another great thing is that the new GRIP X2 damper on our test bike was totally quiet – no funny squelchy noises spoiling the tranquillity of the forest.

If you want some context, check out our 2021 suspension fork comparison test to see how the FOX 38 GRIP2 fork performs.

New FOX GRIP X on test

We tested the new GRIP X damper on a 160 mm FOX 36 fork, which was mounted to a Yeti SB140. Here, too, we followed FOX’s specifications for the initial setup, but didn’t remove that one volume spacer.

YETI SB140 LR T3 X0 | 160/140 mm (f/r) | 29”| Manufacturer’s website

Compared to the FIT4 damper that it’s meant to replace, the new GRIP X delivers noticeably more trail performance. It sits higher in its travel and offers more mid-stroke support, while at the same time ensuring a smoother response. Furthermore, it recovers significantly faster with quick consecutive hits. In terms of sheer performance, the new GRIP X comes pretty close to the old GRIP2 damper. However, when the fork compresses beyond the mid-stroke, the damper makes a loud, rather annoying sucking noise. This is due to the higher internal pressure differences, as a result of the smaller piston. The noise is so loud that even your mates in front of you on the trail will notice – what a shame!

During this test, the so-called Firm mode, which can be activated by turning the HSC knob, had almost no influence on our fork’s behaviour while pedalling seated. The fork does stiffen up noticeably when sprinting out of the saddle, but then again… how often do you do that on an enduro bike? Perhaps you might if you encounter an unexpected short, steep climb, but in that case, you won’t have time to fiddle with your fork – activating Firm mode on the fly is basically impossible.

You can find out how the previous FOX 36 fork with GRIP2 damper (which is based on the same chassis) performed in our detailed suspension fork test.

Our conclusion about the new FOX damping cartridges

FOX’s new damper lineup is promising and well thought out. The new top-tier GRIP X2 model only delivers small improvements over its predecessor, and addresses issues we didn’t really have a problem with in the past. However, the new GRIP X cartridge is a very sensible successor to the FIT4, offering much better trail performance (despite making an extremely loud noise on the trail). Together with the old GRIP damper and the new SL version, FOX now offer a very coherent lineup, with capable forks across a range of budgets and riding styles.


  • GRIP X2 delivers plenty of mid-stroke support with excellent small bump sensitivity
  • GRIP X is noticeably better than the old FIT4 damper
  • New damper line-up is well thought out and provides a significant improvement


  • The the GRIP X Loud damper makes a loud, annoying sucking noise

For more information, visit FOX Suspension’s website.

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Words: Peter Walker Photos: Peter Walker, Nathan Engels Translation: Eric Frajria