Our first impressions and the feature set of the new 1099 Euro suspension fork were convincing but can the the performance satisfy the expectations? We went downhill hunting in the South Tyrol and used the fork on numerous rides on our Stuttgart home trails and on trips to the Bavarian Alps to see what it can really do.

Mit der Fox 36 hoch hinaus. die super-steife Schaft-Kronen-Kombination lässt präzise Luftmanöver zu.
Getting high with the Fox 36. The super stiff steerer-crown construction allows precise air manouvers.

Even after a few metres you can really feel that the new surface coatings do their job brilliantly. The fork is extremely sensitive and plush. The new thru-axle clamping system plays a big part here as it doesn’t (pre-)load the casting therefore causing excessive friction.

Unser Testmodell: Die einzig bislang gebaute Fox 36 in 29 Zoll.
Our test model: the only Fox 36 29-er fork built so-far.

My basic set-up for a rider weight of 70 kg: 78 PSI, 12 clicks low-speed-compression, 12 clicks high-speed-compression. 14 clicks rebound (from closed). One air volume spacer.

Die Fox 36 Float im BMC Trailfox.
The Fox 36 Float in our BMC Trailfox TF01 XX1 Trailcrew – let’s hit the trails.

The varying terrain in Latsch is one thing above all: demanding! Long, steep descents constantly change from high-speed sections to rock and root gardens sprinkled with a mix of tight and fast corners – perfect test conditions for a fork.

enduro mountainbike magazin fox 36 float 2015 team tested reviewed fox 36 float factory rc2-2

In rough high-speed sections the Fox 36 Float remains high up in its travel yet is still plush and willing. Towards the end of the travel a noticeable end-progression kicks in but it still provides an additional 1 cm reserve for the hardest hits. The fork is precise and sharp as a surgeon’s knife in rock gardens and on techy trails, the bike follows exactly what you point the fork at. We were impressed!

On jumps the fork stays constantly defined and gives plenty of mid-travel support allowing the rider to get sufficient pressure on the front wheel just before take-off. On steep trails and when braking the fork sits up in its travel, which keeps your geometry stable and provides greater confidence.

Robin testet die neue Fox 36 auf den anspruchsvollen  Trails im Südtiroler Latsch.
Robin testing the new Fox 36 on the demanding Latsch trails in the South Tyrol

In comparison to the Fox 34 fitted stock to our BMC the higher rigidity of the Fox 36 can cause the bike to jump or lose ground contact earlier. The difference in stiffness is especially noticeable in tight corners and during high speed line changes. Whilst the good natured 34 guides you through corners even without perfect body positioning and line choice the 36 is rigorous and demands more familiarisation and a skilled pilot. Overall the Fox 36 allows a more precise and aggressive riding style if you know what you’re doing.

enduro mountainbike magazin fox 36 float 2015 team tested reviewed fox 36 float factory rc2-16

During small, repetitive bumps we would have wished for a bit more plushness from the damping side in order to filter out vibrations. Having reduced the compression and high-speed settings by 2 clicks the responsiveness was improved.

enduro mountainbike magazin fox 36 float 2015 team tested reviewed fox 36 float factory rc2

In order to fully use up the available travel we decided to remove the air volume spacer from the fork. No sooner said than done we were rewarded with a slightly more linear spring rate using the same air pressure. Now we got the whole travel without ever noticing bottom outs.

Exactly how one sets up the fork depends on terrain, model (26″, 27.5″ or 29″) and personal preferences. The fact is: with the RC2 cartridge and volume spacers the fork can be very well and extensively tuned.

Das Brücken- sowie Dropout-Design entspringt der 2014er Fox 40: Downhil-Technologie goes Enduro!
The bridge and dropout-design comes from the 2014 Fox 40: downhill-tech goes Enduro!

For every day use the lack of a tool free thru-axle gets on your nerves. Although leaving it off saves 65 grams it makes life harder when you have a flat or need to pack the bike into a car.

To finish off we must ask the question of how you can differentiate the Fox 36 and 34 platforms as the benchmark facts create considerable overlap.

The RC2-set-up offers racers and riders with good technical knowledge with plenty of options for individual tuning. What the 36 doesn’t offer is the on-the-go-CTD adjustment
(3-level compression adjustment Climb, Trail, Downhill) as on the 34 which is completely adequate for normal use and much more simple to set-up and change on the trail. In addition the lack of a QR thru-axle, as mentioned earlier is more of a hinderance than a benefit in every day conditions.

Bildschirmfoto 2014-05-27 um 15.44.41

Conclusion: the Fox 36 Float Factory RC2 2015 is extreme in every way. Killer looks, weight and performance in one great device. At 1099 Euro it certainly isn’t a bargain but offers high end, complex technology, well thought out featurers and overall a convincing complete package as long as you can tame the beast!

Words: Robin Schmitt Photo: Chris Trojer / Fox

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About the author

Robin Schmitt

Robin is one of the two founders of 41 Publishing, a visionary and go-getter. While he now enjoys every second on the bike – whenever his busy schedule allows – he used to race against the clock at enduro events and a few Downhill World Cups. Besides that, Robin practises kung fu and Zen meditation, plays the cello or with his dog (which actually belongs to his girlfriend), travels abroad and still reviews numerous bikes himself. Progressive ideas, new projects and major challenges – Robin loves exploring undiscovered potential and getting to the bottom of new trends.