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photo: Jeff Barber

With any new bike purchase, there are a few important upgrades and customization choices most riders consider. Similarly, mountain bike suspension can be tuned from a generally good feel out of the box, to a unique setup specific to each individual’s riding style and trail conditions. Fox is the first major suspension company to offer a affordable, custom tuning and upgrades for the masses.

What is Fox Factory Tune?

In the summer of 2017 Fox launched a program called Fox Factory Tune (FFT) which allows customers to send their forks, shocks, and seat posts to their local Fox Authorized Service Center for a full service, tune, and customization. The tune consists of changing the valving in the fork or shock to better suit individual riders. In addition to tuning forks and shocks to fit the way they ride, mountain bikers can get components upgraded with the latest air or hydro tech Fox has available. Fox will even replace suspension internals with fresh new bits or simply change out the sticker kit.

Some important tune notes on Ternelli’s current shock.

Who benefits from the program?

The short answer is that anyone with a Fox product that is newer than 2016 can upgrade it to the latest and greatest tunes, dampers, air chambers, skewers, stickers, etcetera. FFT allows customers to have all of the most current technology they may want to try out, without the cost of an entirely new component. In fact, if you decide you want to upgrade every last internal piece of your 2016 Fox 34 fork to 2018 standards, it will cost less than half the price of a new 2018 model. That’s a pretty sweet benefit.

Additionally, for flyweight or big boned riders who may fall outside the scope of a standard tune, Fox can re-valve the suspension to react properly based on rider weight and preferences. Everyone — including aggressive riders, those who want to mount a fork to an e-bike, and park rats who put in an improbable number of jumps during the season — can get suspension parts dialed through the FFT program.

A Fox Factory Tune is guaranteed with a one-time re-run promise that Fox offers to back up their work. Riders who are not satisfied with their setup can return the product and Fox will change the tune free of charge. The technicians at Fox can either set tunings back to the original settings or try another valving configuration. Unlike mechanics for professional athletes, Fox techs cannot swap the valving for free at every whim, but this re-re-valving offer certainly seems generous.

Which suspension elements can be upgraded?

Everything. If you want to swap the black insert on your Fox Performance Transfer post for some gold Factory Kashima bling, they can make that happen. The options are many, and they are surprisingly affordable. Once a product is open for service, swapping in new parts is a quick and easy process.

Here is an example of a full upgrade for a Fox Factory 34 fork.

Full overhaul service (depends on service center rates) $150-160
Re-valve to rider-specific setup $20
Evol air assembly $20-30
Upgrade to the latest damper $200
New stickers $20
Kabolt through axle $45
ESTIMATED TOTAL $455-475

The current retail price for a new Factory 34 fork is hovering right around $1,000, so the FFT program provides all of the bang for about half the bucks.

Testing tunes in Sestri Levante. photo: Anny @ scimmianatas.com

What is the FFT process like? How long does it take? Is the new tune under warranty?

From start to finish the FFT process is quick and painless. You can find your local authorized service center on their webpage here, then simply fill out the requested info and someone from the service center will call to discuss exactly what kind of riding you enjoy and what you are looking for from your custom tune and upgrades.

Once you ship your fork off to the service center, their typical turnaround time is 3-5 business days. This duration will depend on the season and how busy the service center is, but their aim is to return your polished product as quickly as possible.

Unlike taking suspension goods to an independent squish-whisperer, all work and parts from the Authorized Service Center falls under the original product warranty.

Who tests new tunes for Fox?

Roughly 250 riders around the world test products for Fox, from professional XC and gravity racers to weekend warriors and MTB enthusiasts. Fox has chosen riders to represent a wide spectrum of abilities, styles, sizes, and strengths to create the best Petri dishes for their new product ideas.

One group of those squish-discerning riders in northern Italy has affectionately named themselves “The Lab Rats.” They are a trio of seasoned riders who live in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, between the maritime Apennine Mountains and the proper Italian Alps. They also live near Fox’s lead EU technician Tyrone Dines, who was one of the founders of the FFT program. The Lab Rats represent a unique subset of the Fox consumer base, and help the company better understand how new products and new suspension tunes will be experienced by consumers before the company launches a new product.

Alle and Manu are partners in more than just suspension testing.

The testers ride with Dines on the regular and in the words of a lightning-fast Lab Rat, Manu Caiti, “Ty will just take our bikes and change something and ask us how it feels. Sometimes he will tell us what he has changed, and other times it’s a blind test.” The three shredders ride new tunes and unique suspension experiments, as well as new products prior to an official launch, then provide critical feedback about the pluses and minuses they experience. They are all on the lighter side of Fox’s tune spectrum, ranging from 50-65 kilos, and are often testing flyweight tunes.

Each of the riders mentioned a nearby coastal trail system in Sestri Levante called Liguria as one of their favorite places to test and shred. “The trails start out with good flow and then become quite rocky and technical. It feels like you are riding right into the sea.” With seemingly endless rocky descents throughout the peninsula, Italy is a fantastic proving ground for new mountain bike suspension products and tunes.

When I asked all three of them to name a favorite product they have tested, I received a resounding chorus, “The 36 is amazing”.

Lab Rat Dani Ternelli testing on some slick roots. photo: Anny @ scimmianatas.com

Ready to ship?

The Fox Factory Tune program allows riders to regularly upgrade their suspension products and try new things, to keep their forks well-maintained by trained professionals, and to validate their product warranty with certified Fox products. This, in turn, saves customers money, minimizes the amount of used gear collecting dust in garages and Dumpsters, and demonstrates Fox’s overall commitment to customer satisfaction.

As with any larger changes to the bike, the tunes will take some time to adjust to. Our bodies and brains compensate for a lot of the characteristics of our bikes that are not as dialed as they could be. For example, have you ever hopped on a friend’s bike and noticed that the brake levers are not in symmetrical positions? For your friend, they likely feel just right. Left in the hands of Fox’s trained technicians, you will likely be stoked on the tune they create for your unique riding needs.

Tyrone shredding in Finale Ligure. photo: Anny @ scimmianatas.com

Now to find the right size boxes for shipping.

Get more information about the Fox Factory Tune program.

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# Comments

  • peteostro

    Who cares about the Fox tuning, I want to know where that picture was taken!!!!

  • Brian Gerow

    @peteostro The cover photo for the article was taken in Dolomiti del Brenta, in the north-east of Italy. The photo with two riders in the center is from the same region.

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