If you line up a gravity race bike from 2005 and 2020 side by side, the newer one might chuckle at what passed for “performance technology” fifteen years back, while the older one could scoff at the weight gain and heinous travel numbers of its successor. Trails, bikes, and riding styles have shifted greatly since Fox released their 36 and 40 forks back 2005. This season, the brand has a new fork to toss into the mix, with features and fortunes from both of its squishy cousins. Check out the redesigned 2021 lineup below.
Forks updates: 36, 38, and 40
Let’s start with that burly 38mm stanchion gravity monster since it’s shiny and new. The husky fork has an elliptical steerer tube to add rigidity at race speed. If you look inside the steerer, before inserting the star nut, you’ll see an oval shape, with more material added to the internal leading and trailing sides of the tube for added stiffness. Continuing down the chassis, the lower leg arch sticks out further to make room for thicker headtubes and shorter fork offsets.
The lower legs also gain a set of channels that Fox says will improve both oil circulation and air volume. “As a fork compresses, the air volume within the lower legs decreases, increasing air pressure. The more the fork compresses, the more pressure increases. This effect can have the unintended consequence of preventing full travel from being achieved. Our lower leg channels help alleviate this issue by dramatically increasing air volume within the lower legs and thereby reducing the amount of additional unintended pressure ramping. Another benefit of these channels is that lower leg bath oil is circulated to the upper reaches of the lower legs, continuously lubricating the foam rings and bushings as the fork compresses and extends through its travel.”
The final chassis update is a set of bleed ports on the rear side of 36, 38, and 40 forks. According to Fox, “Our lower leg bleeders allow for atmospheric pressure equalization at the simple press of a button. Pressure build-up in the lower legs dramatically decreases fork performance, preventing full travel from being achieved, and diminishing small bump sensitivity and responsiveness.” Fox has been selling its dual crown 40 with bleed ports for a while, and now all of their gravity forks benefit from the feature.
Inside, the new 38 forks receive the hyper tuneable Grip2 damper with its proprietary variable valve control VVC system that allows riders to tune rebound to their precise liking. On the air spring leg, the trusty Float EVOL takes care of the plush factor, and Fox says “The benefits of EVOL are further enhanced by our new lower leg channels and Bleeders, which both function to reduce air pressure captured in the lower legs, allowing the EVOL air spring to operate freely without unintended interference.”
The 38 fork is a claimed “31% stiffer transverse shear, 17% stiffer fore/aft, and 38% torsionally stiffer than the 36,” works with 29-inch or 27.5-inch wheels, with 160-180mm of travel, and comes in 37, 44, and 51mm offsets. It will be available in Factory, Performance Elite, Performance, and E-bike models, ranging from $949 – $1199 (€1259 – €1589), with a reported starting weight of 2180g. It looks like the Factory and Performance Elite model 38s will get the Grip2 damper, and the Performance will have the original Grip damper.
The 36 and 40 models receive all of the same lower chassis changes, including large negative air chambers, air bleed ports, air/oil channels, a newly designed floating axle, and new arch shape. The revamped 36 range will retail for $849 – $1099 (€1339 – €1459), while the dual crown 40 goes for $1749 (€2299).
Shock updates: X2 and DHX2
Fox has renewed all of their rear wheel dampers for 2021 as well, and the ever-popular X2 and DHX2 models each receive a full chassis update, redesigned damper, and a new high-flow main piston, all backed up by a new progressive MCU bottom-out bumper to save those harsh hits. Both shocks also see shorter reservoirs to better fit more frames, and stiffer compression lockouts than their predecessors. Finally, the X2 gets a lower friction air seal for 2021, and the DHX2 coil collar has some added “dents” to keep it from rotating loose under light preload settings. The X2 shocks will retail for $639 – $669 (€849 – €889) while its coil-sprung DHX2 cousin goes for $619 – $649 (€819 – €859).
For more info visit Ridefox.com.