When Fox introduced the new 36 chassis to the world two years ago, the fork immediately took off as one of the highest performing mid-travel suspension forks on the market. Since the latest Fox 36 has hit the trails, it has found itself with two back to back Enduro World Series championship titles in its trophy case. Not only has the Fox 36 been successful on Richie Rude’s Yeti SB6c, but it performs incredibly well for riders of all different skill levels, from top level professional racers to weekend enthusiasts.
Here in this review we are going to be discussing the form and function of the 2017 Fox 36 Float. Is this thing really all it’s hyped up to be? Below are the specific product details of the model fork used throughout this review.
2017 Fox 36 Float 150mm FIT HSC/LSC
The latest and greatest Fox 36 Factory Series model uses a self equalizing air spring for both the positive and negative air chambers. This air spring design along with the use of air volume reducers or tokens, means that the float air spring can accommodate both very light and heavy riders. The fork’s low drag seals and large foam rings keep the fork action smooth and supple. The lubricating oil used in the fork is a high performance 20 weight Fox refers to as their 20 weight Gold oil.
The adjustments available on the FIT HSC/LSC damper include a wide range of high speed compression and low speed compression clickers, along with a single rebound adjuster and the aforementioned air volume reducers.
The 36 comes with both a 15mm and 20mm threaded axle straight out of the box and can be configured with either, depending on your wants and needs.
For 2017, Fox is now offering boost spacing 36 forks that use a 15x110mm front axle, perfect for those riders with a new 27.5 plus tire bike!
Also new for the 2017 Fox 36 is the E16 tune used on the Fit4 damper. While this is not the damper used in this particular review, the Fit4 damper is a great damper for those riders looking for a quick adjust action on their fork.
Lastly, the 2017 Fox 36 fork can also be purchased specifically for E-bike use. Fox says the Speed Pedelec models feature a stouter chassis that provides a more durable platform needed for the additional weight inherent with E-bikes.
Also be sure to check out the full 2017 lineup of Fox forks here!
After mounting the fork and riding the bike without much time prior spent on setup, I found that getting to the correct spring rate and air volume was the most important factor to get maximum performance out of the fork. I weigh approximately 165 pounds (75 kg) and am running the fork with 2 large and 1 small air token installed at 84.5 psi. The fork tokens are super easy to swap out - just let the air out of the fork, unscrew the top cap using a 32mm wrench, and slide on the plastic token. I found that this relatively stiff spring platform provides the best ride height characteristics I am looking for to keep the bike balanced while maintaining front wheel grip. On the other hand, if the fork is too stiff, you will end up not having enough weight over the front wheel, sacrificing grip. I was looking to keep the fork up in its travel especially under hard braking so that I could keep my weight more balanced from front to back on the bike.
After getting the air pressure dialed in, the compression clickers are there to fine tune how the fork handles. Like I mentioned earlier, with this fork in particular, I think it is very important to get the spring rate where you want it before trying to make fine adjustments on high speed (HSC) and low speed compression (LSC). These clickers provide a wide range of adjustment. When I hopped on the fork for the first ride, I had the HSC and LSC set about right in the middle. After making clicker adjustments of about 3-5 clicks at a time, I settled on 18 for HSC and 12 for LSC. These are both measured from all the way closed. Therefore turn each dial all the way to the right until it bottoms out, and then back the HSC out 16 clicks and the LSC 12 clicks.
Now let’s think about the rebound adjuster. Keep in mind that rebound is going to be different for each spring rate. For a lighter or less aggressive rider that uses less air pressure in their fork, you would have to run the rebound faster to get the same feel as a heavier rider running more air pressure. I found that at 84.5 psi, 8 clicks of rebound from all the way closed felt just right on the trail. If your rebound is too slow, the tire isn’t going to want to stay glued to the ground and if the rebound is too fast, you may get some feedback up through the handlebars, making the bike feel more uncontrollable.
There are many variables with bike setup that can drastically change your experience on the trail. When testing something new, it is important to change as few variables as you can at one time. Fortunately in this particular case, I was already mostly familiar with the handling characteristics of the bike, the wheels and tires.
Here in Western North Carolina we’ve got all kinds of trails with all kinds of dirt consistency. With Pisgah National Forest and Dupont State Forest both right out the back door, the trails are endless. For me, it’s a perfect place to train, test new cool forks, and go on epic adventures with friends! The 36 seemed to excel more and more the harder I rode it. I never felt like the fork was holding me back from being more aggressive when attacking the trails. It took me three to four rides on the fork to get all of the settings we mentioned earlier close to where I felt comfortable on the bike. Once I got comfortable, it was on! From the rough and high speed terrain on the Bennett Gap trail in Pisgah to the smooth and flowy Ridgeline trail in Dupont, the 36 did it all. But I guess that is what you should expect from a high-end product from Fox.
I also spent some time riding the 36 out at Windrock Bike Park just past Knoxville, Tennessee. This was the first time I got this fork and my trail bike on some pure downhill trails. The trails at Windrock are a lot of fun and in some places can be very demanding. That’s what makes it fun, being on the limit! The fork was able to hold its own on the steep trail though. It definitely would have been nice to have 160mm travel up front, just to keep the front of the bike up a bit higher, but the fork did its job. I was impressed and feel like I can take this setup anywhere and have plenty of fun riding my bike.
The bottom line is the 2017 Fox Float 36 is one of the best suspension forks on the market! This fork is a true contender to the proven Rockshox Pike. I felt like the 36 was able to handle everything I threw at it. This thing rips - and that is one of the best feelings to have when riding. The stiffness in the front end gave me the confidence to charge hard and brake even later into the corners.
After riding the fork for a few months now, I have noticed that it has become a bit harsh on the first inch of travel. Service intervals for these kinds of things depends purely on the amount of hours you have on the fork, and I am certainly past the service interval. With some fresh oil and foam rings, the 36 will be back to feeling brand new!
My name is Max Morgan and I am 24 years old, and I currently live in Brevard, North Carolina. I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and started racing downhill at the age of 15. I have now been racing professionally for the last 6 years, competing in the U.S. Pro GRT series and UCI World Cup series.