When Fox released their 32 Step Cast fork, it launched a new generation of technology and innovation from the suspension company. With the 34 Step Cast fork, Fox uses the same approach creating a fork much more capable than what its feather weight class would suggest. The 2020 Fox 34 Step Cast fork thrives on long days out on the bike and excels adventure racing where having a lightweight bike that is also capable when the trail gets rough is key. We are big fans of the 34 Step Cast and love the style of riding it's aimed towards. Here is a full review with technical information and our own thoughts on riding the Fox 34 Step Cast out on the trail.
The Fox 34 Step Cast fork is a 120mm dedicated lightweight fork tailored for the trail category. The Step-Cast chassis allows Fox to shorten the damper rod and air spring rod since the fork is only offered with 120mm of travel and reduce the overall weight as much as possible. The Step Cast 34 is just as stiff as the traditional 140mm 34 fork, while being 0.5 lbs lighter. The Step Cast 34 uses the same EVOL air spring design we have seen on other Fox forks. The Factory series forks are offered with the Fit4 damper with a 3 position compression adjust with additional low speed compression adjustments. The same damper can also be configured with a 2 position remote option with additional low speed compression adjustment. The Performance series Step Cast 34 comes fitted with a Fit GRIP damper.
For this review, we are riding the Fox 34 Step Cast fork on a Yeti SB100. The Step Cast 34 fork is truly a perfect match for the SB100. These bikes from Yeti have almost established a new "downcountry" category of riding; bikes that are efficient and climb like a cross country bike but then can turn around and shred descending. The Step Cast 34 fork is designed for specifically this and excels on these kinds of bikes. This particular Yeti SB100 is fitted with a 3 position adjust Fox DPS shock in the rear and is rolling on Maxxis tires. The bike is finished off with DT Swiss M1700 wheels, Sram XO1 Eagle drivetrain and a Fox Transfer dropper post.
The Fox 34 Step Cast fork is incredibly light. This had the front end of the SB100 feeling nimble and easy to lift up over obstacles when climbing. The fork overall had a very direct feel that allowed me to have a strong connected feel to the surface of the trail. This direct feel with only 120mm of travel made it easy to pin point exactly where you want your front wheel to go. Even with how light the fork is, it seemed plenty stiff for just about everything I threw at it.
The Fit4 damper uses a 3 position adjust lever that is aimed to help pedaling efficiency. I've got the fork damper setup primarily for descending. Finding the correct rebound setting and low speed compression settings that give you the most confidence and control on the downhills I think is the most important. On the descents, I would always run the 3 position adjust in the open setting and then either close it towards firm or all the way closed while climbing up gravel roads or not so technical singletrack. Overall, the Fit4 damper is not as compliant compared to the GRIP or GRIP2 dampers and rightfully so. The Fit4 damper I think is a perfect match for the intended use of the 34 Step Cast fork. The damper makes the fork feel efficient, giving you a strong pedaling platform, but is also supple enough to handle rough terrain without throwing you all over the trail.
The Fox 34 Step Cast fork has absolutely lived up to the hype. I always have a ton of fun riding these "downcountry" bikes. The Fox 34 Step Cast fork keeps the SB100 feeling light and fun. I think this fork is certainly best in class!
The Fox 34 Step Cast fork punches much harder than what its weight class suggests! After riding this 120mm travel fork on both a Yeti SB100 and Santa Cruz Blur, I have fell in love with how efficient these bikes are on the trail, all without taking much fun away on the descents. The 34 Step Cast fork is a major contributor to that feeling. This fork is a stunning 3.58 lbs and still is stiff enough to give you a confident feeling over where you can put your front wheel on the trail.
Max Morgan is 26 years old, and lives in Brevard, North Carolina. Max grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and started racing downhill at the age of 15. He has now been racing professionally for the last 9 years, competing in the UCI World Cup series and U.S. Pro GRT series. To learn more about Max, check out Max's rider spotlight here!