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Fox's Step Cast forks offer big bike performance for XC and Downcountry bikes on a weight weenie diet. The 34 step cast comes in 120mm travel for a diverse array of applications. Our friend just installed one on his Transition Spur. See what they think!
Recently, I purchased a 2022 Fox 34 Step-Cast Factory fork to put on my Transition Spur. The fork is only available in 120mm and my version has the Fit4 Damper which is the highest-end configuration available for the 34 Step-Cast. The Step-Cast design of the fork limits the rotor size to 180mm, which is what I ran with the addition of a 180mm post to post adapter which does add a few extra grams. The weight of the fork, including the Kabolt axel and star nut, came to approximately 1480 grams. I also own a 2022 Fox 34 Grip2 fork and the Step-Cast comes in around 340 grams lighter than the non-Step-Cast Grip2.
For my fork set up, I settled on 63 psi, 6-8 clicks of low-speed compression, and 4-5 clicks out from fully closed on the rebound. This is a little softer and a little slower than Fox recommends. My weight is around 150lbs. The Fit4 damper also allows for 3 preset compression settings - open, firm, really firm (near lock-out). For any trail riding, I used the open setting. For pavement or super smooth climbs, I went with the firmest setting - XC racers will appreciate the near lockout setting as it eliminates front-end bob.
Out on the trail, the lightweight of the fork is definitely noticeable. It is very easy to lift the front end over obstacles and to quickly whip it out of corners. A downside to the lightweight of the fork is that it does get bounced around a bit in technical descents. It may also be a mix of the weight and the Fit4 damper, which while it works really well, isn't up to the same level as the Grip2 damper. The fork is reasonably plush through rough bits of trail, but extended descents on black diamond terrain may leave your hands and arms a little sore. This is often the trade-off when going with lightweight components. The fork is likely plush enough for xc racers who will appreciate the lack of heft. For 2022, Fox also re-designed the arch to match their beefier fork offerings. It is now a bit narrower and is rounded instead of being squared off. Fox says this makes it stiffer than previous versions. For a 34mm fork, I found I didn't notice any unexpected flexing and
I felt like I could push the fork pretty hard through rough terrain and corners without it feely noodly.
Compared to my 2022 Fox 34 Grip2, the Step-Cast couldn't quite keep up in the tech and rough stuff. I had a lot more confidence holding a line on the Grip2 than I did on the Step-Cast and at the end of the day, the Grip2 just felt less punishing on my body. In the future, it would be awesome if Fox could fit a Grip2 damper into the lightweight chassis of the Step-Cast. As it is now, the Step-Cast is probably best suited for XC racers and those that ride generally smoother trails and or ride a bit slower. If you are charging technical terrain on your trail bike, I would suggest you take the weight penalty and give the non-Step-Cast Grip2 a look.