Over the last 10 years, Fox suspension has been one of the leaders in mountain bike suspension. From the beginning, Fox was always going racing and has its roots deep in motocross suspension. Nowadays, Fox is an industry giant in the mountain biking world, known for their passion and commitment towards developing the best-performing mountain bike suspension on the market. Today we are diving in to the Fox FIT Grip damper, a sealed cartridge FIT system. The FIT Grip damper is a 2 way adjustable damper that you will find on Fox's Performance series 34 forks. We have been getting a lot of positive feedback on the FIT Grip damper from our customers, and so we thought it would be great to put this damper to the test.
The FIT Grip damper comes from Fox in their Performance series 34 and 34 Step Cast forks. Performance series forks retain the same 7000 series aluminum upper tubes found on Factory series forks but with a hard black anodized finish in place of the Kashima coating. The FIT Grip damper replaces the FIT4 damper found in Factory series forks.
Inspired from moto, the GRIP damper uses Fox's FIT sealed cartridge technology combined with a coil-sprung, independent floating piston. GRIP allows excess oil to purge through specially designed ports at the top of the damper to maintain consistent damping and increase durability. Performance series forks provide Open, Medium, and Firm modes with additional micro-adjust between settings.
Even though the FIT Grip damper is now only available in Fox's 34 Performance series forks, for this review, Max Morgan has a custom Fox 36 Factory series fork with the same FIT Grip damper installed. Even though FIT Grip dampers in stock Performance series forks use a 3 position compression adjust, Max's Grip damper just uses a single detent set in the "open" or descend position. Max has this Fox 36 fork mounted up on a size large Santa Cruz Hightower. The Hightower uses 135mm of rear wheel travel and the 36 is configured with 150mm up front. Max's Hightower is finished off with a Fox Float X2 rear shock, Industry Nine Enduro 310 carbon wheels, Maxxis DHR II EXO casing tires, and a full Deity kit.
Bringing a sealed cartridge damper to Fox's Performance series forks is a huge step in performance. With a sealed cartridge damper, you get a much more dependable and reliable product. With additional reliability alone, Fox's latest Performance forks are much improved over previous Performance forks. The bigger question is how does the FIT Grip damper perform compared to the FIT4 and Grip2 dampers.
The FIT Grip damper is no slouch! This particular damper was designed by the same engineer who previously was the lead on the Rockshox Charger damper when the Rockshox Pike was most recently reintroduced. I was pleasantly surprised by the grip and trail feel that the FIT Grip damper gave me. Similar to how the Grip2 damper rides, the FIT Grip damper gives your fork a very compliant feel that sticks your tire to the ground. The FIT Grip damper doesn't give you the same supportive control through the mid stroke of fork travel that you will find when riding the Grip2 damper, but when paired with Fox's EVOL air spring, the FIT Grip damper balances suppleness and support well.
I was surprised how much confidence the FIT Grip damper gave me. I was expecting the fork to feel a bit more violent and sporadic, but really things were the complete opposite. The fork was consistent and very predictable. That combination had me wanting to push harder through rough sections and ride fully committed through corners.
If you are looking for a high performing Fox fork, you wouldn't assume that their price-point offering would be your first choice. It turns out the FIT Grip damper is no slouch! This damper gives your fork a compliant feel that eats up the terrain and when paired with Fox's EVOL air spring, gives you a fork that is both supportive and responsive. Fox has created an incredibly reliable, durable, and cost effective fork that doesn't cut many corners when it comes to performance. If you looking for a simple fork that is easy to setup and adjust, the Fox Performance series forks with their FIT Grip damper is a great option.
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!