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Ready to rock the trail.
After last year's much lauded overhaul, the 2017 Fox Racing Shox 34 Float 27.5 150 3Pos-Adj FIT4 Fork returns relatively unchanged. The steerer, crown, uppers, lowers, and Float Air spring all shed weight compared to earlier versions while at the same time increasing stiffness for a snappy, responsive ride. Of course, weight savings are great on paper, but the fork really makes its bacon by dint of on-trail functionality.
The Fit4's Damper's puffed out, 10mm shaft increases oil flow to the base valve, allowing the fork to ride high for quick, controlled recovery during everything from big, square hits to successive, small impacts. The 3-position Fit4 system also takes the reins from the old CTD system, changing the names from the overly-prescriptive categories of Climb, Trail, and Descend to a graduating scale covering Firm, Medium, and Open. While this change may read like an exercise in semantics, it entails a radical realignment of the 34 Float's capabilities that addresses virtually every issue we've had with the CTD damper in the past.
Perhaps the most welcome change from earlier Fit dampers is that Fit4 migrates the adjustable sub settings from CTD's median Trail mode to the new Open setting. Open encompasses both Descend and Trail in order to take full advantage of the fork's high ride by handling most compression duties. This makes the fork that much more relevant to all-mountain situations, combining better small-bump compliance with more confident tracking through rock gardens and rough terrain. It doesn't wallow and handling stays on point.
The Medium setting migrates much deeper into the firm side of compression than the Trail setting did, so it'll suffice in most conditions that don't require use of the big-bottomed Open setting. The Firm setting remains self-explanatory: an XC lock-out for turning on the afterburners when terrain allows. It'll likely see much less use in the new system, but we still appreciate Firm while riding to the trailhead or transitioning on fire roads.
FOX's tinkering wasn't just confined to the damper, though, as the Float air spring now omits the negative coil in favor of a self-equalizing air assembly. This is similar to the air spring chamber system that made the re-worked 36 series such a success, and its omission of a steel coil is a key contributor to the overall weight loss. Finally, a new system of spacers lets you easily temper the air shock's volume for dialing the mid stroke and ramp-up.
- Item #FRS003X
- Q & A
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Iv used this fork on my Lapierre spicy for the past two summers. It's handled flowy single track in Vermont, rocky tech in the granite state, chairlift downhill laps at multiple resorts, and 40 mile crest trail rides in Colorado. Toss it in climb mode and crack up the steeps and open it up at top, take your hands off the brakes, and enjoy the ride.
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
I swapped out the worn 130mm fork on my 2015 Santa Cruz 5010 and was pleasantly surprised at the performance of this fork with substantially more travel. I tend to run my settings fairly stiff so that is, in part, the reason this fork feels so good on my bike riding/climbing trails and moderate downhill. Got a nice deal too :-)
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
This fork… holy cow. It belongs on every long travel bike. I know, I know, blanket statement, but I think the fork is THAT good. I used to be nervous of square edges, rock gardens, roots, ruts, and plain old crap, this thing just soaks it up. “Confidence inspiring” doesn’t do it justice.
This fork tracks where I want it to go, doesn’t feel like dead weight, and is supple. I truly feel that at every moment, this fork is setting me up to literally overcome my obstacle.
It's also so light for how capable it is! Performance/weight ratio is spot on with this guy, it doesn't mind big climbs.
With the new FIT4 damper, this fork has truly useful Compression modes and is simple an intuitive to adjust and tune. Unless you really like to geek out on suspension (I’m guilty!) the LSC, Rebound, and Air Volume adjustments are all you’ll need and are super easy to get dialed in.
And yes, I’ve ridden on a Pike. And yes I’d take the Fox. Every time.
Building a new bike? Upgrading the current whip? Give me a shout and I’ll make sure you get the perfect build.
Even if you’re not ready to pull the trigger, reach out if you have questions like:
- What do all the knobs and dials do?
- How do I set my suspension for me?
- Which fork is right for my bike?