While the standard Fox 32 chassis received a major face-lift in creating the first generation 32 Step-Cast, the changes to 34 Step-Cast chassis were not quite as extreme after going under the knife. Aside from the distinct external steps in the lower casting, the most notable change to the (MY2019) 34 Step-Cast chassis is locking in travel at 120 mm. This shortened the internal shaft and stanchions allowing Fox to hollow out the lower portion of the lowers and shaved off nearly a half-pound compared to the standard 34 while maintaining the same level of stiffness according to Fox. Even more impressive is when compared to the long-legged Fox 32, the 34 Step-Cast is 15 percent stiffer and a third of a pound lighter.
The standard Factory model offers a three-position lever ($943) or remote option ($1,024) and utilizes the FIT4 damper, while the budget-friendly Performance model ($789) is the same chassis but opts for the GRIP damper and non-Kashima coated stanchions. While the 29-inch fork lists that it only fits up to a 2.6-inch tire, I found there was ample room for a 27plus setup if that’s your jam. With a 2.8 inch tire mounted on a 40 mm internal rim, there was roughly 10 mm of clearance around the tire. Internally, the only changes the Step-Cast sees are a revised EVOL air-spring, a new seal on the head to help reduce friction and a dedicated travel-specific damper tune.
How does all this tech translate into the ride? The primary bike I’ve been riding for the last two years has a 120 mm Fox Factory 34 with FIT4 damper, providing a perfect apples to apples comparison. After swapping to the Fox 34 Step-Cast, the change was almost unnoticeable, which is not a bad thing. The only indicator that a change was made is the fact that Fox sent their fancy bright orange model, so it’s hard not to notice. Having experienced what a 32 mm stanchioned 120 mm fork feels like, I can attest that the 34 Step-Cast makes the 32 feel frail and torsionally flexy, especially for someone over 160 pounds.
My standard 34 with star-nut, approximately 7 inches of the steerer tube and no axle weighs 1,751 grams. The Step-Cast with star-nut, slightly less steerer tube and no axle weighs 1,626 grams. That claimed weight savings of nearly half a pound is a stretch, but there is no denying the fact it shaved a quarter of a pound off the fork. That’s still a good chunk of weight when you’re fighting to shave 50 grams off your bike here and there or climbing Wheeler Pass on day five of the Breck Epic stage race. The 34 Step-Cast was created specifically for those light trail users and endurance rides where grams add up when climbing over 4,000 feet a day for six days straight.
The MY2019 Fox 34 Step-Cast is perfect for the Fox 34 fanboy who’s settled in at 120 mm of travel or if you’re currently a 32 mm stanchioned rider looking for a little more squish without going full flat-brimer. For the average rider running a 100 mm fork, you’d be surprised how much your small bump compliance and general fun factor increases with a proper 120 mm fork. Now is a perfect time to jump off the 4-inch pogo-stick and graduate to the next tier in fun without sacrificing performance.
Fox 34 Step-Cast Factory – $943
Words by Scott Williams and Photos by Brett Rothmeyer
Editor’s Note: This feature first appeared in issue #208 of Dirt Rag Magazine. Since the release of this MY2019 Fox 34 Step-Cast review, the Fox 32 Step-Cast has been revised for MY2020 which we review here. Like what you see? Subscribe today.