By Eric McKeegan
This fork is a big deal in the 29er world. In the whole scheme of things, it hasn’t taken that long for it to happen. Less than a decade ago there was little more than a handful of 29” tires, a couple of forks, and few frames. Fisher almost gave up on the wheel size due to poor sales. Now we have the Fox 34, a new 34mm chassis fork developed to address the needs of the growing long-travel 29er segment.
An increase in diameter of 2mm over the standard 32mm stanchions may not seem like much to crow about, but due to our friend physics, stiffness increases exponentially as diameter increases, so a small change can bring big results.
Why the need for more stiffness? Have you ridden any of the latest crop of 120-140mm travel 29ers? These bikes beg to be ridden hard, and 32mm forks start to feel flexy and inexact. A 140mm 29er fork is close in length to a 160mm 26-inch fork, and those get at least 35mm stanchions. It is about time we see some big tubes on big- wheeled forks.
While the chassis is new, the internals use the proven FIT damping cartridge, which is a good thing—easy to set up, reliable, predictable, etc. The only change to the damper I wanted was a wider low-speed compression damping range, it goes from barely there, to just barely there. Though there was enough adjustment to dial out brake dive.
I replaced the 32mm forks on two different bikes with this 34, and I have no interest in going back, even if the other forks are lighter. The Fox made both these bikes about the most stable things on rocky fire roads short of a DH bike, and some of the weird loading-up/springiness on off-camber and chunky terrain is now gone. In other words: long-travel 29ers finally have a fork that can stand up to the speeds and terrain these bikes can be ridden through.
Downsides? This fork is not cheap. And in my opinion, a properly designed trail bike doesn’t need travel adjust. The standard 34 Float fork ($970) with no TALAS will save a bit of cash, but until Fox releases some less expensive aftermarket forks only the deep-pocketed or very dedicated need apply. There are also less expensive versions coming stock on a few bikes.
Not into big wheels? You’ll be glad to know Fox is expanding the 34 line to cover your 26” and 650b wheel needs.
- Price: $1,030
- Travel: 140-110mm
- External Adjustments: Lockout, low-speed compression, rebound, Travel
- Adjust Weight: 4.68lbs.
- Country of Origin: United States
- Online: ridefox.com