First ride: 2018 Fox 36

Both FOX and RockShox have been moving to larger negative spring in rear shocks, and now we see them moving to forks as well. The 2018 36 has a new EVOL air spring that promises “plushness off the top, extra midstroke support, and more tunable bottom-out progression.” I’ve been riding a new 36 the past few weeks to check on those claims. I unbolted a stock 36 from the Pivot Switchblade we have in for review and bolted up this orange beast. Unfortunately, this isn’t a stock color, and other than sponsored riders and media samples, there won’t be many other people riding these forks. I dig the orange. From the first bit of rough trail, the new 36 was noticeably plusher, without losing mid-stroke support. Since the Switchblade is “only” a 135 travel frame, I expected there to be some mismatch feel between the super plush front and the dw-link rear end, but that wasn’t the case. When pushing the bike hard, the mid-stroke support keeps the front end from blowing through its travel, keeping the bike feeling balanced and composed. I installed two air volume spacers and could see sticking a third in for a day in a bike park, or some place with a lot of sustained steepness.

I’ve got the Factory Float HSC/LSC damper fork, but there will Factory FIT4 and Performance Elite options as well. Five years ago, riding a 36 as an everyday trail fork seemed silly, but with changes to the fork, the bikes it is mounted to and riding styles, a 36 is more and more able to deliver solid performance on just about any trail without feeling like too much fork.

The 2018 36 isn’t a huge evolutionary leap for fork performance but is does make an already good fork even better.

Factory FLOAT FIT4 $979
Factory FLOAT HSC/LSC $1,049
Performance Elite FLOAT FIT4 $889
Performance Elite FLOAT HSC/LSC $959