Two thousand grams. 4.4 pounds. That’s it. That’s all this fork weighs. A fork that has smashed its way to multiple Enduro World Series victories, endless laps in bike parks, and countless sketchy descents. If nothing else, the fact that a 160 mm-travel 29er fork can weigh less than a Chihuahua and still be capable of being ridden at tremendous speeds over terrible terrain is an amazing feat.
But that is just a tiny part of the story with this fork. The big news is a new air spring with the EVOL negative spring upgrade. EVOL stands for Extra Volume, and that volume is an increase in the size of the negative spring chamber. Upping the negative spring size in comparison to the main spring chamber should create more plushness in the beginning of the stroke. Fox also reduced the number of seals in the air spring to fight the dreaded static friction, aka stiction.
Fox seems dedicated to keeping the 36 available for bikes of all ages. With support for 26 inch wheels and 1 1/8 head tubes, you can update your beloved older bike with the most modern of technologies. There is also support for 15×100 and 20×110 (non-Boost) axles along with 15×110 Boost.
I’ve been on the FIT HSC/LSC damper in a 150 mm 29er chassis, with the 15 mm quick-release axle option, which is new for 2018. Previously, the HSC/LSC damper was only available with pinch bolt lowers, but it looks like at least some riders want fast wheel changes and fully adjustable damping.
And finally, Fox added a pressure and rebound guide to the back of the fork leg. This seems like a minor thing, but being able to get in the ballpark before setting sag always saves time. I found the settings to be accurate enough as a starting point, and for riders that are often winging it, they are a much better starting point than just guessing.
I added two air volume spacers as a starting point, and never experimented with more. It is easier to install these as there is no longer a shaft in the air spring, so the spacers just snap on and off.
I bolted this to the front of a Pivot Switchblade, which happened to have a 2017 36 installed from the factory, giving me some good back-to-back comparison testing.
As advertised, the EVOL spring creates a very, very plush fork. It also seems to create a very supportive mid-stroke, and the two spacers kept me from ever bottoming harshly. Low-speed compression was set to six from full open, high speed three from open. Rebound was eight from full fast, which was faster than recommended.
At those settings this fork was fully set and forget. I sometimes missed the lockout lever, but that was mostly on pavement. In the woods, this fork matched well with the dw-link rear suspension, which was surprising. It is amazing that a fork that feels this plush can also feel so controlled. It takes a bit to tune things in, but it is fully worth it to end up with a fork that feels so darn good almost everywhere.
Some part of me feels a little silly reviewing this fork. Watching the likes of Ritchie Rude absolutely own the trail during EWS races reminds me that there is plenty of performance to be unlocked in the 36. But I was able to tune this fork to work well for me, and there seemed to be plenty of room left to make it much more shreddy, or much plusher.
Normally, I’m not one to ride around on more bike than I need, but this new 36 has really started to change my mind. It is less than a half pound heavier than a similar Fox 34, but is noticeably stiffer. This new 36, combined with something versatile like the Pivot Switchblade, has me rethinking the idea that I could have a bike that is capable of park days and works well on my local singletrack. A few years ago I would have said the 34 is the true Goldilocks of the Fox lineup, but I’m wondering why bother with that when this big, bad wolf is capable of being both a lap dog and a rabid beast.
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