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It’s springtime, and that can only mean one thing: Fox product launch season. Just as our brains are getting used to what year it currently is, Fox starts confusing us all over again by announcing next year’s widgets. It’s almost as if they’re so focused on going fast that they can’t even hang out in the same year as the rest of us.
Last year (the early-2020 release of 2021 product) was a big bash for big bikes, with the launch of the brand new 38 fork, along with totally redesigned 36 and 40 series forks and updated Float X2 and DHX2 shocks. For 2022, Fox focused its attention on the trail category by updating the 34 fork, and releasing all-new Float X and DHX shocks.
Actually, there was some exciting news for trail bikes last year, when Fox announced that it made a GRIP 2 damper—Fox’s highest performance, 4-way adjustable damper—for the 34-series fork. While people were going bananas over the 38, a product that hardly any of us needs, Fox casually threw in probably the single best upgrade it had ever made to the 34 without anyone really noticing. But I did. Not just because it’s my job to, but because I’ve been trying to hammer one particular point for years now: Little bikes deserve nice dampers, too. That, and fork lockouts are pointless. By designing a GRIP 2 damper for the 34, Fox showed that, A: I’m not the only one that’s been saying this, and B: they’re listening.
Despite this sweet, sweet step forward for the 34’s guts, the chassis remained unchanged last year. But now, we see that Fox trickled the same design language and chassis structure that debuted on the 36, 38 an 40 last year down to the 34. The rounded arch, extra bracing, and oil bypass channels that improved stiffness, clearance, weight, durability, and consistency on last year’s crop of new-releases can all be found on the new 2022 34. You might notice that Fox decided against bleeder valves, which are featured on each of Fox’s larger-stanchioned forks and omitted on the 34 to save weight. As expected, the 34 also benefits from a larger negative air spring in order to provide a more stable mid-stroke. It’s also not surprising to see that the 34 will now be limited to 29-inch wheels only (but still with both 44mm and 51mm offsets). Even though there are still quite a few mid-travel 27.5ers out there that this fork would be an excellent upgrade for, the owners of these bikes aren’t likely to produce enough demand to make it worth the cost for Fox to produce a small-wheel 34. Still, I’m not thrilled to report the option disappearing.
Nor am I thrilled to report that the option to buy a 34 with a FIT4 damper isn’t disappearing. Just kidding. Except that getting a FIT4-equipped FOX fork when there’s a GRIP 2 option available is like giving a giant double middle finger to traction.
I know all too well what it’s like being on traction’s bad side, so I opted for a Grip 2-equipped test fork to give me and the Yeti SB115 I’d be putting it on the best chance of success. And, turns out, it’s really good. The damper provides excellent control and even though it has both high- and low-speed compression and rebound adjusters, it’s actually quite easy to dial it in, and I found that the recommended starting setup got me within a couple clicks on all four knobs. The chassis is stiff enough for reckless hard charging, and even though it’s noticeably less stiff than the 36, I don’t feel any disadvantage to the added flex. It steers quickly, tracks well through chattery corners, and generally feels more than suited for aggressive trail riding.
The front end of the bike feels nice and light and easy to lift or maneuver, which really helps give the bike a balanced feel. Until now, I’d be shortening the travel of a 36 for any mid-travel bike build because the 34 didn’t feel robust enough or have advanced enough damping to justify the weight savings. Now it does. If you’ve been over-forking, too, it might be time to reconsider the Fox 34.
2022 Fox 34 Specs:
– ALL-NEW chassis
– NEW air/oil channels
– NEW arch shape offers improved head tube clearance with shorter rakes
– NEW 58mm diameter crown
– Updated EVOL air spring
– Damper option(s): FIT4, GRIP2, and GRIP
– Travel option(s): 120mm-140mm
– Wheel size(s): 29″
– Offset(s): 44mm and 51mm
– Axle(s): 15×110 QR and 15×110 Kabolt
– Factory Series models feature Genuine Kashima Coat
– Available in Factory, Performance Elite, and Performance
– Starting weight: 1698 g
– MSRP USD $769 – $969 / CDN $1079 – $1399 / EUR €1069 – €1389
For supple rear-wheel action, Fox is introducing an all-new Float X. Think of it as a pared-down, lighter Float X2 to replace the DPX2. With a piggyback reservoir, monotone design, and featuring tool-less compression adjustment, easy-to-reach rebound, and an independent circuit for the two-position open/firm mode lever, the Float X is a feature-packed trail shock available as short as 190mm x 45mm (standard eye) and 185mm x 52.5mm.
But that’s not even the half of it. The Float X is able to run less air pressure for a given rider weight thanks to a larger piston, it has a higher volume air spring, can run a wider range of volume spacers, has a hydraulic top-out, is quieter than the DPX2, and has a wider rebound adjustment range.
This all adds up massive gains over the DPX2, in both damping quality and adjustability. First, there’s a ton of air volume adjustment, which can be made in smaller increments than offered previously. Between just that and the much faster and more widely adjustable rebound, I’m already sold. Then you throw in an easy-to-reach, perfectly-tuned pedal platform lever (which can be tuned to be either firmer or softer by Fox), and tool-less low-speed compression, and it’s a no-brainer.
Finally, top it all off with quiet, consistent operation, and the new Float X is looking like a huge improvement over the DPX2. On the back of my Yeti SB115, the Float X does a nice job of controlling what little travel there is, and gives the bike a much more controlled and supple feel than the DPS that comes on the bike. I really think Fox hit the mark with this shock, and look forward to riding it on the many bikes it’s bound to be spec’d on moving forward.
Fox Float X Specs:
– ALL-NEW chassis and damper
– High-flow main piston
– Air seal package
– Volume spacers with smaller increments
– MCU bottom out bumper
– Numbered tool-free 12 position single-turn LSC (Low Speed Compression) adjuster
– Independent firm mode circuit – Clockable 2 position adjuster
– Increased rebound adjuster range (over DPX2)
– Optimized reservoir lengths per shock size
– Hydraulic top out feature
– Reduced damper noise
– Larger air sleeve bore reduces average rider pressure by 40 psi vs. DPX2
– Bearing hardware compatible both sides
– Air valve location offers improved frame fitment and pump access
– Available in Factory and Performance Elite
– MSRP USD $499 – $569 / CDN $699 – $799 / EUR €699 – €799
There’s also a new DHX coil shock that shares similar construction with the Float X, and is offered in the same sizes, including the shortest lengths. We’re hoping to get our hands on one soon. Think it’d be fun on the SB115? I’m thinking yes.