FOX Debuts the Next Generation of Grip Dampers - All You Need to Know 13

The FOX Grip family grows with three purpose-built dampers for gravity, trail, and cross-country riders.

 Do you hear that? That's the sound of our Tech Rumors Forum buzzing with debate surrounding the launch of not one, not two, but three new FOX fork dampers. Because if our beloved forum experts aren't dissecting spy shots of products that shouldn't be public knowledge, they're probably discussing which suspension products are best and why your bike is set up wrong. 

After years of mostly positive reviews intertwined with some shortcomings, FOX has ditched its Grip2 and FIT4 dampers for model-year 2025 forks. In their place are three new dampers that seek to offer a heightened level of discipline-focused performance and features — whether that's shaving every possible gram in the XC damper, increasing tunability for gravity riders, or giving trail riders a purpose-built product. It might not be as exciting as an entirely new fork or shock, but as they say, it's what's on the inside that counts. Time to get a grip on FOX's latest generation of dampers. 

Grip SL Highlights

Grip X Highlights

Grip X2 Highlights

  • Intended use: XC, short track, marathon
  • 3-position compression adjustment: Open, Medium, Firm
  • Low-speed rebound adjustment
  • Spring back IFP
  • 60g lighter than FIT4
  • Available for: 32 Taper-Cast, 32 Step-Cast, 34 Step-Cast 
  • Intended use: all-mountain, trail
  • High- and low-speed compression adjustment
  • Firm mode at the end of high-speed adjustment closes off compression, creating a firm pedaling platform 
  • Low-speed rebound adjustment
  • 120g lighter than the X2 damper
  • Available for: 34, 36, 38
  • Intended use: all-mountain, enduro, gravity
  • High- and low-speed compression adjustment
  • High- and low-speed rebound adjustment
  • Larger valve stack than previous Grip 2 (23 shims vs. 7 shims)
  • 24mm base valve (vs. 20mm on Grip 2)
  • Faster response time due to lower positive pressure
  • Available for: 34, 36, 38, 40 (34 OEM spec only)

Grip Dampers Overview

Up to this point, FOX has sort-of targeted dampers by intended use and fork chassis. FIT4 has been used in 32, 34, and 36 forks, while Grip2 has existed in 34, 36, 38 and 40. This has been fine and dandy for the most part, but running the same damper in an ultra-lightweight cross-country fork and an aggressive trail fork isn't exactly what we call optimized. The new Grip family takes an approach of giving cross-country, trail, and gravity riders a unique damper that's been developed to complement the specific demands of each discipline.  

 Designed for XC, marathon, and pedal-hungry rippers
Grip X: Designed for trail, all mountain, adventure, and anything-mountain biking
Grip X: Designed for trail, all mountain, adventure, and anything-mountain biking
Grip X2: Designed for peek descending performance and tunability
Grip X2: Designed for peek descending performance and tunability

Moving to a three-damper product line has allowed FOX to hone in on what riders want out of their forks based on terrain, speed, and the type of bike they're riding. This approach rings most true at either end of the chassis spectrum—32 TC, 32 SC, and 34 SC now only use the new lightweight Grip SL damper, while 40 only uses the new Grip X2 gravity damper. There is still crossover with 34, 36, and 38 available with Grip X or Grip X2, but these forks also appeal to a wider array of riders and bikes. 

FOX Factory and Performance Elite forks will come equipped with the new dampers. All three dampers are also backward compatible with current forks since the chassis has not changed.  

Beyond all the new damper goodness, the only other updates for 2025 are a radically redesigned 32 SC, new uber-flashy FOX 50th anniversary gold lowers (insert Austin Powers Gold member quote), and new lower bushings in 34, 36, 38, and 40. The bushings that were used for the past few years featured little grooves to allow for oil penetration. With the introduction of lower leg bypasses solving that issue, FOX has gone to grooveless bushings. The benefit of the new bushings is they create less friction because they retain a more even coat of oil. Even though the grooved bushings introduce oil, in the same way that sipes on a tire displace water from the tread, the grooves in the bushing tended to displace oil as the fork slid up and down. 

A limited run of 'podium gold' forks will be available starting in May.  
A limited run of 'podium gold' forks will be available starting in May.  

Grip SL Details

After a decade-long tenure inside FOX's 32, 34, and 36 forks, the FIT4 damper is no more with the creation of the new Grip SL damper. FIT4 saw multiple updates over the years, and while it worked okay for cross-country and trail riding, most riders will agree it lacked the plush ride quality that Grip and Grip2 brought to the table. Realizing they could start from scratch on a dedicated short-travel damper, FOX set out to cut as much weight as possible while simultaneously creating a smoother, less fatiguing ride quality to withstand the intensity of modern XC racing. 


Grip SL is the lightest damper FOX has ever made, coming in 60g lighter than FIT4. Unlike FIT4 which used an expanding bladder, Grip SL uses a spring-backed internal floating piston (IFP) like Grip X and X2 (and Grip & Grip2 before). What has remained is the lever-actuated 3-position compression adjustment that offers open, medium, and firm positions via a floating valve stack. There is also a handlebar-mounted cable-actuated version for faster adjusting. The medium mode has been tuned for support through rolling, flat terrain, while the firm mode is mostly locked out but still includes a blow-off to absorb bumps. At the bottom of the damper remains a low-speed rebound adjustment, but gone is a low-speed compression adjustment that was present on Factory level FIT4 models. 

We didn't get the chance to ride Grip SL, but with a similar architecture to other Grip dampers and a 3-position compression adjustment that is a welcomed feature in XC applications, all signs point to a more controlled ride quality throughout a ride.  


The pinnacle of FOX's efforts to create lightweight, high-performing XC products has culminated with the new 32 Step-Cast fork. Weighing less than 1300g, it features a generativity-designed rear arch matrix. FOX assured us they didn't just ask ChatGPT to create the best XC fork possible but instead used computer-generated designs to arrive at the lightest, stiffest arch possible. It looks absolutely insane in person and has increased torsional stiffness by 40%, making it almost as stiff as a 34 SC. The upper crown has also been redesigned and a new SL Kabolt axle has been developed; changes that drop a combined 23g over the previous 32 SC. 

Grip X2 Details

Grip X2 is FOX's latest gravity-focused damper. Replacing the very popular Grip 2 damper, it maintains the same four-way external adjustments but offers a higher degree of compression tunability and a faster response time, resulting in more control and traction when you're really getting after it on rowdy trails.  

Grip X2 only weighs 20g more than Grip 2 (*in 160mm of travel)

The most significant change from Grip 2 to Grip X2 is that high-speed compression is no longer controlled by FOX's variable valve control (VVC) system. VVC was a great way to create a significant amount of damping change with a small amount of movement within the damper. However, it also caused a loss of consistency across the range of adjustability. At the open end of VVC, oil essentially blew past all the shims with ease, resulting in a loss of support. With VVC closed, there was a wall of compression damping that made for a harsh ride quality. This led us to set up Grip 2 with little to no HSC damping to avoid that harsh feeling during hard hits and instead relied on the air spring and volume spacers to provide support.


Ditching VVC in the HSC circuit freed up room in the X2 damper to add a large compression shim stack and base valve. Grip 2 had a 20mm base valve with seven shims; Grip X2 has a 24mm base valve with 23 shims. Go big or go home, right? By adding more shims, FOX was able to control oil velocity within the damper better and achieve a more consistent ramp in shim flex at varied velocities. This results in more consistent damping throughout travel, a more sensitive initial stroke, and good support without feeling harsh. With Grip X2, not only can you run more compression damping without worrying about creating a setup that beats you up or doesn't track, but the range of tunability is much more usable. Before, Grip 2 had 8 clicks of HSC and 16 clicks of LSC, while Grip X2 now has 10 clicks of HSC and 16 clicks of LSC. However, each click of HSC is much longer than before, this causes the change between clicks to be more noticeable. It also means that 'open' still offers some damping, while 'closed' is not completely shut off and still delivers a desirable ride quality in the right terrain.   

High- and low-speed compression are still located at the bottom of the damper, with HSC still using VVC
High- and low-speed rebound are still located at the bottom of the damper, with HSR still using VVC

Grip X2 marks a significant change in the tuning ideology of FOX's gravity dampers. After a few years of compression damping being associated with harshness, riders should expect to now ride with fewer volume spacers, the proper amount of pressure to achieve normal sag, and more compression damping to achieve a calm, controlled, supportive ride. 

Grip X Details

Landing between SL and X2 is the new Grip X damper. Intended for the widest range of bikes and use cases, from 130mm backcountry whips to 150mm aggressive trail bikes, Grip X is all about minimizing weight and simplifying setup. It can be thought of as a slimmed-down Grip X2, offering much of the same traction and control but in a lighter and simpler package. It has a smaller main valve piston and shaft to help shave weight (~70g over X2) and offers low- and high-speed compression adjustments and low-speed rebound. The rebound circuit has a smaller range of adjustability, and the useability of that range was tuned so that all the way open and all the way closed should be usable. 


The high-compression adjustments feature a unique firm position when fully closed. The high-speed knob has around 170 degrees of movement and offers incremental damping adjustments until a little bit past 90 degrees. The last few clicks become much firmer until the last click simultaneously closes low- and high-speed compression. While not as locked out as Grip SL's firm position, it does provide a nice and efficient pedaling platform with the same blow-off design when you hit a bump. Since riders will be twisting the high-speed compression knob between their desired compression setting and the closed position regularly, the knob has a raised indicator to help place compression back to your preferred setting without having to count clicks every time.


Grip X is not cheaper or lower than Grip X2 and will be specced in the same fashion, coming on Factory and Performance Elite level forks. On the one hand, it would seem that fewer adjustments equate to lower-end performance, but don't be so quick to assume. Grip X essentially gives up some tunability in exchange for a lighter package than X2, with similar performance on trail. If you are trying to decide between Grip X or X2, reach for Grip X if you want to save some weight and could benefit from a firm pedaling position. If you want ultimate control over your suspension to maximize descending performance, reach for Grip X2. 

On The Trail 

Three weeks ago, FOX invited us to their HQ in Scotts Valley, California, to check out these new dampers, shiny gold lowers, and epic on-site testing facilities. We also chatted with multiple people from FOX's engineering and development teams, including the infamous Jordi Cortes, who we had twist our knobs into perfection as if we were Greg Minnaar with less puzzling. 


While conversations and presentations with the fine people at FOX are nice, we squeezed in a handful of rides on the new Grip X2 damper. Even though we are still in the honeymoon phase, getting to ride the product both before and after the technical presentation on how damping-dependent Grip X2 is was enlightening. It allowed us to see how setup has changed from Grip 2 and how on-trail performance has evolved.


We began by setting up our bikes using the same highly supportive air pressure and fairly open high-speed compression method we've used running Grip2 in the past. The result was an unsurprisingly similar ride experience that actually required slightly more air pressure to help end stroke support now that our old HSC settings were closer to open than before. It wasn't until we ventured further into the adjustment range that the advantages of the new damper became more apparent. To experiment with this, we tried dropping fork pressure by 10psi and turning the compression adjustments to the opposite end of the range to build back some of the lost support with damping. The result was sitting further into the travel as expected but not blowing through travel as easily as we anticipated. This also remedied dealing with an unbearably high level of feedback through our hands. 


After a couple of laps, we added 5psi back into the air spring and found the fork sat in a more comfortable position than where we started while providing the same level of end-stroke support as our starting air pressure. We experimented with adding and removing clicks of high-speed compression and rebound throughout the test period to confirm what changes we were feeling. The difference between clicks felt very consistent, delivering corresponding levels of support. Even deep in the range of adjustment, the compression circuit created a smooth ramp in support that would eventually become too much at too low a pressure but proved to be very useful with some fine-tuning.

Jonny's fork setup. All clicks counted from closed.

Start of Test 

End of Test


  • 130psi
  • HSC: -7
  • LSC: -7
  • HSR: -4
  • LSR: -3
  • 124 psi
  • HSC: -3
  • LSC: -5
  • HSR: -5
  • LSR: -4
  • HSC 10 total clicks
  • LSC 18 total clicks
  • HSR 8 total clicks
  • LSR 16 total clicks

Through high-velocity compressions, the damper built support at a linear rate instead of spiking in the way the outgoing damper would. This translated into more predictable handling with less negative feedback through our hands but kept our eyes from rattling through the most aggressive sections of trail. We ended up 5psi lower than our original starting point, with a fork setup that fluttered over higher frequency bumps and tracked the ground more consistently through large undulations.

What's the Bottom Line?

As we learned through our conversations with those who have developed the new generation of Grip dampers, the internal architecture's reworking has been based entirely on improving the quality of damping performance. FOX identified the flaws of their earlier dampers, eliminated what wasn't working, kept what was working, and improved upon it. With the changes made, FOX has undoubtedly accomplished the goals they set out to achieve and upped the game for fine-tunable damper performance. They're easier to use and eliminate many possibilities for an improper setup. The range of adjustment on each damper is useful from end to end, which should keep all riders from the everyday consumer to the world's fastest racers happy. 

For more information, please visit

View key specs, compare forks, and rate the latest from FOX in the Vital MTB Product Guide.

About The Tester

Jonathon Simonetti - Age: 30 // Years Riding MTB: 21 // Height: 6’4” (1.93m) // Weight: 230-pounds (97.5kg)

Jonny started mountain biking in 2003 after a trip to Northstar showed him how much more could be ridden on 26” wheels than on a BMX bike. He began racing downhill in 2004 and raced for 12 years until ultimately deciding having fun on a bike was more important than race results. After working as a mechanic in the industry for a few years and developing a deeper understanding of bikes inside and out, he has an aptitude for pairing his riding ability with the analysis of bikes and breaking down what makes them work well. He spends most of his time between trail rides and skatepark sessions, with occasional days on the downhill bike.


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