FOX 34 Factory GRIP2 Fork

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$1,039.00
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
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$740.35
Trail Bike Suspension Excellence: 2022 FOX 34, Float X, DHX Review
These all-new suspension components from FOX will make your trail bike better.
Rating:
Vital Review
s1600 FOX A 30265

The “big” news of the past year in suspension was undoubtedly the introduction of beefed-up, long travel enduro forks, and the FOX 38 stole a lot of the limelight in that category. The trail family of suspension products is probably less attention-grabbing but certainly more important to a large group of riders. For 2022, FOX has completely overhauled its trail range, with major revisions or altogether new products added to the line-up. We’ve been testing it all for the past four months now, and we’re here to tell you all about our experience. Dig in!

2022 FOX 34 Factory 2022 FOX Float X Factory 2022 FOX DHX Factory
  • ALL-NEW chassis
  • NEW air/oil channels
  • NEW arch shape offers improved head tube clearance with shorter rakes
  • Genuine Kashima coated stanchions
  • NEW 58mm diameter crown
  • Updated EVOL air spring
  • Damper option(s): FIT4, GRIP2
  • Travel option(s): 130mm-140mm
  • Wheel size: 29"
  • Offset: 44mm and 51mm
  • Axle Options: 15x110 QR and 15x110 Kabolt
  • Factory Series models feature
  • Weight: 1870 grams (140mm travel, uncut steerer, verified)
  • MSRP: $1039 USD (as tested)
  • 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
  • Weight: 481 grams (210x50mm, verified)
  • MSRP: $599 USD (as tested)
  • ALL-NEW chassis and damper
  • High-flow main piston
  • Numbered Tool-free 12 position single-turn LSC (Low Speed Compression) adjuster
  • Independent firm mode circuit – 2 position adjuster
  • Optimized reservoir lengths per shock size
  • Hydraulic top out feature
  • Reduced damper noise
  • MCU bottom out bumper
  • Single-turn rebound adjuster with a variety of access modes (Tool-free, 3mm hex (direct access), 2mm hex or similar (side access)
  • Spring preload collar with detents and max / min number of clicks and direction arrow
  • Full diameter spring retainer with wire ring (like DHX2)
  • Spring scuff guard on body (like DHX2)
  • Weight: 786 grams (210x50, 550lbs spring, verified)
  • MSRP: $569 USD (as tested)

Initial Impressions

We took delivery of a Factory 34 in Shiny Black, and suitably blingy Factory shocks to go with it. Out of the box, the stuff does indeed shine bright, in typical FOX fashion. The 34 has been completely reworked for 2022, inheriting the lower leg air/oil channels also seen on the new 36s and 38s, but foregoing the bleed valves in the name of simplicity and weight savings. On that topic, our new fork weighed in at 1870 grams with an uncut steerer. The new 34 also gets the new arch design seen on other FOX forks, which offers more clearance towards the front to make room for beefier headtubes and is also said to be stiffer than the previous version. The new 34 is available for 29-inch wheels only, with a choice of either 44 or 51 millimeters of offset and either 130 or 140 millimeters of travel. In terms of internals, the EVOL spring has been updated with a larger negative chamber, while the damper on our test fork was the tried and true GRIP2 (you can also opt for the FIT4 3-position damper if you prefer it).

The Float X shock is completely new for 2022. It’s built around a single-tube design with an internal floating piston and a larger diameter main piston that will allow the shock to run with lower air pressure compared to the DPX2 for example. Low-speed rebound and compression damping can be externally adjusted, and there’s a 2-position platform lever to provide extra support for climbing. The adjusters are simplified compared to the twin-tube DPX2 or Float X2, but you still get hydraulic top-out damping and an MCU bottom-out bumper. FOX also relocated the main air spring valve to make it easier to access on more frames. Internal air volume can be adjusted with volume spacers to increase or decrease the shock’s progressivity.

The Float X is also completely new. This simplified coil shock is specifically built to cater to the growing demand for coil shocks to run on trail bikes. As such, is has inherited the damping adjusters of the Float X, only with the rebound adjuster located in a different position. To ensure accessibility with all frame designs, the rebound adjuster goes from fully open to fully closed with just one turn, and there are several ways to reach it – either with your fingers or with a 2 or 3 millimeter allen key (from the top or the side). The spring preload collar inherits the “clicks” from big brother the DHX2, and the same easy-access wire clip is used to secure the spring collar on the shock body.

On The Trail

We installed the fresh goods on our Nukeproof Reactor 290, with 130 millimeters of rear travel running a 210x50 millimeter shock mount. This frame is optimized to run with a 140 millimeter fork, in other words it’s a perfect test platform for this range of trail bike focused suspension components.

We’ve tested numerous GRIP2-equipped forks over the past few years, so we were instantly familiar with the GRIP2 damper and we had a pretty good idea of how to set it up for this tester’s preferences. The fork was delivered with one token and that proved to be pretty much spot on, with 95-100 psi or so for a 200-lbs rider. 5/8 clicks from closed of high-speed compression, 10/16 clicks of low-speed compression, 6/9 clicks of high-speed rebound and 7/14 clicks low-speed rebound (everything counted from closed).

This set-up provided just the right mix of liveliness, comfort and support, with a fork that would use ~85% of travel on fast and rough trails. The adjusters all have well-defined clicks and are easy to use, although the rebound adjusters are a bit recessed in the lowers which makes it a little bit more “fiddly”. It’s a good way to protect them though, so that’s a trade-off we’re more than willing to accept.

Compared to a few years ago, the new 34 has come on in leaps and bounds. It now feels like the air spring is finally where it should be, and the damping adjustments are useful across a wide range of settings. If we were building a trail bike a couple of years ago, we would often have opted for a shortened 36, but that is no longer necessary nor appropriate, if we’re talking about a pure trail bike. If you’re gonna run a 140 millimeter fork, you most likely won’t need the extra stiffness of the 36, and the 34 helps save quite a bit of weight without feeling like a wet noodle. It also feels livelier and more willing to use travel appropriately. FOX has clearly positioned the two forks as mutually exclusive now, as there is no overlap in travel between the 34 and the 36 anymore. We like that decision, because the 34 is finally up for it. Compared to a 36-mm EXT ERA at 140 millimeters of travel that we ran on the same bike for a while, the EXT felt a bit over-sprung (and over-built) at such short travel, whereas the 34 works right in its sweet spot which is ideal for this travel bracket.

The Float X was equally easy to set up. With sag set, the progressivity turned out to be spot on with a 0.2 cubic inch volume spacer installed. The new Float X will take spacers from 0.1 to 1.0 cubic inches, available in 0.2 increments. The compression ratio on for this shock stroke will go from 2.50 to 3.49 across that range of spacers, which is a pretty wide tuning range. For our test bike and the intended use (pretty dynamic trail riding but nothing much in the way of bigger trail features needed for this bike), the 0.2 spacer was perfect. Swapping spacers is easy to do with very basic tools, and you get the full kit of spacers delivered with the shock. As for the adjustments, the knobs are easy to use although the clicks of the low-speed compression adjuster are not that well defined. We ended up running 4/11 clicks of low speed compression and 9/16 clicks of low-speed rebound (from closed). This gave us a lively ride with enough control to deal with rougher portions of trail.

The effect of the adjustments is notable, and the relatively wide usable range will mean most riders should be able to find their sweet spot. Once dialed in, the Float X provided trouble-free performance and proved to be a great match for our test bike, with a ton of “pop” and dynamic handling. The 2-position lever provides a good pedaling platform for extended climbs. Compared to the stock RockShox Super Deluxe that came with the frame, the Float X provides the same bob-reducing effect, while the Super Deluxe platform lever seems to affect the ride height a tiny bit more (it gives quite a notable feeling of “holding the rider up”, which the Float X also does but to a slightly lesser degree). Splitting hairs now, but that’s what we’re here for.

Swapping over to the DHX coil shock was pretty straightforward, given that it shares the damping architecture with the Float X. Once we found our spring rate (550 lbs for this rider and bike combo), it was smooth sailing with more or less the same damper settings as the Float X. The shock is plush like coil should be (no surprise there), and very well-behaved when it comes to taking on bigger features. Bottom-outs are controlled and although you can clearly feel the shock hitting the MCU bumper, it doesn’t feel violent or “cheap” by any means. The platform lever has the same effect as on the Float X, which makes this shock really interesting for those who want to run coil on bikes that need a little pedaling help.

Long Term Durability

We’ve been running these three components for about 4 months now, and they are all performing like when they were new at this point. No unwanted noises, consistent damping behavior, and no oil leaks – the air pressure is holding in the air components too. Based on the past few years of experience with FOX products, we’d expect nothing less - save the odd creaky crown or so. There's an updated crown design here that will continue to keep an eye on. In any case, if you stay on top of servicing, you should be able to count on several seasons of intense use (and you can probably get away with being slightly less scrupulous about it too…).

What’s The Bottom Line?

Shorter travel bikes are becoming more and more capable in terms of their geometry, which in turn puts more stress on the suspension components. Riders with this category of bikes are often also concerned with weight, which further adds to the challenge. The FOX 2022 line of trail suspension products delivers great performance and hits the sweet spot in terms of damping feel and effective use of travel. The adjustments offer plenty of usable range and the air springs can be easily tuned with volume spacers, which means that most riders should be able to find their happy place here. If you ride a bike with 130-140 millimeters of travel, this is definitely a set of products for your short list!

More information at: www.ridefox.com.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord - Age: 48 // Years Riding MTB: 16 // Weight: 190-pounds (87-kg) // Height: 6'0" (1.84m)

Johan loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.

Photos by Johan Hjord and Tal Rozow

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Specifications

Product
FOX 34 Factory GRIP2 Fork
Riding Type
Trail
Wheel Size
29"
Travel
Option 1: 130mm
Option 2: 140mm
Spring Type
FLOAT EVOL air spring
Damping
GRIP2 damper with VVC
External Adjustments
High-speed compression (with VVC): 8 clicks
Low-speed compression: 16 clicks
High-speed rebound (with VVC): 8 clicks
Low-speed rebound: 16 clicks
Crown
Single
Front Axle
15mm x 110mm (Boost)
Brake Mounts
160mm direct post mount (up to 203mm compatible)
Steer Tube Diameter
Tapered, 1.125" top, 1.5" bottom
Steer Tube Construction
Alloy
Stanchion Diameter
34mm
Colors
Kashima gold stanchions with Shiny Orange or Shiny Black lowers
Weight
N/A
Miscellaneous
2022 version

Lower Leg Bypass Channels – increase the air volume in the lower legs, reducing pressure ramping which can prevent full travel, and circulate lower leg bath oil, continuously lubricating the foam rings and bushings as the fork goes through its travel

Lower Leg Arch – provides the clearance needed at full compression between shorter offset forks and larger headtubes profiles; the design also shaves weight while maintaining stiffness and strength

GRIP2 Damper with VVC – adding the proprietary Variable Valve Control (VVC) system to the GRIP2 damper's high-speed compression circuit allows for external adjustment of what typically requires complete disassembly of the fork

Updated FLOAT EVOL – has an enlarged negative air spring to assist with mid-stroke support

Optional Kabolt 110 bolt-on axle – lightweight and increases torsional stiffness via its sleeveless, single-sided pinch bolt design

Offset options – 44mm and 51mm
Price
N/A
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Where To Buy
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
$1,039.00
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
$740.35
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