Fox Racing Shox has been one busy critter this winter…they’ve just introduced their new 34 series of long travel 29er forks, tweaked the tune on their FIT cartridges based on travel, improved internal and external seals, updated the Kashima coating and rolled it out across more forks and opened it up to OEM and figured out a way to make a stiff titanium crown/steerer tube.
UPDATED 4/19 – More info and a couple of tweaks to the original info notated throughout the post.
It’s a lot to cover, so dive on in after the break and see the future of Fox’s suspension technology…
Given the growth of longer travel 29er bikes and the stunts riders are pulling on them, Fox saw fit to build a stronger fork. The new 34 class uses 34mm diameter stanchions and are built for longer travel 29ers, offering 140mm of travel. The lowers are beefier, too, evidenced by the massive arch shown above, developed to handle the stresses of the longer axle to crown distance on 140mm travel 29er forks.
There will be Float and TALAS (140 to 110) versions with Factory and Evolution options for OEM as of now, and Factory level for aftermarket. All of them will have tapered steerers and 15mm thru axles only. Available in July. They still have the 32-series for shorter travel XC bikes.
NEW FAMILY GROUPS
Mentioned above, you may wonder what Factory and Evolution are. For 2012 model year (and presumably beyond), Fox has grouped their forks into three categories:
- FACTORY is best of the best and has all of their latest technology
- PERFORMANCE is high end with FIT cartridges on most forks
- EVOLUTION is the entry level with mostly open bath internals on forks
Introduced last year as an aftermarket option only, for 2012, Kashima coating is open to OEM also. If the plethora of bikes at other booths is any indication, you’ll be seeing it on pretty much every high-end mountain bike by mid-summer. It will be on all Factory level products.
Why the change? Kashima products are coated in Japan then built in Watsonville, CA, so there were logistics and shipping issues that they wanted to figure out before rolling it out across their entire product range. Fox has the exclusive on it, too, in case you missed that in the original news we posted. A new Kashima coat for 2012 models is a little darker and ever so slightly more slippery, which is really more of a cosmetic thing, and they get Kashima branding on the stanchion. Fox has heard from their athletes that the coating makes the sliders less susceptible to scratching, too.
As previously leaked, their shocks have Kashima on the canister and Air Sleeve, too. In order to coat the piece, the entire piece has to be done, so the inside of the air canister is coated, too, meaning the main air seal slides on a smoother surface inside the shock.
Coilover shocks get a Kashima option on the shaft, too. Unrelated but interesting, the DHX RC4 has a boost valve adjustment called bottom out control that controls the ramp up in the last third of travel. The blue knob cranks down to adjust the volume of the boost valve chamber. Just FYI.
PRO PEDAL GETS ADAPTIVE LOGIC
At the Factory level, the RP23 gets the new Adaptive Logic Pro Pedal, which flip-flops the way the switch works, sort of. On regular Pro Pedal, flicking the switch toward the air valve turns it on, with platform damping level determined by the number selected.
First, notice that it’s no longer 1-2-3. It’s now 0-1-2. With Adaptive Logic Pro Pedal, you have the Pro Pedal platform damping available in both positions. Flick the switch toward the air valve and it’s automatically sets to a factory preset firmest level of damping. It’s still not a lockout, but it’s firmer than the current 3 setting. Flick it away from the air valve and you can adjust the low speed compression (ie. platform). At 0, it’s what they call a “free bleed” with no low speed compression, so it’s fully open. Settings 1 and 2 have increasing levels of platform (low speed compression) damping and give the shock a progressively firmer feel. In practice this lets you set the level of platform damping in the open position to suit the type of course you’re riding. Then, when the going gets fast or you hit a big climb, simply flick it closed (toward the air valve) and it automatically goes to the most efficient platform for hard pedaling…something racers should appreciate.
Additionally, on the Float RP23, they have a new High Definition Rebound that effectively doubles the number of detents on the knob to give a finer adjustment between fastest and slowest. Overall range of rebound damping hasn’t changed, just the number of clicks. Will be on Factory and Performance Float shocks.
WHAT THOSE TUNE NUMBERS MEAN ON THE SHOCKS
This isn’t new, but we thought you might want to know what those factory-set tune numbers mean that are printed on the shocks. Usually, they’re determined by working with the frame manufacturers to get the right shock based on leverage ratios and suspension designs. Here’s what they do:
- Boost Valve tune = A position sensitive damping change based on the PSI in the Nitrogen chamber. A higher number means firmer valving earlier in the the compression stroke, which means more damping without changing the spring rate. For more on what Boost Valve actually is, check out this post.
- Velocity Tune = Compression damping via valving, which overlaps a bit with the boost tune and is affected by ProPedal settings.
- Rebound Tune = Rebound damping by shims and an orifice controlled by the rebound knob.
They also have different air sleeve and canister sizes that can adjust the air volume.
NEW FIT CARTRIDGES AND SEALS – THINGS GET SLIPPERY-ER
A new FIT seal head reduces friction, especially at the beginning of the movement. 2012 FIT Damper gets new internals, too. Last year they had just one tune for all forks. This year, they have an XC tune for 120mm of travel and less, and a Trail tune on anything 140mm and over. The XC tune has a firmer compression tune and the Trail tune has a bit softer low speed initial compression to make it more plush over rough terrain…but some of these changes for for RL and Remote models only, see update below:
UPDATE: This just in to clarify, directly from the FIT designer Sante Pelot:
“The trail tuned 130mm+ travel dampers are for FIT RL and FIT Remote only (because the user cannot adjust their low-speed compression setting as it is set at the factory). The trail tune is still firmer in low-speed compression than last year’s FIT RL or FIT Remote so that it is less wallowy/brake-divey than previous model years. For all FIT RLC, RL and Remotes we reduced the high-speed compression damping from last year so that the fork is less harsh on square-edge hits and drops to flat. But RLC’s are the same exact tune whether it is 80mm or 160mm of travel (because the user can adjust their low-speed compression setting to wherever they want it).”
On the outside, Fox has an exclusive partnership with SKF for seals on the outside of the fork that also noticeably reduce friction. Versus last year’s seals, the new SKF ones (on the right, marked by four dots around the outside) have a different compound, lip seal angle and shallower depth. They’ll ship on Factory level forks first then be a running change incorporated into the Performance and Evolution lines eventually. Only on forks for now, not shocks.
Just by a Fox fork and totally bummed to be reading this? Worry not: All retrofittable to forks from quite a ways back (at least 2006, but probably older than that) by sending your fork in for an upgrade. It’ll be about $320 with labor to replace the FIT cartridge and seals on a Float 32 RLC. That’s about $260 in parts, and the labor includes a general overhaul of your complete fork.
FORGET CARBON, FOX GOES WITH TITANIUM
First shown at Interbike as a prototype, the 2012 Fox Float Ti comes in as low as 2.91lbs for the 80/100 FIT RLC w/ 9mm QR and goes up to 3.46lbs for the 120 FIT Terralogic w/ 15mm Thru Axle.
The Float Ti forks will only come with a tapered crown. Fox uses an investment cast 6/4 titanium crown/steerer that’s made in Oregon.
Why Ti versus carbon? Fox’s marketing manager Jim Noonan admits that carbon is a bit stiffer, but says the Ti can be lighter and offers a more resilient, supple ride with better high frequency vibration damping, and it’s exactly the same stiffness as their regular alloy 32-series crowns. Comes with a slim Kashima-coated alloy cap (below) with Ti bolt and expansion plug (no star nuts allowed). Available around August.
NEW REMOTES ON SOME MODELS
UPDATE: Just added this section 4/19.
- The Shimano remote will be used on the FACTORY level. (45.81 grams, no cable) – Shimano unit has been in use by FOX already since MY2010.
- The new FOX remote will be used on the Evolution level. (31.65 grams, no cable) – FOX unit is completely new for 2012
Of course, this begs the question of why the lighter one isn’t on the Factory models…
2012 MODEL YEAR PRICING & AVAILABILITY
UPDATE: Added this 4/19. Yeah, um, this is entirely too much to type, so you can download the pricing sheet as a PDF by clicking here. Availability is pegged at mid- to late summer 2011 depending on model, but we say TONS of them on demo bikes around Sea Otter, so you may be able to get it when buying a complete bike before then.