2016 Fox 32 SC Step Cast ultralight xc mountain bike suspension fork first look and actual weights

While all the attention’s on enduro, there’s still development going on at the shorter travel end of the market, and one of the more interesting new entries is the Fox 32 SC (Step Cast) suspension fork.

Aimed squarely at the XC racer, it takes a very novel approach to shaving weight. Actually, several approaches, using both a narrower crown and stepped lowers. The internals have been reworked to save weight, too, which all comes together in a fork that hits 1,379g (3.04lb) on our scales for a Boost 29er model! It only comes with 100mm travel, and only with a tapered steerer, but you’ll get several cartridge options for controlling compression damping.

Check out all the tech details below…

2016 Fox 32 SC Step Cast ultralight xc mountain bike suspension fork first look and actual weights

The fork will be available in 27.5″ and 29er sizes, with Boost 110mm and standard 100mm axle spacing options for both. But, both Boost and standard use the same 120mm crown spacing.

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Center to center, the upper tubes on the 32 SC measure 120mm, which is 10mm narrower than the 130mm of a standard, non-Boost Fox 32 fork. But, the max recommended tire size was kept respectable at 2.3″, which falls well within with XC tire usage. The lowers get two different stepped shapes, one to accommodate Boost’s 110mm axle spacing, and one to fit the standard 100mm axle. The stepped design, which is simply the indent that you see at the bottom, creates clearance for the spokes and disc brake rotor, which is why they could make the fork’s crown narrower.

2016 Fox 32 SC Step Cast ultralight xc mountain bike suspension fork first look and actual weights

2016 Fox 32 SC Step Cast ultralight xc mountain bike suspension fork first look and actual weights

The forks will ship with the tooled Kabolt thru axle, which saves about 40g off their standard thru axle with lever.

2016 Fox 32 SC Step Cast ultralight xc mountain bike suspension fork first look and actual weights

2016 Fox 32 SC Step Cast ultralight xc mountain bike suspension fork first look and actual weights

Because the stepped design reduces space inside the forks, a few changes to the internals had to be made. The rebound adjust knob is much longer, and the FIT4 cartridge is a bit shorter. But, Fox’s PR manager Mark Jordan told us only the damper’s shaft is shorter, so the performance is the same as their full length FIT4 damper cartridge.

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This potentially meant a smaller air chamber, but Jordan says the spring curve for the 32 SC is the same as the standard 32. It comes stock with two volume spacers inside, but will hold up to four. The damping cartridge also gets a few updates to save weight and improve performance. Compared to the 2015 unit, this newer 2016 cartridge uses a larger RC2 10mm shaft diameter to move more oil, and it gets a new machined aluminum piston, intricate material removal and consolidation of parts to make it lighter.

The compression circuit’s valving has been tuned specifically for this fork, giving it a lighter compression damping at mid and high speeds, but preserving the active low speed compression of their standard 32.

2016 Fox 32 SC Step Cast ultralight xc mountain bike suspension fork first look and actual weights

Extensive shaping and material removal around the dropouts and throughout the lowers leaves even more weight on the casting room floor.

2016 Fox 32 SC Step Cast ultralight xc mountain bike suspension fork first look and actual weights

Their usual threaded insert is on board if you decide to run their levered axle, but it comes with the lighter, sleeker Kabolt.

2016 Fox 32 SC Step Cast ultralight xc mountain bike suspension fork first look and actual weights

The crown gets hollowed sections (visible in cutaway further up in the story), and the arch has just enough bracing to do its job. Ridges and shaping on the front make up for the loss of trussing.

2016 Fox 32 SC Step Cast ultralight xc mountain bike suspension fork first look and actual weights

2016 Fox 32 SC Step Cast ultralight xc mountain bike suspension fork first look and actual weights

The Factory fork’s FIT4 damper has their Firm/Medium/Open compression knob with an additional micro-adjust knob for the Open setting. You’ll be able to get this with or without a mechanical remote, or with their iRD electronic remote lockout. The iRD loses the micro-adjust capability, though.

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There’s also a Performance model with black anodized stanchions rather than Kashima coating. It gets a new FIT GRIP damping cartridge. It’s a closed system that uses a spring loaded IFP and overflow valves at the top of the compression circuit. The adjustment knob uses micro clicks running from Firm to Open, letting you set it at various points throughout its range rather than three fixed positions.

2016 Fox 32 SC Step Cast ultralight xc mountain bike suspension fork first look and actual weights

The crown is definitely smaller than what we’re used to seeing these days.

2016 Fox 32 SC Step Cast ultralight xc mountain bike suspension fork first look and actual weights

The 29er Boost Factory model hit our scales at 1,379g (3.04lb) with uncut steerer and thru axle (brake hose clip and star nut not included). A 2016 Fox Factory 32 (cut steerer, with axle, hose clip and star nut) came in at 1,732g (3.82lb), so you’re saving more than 3/4 of a pound! Claimed weight for the 27.5″ is 1,355g (2.98lb) and 29er is 1,360g (2.99lb), both with 165mm steerer, star nut and Kabolt axle.

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Color options are orange, black and white, all will be available in May 2016.

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Max rotor size is 180mm for 27.5″ forks and 203mm for 29er. Rake is 44mm on 27.5″, and 29ers get a choice of 44m or 51mm.

Stay tuned for our first ride review!

RideFox.com

38 COMMENTS

  1. I give it three hours before the “bros” start asking how they can increase this fork’s travel to 160 to put on their lightweight XC racer bike with dropper post, 800mm bars, and 2.5 DH tires.

    Because if you can, you will, even if you shouldn’t.

  2. Haha, 2.3 is “respectable.” The profile reminds me of the old sids with the machined fork crowns. Everybody knows those rode great.

    Also funny is the removal of mid and high speed compression damping. I don’t think I’ve ever ridden a fox and thought “you know, this thing has way too much midspeed/highspeed compression damping. It really doesn’t blow through its travel fast enough. I would prefer it to have no support when working the bike up and over features.”

    I like the step casting concept, but the final product seems like a weird design when the rest of the industry’s xc offerings are going towards stiffer/more aggressive, even at the expense of weight. I hope the sid isn’t going in the same direction.

    • 100mm max travel…for XC use. Damping needs are different and the air spring curve may allow one to not rely on compression damping for support on big hits (most XC forks are pretty stiff regarding spring rates). Air spring = support. Damping rate = reluctance to movement.
      Not too mention, mid/high speed damping does mean mid/high travel damping rates. When working up and over features you are “using” low speed damping, regardless of where you are in the travel stroke. Its speed dependent, not travel dependent.

      • If I’m half way through my travel b/c of suspension blow through from trail chatter, I’m not able to work the front end effectively. I disagree with your characterization that damping doesn’t provide support. Of course damping doesn’t provide a force when the fork is static (ideally), however, it keeps the fork from eating up precious travel too quickly. An XC bike changes geometry a lot more than a trail rig as it runs through the travel, and more importantly a rider’s position on the bike does too. Ever since fox went to the CTD system, I always felt like their forks felt like money as far as comfort for small chatter, but the moment I needed the fork to help me in a sketchy situation, it would wallow and try to throw me.

        I’m not trying to harsh fox too much as I like the SC concept a lot. I’d like to see it put to use on something *I* would like to race and ride on. I prefer the handling of my aggresive-ish XC rig to my “enduro” bike since the trail around here is so punchy and climbing walls is tough with too slack a geometry. Fox hasn’t had my business since the rlc went away.

        • IMO, Fox’s first CTD forks had poorly matched spring rates and damping levels (compression side, both low speed and high speed) especially for technical terrain.
          This fork may have those issues, but a reduction in HSC is not a telltale.

          • To be fair, some of the newer factory series non-RAD forks I’ve ridden felt pretty good. Maybe I haven’t given them enough of a chance to recover from the whole 1st gen CTD debacle. Like, what was that, 5 years ago or something?

            Full disclosure: I’m a bigtime fan of the RCT3 damper. Definitely not a super comfortable design, and for my riding weight, it’s a bit overdamped, but I trust how it handles when pushed hard.

      • Problem I see mostly is poor low-speed damping. For some idiotic reason, fox and nearly everyone else feels we need almost no LSC for descending and g-outs/chassis stability. This leads to all sorts of movement and blowing through the travel, which we have to put up with if we want it to work halfway decent in a choppy section, but it is possible to have decent LSC with transition to HSC. I wish they would stop giving us “descend” options with no LSC and “trail” options that absorb bumps like jackhammers. Maybe I’m just too jaded from custom tuned suspension that gets smoother the faster you go in the rough, but you’d think we could at least get close with OEM stuff at some point, rather than how they are proud they found a new way for the fork to blow through the travel year after year.

        • I mean, if we could dial in good LSC with HSC, instead of having stupid pre-selected settings that sometimes bypass the main damping circuit, we can reach that optimal level of damping for a wide range of terrain, similar to what a CCDB does, and then not have to go fussing with levers because on this section we don’t want it to bob and dive but yet on this other section we need it to eat the sharp bumps downhill.

      • What disqualifies me? I own two XC bikes and race them. I ride them way more than my “enduro” machine, since I would rather ride something that pedals great uphill unless the terrain absolutely necessitates that. I often reach for the hardtail because of its superior abilities in ledgy climbs.

        It should be noted, that MY needs for an XC fork may be different than YOUR needs for an XC fork, which is why I hope the Sid doesn’t go this route, because then there would be no XC forks that suited my needs and I would need to go to pikes in the future, and eat the 1/2 pound difference.

    • @Padrote What disqualifies me from understanding the needs of XC bikes? I own two and race them. When I mountain bike I don’t want to ride my tank feeling “enduro” machine if the trails don’t necessitate it. Especially since there’s so much technical climbing around here I often grab the hardtail for its superior abilities up steep ledges.

      • Yeah, Mag 21 SL Ti had a claimed weight of somewhere between 2.4 and 2.6lbs if memory serves. Also the Dual Air Sid of the late 90s was somewhere around 2.8lbs. This definitely isn’t the lightest suspension fork ever made, or even currently made, but it may be the lightest given its (still to be proven) other performance characteristics.

      • I have a RS Mag21 SL-Ti on an old bike and it is a wet noodle of a fork (you can see the front wheel move opposite the bars on diagonal water bars) with a whopping 40mm of travel. But boy is it light!

        It wouldn’t take a big increaset in stiffness or damping for this to be a big improvement.

        • My lightest ´98 Sid fork weights 2.51 lbs. First generation with canti/v-brake only. Don´t use it anymore but I remember it feeling great when going fast XC.

          Just wondering if the stanchions are a bit close to the tire (mud, stones etc.).
          Being a RockShox fan (multiple RS but only one Fox) I have to admit that this is interesting.

    • There are people who care about going uphill as quickly as possible… they by default need to be concerned with weight.

      That said, I’ll be interested to read ride reports on the lateral and fore/aft stiffness of such a narrow chassis.

  3. I like where fox is going with this. Leave the racers some super light noodly forks, update the 34 to a real all-round but light trail fork, and the 36 is available for those who really need/want it.

  4. Sooo…. boosted fork with narrow crown. I though wider is better, no?
    On the slightly unrelated side, I’m riding Pivot 429 Trail with Fox 34 Factory Boost and that thing is amazing.
    Even better than the Pike.

  5. I’d ride it, but XXL frame and the body to fit such a frame mean i’m already at a severe weight disadvantage anyway. 3/4 pound is a lot, but not a lot in my particular case.

  6. Now I want one of those! I ride a 100mm, so no problem here. Would like a QR15 though. Anyone knows if the Kabolt can be replaced with a QR15? the 40gms are a penalty I’ll be prepared to pay, bearing in mind that I like light but I’m no olympic racer.

    • “Their usual threaded insert is on board if you decide to run their levered axle, but it comes with the lighter, sleeker Kabolt.”

      FYI – Kabolt is a 15mm TA with a 6mm hex head instead of a lever. They are fully interchangeable.

  7. Right on Tommy.

    My best Fox fork ever was my F100RLC. Loved the ability to tune low speed compression (one could tune out any “bob” with the red compression ring and the lock out).

  8. I especially like all the special cutouts and hollow tubes where 3/4 lb of mud and yuck can bond with the fork during your ride…

What do you think?