Today, I spent the early part of my day in a clinic put on by Fox Racing Shox, a California, US based company dealing in the arts of suspension for anything bike and then some. They have their fingers in suspension for aftermarket trucks, snow-mobiles, motor-cycles, you name it. They even have military contracts.
Fox is well known in the mountain bike community, at least in the United States. Other parts of the world? I don’t know. Haven’t looked into it. Unless you live in Taiwan, where Fox has a production and assembly facility for OE stuff. They notably known for their sweet downhill and trail forks, the 40 (pronounced ‘forty’) and the 36 (pronounced like it sounds).
The 36 has always been a favorite fork. I have had several Marzocchi’s for their feel. Then things went bad for Marzocchi when Fox started producing cool stuff. The Fox 36 series was an answer to all these folks who wanted a great fork that could handle downhill tracks. Every generation was successfully better than the former. So I rounded out my ownership of Fox by owning three of these. During that time I was trained by an outside Fox tech. He was thorough and created a pathway for me to have a successful career tuning and servicing Fox products. To date, there are only a few of us Techs in Utah that will overhaul your Fox RC2, RLC, CTD, whatever FiT damper.
The Fox Clinic:
Here’s the room at the Hampton Inn:
One of the reasons I like these clinics is to get an update on the new gear that a company produces. It’s much more hands on than the stuff you see at Interbike or Outerbike, or on Pinkbike.com; I get to handle cutaways, play with oils, heft the coils and push on forks. By far the highlight today was depressing the 2018 36 Float Evol.
It was buttery smooth and one could sense that this was the best trail fork that the company had ever produced. But hold on. What’s that, the first guy I met on this fork had some serious issues getting it set up? After several calls to the Fox service dept and sending it in for warranty evaluation the fork hadn’t improved.
Rider notes: the fork has an un-sprung dead spot at the top of the travel, making the fork feel like the front end was going to come apart. This was unnerving for a high-speed descent through the chunder.
The clinic left this question largely untouched. We approached a tech afterward explaining the situation. They explained what they thought had happened and that Fox had revised the air-spring in this fork do deal with this not-frequent occurrence.
The way the Evol air spring works involves the movement of the air spring seal head moving into the charged positive air chamber and passing a dimple in the stanchion that equalizes the negative air spring. The air instantly passes through this channel into the negative air chamber and if there is excess oil or grease in this zone the volume of air needed to equalize the spring doesn’t match up. This produces the exact issue that our guy was dealing with.
Sometimes you just have to pull a fork apart. This answered our question.
The rest of the clinic:
I felt like the other parts of the clinic were just addressing beginners in this category. Our shop as extensive experience with suspension and it is the most discussed topic in our day other than tire pressure. We did find out that Fox has introduced some new oils in the past 12 months that I hadn’t used: R3 and PTFE oils. Also they’ve introduced some new tools including seal drivers with a built in pilot shaft. For some reason this was revolutionary. Meanwhile, Marzocchi, now out of business, introduced their initial seal driver with pilot almost 2 decades ago. It never needed a revision.
One more notable thing, the new bushings inside the fork’s lowers. The new bushings no longer have the slots. They are solid teflon bushing all the way around, just like in a RockShox forks lowers.
If any of you have been inside a Rockshox and a Fox recently you must acknowledge the similarities of the working parts. Is there some kind of collaboration going on? Who knows. We know that pretty much Rockshox and Fox are both making very good products.
Now go ride your fancy suspenders.