Coming in at under 1.5kg (our uncut fork weighed 1370g) the new Fox 32 SC (Step Cast) is an out and out cross country race fork. Launching today in this Olympic year, it’s already been glimpsed under some of the planet’s quickest racers and we’ve been lucky enough to have one to play with for the last couple of weeks.
Now, your appreciation of this fork is probably directly linked to your body fat percentage. If you like hucks and drops and aren’t perhaps at your racing weight, then you’ll view the new Fox 32SC with suspicion or disinterest, if not outright terror. If, however, you live to train and you love to race your mountain bike uphill, downhill and alonghill as fast as humanly possibly, then you’re really going to sit up.
The new 32SC makes no bones about its sole purpose of helping you go fast, while weighing as little as possible. It is only available with 100mm of travel, in 27.5in and 29in sizes. It features a special, light and 10mm narrower crown, while the dropouts have been widened to Boost standards. This helps the dropouts sit right at the widest part of the now narrowed fork and keeps the disc brake mount tucked in where previously there was only fork lower. There is no fork quick release to save weight – there is a Fox Kabolt which swaps the QR lever for a bolt-through axle, secured by a 6mm Allen key.
Talking of the lowers, they are very, very hollow. While the uppers are still 32mm and with ‘ample bushing overlap’ the lower tube spacing is now 120mm instead of 130mm. Max tyre width is a ‘why go bigger?’ 2.3in and max disc size is a more than capable 180mm on the 27.5in and 203 on the 29in version. The 29in version offers a 44mm or 51mm offset. The 27.5in fork has a 44mm offset.
The weight is truly impressive, with our fork coming in at 1370g (the 29in 120mm Fox 32 we took off weighs around 1800g). Fox is claiming 1355g/2.98lb for the 27.5in version and 1360g/2.99lb for the 29in version – this is with 165mm steerer, a star nut installed and the Kabolt axle. We’d have to agree…
Despite the lack of weight, you still get a lot of options for ride tuning. After inflating the fork (both positive and negative chambers are inflated with a single valve) you have the option of adjusting the rebound by the lower knob, plus a three position switch up top.
There are three positions available – Open, Medium and Firm. The Open mode, where many rushed racers will leave it, there are further tunings available in the Open position – with 22 clicks of low speed compression damping. There will be an optional bar remote too.
We were very aware that these new forks are designed for top level elite athletes with Olympic ambitions, and not hoofing great magazine editors trying to pull stoppies. However, with a little more air in the chamber, they are perfectly tuneable forks for heavier riders – as long as you’re aware of the limits. There is a noticeable amount of flex in them when pressed hard in this situation – in both stopping and turning. But, as we say, they’re not meant for us lot – they’re meant for diminutive racers like Julien Absalon and Emily Batty and Georgia Gould – all of whom are tiny! In our non-scientific ‘grip between the knees and waggle the bars’ comparison with a current SID, they do feel flexier, but they are significantly lighter. Saying that, though, they’re far from being a terrifying experience for a heavier rider and compare well to all the other XC forks we’ve seen recently.
With a suitably skinny racer on, they take on a different life. They’re very capable of the kind of hits you’ll see on any cross country or marathon race course and they can be infinitely tuned to suit weight and riding style. The forks use the well regarded Fox FIT4 damper with a specific damping tune for this model. With a very narrow target rider in mind, the forks will have been designed to work well with riders more in the 60-70kg range than having to take into account the aforementioned beefy editorial types. Under a light and fast rider, so far, they’re great – with a projected price around the £800 they’re only ever going to appeal to a very particular market, and to those racers, that’s going to be money well spent for such a huge weight saving.
We’ll let you know how we get on as we head into racing season.
Here’s Chipps introducing the new Fox 32 live on Facebook. Like our page to be alerted when we are broadcasting live.
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