In the mountain bike world, the concept of technology trickling down is nothing new – a company initially releases their fanciest, most feature-rich product, and then over the course of the next few seasons less expensive, slightly modified versions of that item hit the market.
But does technology ever go the other way? With Fox's new GRIP2 damper, that sure seems to be the case – the design first showed up in their budget-oriented forks back in 2016, and after being tested by some of the world's fastest racers (and spotted by us during last year's Crankworx event in Whistler
), it's now been implemented in the top-of-the-line 36 and 40.
Fox 36 Factory GRIP2 Details
• FIT GRIP2 damper, EVOL air spring
• Adjustable high- and low-speed compression and rebound
• Max travel: 170mm (29"), 180mm (27.5")
• Reduced offset options (37mm for 27.5", 44mm for 29")
• Weight: 2,060-grams (160mm 29")
• Lower colors: orange or black
• MSRP: $1,065 USD
The GRIP2 damper isn't exactly identical to what debuted on those less expensive forks, but the concept is the same. It's a cartridge-style damper, but it eschews the expanding bladder design found in Fox's FIT4 damper in favor of a coil-backed internal floating piston that's used to compensate for the increased oil pressure that occurs when the fork is compressed.
While the original GRIP damper only had externally adjustable rebound and low-speed compression, the GRIP2 damper adds on externally adjustable high-speed compression and high-speed rebound damping. The fork's rebound is adjusted using what Fox call their Variable Valve Control (VVC), which is designed to act the same way that changing shims would rather than just adding preload.
A look inside the GRIP2 damper.
Love twisting dials? The Float GRIP2 has no shortage of setup options – by my count, there are 15 clicks of LSC, 27 clicks of HSC, 16 clicks of LSR, and 8 clicks of HSR. Luckily, suggested numbers for all the dials are printed on the sticker that's affixed to the left leg to help simplify the initial setup.
According to Fox, the new damper has less overall friction than an RC2 damper, which should help improve small bump compliance even further. For riders looking for a little more simplicity when it comes to set up, the FIT4 damper will remain in the lineup, priced at $994 USD for the Kashima-coated Factory version, and $899 for the Performance version.
Tinkerers rejoice - the new 36 has adjustments galore.
Even with all of those adjustments, it didn't take me that long to get the 36 dialed in and feeling exactly the way I wanted it to. I started with Fox's suggested settings, and so far I haven't had to deviate more than a few clicks from those recommendations. It's still too early in the testing process to issue any sort of conclusive verdict, but it does feel a bit more supple over chattery bumps compared to the previous version, and that's saying something since the prior version was no slouch in that department.
Even with the fork set on the firmer side of the scale there hasn't been any harshness or unwanted feedback – the 36 may be well suited for racers, but it doesn't skimp on comfort. It's smooth over the small stuff, there's plenty of mid-stroke support to prevent it from diving, and the ramp-up is easily tuneable – it hits all of the marks that a high-end fork should.
There are loads of hard miles in our test fork's future, as well as some head-to-head battles against other contenders in this category – stay tuned for the final verdict later this season.
The 36 wasn't the only suspension product that received an update – the Float X2 shock has also been revised with a new air can that's rated up to 300 psi, and a new progressive bottom out bumper that should help prevent any excessive end-stoke harshness. The set screw that secured the air can in the previous model is gone, replaced by a metal retaining ring, welcome news for anyone who's lost precious time scouring their shop floor for that tiny screw. MSRP: $625 USD / $655 with lever.Fox 40
The 40 also receives the new 4-way adjustable FIT GRIP2 damper, and a 29"-wheeled version has officially been added to the mix. There's also a gloss orange paint option for riders looking to add a little extra color to their bike, or to emulate their favorite racer. MSRP: $1,699 USD