Fox have unveiled their newly updated 34 series of forks today. According to Fox, the new 34 and 34 SC (Step-Cast) were designed to be the ultimate forks for modern XC racing and trail riding.
The 34 is available with 100mm-120mm of travel as a Step-Cast model with a FIT4 or GRIP damper and then in 120mm-140mm without the Step-Cast lowers and with a FIT4, GRIP2, or GRIP damper.
Wheel size is exclusively Boost 29" for both forks (previous generation forks will still be for sale) and offset choices are 44 and 51mm. There are Performance and Factory models available in both forks and all travels, with prices ranging from $849 - $1089 USD for the SC version, and from $769 - $969 USD for the standard 34.34 SC
The new 34 SC replaces the previous 34 SC and the smaller-stanchioned XC race 32 SC. The fork is designed to meet demands of modern XC racing and riding. With XC riding becoming increasingly technical and bikes becoming ever more capable, Fox claim riders were asking for a stiffer fork with a bit more travel.
The new 34 SC does weigh slightly more than the 32, but Fox feel that the performance benefits are worth a few extra grams. It's stiffer than the old 32 SC, slightly less stiff than the previous 34 SC, and a lot lighter than the 34 SC. Most of the weight for the new fork was shed by changing the step-cast from the outside to the inside of the fork. This allowed there to still be room for a 180mm brake rotor. More importantly, it allowed Fox to narrow the crown of the fork, which trimmed down a good bit of weight.
The Factory 34 SC at 100mm weighs in at 1496g, while still being able to fit a 2.4" tire. The forward lean on the arch is to provide greater clearance at full compression for more modern, large profile head tubes.
Besides the chassis redesign, the new 34 SC also has a new EVOL air spring with more positive and negative air volume. Additionally, the negative air volume is tunable with a volume spacer that riders can add or remove to modify the initial stroke of the fork. If a rider were to purchase the fork at 100mm, it will have the spacer installed so it is firmer off the top and more race-appropriate. The 120mm travel 34 SC will have the spacer removed, but it can be added if desired. There are still volume spacers that can tune the positive air volume, as in the past.
There are lower leg bypass channels on the fork now, something we see in the 36, 38, and 40. The grooves on the back of the fork allow air to escape above the bushings and dust wipers. At full bottom out, this also increases the air volume by a percentage which should, in theory, allow for less air pressure in the lower leg at full compression and more supple travel throughout the stroke of the fork. Fox claim this makes it easier to get full travel out of the 34 SC. Noticeably missing is a bleed valve, as seen on the longer travel forks. Fox claim that this was omitted because of the additional weight it would add and that it's more designed for gravity applications.34
The non-step-cast version of the 34 is available in 120mm-140mm travel options and it carries over some of the same updates as its more XC/downcountry oriented sibling. There's a redesigned crown and an overall burlier chassis making it a good fit for slightly longer travel trail applications. The 34 also has the option of a GRIP2 damper, in addition to GRIP and FIT4.
The 34 does weigh a touch more than the 34 SC, starting at 1698g. It also clears a larger 29" x 2.6" tire and accommodates up to a 203mm brake rotor.We'll be putting the miles on the 34 SC and the regular SC over the course of the next few months and report back with a full review later this year.
Title image courtesy of Fox