The 32 Step-Cast was introduced in 2016 and ushered in an all-new chassis that brought the weight down to a feathery 1,355g (2.98lb), along with the introduction of the FIT4 damper aimed at XC racers craving the lightest and best performance.
For 2020 Fox has focused on improving the stiffness of the fork. Thanks to a redesigned crown, the stiffness has increased a claimed 20%, which puts it on a level with the beefier 34 Step-Cast fork despite a mere 30g weight increase over the previous fork. Fox says the only feedback with the current 32 Step-Cast was that it could be a bit stiffer, so that's an area they focused on. The change should provide better steering precision and braking control for those times when you’re on the ragged limit.
Fox 32 Step-Cast Details• Intended use: cross-country / marathon
• Wheel size: 27.5'' or 29''
• Travel: 100mm only
• Stiffer Step-Cast chassis
• FIT4 damper and three-position adjustment
• Boost or standard 15mm thru-axle
• Two-position handlebar adjustment
• Offset: 44mm or 51mm
• Weight: 29" - 1,443g (3.18lb) actual weight (Boost Kabolt axle, uncut steerer)
• Price: $909 USD
That crown has been redesigned, though it's hard to spot the differences alongside the current 32 fork. That new crown aside, not much else is different. Internally it’s the same as current model 32 forks with 100mm of travel via a Float air spring and FIT4 damper. There’s three-position adjustment - Open, Medium and Firm - and an optional two-position remote handlebar lever on the top-end models. You also have the choice of 44 or 51mm offset, but according to Fox nearly all their XC athletes are on the 44mm offset this year, and that's what we have to test here.
There’s the same choice of 29” and 27.5” wheelsizes with either 110 or 100mm axles, and Factory Series and Performance Series to suit different budgets. Factory gets Kashima coated stanchions with a lightweight Kabolt thru-axle, 2-position remote handlebar lever and an optional gloss orange color alongside the regular matte black. The cheaper Performance Series fork only comes in matte black with hard anodised black upper legs, regular thru-axle and no optional remote handlebar lever.
Those changes aside, all other key features carry over. There’s the same stepped lower that was the big redesign on the current 32 fork: the lower legs transition from normal round tubes at the top to narrow shapes at the dropouts with an actual “step” to clear the front wheel spokes and disc brake rotor. It was a big gain in lowering the weight whilst maintaining desired stiffness levels, and it eventually made it onto the bigger 34 fork too.
I’ve been riding the current 32 Step-Cast for the past couple of months and the low weight, stiffness and damping performance have been really impressive on my trails. It’s not waywardly flexy when diving down steep tracks or pummelling into roots, so it’ll be interesting to see how the new fork compares. Damping is well controlled, with a supple and supportive manner that keeps the wheel glued to the ground for maximum traction and resisting brake dive.
I’ve only just received the new fork for review, so I’ll get it fitted to a bike ASAP and start putting in the miles to see how it compares to the current version. Has one of the best XC race forks just got even better? I can't wait to find out soon.