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First Look: The 2024 Fox 32 Step-Cast Fork Has a Reverse Arch

Apr 8, 2024 at 14:23
by Dario DiGiulio  
photo

The Fox 32 Step-Cast caters specifically towards the sharpest end of the cross-country and marathon worlds, where grams are god and tires with knobs are more of a vague concept than a preference. Though it might be niche, Fox's littlest mountain bike fork got a bold new redesign this year, meant to improve handling and bump absorption while also cutting a significant amount of weight.

Running alongside that chassis update is the all new GripSL damper, which aims to be the quickest and most responsive in the lineup, in addition to the obvious weight savings.
32 Step-Cast Details

• Wheel size: 29"
• Travel: 100mm
• 44mm rake
• Float EVol air spring
• 1.5" tapered steerer
• Weight: 1287g
• Price: $969 - $1049 USD
ridefox.com

photo

The 32SC is only offered in a 100mm travel variant, which allowed the team to optimize every part of the chassis to remove weight. Those weight savings come in obvious and more subtle forms, highlighted in full below.

GripSL Damper (vs Fit4)
Kabolt SL axle
Double butted upper tube
Ultralight steerer tube
Stiffness optimized crown
Ultralight cable guide
-65g
-12g
-9g
-11g
-9g
-1g


That "stiffness optimized crown" is an interesting detail. The engineering team behind the project decided to eschew the typical methods of achieving fork offset, instead angling the stanchions within the crown to gain the same rake figure. That means the 7000-series aluminum crown has 0mm offset, but the fork still hits the desired 44mm offset number.

photo
GripSL

The damper cuts weight, but is also meant to provide serious performance gains on the descents as well. The GripSL was built to provide more damping than the prior generations, similar to the more gravity-oriented GripX and X2 models. The interface is very simple, with a 3-position lever to quickly switch between open and closed in a 140° turn. Of course, the fork is remote lockout compatible, but you're not forced into either orientation - a fork can be run either way with minimal effort. In the firm mode, the damper has a smooth blow-off, meaning the initial nose of support will give way into more supple travel if a large enough force is encountered.

photo
A little 32 undergoing some torsional torture testing at the Fox test lab.
photo

One element of the new 32 is going to turn the most heads, and it's probably not the damper or the weight savings. The generatively-designed rear arch was implemented to increase torsional stiffness by 40% over the prior version, while still keeping weight at a minimum. Though this isn't the first time we've seen generative modeling in bicycle component design, it seems like a unique and worthwhile implementation of the technology.

photo
Comes in orange.
photo
Comes in gold.

As it stands, this is now the lightest cross-country fork on the market. An impressive feat unto itself, but improving the damper and increasing chassis stiffness while hitting that sub-1300g weight goal takes things a step further (The RockShox SID SL Ultimate weighs 1,326 g). Though we haven't had the opportunity to spend time on one of these quite yet, I'm sure we'll see spec start to trickle in as more lightweight short travel bikes hit the market in the coming year.

Pricing is in line with the outgoing model, with a Grip SL-equipped 32SC Factory Series clocking in at $969-$1049 USD. Canadian pricing ranges from $1299-$1399 CAD. The higher of the two prices includes a remote lockout, the lower simply featuring the crown-mounted lockout.

For folks who simply want to upgrade their existing 32 or 34 with the new SL damper, pricing falls between $280 and $295 USD.

Author Info:
dariodigiulio avatar

Member since Dec 25, 2016
202 articles

123 Comments
  • 178 5
 I know we’re into hating on things here but that arch is really cool.
  • 129 3
 Between the damper and the lowers, this thing couldn’t get much more Manitou.
  • 74 1
 Lol, manitou was on to something with the reverse arch and the rest of the industry scoffed. Now fox is trying to get the munyuns from this "revolutionary new design." Or whatever they said about it.
  • 14 1
 @ShredDoggg: Pace, later DT Swiss had it too. This one is nice as they managed to create some height (in radial direction) for bending stiffness as well as some depth (in circumferential direction) for torsional stiffness. Considering how the made it slimmer in the middle, presumably to create some room for the downtube as the fork compresses, I wonder what happens when the fork compresses when the wheel isn't pointed straight ahead. Either way, this is some impressive piece of casting (if it doesn't fail, that is).
  • 10 1
 @ShredDoggg: Pace would like a word.
  • 15 1
 @ShredDoggg:
It was not Manitou who invented the reverse arch, the Pace fork brand which became DT Swiss over time.
I don't recall reading that Fox or anyone in the industry openly mocked Manitou in magazines or online.
  • 20 0
 @ShredDoggg: you'd swear a patent for reverse arches had just run out or something
  • 2 0
 I don't even think they like it, on the Fox site there isn't an iso shot of that arch to be found. Very Apple-esque maneuver, slightly hiding things they know are controversial.
  • 6 0
 The whole thing is cool. It seems like they've put some thought not only into the engineering but into how folks will actually want to use it... and it's awesome.
  • 8 0
 @ChatGPT: design me a lightweight fork arch
  • 5 0
 @Hugi13: canecreek.com/back-to-the-reverse-arch/#:~:text=Well%2C%20recently%20the%20Reverse%20Arch,to%20be%20a%20Reverse%20Arch.

patents.google.com/patent/US6607185B2/en

The patent references the Pace design. It appears the main innovation with this patent was the single piece lower/arch and some brake interference and stiffening features.
  • 1 0
 @TannerValhouli: if i could a fork that looked like the first pic i'd definitely sell someones' kidneys
  • 6 0
 @Apfelsauce: manitou was right again
  • 4 0
 @Apfelsauce: indeed. Even the damper is very TPC'esque...
  • 88 5
 @Manitou: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery
  • 6 57
flag BermSkid72 FL (Apr 9, 2024 at 9:13) (Below Threshold)
 Manitou let the patent expire. Fox purchased it.
  • 69 0
 @BermSkid72: Manitou didn't let the patent expire. The patent expired because it's 20 years term has lapsed. Similar to how many frame manufacturers started using horst link after Specialized's FSR patent expired.
  • 10 0
 @BermSkid72: "Once a patent expires, the protection ends, and an invention enters the public domain; that is, anyone can commercially exploit the invention without infringing the patent."

Patent owners can sell to others, rights to use their patent designs. Thus, Others may do so only with the authorization of the patent holder
  • 1 1
 What kind of deal was it with Pace and DT Swiss then?
  • 3 2
 All this shows is that is was the best design and now its freely available then it will become widely used
  • 2 0
 @vinay: I'd have to assume no DT or Pace were officially sold in the US?
  • 2 0
 @vinay: no idea what really happened but it's pretty hard to enforce a patent for something if the other brand was using the design before you. Also possible regional patents
  • 1 0
 @shorttravelmagazine: That's interesting. Maybe there are quite a few patents limited to the US indeed. Just like the FSR suspension design. Loads of European (primarily German) brands only bothered with the US market when the Specialized patent expired. Either way, look up Pace suspension forks on the internet, those are some big rearwards facing arches. I think DT Swiss acquired Pace suspension later though obviously they have been shipping to the US. Probably not all of their products then. I suppose anything earlier than their F535 and F232 forks had rearwards facing arches.

@briain, yeah maybe the mere location of where the arch is isn't considered innovative enough to patent everywhere. I would expect more brands to release dual arch forks now. Magura first came with it on their 2004 Thor fork so that's twenty years ago. DVO had (structural) dual arch stanchion protectors, but not dual arch lowers.
  • 1 0
 @vinay @briain: DTSwiss bought Pace's fork business in the mid 2000's.
  • 2 0
 @vinay: I did think of magura forks 2 arches got to better than one. Although I would like to pick one up as they were meant to be pretty good
  • 1 0
 @briain: Yeah, I've got a good few of them and I like them. I haven't ridden the 2004 Thor though and it has never officially been released (nor was the 2004 Draco rear shock).
  • 1 0
 @vinay:interesting....I've got a DT Swiss rev arch on my HTail for the last 4 years now. 120 travel 27.5 (exceptional fork BTW a bit spindly but very light!)
  • 2 0
 Didn't dox buy Marz just for the 2R2C patent too? Unless the interwebz lied again...?
  • 71 0
 Usual Manitou review:
"The reverse arch won't be to everyone's taste, limits mudguard choices, and offers little to no tangible benefits "

Up and coming Fox reviews:
"The reverse arch provides a revolutionary combination of low weight and excellent stiffness"
  • 42 3
 I'll stick with the tried and true: Manitou
  • 7 1
 so far Pro level Manitou fork I got is best I've ever tried. Half of that opinion due to excellent quality as well while Factory level stuff from Fox and Ultimate level stuff from RS each had one or two trips to warranty dept
  • 2 0
 @valrock: exact same experience for me Fox was nothing but trouble and turned out to have the wrong size damper it from factory
  • 1 2
 @briain: yup, they are probably assembled by slaves, cuz whomever does that gives 0 shits about final result
  • 2 0
 @valrock: This is an incredibly ignorant comment. Do some googling about Taiwan, its one the leading economies in East Asia with good quality of life and well paid workers.
  • 1 1
 @superkeen: then they are getting paid way too much for slopy assembly they have done on my Factory and Ultimate level stuff Big Grin

Also you should train your sarcasm detector a little Big Grin
  • 30 2
 the fact that Manitou was not mentioned in this article...
  • 11 1
 Pfft then fox wouldn’t pay them as much to advertise
  • 24 3
 Eventually, most gravel bikes will be equipped with this fork.

With all new XC bikes getting 120mm minimum, and gravel "only" getting 40mm right now, the sad and perfectly capable 100mm Fox 32 has probably got its best days behind it. Still, kudos to Fox for doing something interesting with the crown design and spending the time and money on updating the damper.
  • 55 0
 We used to call those bikes hardtails.
  • 13 0
 Fork inflation has been crazy weren't we using Lyriks on 180mm bikes, now a 32 isn't percieved to be enough for XC.
  • 16 0
 @tempnoo1: remember when boxxers were 32mm…
  • 12 0
 @tempnoo1: And the Revelation was a popular 150mm trail fork with 32mm stanchions, competing with the 160mm Fox 34. Things like that and 23-25mm wide rims is how lots of people were riding 25lb trail bikes
  • 4 0
 Not aero enough for gravel. At those speeds fork aero matters. This will be used on the shorter travel XC bikes like Trek's or my 2017 Spark RC. I am surprised how many XC bikes have gone 120mm. For most courses I prefer my older lighter 100mm Spark to my newer 120mm.
  • 3 0
 Roadies hate the look of suspension-corrected frames so I dunno.
  • 5 0
 @packfill: I still think fast and nimble hardtails are a lot of fun on flatter, smoother terrain, plus they are simpler and cheaper. Some time ago everyone "needed" an Enduro bike for blue trails, now it is downcountry, maybe we come full circle and ride hardtails again someday...
  • 2 0
 Speaking of gravel suspension. Does anyone else think it would be nice to have a fork that can switch between 50 and 80mm on the fly-ish..
  • 2 0
 As a bit of an XC racer bro, a super light XC hardtail is a blast to ride. I'm afraid of doing back to back testing with my "down country" XC bike because I want my DC bike to be faster because it is also more fun. But I might try this year.

Just went to a 34SC from a 32SC. I never really thought the 32 was holding me back much, but the 34 was on sale, and the black lowers look better, and my GF could really use a 32 on her XC bike, so I had to go DC.
  • 1 0
 @Sscottt: RS U-turn ?
  • 22 1
 Always weird to call XC, probably the most practiced type of MTB in the planet, "niche".

Anyway, cool fork. Just hope that the main weight reduction driver wasn't a reduction in oil volume, since the damper is where they saved the most
  • 3 5
 XC race bikes up until about 2 years ago were just as niche as a full DH bike. Personally I like having a trail bike even if I'm only doing mellow trails
  • 14 1
 @briain: Maybe you mean that "XC bikes became cool at Pinkbike 2 years ago", to which I would agree. But globally, they were never niche
  • 2 5
 @Arierep: Guess we'll have to agree to disagree. Certainly, pinkbike has given XC a lot more coverage. But the geometry changes from essentially road bikes with suspension to something a little more capable in the last couple of years have made them more practical as a daily bike. But I rarely see XC bikes at the trailhead and they make up a minority of the bikes I see comparable to full DH rigs. I also ride all sorts of trails. So maybe Switzerland is different but just not my experience
  • 5 0
 I think that's why Downcountry took off. Companies could keep their speed at all cost XC race bike AND then have a short travel everyday bike. Xc race bikes, and this fork are niche. Downcountry or short travel trail bikes are the Swiss Army knife bikes.
  • 19 0
 Looks like a Manitou fork had a baby with a lacrosse stick! I wonder how much more we will be seeing this kind of organic, optimized arch shaping we will see in the future
  • 12 0
 Just need to get a Zeb really drunk so it booty-calls a tennis racquet...
  • 16 0
 This thing is lighter than most steel rigid forks!
  • 2 0
 True, Kona P2 29er fork is over 1500 grams and probably flexes more under braking.
  • 1 0
 Yep my cotic alpaca fork is heavier
  • 7 0
 Lighter than my front tire
  • 8 1
 Manitou patent must have run out.
  • 1 1
 it did.
  • 8 1
 FINAL evolution of forks will be inverted
  • 1 0
 If we can keep the dust off with aero fairings, XC will become off-road MotoGP
  • 5 1
 For those if you worried about mud sticking in the arch, where would some if that mud have goneif tehe arch was up front?

I'd rather mud on my arch than mud on my stanchions.
  • 2 0
 dirty boy
  • 2 0
 Just 3d print a plastic fender that integrates around the arch. Mud collection problem and aerodynamic problem solved.
  • 5 0
 I'll stick to using my Manitou Mezzer Pro thanks .... best fork with the best customer service and a third of the price of fox.....
  • 8 1
 It looks like a manitou
  • 6 0
 I'd love to see more inverted forks across all manufacturers
  • 2 0
 I'm kind of surprised at how mundane the arch is. It's still really awesome, but the generative design I have seen elsewhere often has many more web-like organic structures that really look like they weren't designed by a human. This arch is closer to what I expect from more classic techniques.
  • 7 0
 The really intricate parts combine generative design with additive manufacturing. Considering these lowers are cast and mass produced, they can't get too crazy.
  • 1 0
 @atestisthis: this is pretty intricate for a cast design. Mattel and hotwheels must be jealous.
  • 2 0
 I noticed that choice to do “kicked forwards/slacked” stanchion angles instead of a big offset crown/dropout on my 32 TC gravel fork and was trying to wrap my head around it for the longest time “how does this alter geometry under compression” “is the stanchion angling to increase attack angle on a not-so-slack gravel bike?” and eventually settled on “ehh its only 40mm of travel, who cares?”
Must have some kind of advantages if it’s in the bigger fork now, are we gonna see recommended head tube angle charts for forks soon?
  • 2 0
 Not really the lightest. The original 2020-2021 Sid ultimate sl Raceday is the same weight (1285g give or take depending on steerer length. )

Still, pretty light, and a notable accomplishment.
  • 1 0
 @dariodigiulio: when you get to test, I'm curious if there is interference between the arch and downtube during combined compression and steering. The center section seems to give more space for compression, but the photo angles are hard to tell if that distance decreases towards the legs.
  • 4 2
 Performance between RockShox and Fox are so comparable, but Rockshox wins for industrial design on their current line of forks, hands down. Love that April fools comment...
  • 6 4
 After Foxes little tirade over the bleed button crap here a while back, I really wish Manitou could legally beat Fox with a hammer on this one honestly
  • 7 1
 How? the patent expired. And Fox's beef with SRAM was because they used the exact same parts and process, not a similar idea. The only thing this shares with Manitou is that it's on the inside, the structure is completely unique as is the entire lower itself. That's like saying you wish Ford would go after Chevy for putting 4 tires on their cars.
  • 1 0
 @onemanarmy: I did say wish. The bleed valve is so simple it’s pretty much the same as your 4 wheel analogy. Only so many ways to build a push button air valve.
  • 3 0
 The Topography feature on solid works is sweet!
  • 1 0
 Thats where my brain went, then I moved onto "how do they make that"
  • 3 0
 The Olympics are coming!! Lots of things like this on the horizon.
  • 3 0
 The ultralight cable guide saves a whole gram eh?
  • 3 0
 Footjam tailwhips are gonna feel weird on it.
  • 2 0
 The arch is cool until you need to clean the UK mud out of it then not to much.
  • 2 0
 Who else remembers the Altair topology optimization demo of the Trek rocker link ~20 years ago?
  • 2 0
 Next you're going to tell me it's got a 20mm hex lock thru axle. Time is a flat circle.
  • 3 0
 So glad to see someone trying to make something light again.
  • 2 0
 I wonder if you could swap out the FIT4 for the GripSL
  • 2 0
 They said yes. Good luck finding Fox parts though.
  • 1 0
 The question is: will it still be 2000 gr after that “arch” will eat and perfectly store mud
  • 2 0
 No 20mm axle 26" version?
  • 2 0
 I just came to watch the "looks like a manitou" comments.
  • 1 0
 arch front - arch back.. must work the same !
and doesn't it crash into the frame ??
  • 2 0
 Fox: thanks manitou for the free R and D
  • 1 0
 So, when you tell the Ai to design your new fork, you end up with an "organic" Manitou?
  • 1 0
 AI or H.R. Giger?
  • 2 1
 Is it compared to the Sid with 35 mm stanchions?
  • 1 3
 no, that is 34. This thing will visibly bend under 180lb rider
  • 5 0
 @valrock: people becoming so obsessed with external stanchion diameter in the last 3 years will always be hilarious to me
  • 2 1
 Party in reverse, business in the front
  • 2 3
 Immitating Manitou on the outside and the Specialized World Cup on the inside with the "nose of the travel" in the lockout being a smooth breakaway.
  • 1 0
 Dirt Clod Extrusion Device
  • 1 0
 But the arch in the other article isn't reversed...
  • 1 0
 They installed the lowers backwards. Wink
  • 1 0
 Manitou called, they want their…ah forget it…
  • 1 0
 1287g prior to the first mud puddle
  • 1 0
 Finally a fork to match your 5Dev cranks!
  • 1 0
 Is this Rockshox's arch rival?
  • 2 0
 Foxipoo.
  • 1 0
 Looks like a noisses
  • 1 0
 Count those grams yo
  • 1 0
 Oh man, that’s hot.
  • 1 0
 Oh. Fox. ‍♂️
  • 1 0
 Foxitou
  • 1 0
 Arch is plug ugly
  • 1 1
 Or is it the 43 xoF?
  • 2 3
 April fools was last week right?
  • 1 1
 weź to potem umyj
  • 1 1
 industry ShillBike
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