It hasn't exactly been a secret that Fox was working on a new single crown fork – Richie Rude showed up with one
at the final round of the Enduro World Series last year and the rumor mill immediately kicked into high gear. The wait is over, and now it's official: meet the new Fox 38. As the name implies, it has 38mm stanchions, and it's the stiffest single crown fork in Fox's lineup.
The 38 is brand new, but many of the design features are also found on the new 36 and 40 – you can read more about those two forks here
Fox 38 Details
• Intended use: enduro
• Travel: 160, 170, 180mm
• Wheel size: 27.5" or 29"
• Stanchions: 38mm
• Lower leg bleeders
• Damper: Grip 2 w/ VVC, Grip
• Offset: 37mm, 44mm, 51mm
• Optional mud guard
• Floating thru-axle, QR and Kabolt options
• Actual weight: 2430 grams (29" w/ QR thru-axle)
• MSRP: $949 - $1199 USD
• More info: www.ridefox.com
The 38 is available with 160 - 180mm of travel for either 27.5” or 29” wheels. Prices range from $949 - $1199 depending on the damper and stanchion coating. Color options include orange, black, and a limited edition 'pistachio' version.
Weights start at 2180 grams for the 27.5” version, and the 170mm 29” fork I'm currently on weighs 2430 grams with the QR thru-axle installed. For comparison, that's about 200 grams more than a 2020 36. Details
Just how much stiffer is the 38 compared to the 36? Well, according to Fox it's 17% stiffer fore and aft, and 38% torsionally stiffer. Those are significant numbers, especially since the 36 wasn't exactly a noodle. That increased stiffness was achieved in part by increasing the stanchion diameter, but the new arch and crown designs also contribute to those numbers.
The arch shape, which is also found on the new 36 and 40, is designed to provide plenty of clearance for oversized headtubes, even when a reduced offset crown is being used. The last thing you want is your headtube hitting the fork arch at the bottom of the stoke; this new shape should help ensure that the forks are compatible with all modern frame designs.
The 38 also gets an elliptical steerer, which puts more material where the steerer is pressed into the crown, another measure that was taken to make sure the 38 was as solid and sturdy as possible. There's also finally a bolt-on fender option - no more ugly zip ties required.Floating Axle System
The 38 uses a floating axle system with one pinch bolt that's designed to ensure that everything is aligned, preventing any unwanted friction between the uppers and lowers. There's an aluminum sleeve inside the drive-side dropout that's able to move a few millimeters horizontally in order to perfectly match the dimensions of the hub. Getting it set up the first time a wheel is installed is simple – loosen the pinch bolt, insert the wheel, slide the axle through, close the QR lever, compress the fork a couple of times to make sure everything settles into place, and then tighten the pinch bolt.
After that, if the fork has a QR axle it's not necessary to loosen the pinch bolt for wheel removal – you can slide the axle in and out with it tightened down. With the Kabolt-X version, that pinch bolt will need to be loosened and tightened each time.Lower Leg Channels / Bleeders
All of the top level, longer travel forks in Fox's lineup get bleed valves for 2021. That little button on the back of each leg can be pushed to allow any air that's built up inside the lowers to escape, improving small bump sensitivity and making sure that the fork can achieve full travel when necessary.
That raised channel on the lowers also allows the fork's bath oil to recirculate, which keeps the foam rings and bushings lubricated and running smoothly. What's Inside?
That's enough words about the exterior of the fork – what's going on inside this thing? The proven Grip 2 damper is still an option, but it's received an update in the form of Variable Valve Control (VVC). Previously used for the damper's high-speed rebound, it's now used for the high-speed compression damping as well. VVC uses a small leaf spring that changes the fulcrum point of the shim stack in order to regulate how easy or difficult it is for oil to pass through.
There are 8 clicks of high-speed compression adjustment on the Grip 2-equipped 38, along with 16 clicks of low-speed compression and 9 clicks of high- and low-speed rebound adjustment.First Ride
In a different world, I would have had hours and hours of ride time on the 38 at this point, but unfortunately I've only been able to sneak in two rides so far, which means the testing process has just begun.
Fox's setup guide is comprehensive, and provides a good starting point. I'm running 84 psi for my 160 pound weight, with the high-speed compression set 5 clicks out and the low-speed compression 10 clicks out; we'll see how that changes once I get in more miles.
I didn't (and still don't) have any complaints about the stiffness of the 36, but the 38 does feel even more solid. One of the trails I use for testing has a nasty compression that leads into a sharp right turn, a section that puts a significant amount of twisting forces on any fork. The 38 took it without flinching, and it didn't seem like I needed to muscle it around as much as I would with a flexier fork.
Of course, more stiffness isn't always the answer, as anyone who's experienced hand pain or arm pump from bars, wheels, or suspension components that were overly stiff can attest. Again, it's early days in the testing process, but so far I haven't experienced any unwanted feedback from the fork. It already feels buttery smooth, and the blend of support and small bump sensitivity is top notch.
Two rides in and all I want to do is head out for my third, fourth, and fifth rides, which is always a good sign. Look for a more in-depth review in the future, once I've finished smashing straight through as many rocks and roots as possible.
I mean.. ya know.
Also, @fartymarty , I believe this is the fork for you.
like MRP Bartlett.
@jaame it makes way more sense than over building a crown that’s still going to have more flex and still creek 6 months down the road.
Since then I've had two Yari RCs, a 2018 and a 2020. The Yaris were not as good as the 36, but look at the price difference! Twice the price, not twice as good. Mountain biking isn't the only sport I'm into. I'm better off spending money on an acceptable MTB and then buying other stuff that's also acceptable, like golf clubs, holidays and gourmet scented candles (for my wife).
It did feel slightly less refined (not quite as silky smooth) than the Fox 40 I owned but overall a great performing fork! I really dug the low axle to crown and the 5.5 lb. weight..I had no complaints other than it's a little boring/a bit ugly looking and I had to use a 45/50mm stem instead of the 35mm length I wanted to use because a 35mm diameter bar wouldn't fit with the 35mm length stem because it would contact the fork stanchion. A 31.8 diameter bar would work just fine.
You said you wanted to use shorter...
Again, why would you ever sacrifice fit for looks? I can almost see accepting less functionality for looks, like a gold chain that wears out faster, or using a taco bash guard instead of a bash ring; but sacrificing fit for looks is stupid.
I'm not sure on that one, the first 100x15 I've had in my hands was in 2009 from a Gary Fisher Roscoe with a Fox fork so not sure it just Sram fault!
Fox were pushing their 15mm axle because they claimed that we can't have 20mm "Downhill" axles on light trailbike forks.
I’ve made upgrades to spring, and may the damper, it that chassis is the stiffest option out there, no idea why it isn’t available now. It think it is the pinch bolt, non-qr as much as the thicker axle
Now with 15 so prevalent, if anyone were to release a long travel fork for anything but a DH bike, and you want to convert over the parts you have from another bike (wheels...,) it's likely much easier if it is 15mm.
The stiffness changes are likely minimal between axles and most wheels are 15mm. Sticking to 15 at this point is better for the customer with less things to change actually.
Floating axle would keep the legs how they were: less binding equals less harsh.
Or is it just the marketing-driven hype machine mindset that demands something "new" every month just for the sake of it?
It's blank right now, but could be a placeholder for a 2021 Totem.
Raaw Madonna v2 review coming soon?
Of course, I say that like I'd buy the thing if the review was positive. But its been out of stock in all sizes for months. Hoping its back in stock sometime in the future though .
Awesome man, thanks for the hard work. It gives me something to look forward to during lockdown . I'm really curious to hear your thoughts on it, and any comparison to the Banshee Titan, as both are very interesting to me.
I was actually starting to wonder if the shelter in place order had cut into your rides enough to delay the review, but I'm glad to hear that isn't the case.
Stay safe sir .
Raaw updated their website. Sounds like the next batch is arriving in May, and is almost entirely sold out. Plus it looks like they have increased their prices by a few hundred dollars (~$400, if I recall the original price correctly). They say to reach out and email them though if you want to "get in line" so to speak.
Still super interested in the review, but that price increase puts it that much farther out of reach (it was at the very edge already) :/.
I wonder what we'll be saying about these forks in 2 years time. Might be great things, might be a lot more nuanced.
It's really unfortunate that Manitou does not get the attention that Mattoc and Mezzer deserve...
Or mike's scale is just wrong. LOL!
They barely mention the new integrated fender.... www.ridefox.com/family.php?m=bike&family=38
For the same weight as a 38 you can get a smashpot 36... probably for a lot less money.
"Unlike most forks (including the 36) where the spring piston runs down the inside diameter of the fork stanchions, FOX now uses a floating machined air sleeve. This air sleeve is free to move slightly inside the stanchion, so the piston can maintain a smooth path even if the fork is twisting. This results in improved function when experiencing torsional loads like off-camber sections and heavy braking, The addition of a sleeve means the inside diameter is reduced, and the 38 uses the same piston head size as a FOX 34. The narrower sleeve means the fork runs on slightly higher pressures, but the advantage is that the seal diameter is also smaller so the seal friction is less."
Good info thanks
Disappointed to say the least! This beasty 38 on the Grim Donut, would be the perfect occasion to stun the world!!
Oh and it costs 400€ or less new.
Couldnt wish for more.
The Fox 34 Rythm is an entry level fork for example- so Fox does make them.
And the 34 Rythm is a joke to be fair.
The Diamondback Release 2 comes with one for under 3.
Specialized Stumpjumper ST
You can get the stumpy evo right now for just over 3.
Commencal Meta AM 29
Should I keep going?
Fox makes good products, but the marketing hype is too much on them. Not so much better (if at all) than other brands, but their pricing is ridiculous. And i mean high end forks and shock by Fox and other brands.
It's blank right now, but could this be a placeholder for a 2021 Totem?
We as customers are all gullible morons for allowing this, and bike reviews (much like this one) are equally guilty for not mentioning this.
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And either my Pike is crap or my hub is out of spec (probably, it's unlabeled OEM stuff), because my old 36 (stolen!) with the 4-pinch floating axle was so much more sensitive off the top. Pike is harsh when slapping down the front wheel, even with the usual RS air-spring dead spot at the top that's very noticable in the parking lot test; but the 36 was always butter, even without a newer EVOL or DebonAir spring, because the legs were free to run as they needed to.
On a non-Boost Hope Pro 4 hub, the 20mm axle and hub adapters was actually lighter than the 15mm axle and adapters! Plus how often to you need to take a wheel off anymore? Bring back the 4-pinch! Ok, maybe a 1- or 2-pinch version of the 20mm!
A sad reflection on the Pathetic manufacturing efforts in the endlessly hyped / BS filled MTB Industry.
The 20mm axle. It's all we ever bloody well needed, but no, Fox had to do the 15.
Also didn't help that they also used a different axle... But still. No one wanted the dual-crown look on a trail bike.
It also wouldn't be more rigid in every direction. Torsionally, yes, thanks to dual-crown and big axle, but fore/aft would be shit unless the stanchion walls were thicker, and then you lose the lightness.
I remember Fabien Barel saying the fork uppers diameters is not a tangible improvement pass 34. But what does he know! Hes slow!!!
So, Fab, no matter how fast he is, was talking out his ass. Also he's not a big guy. Talk to a rider around 95 to 100 kg and see if they can feel how a 34 150 differs compared to a 36 or Lyrik. They will notice, and they won't like the 34 noodle!
In my experience both Fox and RS forks have been way over rated. Maybe it is because I see their ads everywhere?
The Italian Marzocchi and Formula made/make much better forks. That do not fall apart or have to service every other ride. That said Fox and RS are not bad.
100 32 SC (90?)
120 34 SC (110)
140 34 (130, 150)
160 36 (150)
180 38 (170, 160)
200 40 (190)
The 34 is overloaded upwards, I bet they remove the 34 150 soon. And the 38 has two steps down, odd.
Main reason to not do the 36 at 170 (and another reason to get rid of the 34 at 150) is that they don't need extra stanchion length to support potential lengthening of travel. If 160 is the max, then the stanchions are only long enough to handle that, saving weight.
Their current line cover 100-200mm in 10mm increments, with just a couple overlaps. Potentially more overlaps if you mess with air shafts for travel adjustment downwards, but that's different and usually sub-optimal: too much unused stanchion in the leg, and probably extra stiffness that is overkill for a shorter travel.
The odd centimeters (11, 13, 15, 17, 19) travel lengths only now only carry a maximum of 1 cm extra stanchion length. Exception with the 34 at 130 carrying 2 cm extra to allow the 150, but I think that (34 150) is going away, and the 38 160, which could probably be a 36 for most people.
38s = The guy your girlfriend tell you not to worry about!
Fox: These go up to 38.
Been sticking with Lyrik/Yari...I can easily run 29 x 3.0 with a fender.
It's sad reflection on the Pathetic manufacturing efforts in the endlessly hyped / BS filled MTB Industry. Back off on the hype and BS, and just make things properly/ accurately.
The 20mm axle : It's all we ever bloody well needed, but no, Fox had to do the 15.
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