Trail mountain biking is perhaps the largest category of MTB. Cross-country bikes have grown increasingly lightweight race-focused and all-mountain/Enduro bikes have themselves gravitated towards longer, slacker frame geometry with more suspension travel. In between these two extremes sits the rather large categories of Trail and All-Mountain. Trail bikes are for people who want the most versatile bike possible; reasonably efficient for climbing (where most riders spend most of their time) but capable enough for anything but the steepest and/or fastest descents. All-Mountain is just that; the stiffness and support when trails get steep and complex, but designed to offer desirable decent characteristics while keeping to climbable weight and efficiency.
While FOX prides itself on serving the needs of racers in the cross-country, enduro and downhill disciplines, we also make some of the best trail and all-mountain suspension. In the range of the weight-conscious, efficiency-loving Downcountry to the well-rounded Trail rider, we make the 34. With a slightly narrower stanchion diameter compared to its bigger brother, 34 offers small-bump sensitivity and enhanced trail feedback. This makes it a great choice for riders who prioritize agility, precision, and responsiveness on the trail. For the well-rounded, all-mountain, occasional day-in-the-bike-park type of rider who wants confidence at speed or when hitting more complex features, we make the 36. The 36mm stanchions increase stiffness and improved handling under higher loads. This makes it an excellent choice for riders who prioritize stability, aggressive riding styles, and tackling technical descents with confidence.
FOX 34: The Trail Charger
Versatility, capability and light weight make the 34 the obvious choice for modern mid-weight and mid-travel bikes. Many of the chassis and internal design features from the Enduro race-oriented 38 trickle down to the 34, making this an exemplary performer in the Trail category. The 34 is available with 130mm or 140mm travel with a choice of dampers.
GRIP2 is our most advanced damper with 4-way adjustability of High/Low Speed Compression and High/Low Speed Rebound. If you want to get the most downhill performance out of your fork or like to tinker with settings, GRIP2 is the damper for you. The FIT4 offers almost the same plushness and small bump sensitivity as GRIP2 but features a 3-position switch for climbing. If you like to firm up your fork for climbing and enjoy an easier setup process, the FIT4 is the damper you want.
Boosting Stiffness with the Lower Leg Arch
The arch may not seem like the biggest design detail, but it contributes significantly to the 34’s excellent stiffness-to-weight ratio. It also provides more clearance for the larger headtube profiles on modern trail bike frames when the fork bottoms out. The arch on the 34 can also accommodate up to a 2.6” tire making it even more capable on the wide variety of terrain covered by modern trail riding.
Adding Suppleness with Lower Leg Bypass Channels
When the fork compresses throughout its travel, the air pressure inside the fork will increase and consequently, make it more difficult to achieve full travel. Our lower leg bypass channels dramatically increase air volume within the lower legs to reduce this pressure ramping. The bypass channels have the additional benefit of recirculating oil into the upper parts of the lowers, continuously lubricating seals, foam rings and bushings and extending the life of those small parts.
FOX 36: King of All-Mountain
The 36 is our tried and tested all-mountain fork seen on everything from trail riders—who live close to advanced/expert trail networks—all the way to riders on the Enduro World Cup circuit who prefer something lighter and more agile than the 38. The 36 is a step up from the 34 in stiffness and travel with a couple more features geared towards descending performance. It’s available with 150mm or 160mm travel and shares the same aforementioned choice of dampers (including the descent-oriented GRIP2), as well as its own lower leg arch and bypass channels optimized for the 36 chassis.
The 36: Maximizing Performance with Lower Leg Bleeders
Pressure buildup in the fork lowers can affect performance, preventing full travel from being achieved as well as diminishing small bump sensitivity and responsiveness. Bleeders allow you to vent excess pressure at the push of a button, ensuring your fork is functioning optimally before you drop in for that high-elevation descent.
The 36: Kabolt-X Axle
This system increases the torsional stiffness of the fork via its sleeveless, single-sided pinch bolt design, while saving a few grams over the quick-release version of the floating axle. It also allows for perfect alignment, although alignment must be set each time the axle is removed.
FOX 34 vs 36: Which MTB suspension fork is right for you?
The decision on whether to run a 34 or 36 comes down to what type of rider you are. If you enjoy mountain biking on mixed terrain, like to cover distance as well as elevation and run a bike in the 120 to 130mm travel range, the 34 is everything you need and more. If you tend to pedal up to enjoy longer and steeper trails, if you own a bike in the 140-150mm range and if you don’t mind throwing your hat in the ring for the odd enduro race, the 36 offers that additional descent confidence.
Remember, both suspension forks are exceptional choices within their respective categories, and it’s important to consider your riding preferences and the trails you frequently encounter. Most importantly, your suspension is only as good as your effort to set it up properly. Take the time to get your set up right with bracketing. Repeating the same trail and fine-tune your suspension until it feels just right (especially if you’re running the GRIP2 damper) to get the most out of your suspension
Whichever fork you choose, both the FOX 34 and the FOX 36 will enhance your trail riding experience and help you conquer every trail.