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FOX MTB Fork Buyer's Guide

FOX has a big line-up of mountain bike forks to suit any rider and any style of riding. If you're looking to upgrade your suspension fork, these are the models and specs you need to know.

Written by: Bruce Lin

Published on:

Posted in:Guides

A good suspension fork will transform your mountain bike by giving you more traction, comfort, and control, so you can ride faster and have more fun. If you’re on the hunt for the ultimate fork upgrade, FOX Racing Shox should be high on your list. FOX came from the motocross world, where it had huge success making championship-winning forks and shocks. It brought its suspension expertise to the mountain bike world 20 years ago and has racked up countless more wins and championships since. You can get that same world-beating performance on your bike at home, but what fork should you choose? We’ll explain FOX’s current fork line-up and break down the key differences, so you can pick the perfect fork for you and your bike. 

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FOX Performance vs. Performance Elite vs. Factory

Fox fork guideLeft to right: 34 Performance, 34 Performance-Elite, 34 Factory.

FOX forks are available in four different “Series”: Rhythm, Performance, Performance Elite, and Factory forks. Higher-end Performance Elite and Factory forks will cost more, but they generally offer more features, lighter weight, and better dampers (more on dampers later). The series follows the model name. E.g., the FOX 34 is available as a FOX 34 Rhythm, FOX 34 Performance, FOX 34 Performance Elite, or a FOX 34 Factory. 

Entry Level: FOX Rhythm

FOX Rhythm forks are original equipment (OEM) forks that only come on complete bikes and are generally not available to be purchased aftermarket (unless someone is selling a used one). Rhythm forks use the GRIP damper which is less adjustable but also less complicated and expensive. The lower legs are cast from aluminum to also keep costs down.

Mid Level: FOX Performance

Performance forks use a GRIP damper. The cast lowers are lightweight magnesium, the same material used on higher-end forks. Performance Series forks also use the same black anodized 7000 series aluminum upper tubes as Performance Elite forks. For fork models that use push-button bleeders, the bleeders are not included but can be purchased separately.

High End: FOX Performance Elite

Performance Elite forks use higher-end FIT4 or GRIP2 dampers. Performance Elite forks are functionally the same as Factory forks, with the same adjustments, features, dampers, weight, and 7000 series aluminum upper tubes, but the stanchions have a black finish instead of the gold Kashima Coat used on Factory forks.

Top-of-the-line: FOX Factory

Factory is the highest-level FOX fork and it is priced accordingly. These are the same forks you will see pro riders using. All models use FIT4 or GRIP2 dampers. Factory forks are instantly recognizable thanks to the distinctive gold Kashima Coating on the stanchions which reduces friction and increases wear life. Factory forks are also available in FOX's special signature orange color. 

FOX Grip vs. Fit4 vs. Grip2 damper

3-Position compression adjust (blue) and low-compression (black) on a FIT4 damper.

The damper controls how quickly the fork rebounds (rebound damping) and how firm it feels (compression damping). In some cases, it will also provide a lockout or climb setting to stop the fork from bobbing on climbs and pavement. Better dampers usually feel plusher, stay more consistent and settled in rough terrain, and offer more adjustments and tuning options. Here's how the different FOX dampers compare:


Rebound Damping

Compression Damping


Single adjuster

Three-position lever 


Single adjuster

Three-position lever and low-speed adjust knob


High- and low-speed adjustment

High- and low-speed adjustment

FOX GRIP damper

GRIP is fitted to more affordable models in the FOX fork range. It has a three-position compression damping adjustment lever on the top cap that allows riders to switch between open, medium, and firm settings. It uses FOX’s FIT (FOX Isolated Technology) sealed cartridge technology combined with a coil-sprung, independent floating piston. It is a simpler design than the FIT4 but much more affordable.

FOX FIT4 damper

FIT4 is one of FOX's premium closed cartridge system dampers. It has a three-position compression adjust lever on the top cap with a climb, trail, and open (descend) mode. Low-speed compression can be fine-tuned in the open mode with a black knob in the center of the top cap lever. For XC applications, there is also a two-position remote lockout version available that uses a remote to switch between a climb and open mode. It cost slightly more than the standard three-position version. 

FOX GRIP2 damper

GRIP2 is FOX’s top-of-the-line damper which provides the best ride quality and the most adjustability. It uses FOX’s patented Variable Valve Control (VVC) technology which offers high- and low-speed compression damping adjustment and independent high and low-speed rebound damping adjustment. This is the ideal damper for riders who want to fine-tune their fork for their trails and riding style to maximize performance. 


FOX MTB fork model guide

Fox fork guideNotes:

  • The listed weights and travel specs are for current model year forks only. Older models may have different travel options.
  • The retail price ranges represent the price for Performance (bottom end) to Factory (top end) and are for current model year forks.
  • 27.5” FOX forks come in 37mm or 44mm offset. 29” FOX forks come in 44mm or 51mm offset. If you’d like to learn more about fork offset and how it affects handling, check out our article: “What is fork offset?

FOX 32 Step-Cast

Fox 32 Step-Cast

Available travel: 100mm
Stanchion diameter: 32mm
Dampers: FIT4
Claimed weight: 1,387g (27.5” - Factory Fit4)
Retail price: $949-1,039
Who it’s for: XC racers and riders who want the lightest fork for cross-country terrain and ultra-endurance riding.

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The 32 Step-Cast is FOX’s lightest fork, and one of the lightest on the market. It is named for the fork’s 32mm stanchions. The “Step-Cast” construction reduces weight with narrower lower fork legs and a notable “step” at the bottom of the lowers to reduce material. It’s ideal for riders who prioritize low weight above all else for climbing and racing. 

FOX 32

Available travel: 100mm
Stanchion diameter: 32mm
Dampers: GRIP
Claimed weight: None provided
Retail price: $659
Who it’s for: XC racers and riders who want the solid budget fork for cross-country terrain and ultra-endurance riding.

The standard FOX 32 is a solid workhorse fork for XC riders on a budget. While it doesn’t have the bells and whistles of FOX’s Step-Cast forks, it’s lightweight and will be more than enough to get the aspiring racer to the podium. 

FOX 34 Step-Cast

Fox 34 Step-Cast

Available travel: 100mm, 120mm
Stanchion diameter: 34mm
Dampers: GRIP, FIT4
Claimed weight: 1,496g (29” - Factory Fit4)
Retail price: $849-1,089
Who it’s for: Riders looking to set up their XC or “downcountry” bike to handle technical terrain without adding too much weight.

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The 34 Step-Cast is lighter than the standard FOX 34 to bridge the gap between pure cross-country and trail forks. Thanks to 34mm stanchions, it’s stiffer than the Fox 32 and 32 Step-Cast, but it keeps the weight competitive with a notable “step” at the bottom of the lowers that reduces material. It’s ideal for heavier XC riders or riders pushing the downhill limits of their XC bikes. 

FOX 34

Fox 34

Available travel: 130mm. 140mm
Stanchion diameter: 34mm
Dampers: GRIP, FIT4, GRIP2
Claimed weight: 1,738g g (29” - Factory Fit4)
Retail price: $799-1,039
Who it’s for: Riders who want a versatile, mid-weight and mid-travel fork for all-around trail riding.

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The FOX is the do-it-all trail option. With 34mm stanchions, it sits between the lightweight Fox 32 and the slightly beefier Fox 36. With modest weight, travel, and stiffness, it’s best suited to short- to mid-travel trail bikes that are designed to climb and descend equally well. Since it uses the same round arch and fork bleeders as the FOX 36 and 38, it still has plenty of downhill chops and can transition from cross-country rides to technical all-mountain rides with ease. 

FOX 36

Fox 36

Available travel: 150mm, 160mm
Stanchion diameter: 36mm
Dampers: GRIP, FIT4, GRIP2
Claimed weight: 1,942g (29” - Factory FIT4)
Retail price: $889-1,149
Who it’s for: Riders who frequently ride steep and gnarly terrain but still need to earn their turns.

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The Fox 36 is named for its 36mm stanchions. As you’d expect, it splits the difference between the FOX 34 trail fork and the FOX 38 enduro fork. It has a lot of the same tech as the FOX 38, including a stiffer round arch and fork bleeder which relieve pressure build-up to keep the fork feeling supple, but it weighs over 200 grams less. It is popular with trail riders on mid- to long-travel bikes that want to tackle tougher downhill trails, some occasional enduro racing, and downhill bike parks. 

FOX 38

Fox 38

Available travel: 160mm, 170mm, 180mm
Stanchion diameter: 38mm
Dampers: GRIP, GRIP2
Claimed weight: 2,180g (29” - Factory GRIP2)
Retail price: $989-1,249 
Who it’s for: Enduro racers, freeriders, and park riders who prioritize downhill performance above all else.

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The Fox 38 is FOX’s burliest long-travel single crown fork. Along with super thick 38mm stanchions, it also uses an elliptical inner-shaped steerer tube and a round arch to increase stiffness, which helps it track better and stay in control through the gnarliest terrain. Push-button bleeders on the fork lowers allow riders to periodically release pressure build-up to keep the fork feeling supple. It’s the ultimate choice for enduro racing or any type of downhill-focused riding.

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