2015 Fox 36 Float 26 160 FIT RC2
Features / Specs:
- Travel: 160mm
- Wheel size: 26” (27.5” & 29” also available)
- Adjustments: Rebound, Low & High Speed Compression
- Air Spring
- Kashima coated stanchions
- 15mm or 20mm convertible thru-axle
- Tested on: Knolly Chilcotin
Reviewer Info: 5’10”, 165 lbs.
Test Locations: Durango, CO; Albuquerque, NM; Boise, ID; Park City, UT
Intended Use: All Mountain / Enduro Riding, Bike Park laps
Test Duration: 3 months
A year ago, RockShox re-released the Pike as their top-tier 150-160mm fork with a new damping unit and a light weight of 4.05 lbs. The Pike set the mid-travel world on fire, and quickly became regarded as the fork to own because of its incredible small bump sensitivity and mid-stroke composure. (Read Kevin Bazar’s review for a full, in-depth look at the Pike.)
Now, a year later, Fox Racing has responded with their new, redesigned 34 Float and 36 Float forks. Noah Bodman wrote a glowing review of the 2015 34 Float, and concluded that while he feels the Pike is an excellent fork, he prefers the ride of the new 34.
I’ve spent time on the Pike, too, along with nearly every version of the 36 Float since 2009, and I’ve now ridden the new, 2015 36 for three months. Similar to Noah’s findings about the Fox 34, I think the new 36 Float has the edge on the Pike in several departments.
Versions of the 36
Fox forks come in many different versions, with differences beyond their stanchion size. The 36 Float model is made for 26”, 27.5” and 29” wheels, each with various amounts of fixed travel (though the fork can be internally adjusted via travel spacers in 10mm increments). Fox also makes several 36 “Talas” model forks with externally adjustable travel.
All of the 2015 36’s sit within Fox’s “Factory” series, which means they feature Kashima coated legs and a fully adjustable RC2 FIT cartridge.
Changes for 2015
The new 36 Float received a complete overhaul for 2015.
The most obvious change is the fork’s more traditional pinch-bolt style thru-axle. Four 5mm bolts clamp down on the 36’s axle, instead of the two cam levers seen on previous models. This system certainly helps shave some grams from the fork’s overall weight, offers better torsional rigidity, and helps reduce binding.
Some may still prefer a fork with quick-release axles since they can make things more efficient when you’re transporting your bike. But I didn’t mind the 36’s axle design since I have a wheel-on bike rack. And as far as trail fixes are concerned, I always have a small multi-tool on me, so repairing a flat isn’t much more difficult than usual with the new 36. Moreover, I like the peace of mind bolt-on axles provide, as they’re unlikely to loosen up on rides.
The 36’s 20mm dropouts are convertible, as the fork comes with a 15mm axle and adapters. The adapters are easy to install; push them in and thread the provided steel shims through the pinch-bolts to hold them in place.
Back to the 36’s chassis overhaul…
Fox put the 36’s lower legs on a diet, machining out excess material in key “taper zones” without affecting the stiffness the 36mm diameter fork is meant to have.
The 36 also got a new upper crown, helping to keep the axle-crown measurement as short as possible. The new 26” 36 fork is 9mm shorter that last year’s, so the 26″ and 27.5″ 36s’ axle-crown lengths are comparable to a 34 Float of the same travel. This allows folk’s to run longer travel forks without dealing with long axle-crown lengths that can affect frame geometry and a bike’s handling.
Fox’s Racing Applications Development (RAD) department worked on decreasing stiction and increasing sensitivity in all of their 2015 forks forks. The 36 is made with a fancy new oil containing Molybdenum, which plays nicely with the Kashima-coated sliders, making everything extra slippery and increasing bushing overlap. The 36 has the most overlap of any single crown fork in Fox’s lineup, in fact, and a redesigned seal head.
Sure enough, straight out of the box, the 36 feels incredibly smooth—on par with the Pike in terms of sensitivity, as I’ll say more about below.
Fox’s RC2 FIT cartridge has been around since the early 2000’s and has evolved over the years. While the 36’s damper was tweaked for 2015, the cartridge’s overall design remains the same – it’s a closed system with an expandable bladder to compensate for oil displacement. The RC2 damper has independent adjustments for rebound, low-speed, and high-speed compression. Servicing the FIT cartridge still requires owners to send their forks in to Fox for treatment.
Finally, the 2015 36 has a new air spring assembly (Fox put the kibosh on it’s older coil negative spring). This saves the fork another 94 grams, and improves the consistency and feel of its stroke. The new negative chamber has a bypass port that allows it to self-equalize, keeping the fork the same height (when unweighted) regardless of air pressure. The older 36’s design worked in an opposite manner: when you added air pressure, the negative coil spring compressed, dropping the fork and changing its axle-crown height.
The 36 is currently the only Fox fork with this new air negative spring assembly, but I won’t be surprised if it shows up on other models soon, too.
NEXT: Install & Tuning