First Look: Fox Factory E-Bike Specific Suspension
THE FOX VERSION OF E-BIKE-SPECIFIC SUSPENSION
Over the last year we’ve been seeing more bikes listing “e-bike suspension” on the spec sheet, which raised the question, ‘What exactly does ‘e-bike-specific’ mean?” In some cases, it might just mean a graphic treatment; for others, it could be a thicker crown and a sticker that has an “E” on it. Thankfully, after a few phone calls, we found out that for Fox, the idea of e-bike suspension is actually given some added consideration.
Of course, given their long history of producing top-line suspension parts for motorcycles dating back to the late ’70s, Fox has been a mainstay in the suspension game long before mountain bikes came along.
Out of their catalog of 12 different mountain bike forks, three are set aside as “e-bike-specific.” Between those three, they break the offerings into three categories that reflect contemporary off-road parlance—Trail, All Mountain, and Enduro—with ranges of 140mm to 180mm of travel, and 34-, 36- and 38mm stanchion diameters respectively. All three of the air forks feature the Kashima coating for smoother fork action.
The difference you’ll find in the e-stuff is a thicker crown to accommodate the impacts owing to the extra torque you get from the motor. The torque from the motor actually puts more pressure on the head tube area. The thicker crowns and lower leg arches help to compensate for that added torque and pressure.
Fox told us that on top of that they also changed the valving to allow for the oil to properly reach the upper part of the lower fork legs, which in turn lubricates the foam rings and bushings as intended. This e-bike-specific valving is working in part with Fox’s new lower-leg bleeders for pressure equalization. This allows the fork to properly go through all the travel with the intended response and characteristics.
While the 34mm stanchions found on the trail fork are stout enough for the majority of recreational riders, heavier and faster riders have noticed more front-end flex with them versus the stouter 36 and 38mm forks. Among other features, for 2021 the latter two also come with a new mudguard/fender, as well as Fox’s proprietary “floating axle.”
The one caveat we would offer for anyone eyeing a Fox fork is that they represent the epitome of modern suspension technology. As such, with all the features comes added levels of complications in setting them up. Between the high-/low-speed and compression/rebound adjustments, there is a total of 48 different adjustments (via clickers) that can be made. Thankfully, Fox has probably done the best job imaginable to identify what each adjuster is and what it does.
Style: Trail, All-mountain and Enduro
Price range: $789-$1249 between multiple ranges from low end “Performance” to high end “Factory Kashima Coated”.