First Ride – Fox 34 Step-Cast Factory Fork
In early 2016 Fox released the 32 Step-Cast fork with 100mm of travel and a slimmed down chassis. This fork was the lightest we had tested in its class and has since proven to be a go-to for our XC testers. Since the release of the 32 StepCast, Fox has revamped their longer-travel 36-series forks and even built a high-quality option for riders on a budget with the Rhythm trail fork. For 2019 Fox has another card up their sleeves—the 34 Step-Cast with 120mm of travel.
Tech info: Similar to the 32 Step-Cast, Fox slimmed down the chassis and lowers on the 34 to find a balance of durability and weight savings while not compromising on the overall stiffness. The lowers on the 34 Step-Cast are “stepped” in eliminating excess material while the uppers are a touch narrower compared to the current Float 34. Fox claims the new SC34 chassis is just as stiff as a Float 34 with 140mm travel.
The SC34 is available in 27.5 and 29-inch versions, with the 29er having enough clearance for 27.5×2.8-plus tires and 29×2.6 tires. Fox designed this fork to take anything from a direct-mount 160mm up to 180mm. Inside is the Fox Isolated Technology (FIT4) damper which is a closed cartridge system with three different settings—open, medium and firm. Along with the three positions are 22 clicks of low-speed-compression adjustment. Fox tuned the damper specifically for this fork for a balance of trail capability and cross-country performance.
Fox introduced their EVOL air spring last year and carried that over into the new SC34. The EVOL design adds extra air volume in the negative spring to give the fork better small-bump sensitivity and more mid-stroke support. The bottom end of the air spring is tunable using Fox’s volume reducers that come in one size.
The new Step-Cast 34 is available in two colorways with only a Factory version for now. Retail price on our test fork is $943.
We set up our test fork with 20% sag and one volume reducer for the first rides. Similar to Fox’s new forks, the SC34 has a chart on the back of the fork leg with air pressure recommendations and rebound settings. We dialed in the rebound and ran the LSC about half way. We installed the SC34 on a Pivot 429 Trail that was designed around 120-130mm travel forks.
Hitting the trails the SC34 has a supported yet supple feel. The SC34 chassis does feel just as stiff as the 140 version of the Float, even when braking. So far the SC34 has felt more like a cross between a cross country fork and a trail fork with it’s more efficient platform. Full review is slotted for June issue, see what our finals thoughts are on this new fork.