What color is Kashima anyhow? It’s somewhere around brass or beer, I reckon. Maybe the color should be called supple, since that’s the point when it comes to mountain bike suspension goods. Fox updated their full suspension line for the 2021 model year, and I’m excited to squish around on the new Factory 36 fork and Transfer Factory dropper over the summer. We have a boatload of suspension in for test right now, and these bits will be added to a compilation for folks who are looking to upgrade their dampers and droppers.
2021 Fox Factory 36
The fork I’ll be testing is a 29″ Factory model with 160mm of travel and a 44mm offset. I mounted it on my Ancillotti Scarab EVO29 to get started, and I’ll likely swap it through different test bikes over time. For my weight (68kg) Fox recommends inflating the fork to 78psi, which yields roughly 15% sag. From there, I will run the low-speed compression at three clicks from fully open, add two clicks of high-speed compression, twist the high-speed rebound fully open as usual, and start off with the low-speed rebound a click or two faster than the midpoint. For the first few rides, I’ll bounce around with just one volume spacer, and install more as necessary. All of the tuning adjustments along with comparisons to the former 36 tune will be written up in a forthcoming review.
The original Fox 36 forks were a genuine game-changer when they dropped fifteen years back, and Fox engineers took their time to upgrade this latest version with some noticeable improvements. Similar to how bikes always lean a little slacker and stretch a smidge longer, forks tend to shave a little weight while somehow gaining stiffness. This fork is no different, with redesigned lowers and crown to sharpen steering performance at a reasonable 1960g weight.
Adjusting rebound can be tricky with the extra high-speed knob in the GRIP2 damper, so Fox added their suggestions to the stock decal kit. After talking with a Fox technician about this latest rebound tune, I will be ignoring the sticker directions and using my usual base tune to for the first few rides.
The familiar GRIP2 compression adjustments maintain their non-lockout functionality. If you want to close the compression circuit on a climb you will need to remember where it was set, instead of flipping a handy switch as some Fox damper knobs allow.
This burpy-port, or bleeder, is a piece of tech honed on the brand’s downhill forks that now benefits trail riders and enduro racers alike. It serves to equalize air pressure in the lowers before descending so that the fork performs as intended, even after climbing a few thousand meters. This equalization process used to be achieved by sliding a zip tie or similar object between the stanchion and the wiper seal before dropping in; this incorporated solution is far more elegant.
The lower leg channel that runs behind the burpy-port allows more direct oil flow toward the main wiper seals, keeping them lubricated and functioning properly.
Oh yeah, and Fox threw in a fender mount and a new factory designed mud guard. There will be a fender mounted here shortly, with all of the functional details included in the review.
2021 Fox Factory Transfer dropper post
The suspension brand’s signature beer colored up-downer recently got even better, losing some weight at the head and growing shorter at the base to fit more frames. The internal-only dropper post comes in 30.9 or 31.6mm diameters, with 100, 125, 150, and 175mm travel lengths.
This new patent-pending saddle clamp design drastically reduced the stack height for the 2021 model, and it’s dead simple to install. Fox says that the new post is also easier to service than the 2020 version, and I will find out what they mean by that prior to the review.
This latest iteration of the 1X dropper remote lever was easy to set up, it looks nice and clean, and Fox says it’s 34% lighter than the previous model. Lastly, the Transfer retains its signature thud tone as it tops out, so there’s no doubt where your saddle is at.
Look for the full review of these foxy bits in a few months.
Thanks to Fox for providing the fork and dropper post for testing.