The 2018 Fox 36 is mostly the same ultra plush, reliable fork we know and love, with a few updates.
First off, there's the EVOL air spring, which shares the same name as the rear shock air can because it shares the same core idea: a larger negative air spring. If this feels familiar, that's because RockShox recently took the sticker off its shock can and put in on its forks, too.
The lesson both brands have learned is that a larger negative air spring makes the top of the travel more supple while also creating more mid-stroke support. That's what they call a win-win.
While making the negative chamber larger and putting an EVOL sticker on the crown, Fox decided it'd make other refinements as well, like making the air spring lighter and reducing the number of dynamic seals. This reduces friction, that when combined with the added off-the-top suppleness EVOL delivers, combined with Kashima, combined with responsive FIT 4 and HSC/LSC dampers, makes for one hell of a sensitive fork.
The chassis is the same, but Fox is now offering the HSC/LSC damper in its 15-mil QR dropout chassis, where it was previously only available in the 15/20-mil-dropout chassis, which requires loosening 4 crimp bolts before removing the axle. While the bolt-on style axle does minimize the potential for bushing binding, customers demanded the highly adjustable HSC/LSC damper in a chassis that offers faster wheel changes. Fox offers Boost 110 spacing for all its new forks, but will continue to make 100-mil chassis as well.
On the damper side of things, Both the FIT4 and HSC/LSC dampers are mostly the same, aside from the use of a new oil with PTFE for better flow, and refinements to the FIT4 tune.
2018 Fox 36 Ride Impressions
The 36 is already an incredible fork. I happened to have a brand new 2017 Fox 36 HSC/LSC that I was able to ride back-to-back with the 2018 Fox 36 HSC/LSC test fork I received with the new EVOL air spring, and it should be no surprise that the change is more of a refinement. Fox is constantly using what it learns at the races to bring better and better products to customers. Sometimes that means huge advancements, while other times it's baby steps. This one is more of a baby step.
After getting to know the 2018 Fox 36 with the EVOL air spring, it's apparent that it's more tunable than last year's air spring. I was able to make it feel more responsive off the top, while maintaining excellent mid-stoke support, and I was able to do so with fewer volume spacers. At 150 millimeters of travel, I usually run a 2 or 3 volume spacers, but I found that one spacer provided similar support on big hits, but with better small bump sensitivity.
Is it worth scrapping your current 36 for? Probably not, but if you're in the market for an uncompromising enduro fork, the 2018 Fox 36 is tough to beat.
2018 Fox 36 Specs and Pricing
– New FLOAT EVOL air spring
– FIT HSC/LSC, FIT4 and FIT GRIP three position damper options
– 15QRx110 mm, 15QRx100 mm, or 15/20 mm convertible thru-axle
– Travel options: 27.5 – 150, 160, 170 mm, 29 – 150, 160 mm, 26 – 100 mm (831), 160, 180 mm
– 1.5" tapered or 1-1/8" (26" only) steerer tube
– E-Bike-specific chassis available
– Factory Series models feature Genuine Kashima Coat
– Performance Elite models feature black anodized upper tubes
– Factory – HSC/LSC $1049, FIT4 $979
– Performance Elite – HSC/LSC $959, FIT4 $889
– Performance – OE only (with GRIP damper)
Interested in the limited-edition orange colorway? Fox might be making some available, but you're more likely looking at black lowers, like this: