Fox’s Performance Elite forks have always been the bridesmaid option, slightly cheaper (£100 in the case of the 36) than the flagship Factory models, but without the glamour of Kashima gold stanchions. The thing is though, they’re no different otherwise and we don’t think even the most sensitive riders will be able to tell them apart on the trail.
The 36’s FIT4 damping is the best it’s ever been making this an awesome all-round aggro fork, especially for stealth aesthetic fans.
The 36 chassis gets 7000 series upper tubes to keep weight under 2kg without compromising stiffness and aftermarket forks come with Fox’s excellent finger-friendly 15QR axle. There’s plenty of room for large-volume tyres under the squared arch too. Aftermarket travel and fit options are more limited than Factory forks though.
The big change for the top-end 36 forks this year though are changes to the FIT4 damper and they come from a surprising direction, too. While most enduro dampers get their tech trickled down from DH forks, the new 8mm FIT4 damper shaft comes from Fox’s lightweight Step-Cast XC/XCM forks. Downsizing from 10mm means the shaft moves much easier though, reducing the stiction in the damper.
Add the Extra VOLume (EVOL) negative spring and it’s as sensitive and seamlessly ground sucking as any other fork there and smoother than the GRIP2 36.
That sensitivity also allows you to add more compression damping without the risk of spiking on high-speed hits. That means this is the first FIT4 fork where even our lighter testers have added a few clicks of low-speed compression rather than having to leave it fully open and still find it insensitive. With a 22-click low-speed compression micro adjuster dial there’s a broad range of meaningful tuning options whatever your weight and aggression levels. The three-position macro compression adjust lever also gives medium-firm and almost lockout settings for driving hard through corners or heaving up steep climbs with lumpy low-rev pedalling. The single rebound knob (GRIP2 forks - £1059 - have separate high and low-speed adjusters) delivers consistently fuss-free return stroke control whatever the size and frequency of the impacts its responding to. If the spring rate isn’t quite to your taste you can add/remove clip-in volume spacers under the air chamber top cap.
The 36 was already a great fork structurally and while it’s different aesthetically the Performance Elite version is indistinguishable from the £100 more expensive Factory fork on the trail. What’s really pulled this fork right up to fight RockShox Lyrik RCT3 for the top spot though is the latest super-sensitive, meaningfully adjustable charge or climb friendly FIT4 damper. The improved sensitivity and adjustability are well worth paying the extra £90 over the GRIP damper-equipped 36 Performance fork, too.
Tech Specs: Fox 36 Performance Elite FIT4 Fork
- Price: £979 / €1200
- Weight: 1980g (27.5in 160mm, cut to fit)
- Travel: 150mm (FIT4 only)
- Adjustment: Three-position macro low-speed compression adjust, 22 click micro-low speed compression adjust, low-speed rebound. Internal volume adjust.
- Options: 170-180mm, 29er, GRIP2