Suspension forks on gravel bikes may not be run of the mill. But FOX’s new entry aims to change that and help you ride faster, longer, and more comfortably.
FOX says it’s time to ditch riding rattly gravel on flex stems and undamped leaf springs. The lightest suspension fork the brand has ever built, the gravel-ready 32 Taper-Cast, arrives today.
The fork weighs in at just 1,226 g (2.7 pounds) and comes with adjustable travel from 40 to 50 mm. It doesn’t look like the weight savings come at much cost in functionality compared to the rest of the burly 32 series.
Capabilities of its predecessors, like integrated fender mounts (allowing 700c x 45mm tires) and 160mm and 180mm flat-mount brake rotor compatibility, are still on board.
FOX Suspension 32 Taper-Cast Fork
FOX gives 32 Taper-Cast buyers a choice between its FIT4 (best for super choppy) or GRIP (best for regular choppy) damper options. Geometry centers around a sleek drop crown profile and new knob shapes to improve downtube clearance and facilitate fitment on various frames.
The reverse arch also helps clearance and, more importantly, reduces weight.
Because the tire clears the fork at a lower point in the back than in the front, you can place a reverse arch lower on a fork. That means the arch can give the same stability without being as beefy.
Another critical change is the short-travel air spring, which FOX says eliminates the need for spacers.
A couple of capabilities are off the list for the 32 Taper-Cast fork. First, there’s no remote lockout — you’ll be riding full-suspension, full-time. FOX said it based the decision to leave out the feature on testing that showed locking the fork doesn’t improve performance “in most scenarios.”
Also, if you want to throw the 32 Taper-Cast onto your bike but you like to ride 650b tires, sacrificing one of the two would serve you best. The narrowest point on the fork’s lower legs — the reinforced area where the bushings press in — happens to be the same place as the widest point of a 650b tire.
That cuts tire clearance down to 30 mm, defeating the purpose of going down to a 650b to allow for increased tire size and air volume. Instead, FOX optimizes the fork for 700c tires. Max tire width tolerance is 50 mm.
No Brake, No Pucker
The FOX 32 Taper-Cast gravel fork points toward the goal of taking the edge off extended gravel rides to expand the ground you can cover.
It may be a little heavier than a traditional gravel bike’s non-suspension fork. But Canadian cross-country mountain biker Geoff Kabush said the gains are worth the weight.
In a press release for the fork’s launch, Kabush said he was “[r]eally impressed with performance, ride quality, ability improvement to send it with the fork even with just 40 mm [of travel]. Can do some rougher, longer days and stay fresh and less beat up. Worth the weight for general riding to me and fun to ‘no-brake’ sections that I used to pucker up for.”
MSRP (across buyer’s spec) ranges from $769 to $949. Three stock iterations of the FOX suspension will be available: the Factory, Performance, and Performance Elite. Check it out on the FOX website.