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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I managed to get my hands on one of the 2022 Fox SC34 in 100mm travel. To simplify things, I like it, a lot. I didn't think it would feel that much better than a SC 32 but it does.

However, is it actually faster? I debate this with bikes, there are lots of stuff I like, wide rims, big tires, more travel, slack angles ect... But when I am trying to set-up a bike to be as fast as possible I try to separate what I like from what is faster.

In this case I feel that SC34 is faster. I just have more confidence in the front end, I know where the front wheel is and can push just a bit harder. The time difference is probably really small but I think there is a difference.

For those of you placing your order this week for your 2024 race bike, if you are choosing between a 32 and 34 go for the 34.
 

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I never think like that: That a stiffer and slightly heavier XC fork will make me faster. It might have a higher chance of keeping me out of the hospital, which depending on the course, could be a good thing, but I don't go to my 34 thinking it'll be faster.
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I never think like that: That a stiffer and slightly heavier XC fork will make me faster. It might have a higher chance of keeping me out of the hospital, which depending on the course, could be a good thing, but I don't go to my 34 thinking it'll be faster.
I don't really think about what is safer. If I am racing I am at the limit of my ability to use the equipment. If the equipment is less capable my limit is going to be at a slower speed. I will crash just as often on a 32 or 34 but on a 34 I might be going a bit quicker when I crash.
 

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I don't really think about what is safer. If I am racing I am at the limit of my ability to use the equipment. If the equipment is less capable my limit is going to be at a slower speed. I will crash just as often on a 32 or 34 but on a 34 I might be going a bit quicker when I crash.
I think the bigger forks will be the future, 32 will probably be gone in a few yrs.
 

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And for those of us who do not quite have the ideal "jockey" racing build, it's 34 every time. At 190 pounds, the 32 did not impress in actual mtb use, though it is a fantastic rough gravel fork.

I just put a 34 SC on my new Supercaliber, and couldn't be happier.
 

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And for those of us who do not quite have the ideal "jockey" racing build, it's 34 every time. At 190 pounds, the 32 did not impress in actual mtb use, though it is a fantastic rough gravel fork.

I just put a 34 SC on my new Supercaliber, and couldn't be happier.
I’m kind of in between, at 160 pounds and an aggressive rider. I tried the SID ultimate 120 and now I have a SID SL 100 on a different bike. The 34mm fork was stiffer, but not night and day different. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the 32 mm version of the fork is more than stiff enough for hard cross country racing and cornering. It has really held up to some abuse. Also surprisingly, I found the damper and air spring combination in the shorter travel fork to be much better – I could never get full travel out of the 34 mm to work, and it felt either harsh on small bumps or dove through it’s travel, depending on how it was set up. This 32 mm version is amazing. Much better ride quality.

I would like to try the new fox 34 step cast as I do miss an intermediate damper position for trail riding.
 

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I’m kind of in between, at 160 pounds and an aggressive rider. I tried the SID ultimate 120 and now I have a SID SL 100 on a different bike. The 34mm fork was stiffer, but not night and day different. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the 32 mm version of the fork is more than stiff enough for hard cross country racing and cornering. It has really held up to some abuse. Also surprisingly, I found the damper and air spring combination in the shorter travel fork to be much better – I could never get full travel out of the 34 mm to work, and it felt either harsh on small bumps or dove through it’s travel, depending on how it was set up. This 32 mm version is amazing. Much better ride quality.

I would like to try the new fox 34 step cast as I do miss an intermediate damper position for trail riding.
The Sid is 35mm
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I’m kind of in between, at 160 pounds and an aggressive rider. I tried the SID ultimate 120 and now I have a SID SL 100 on a different bike. The 34mm fork was stiffer, but not night and day different. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the 32 mm version of the fork is more than stiff enough for hard cross country racing and cornering. It has really held up to some abuse. Also surprisingly, I found the damper and air spring combination in the shorter travel fork to be much better – I could never get full travel out of the 34 mm to work, and it felt either harsh on small bumps or dove through it’s travel, depending on how it was set up. This 32 mm version is amazing. Much better ride quality.

I would like to try the new fox 34 step cast as I do miss an intermediate damper position for trail riding.
It seems that it is hard to get 120mm forks to feel good on our XC bike, regardless of fork brand. I suspect it has to do with our weight distribution. Putting a 120mm fork on an XC bike shift our rear weight distribution backwards, this makes it hard to make the fork work well on mellow terrain. I know my trail bikes certainly suffer from this.
 
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I don't really think about what is safer. If I am racing I am at the limit of my ability to use the equipment. If the equipment is less capable my limit is going to be at a slower speed. I will crash just as often on a 32 or 34 but on a 34 I might be going a bit quicker when I crash.
I have to say this my way of thinking. I have worked my way up to CAT1 racing level and I am not really as fast I need to be. In CAT2 I was pretty fit and technically solid. However in CAT1 while I am just about as fit and know training will help it is confidence in cornering that holding me back. I know a little more fitness will help cover a few grams, but a little more front end stability is probably something that will help. I have added in a dropper and done a lot of work on cornering skills, but I know I am still a bit off in that area. Techy downhills don't bother me, but it is confidence in hard cornering. If a slight stiffer fork will help give me confidence that I can stay on a line and hold it while going 100% that is important.

I am currently on 32SC forks and like them, but have considered a 120 version of new 34SC as the weight penalty is not that much.

If your weakness is climbing and you are strong in other areas then maybe you don't choose the heavier fork.

Oh one more oddity. I did Breck Epic with a dropper post and without. Per my Strava times I was no faster on the DH with the dropper except for 1 section. However I was faster on the climbs. That makes no sense until you consider that I was more relaxed on the DH at the same speed and therefore had more energy on the next climb. It takes lots of effort to go down trails really fast so even if you do the same speed if you can recover more you might be able to use that on the next uphill.
 
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This is one of those things that tend to go in cycles. There have been relatively stiff suspension forks in the past. At some point they are then replaced with new lighter versions (eg: Fox 32 Stepcast) and then the new version is “better” right up until the new version of the fork comes out. At this time the Fox 34 Stepcast is the newer fork so it’s “better”.

I was trying to find a comparison of stiffness ranking the popular forks from major manufacturers but there doesn’t seem to be one. In particular there are at least three different Fox 34 forks now (Fox 34 Stepcast, Fox 34 and also a Fox 34 Ebike fork with thicker tubes again). My suspicion is that the Fox 34 Stepcast, although slightly stiffer than the notoriously flexy Fox 32 Stepcast, isn’t actually one of the stiffer 34mm diameter forks overall.

Although I couldn’t find an actual comparison with information on the XC forks there is a bit from Enduro MTB magazine testing 36mm and 38mm diameter stanchion forks here to consider.



“Chassis stiffness – is bigger always better?
The diameter of the stanchions of a suspension fork often dictates its intended use. Forks with bigger stanchions are heavier and stiffer, thus most often used with longer travel for more gravity focussed use.

The new, bigger 38 mm stanchions are hot property in the enduro fork world right now and are claimed to be significantly stronger and stiffer. It might seem like a lot of excitement over a 2 mm increase. However, given the same wall thickness, doubling the diameter of a tube increases the tube stiffness four times, meaning that small changes in diameter play a bigger role than you may think. That said, there’s always a sweet spot as increasing the diameter of a tube often increases the weight. Also, we need to start asking when a fork is too stiff. Just like overly stiff carbon wheels that reduce grip in certain situations, compliance is important in forks too.



We didn’t ride any faster on the bigger 38 mm platforms
Looking at the timing data, switching from a FOX 36 to FOX 38 or Lyrik Ultimate to a ZEB Ultimate did not result in an observable increase in speed. While we picked terrain that should have favoured a bigger fork, our 75–90 kg riders were just as fast on the (relatively) smaller platforms. We did find the big FOX 38 was more sensitive and offered slightly more grip, but it didn’t take chunks out of the stopwatch. Admittedly, we weren’t riding at race pace but were riding at the fastest speed the bike allowed without risk of crashing – the kind of speed you run when hunting down your mates on a trail. Racers may be able to exploit the stiffer chassis when riding right on the limit to save a few seconds here and there but if your riding is more mid-pack, upgrading to a 38 mm chassis will not put you on top of the podium.” Enduro-mtb
 

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The gains are always marginal. I think LMN's feedback is that the new 34SC is pretty good and worth the small weight penalty on your next bike. Sure you could just buy one now, but you won't see much. However when specing you new bike the 34SC is a worthwhile choice vs the 32SC both in 100mm.

And lets consider the statement on 38 vs 36. Sounds like the 38 is better, but only slightly so. Don't expect it to be revolution, but in choice 36vs38 even money? The 38 is better.
 

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At 130+, I think even the 34 is a bit flexy though not bad. I can feel the flex on sharp DH corners...steeper makes it worse. On fast rocky/rooty straight DHs, I can hold the line well so not an issue but I can feel it again when braking hard. Still not as back as steep DH cornering. As the travel increases, I prefer the 36 and I actually just received one for my Ripley today. I'll run it at 150 instead of the 140 on the 34. At that travel, the 38 would just be added weight. At 100-120, I'd always pick the 34. I'd never use a 32. I'm 175 lbs. I cannot envision a situation for trail riding (unless I guess just smooth flat trails which I know nothing about) where a 34 isn't better than a 32. Well, XC racing too, if weight /climbs are a big concern.
 

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I was trying to find a comparison of stiffness ranking the popular forks from major manufacturers but there doesn’t seem to be one. In particular there are at least three different Fox 34 forks now (Fox 34 Stepcast, Fox 34 and also a Fox 34 Ebike fork with thicker tubes again). My suspicion is that the Fox 34 Stepcast, although slightly stiffer than the notoriously flexy Fox 32 Stepcast, isn’t actually one of the stiffer 34mm diameter forks
German Bike Magazin always measure torsional and braking stiffness when they test forks. It is of course only a part of how the fork behaves, but still interesting I think.

Some 120mm forks from issue 6/2021, torsional/braking stiffness in Nm/degree:
Lefty ocho 120: 19.8/201.6
Manitou r7 pro 120: 28.2/193.3
Dt swiss f232 120: 21.3/186.6
Fox 34 sc(old model): 22.6/196.1
RS sid Ultimate 120: 27.2/210.7

The test can be downloaded from their website (in German).
 

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German Bike Magazin always measure torsional and braking stiffness when they test forks. It is of course only a part of how the fork behaves, but still interesting I think.

Some 120mm forks from issue 6/2021, torsional/braking stiffness in Nm/degree:
Lefty ocho 120: 19.8/201.6
Manitou r7 pro 120: 28.2/193.3
Dt swiss f232 120: 21.3/186.6
Fox 34 sc(old model): 22.6/196.1
RS sid Ultimate 120: 27.2/210.7

The test can be downloaded from their website (in German).
Thanks for posting that.:)

The newest Fox 34 Stepcast 120mm is likely a bit stiffer than the model listed there but it does suggest that if the priority is higher fork stiffness then a Rock Shox Sid Ultimate 120 (35mm diameter stanchions) would be the preferred choice over a Fox Stepcast 34 120mm.

The DT Swiss F232 120mm travel fork uses 32mm stanchions according to the DT Swiss website.

Regarding the 100mm Fox Stepcast 32 this quote is about the 2017 version when it first released (there is a newer version of the 100mm Fox Stepcast 32 than this) :


"First impressions would lead one to think the fork is going to be flexy. As we’ve gotten used to the visual heft of 34, 35 and 36 millimeter stanchions, these 32mm ones look anemic. And their skinny appearance is amplified by the narrow leg spacing. The fork just looks small.
...
Fortunately, you can’t completely judge the book by its cover. I eyeballed about a centimeter of aft flex at the axle under hard front braking, but that’s not abnormal for the category. The rest of the fork felt adequately stiff for its intended use. I could confidently dive into corners and berms, and it held its line around sweepers. The wheel went where I pointed it and I didn’t hear any brake rotor rub, suggesting minimal torsional or lateral flex. It’s hard to tell where the fork trails off and the Boost wheel’s wider spoke triangulation picks up, but the overall package is tight.
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The suspension performance felt dialed for XC."
Bike Rumor

Fast forwards a few years into the future and the copy for the 2025 lightweight XC fork that will be the hot ticket then writes itself (Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V) .:cool:
 

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Thanks for posting that.:)

The newest Fox 34 Stepcast 120mm is likely a bit stiffer than the model listed there but it does suggest that if the priority is higher fork stiffness then a Rock Shox Sid Ultimate 120 (35mm diameter stanchions) would be the preferred choice over a Fox Stepcast 34 120mm.

The DT Swiss F232 120mm travel fork uses 32mm stanchions according to the DT Swiss website.

Regarding the 100mm Fox Stepcast 32 this quote is about the 2017 version when it first released (there is a newer version of the 100mm Fox Stepcast 32 than this) :


"First impressions would lead one to think the fork is going to be flexy. As we’ve gotten used to the visual heft of 34, 35 and 36 millimeter stanchions, these 32mm ones look anemic. And their skinny appearance is amplified by the narrow leg spacing. The fork just looks small.
...
Fortunately, you can’t completely judge the book by its cover. I eyeballed about a centimeter of aft flex at the axle under hard front braking, but that’s not abnormal for the category. The rest of the fork felt adequately stiff for its intended use. I could confidently dive into corners and berms, and it held its line around sweepers. The wheel went where I pointed it and I didn’t hear any brake rotor rub, suggesting minimal torsional or lateral flex. It’s hard to tell where the fork trails off and the Boost wheel’s wider spoke triangulation picks up, but the overall package is tight.
...
The suspension performance felt dialed for XC."
Bike Rumor

Fast forwards a few years into the future and the copy for the 2025 lightweight XC fork that will be the hot ticket then writes itself (Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V) .:cool:
What would make you believe the newer sc34 is stiffer than the older one? everything they did to it decreases stiffness…narrower stance, less weight etc. Its even targeted now more towards xc/marathon.

Fox modified the crown on the original sc32 to be stiffer and added weight like a yr after the originals release.
 

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What would make you believe the newer sc34 is stiffer than the older one? everything they did to it decreases stiffness…narrower stance, less weight etc. Its even targeted now more towards xc/marathon.

Fox modified the crown on the original sc32 to be stiffer and added weight like a yr after the originals release.
The marketing for the 2022 Fox 34 Stepcast and Fox 34 claims that they are stiffer than the previous version:


"Updates to the Fox 34 and 34 SC include an all-new lower chassis with bypass channels, an “organic lower leg shape” with an all-new further-forward lower arch, and a 58mm diameter crown.
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Headlining the changes on the 2022 Fox 34 and 34 SC fork are its new lower legs, which have been painstakingly designed to be the lightest and stiffest iteration yet.
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The lower leg arch – that spans from one side of the fork to the other just above the tyre – has been redesigned to “optimize [the] critical ratio” of stiffness to weight, shaving as much material as possible while still remaining stiff and strong for the demands of “modern trail riding”. Computer modelling was used to create an “organic” lowers shape."
Bike Radar
 

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The marketing for the 2022 Fox 34 Stepcast and Fox 34 claims that they are stiffer than the previous version:


"Updates to the Fox 34 and 34 SC include an all-new lower chassis with bypass channels, an “organic lower leg shape” with an all-new further-forward lower arch, and a 58mm diameter crown.
...
Headlining the changes on the 2022 Fox 34 and 34 SC fork are its new lower legs, which have been painstakingly designed to be the lightest and stiffest iteration yet.
...
The lower leg arch – that spans from one side of the fork to the other just above the tyre – has been redesigned to “optimize [the] critical ratio” of stiffness to weight, shaving as much material as possible while still remaining stiff and strong for the demands of “modern trail riding”. Computer modelling was used to create an “organic” lowers shape."
Bike Radar
“Optimize stiffness to weight”. they make these claims every new model yr. There is nothing with the new sc34 that would suggest it’s stiffer than the previous. The RS1 was supposedly stiff until independent testing showed it was a noodle. did Fox show data, nope, just baseless marketing claims.

in fact here is literature from fox.

The new 34 SC does weigh slightly more than the 32, but Fox feel that the performance benefits are worth a few extra grams. It's stiffer than the old 32 SC, slightly less stiff than the previous 34 SC, and a lot lighter than the 34 SC.
 
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