Ready to rock the trail.
After last year's much lauded overhaul, the 2017 Fox Racing Shox 34 Float 27.5 150 3Pos-Adj FIT4 Fork returns relatively unchanged. The steerer, crown, uppers, lowers, and Float Air spring all shed weight compared to earlier versions while at the same time increasing stiffness for a snappy, responsive ride. Of course, weight savings are great on paper, but the fork really makes its bacon by dint of on-trail functionality.
The Fit4's Damper's puffed out, 10mm shaft increases oil flow to the base valve, allowing the fork to ride high for quick, controlled recovery during everything from big, square hits to successive, small impacts. The 3-position Fit4 system also takes the reins from the old CTD system, changing the names from the overly-prescriptive categories of Climb, Trail, and Descend to a graduating scale covering Firm, Medium, and Open. While this change may read like an exercise in semantics, it entails a radical realignment of the 34 Float's capabilities that addresses virtually every issue we've had with the CTD damper in the past.
Perhaps the most welcome change from earlier Fit dampers is that Fit4 migrates the adjustable sub settings from CTD's median Trail mode to the new Open setting. Open encompasses both Descend and Trail in order to take full advantage of the fork's high ride by handling most compression duties. This makes the fork that much more relevant to all-mountain situations, combining better small-bump compliance with more confident tracking through rock gardens and rough terrain. It doesn't wallow and handling stays on point.
The Medium setting migrates much deeper into the firm side of compression than the Trail setting did, so it'll suffice in most conditions that don't require use of the big-bottomed Open setting. The Firm setting remains self-explanatory: an XC lock-out for turning on the afterburners when terrain allows. It'll likely see much less use in the new system, but we still appreciate Firm while riding to the trailhead or transitioning on fire roads.
FOX's tinkering wasn't just confined to the damper, though, as the Float air spring now omits the negative coil in favor of a self-equalizing air assembly. This is similar to the air spring chamber system that made the re-worked 36 series such a success, and its omission of a steel coil is a key contributor to the overall weight loss. Finally, a new system of spacers lets you easily temper the air shock's volume for dialing the mid stroke and ramp-up.