Deniz merdano Fox 34 Grip X 4

Fox 34 Factory Grip X

Photos Deniz Merdano
Reading time

When the cut of your jib is judged by the girth of your chops, the smaller-stanchioned forks often get overlooked. It is interesting the way the major players position their forks in their line up. While RockShox gives their forks catchy names that don't describe their girth, Fox chooses to classify the names (and intentions) of their products by the diameter of their stanchions. I've always found this approach fascinating from both parties. For the unsuspecting customer, it usually doesn't matter if their new ride comes with a Lyrik, Zeb or a Domain, unless they have done their homework in advance to pick apart the differences. The intentions of 34 vs 36 vs 38 are a little more clear. Why would I want a 34 when the 36 is obviously two better? Or is the 36 good enough for me when the bike next to mine has a 38 that will allow me to huck from two levels higher?

Deniz merdano Fox 34 Grip X

Three forks walk into a bar; one is underage, one is too old for the crowd, and one just gets ignored most of the time.

The New Fox 34

The new Fox 34 uses the same chassis as the previous generation. The sleek no-nonsense design of the lowers and the arch and the glossy and beautiful crown that connects it all together draw your eye to the Kashima-coated legs. It is all familiar up to this point. The colour-matched decals are subtle and work well on this aftermarket unit, though it may be colour-matched to your frame if it comes as an OEM fork.

On the inside, an all-new damper defines this fork. The latest revision of dampers made their way into the 2025 models:

  • GRIP SL Damper - Fox 32 TC, 32 SC, 34 SC (primarily aimed at XC and Gravel racing)
  • GRIP X Damper - Fox 34, 36, 38
  • GRIP X2 Damper - Fox 36, 38, 40
Deniz merdano Fox 34 Grip X 8
Deniz merdano Fox 34 Grip X 7

The new fork damper naming aligns them with corresponding shocks and their intended purposes. The Grip X forks line up with the Float X or DHX shocks - they all share the same number of external adjustments.

The Grip X damper replaces the Fit4, which no one really gelled with anyway, and bridges the gap between the old Grip damper and the Grip 2 that we all loved, even though we left all the compression adjustments fully open. The idea is to give riders a usable window of adjustments instead of forcing lighter riders to one side of the spectrum and heavier riders to the other. The Grip X might just be the most important damper Fox has to offer and while delivering the downhill performance of the more complicated Grip X2, it sheds 120 grams of weight thanks to a diameter reduction in its lower shims and valves.

Compared to the outgoing Grip 2 damper, the new Grip X has larger base valving at 22mm and a spring-backed IFP design, compared to pressure tube IFPs.

Deniz merdano Fox 34 Grip X 5

It is nice to be able to access an excellent damper redesign even on the smaller-stanchioned Fox 34, which traditionally gets overlooked as the flexy, non-British Columbia-worthy one.

"If the riding is big, the fork should be too" is the general rule of thumb people abide by, but the "little" FOX 34 surprised me in all the right ways when It comes to composure. It comes in 130 and 140mm travel configurations for 29" wheels and 44mm rake only. With the Grip X damper and including the axle, the fork weighs 1,680 grams, which is 600 grams - or well over a pound - lighter than the Fox 38 on the front of my big bike.

My settings on the Fox 34:

  • 85 psi & 1 token
  • HSC: 4 clicks
  • LSC: 8 clicks
  • LSR: 10 clicks

*all settings from fully closed

Deniz merdano Fox 34 Grip X 1

There is 30mm travel and 600 grams of weight difference between these forks.

I mounted the new 34 on the extremely capable Scor 2030. With 120mm out back and 140mm in the front, this is currently one of my favourite bikes: built burly, slack and extremely fast both up and down. The Fox 34 replaced the Pike Ultimate that came with the bike and while the differences were subtle, there were some key points that separated the two forks.

The Pike with its Charger 3 damper was set to 80psi and -1 on both high and low speed compression circuits. This suggested a larger air spring and heavier damping compared to the 34. The Pike was easy to ride but the Grip X Fox 34 took composure a little further. Playful and eager to get airborne, the Scor was a little less nervous on the front end. It resisted diving deeper into its travel on the steeper trails yet seemed to erase the trail chatter a little more. I have not performed back-to-back testing to confirm these findings but the feeling was there. These observations were perhaps accentuated because the Pike weighs 1,880 grams, making it 200 grams heavier.

Deniz merdano Fox 34 Grip X 12

Kabolt axle and a 200mm rotor, cause BC.

On June 8th, I took the Fox 34-suspended Scor 2030 to The Back Forty - a WORCA-hosted Whistler XC Marathon race consisting of 1,600m (4,500ft) of vomit-inducing, will-breaking action against humans and time. It is a race where you want to choose a bike that plays to your weakness. Mine being: racing. Especially while under pressure in the 32°C heat for 3+ hours. With an average heart rate of 160, I drank about 8 liters of water without having to pee once. It was a great race with steep climbs and steep descents, and I was happy to be aboard a zippy 140/120 trail bike. There were folks on big enduro bikes and folks on even more pinner XC race machines than mine. Whatever you ran, the Whistler downhills like Pura Vida and Billy's Epic required forks that worked well for extended periods of descending while breathing through a straw. I was happy with how the Fox 34 performed and how my hands stayed on the handlebars when I needed them the most.

Deniz merdano Fox 34 Grip X 2

There is less of a generation gap here between the 34 and the 36, the latter coming in just shy of 2,000 grams.

"If the riding is big, the fork should be, too" is the general rule of thumb people abide by, but the "little" Fox 34 surprised me in all the right ways when It comes to composure.

The Fox 34 hasn't felt flexy or insufficient in the situations I've put it through. I am 160 pounds of flesh who pretends to ride hard but smooth. I never asked for burlier stanchions on the front of the Scor. If the Fox 36 came in 140mm travel, it would be interesting to see if it made any noticeable difference but the 34 was more than adequate for the job. Bumping the rear travel to 130 on the Scor with a longer stroke shock and slapping a 150mm Fox 36 would be an experiment I could get behind. While I still believe the Fox 36 is underrated and probably the appropriate fork for the majority of the riders in the world, the little 34 is an exceptional performer in every way and serves the category well.

Deniz merdano Fox 34 Grip X 12

You can mount a fender on this fork but there are no air bleed valves to be found. Most likely for the weight savings.

Deniz merdano Fox 34 Grip X 16

The Single LSR dial makes tuning this fork so much easier than the Grip 2 and X2 versions.

It seems like the Grip X damper and the other minor improvements to the chassis components of the 2025 Fox fork are not just for marketing chatter. There are also talks about upgraded bushings in the forks that provide lower friction and less play. All sound like excellent and noteworthy improvements to me. I will have to open the 34 up to inspect the damper and the bushings in the lowers soon.

Deniz merdano Fox 34 Grip X

Three excellent forks to cover a range of travel from 130 to 180mm with new Grip X and Grip X2 dampers to suit all applications.

It seems like Fox's latest improvements transformed a fork that was "too weak to be a trail fork and too heavy to be an XC fork", into a decent option for both of those riding disciplines. I took the 34 out of its element on a few occasions and it had my back the entire time. Supportive and supple, it took the already excellent Scor 2030 to another level. I would love to find the opportunity to do some back to backs with a RockShox Pike on a short section of trail to see if the gap is closed with the new Charger 3.1 damper. In the meantime, for me and probably you, the Fox 34 serves the 130/140mm category very well.

Fox 34

Deniz Merdano



Playful, lively riding style

Photographer and Story Teller

Lenticular Aesthetician

Related Stories

Trending on NSMB


+4 Pete Roggeman Chad K Luix Niels van Kampenhout

Everytime I see a minion dhf I find my heart warming. It just soothes the soul to see those reliable knobs in photos of the newest shit. Great review btw, stoked to drop some weight on my spire by -WAITAMINUTE!!! Is that a 34??????

36 and DHF for life, and love.


+2 Abies Luix

Did you read my recent article on the DHF? I love it on the Scor, less so on the Rallon.. Maxxis DHF Resurrection


+3 Chad K werewolflotion Tehllama42

The thing about the DHF is that the much superior DHR was always there, overshadowed, less-imitated, but always ready to offer that sweet, sweet braking traction for those who want it.


+1 werewolflotion

DHR is the King!



I'm just thrilled I'm not a lone resident of a potato farm for thinking that the DHR2 is THE tire, and that it definitely belongs on the front of bicycles that get ridden hard.
I'm a touch sad that semislick tires have gotten scarce, because it's such an unreasonably good combination for people that do most of their deceleration in a straight line, I haven't found any combination that works as well for the decomposed granite loose-over-hard fiesta that is the desert southwest.


+1 Deniz Merdano

Interesting piece... I've been eyeing the 2030, but I'd be transferring parts to it, including a 140mm Grip2 36. Had kind of wondered if it was too much fork, but your mooted 150/130 experiment suggests not


+2 Cory Booker hongeorge

I can't speak to the Scor specifically, but I can speak to running a 140mm Fox 36 on a 140/120 bike (Pivot 429 trail). 

I'm 195 lbs and have always found the Fox 34 a tad bit too flexy at 140mm. I like the added stiffness of the 140mm 36 on the front as it doesn't feel like it's trying to tuck quite as much under braking. There is also a notable improvement in how much the fork chassis seems to want to twist under rough trails.


+3 Jotegir Chad K Andy Eunson

I'd completely concur with the feeling that a 34 is a bit too flexy for heavier riders at 140mm. However, I cannot say enough good things about the 34 in its 120mm configuration.  

I will say that I am becoming more of a fan of thinking about the total flex of the wheel/fork combo combined as a system instead of just thinking about fork stiffness in isolation. Like if I was thinking about running a super stiff wheel, I might want to add some compliance via fork flex. Or if i'm running a stiff fork, running a more compliant wheel. 

I think where people get into trouble on both sides is when they do things like pair a stiff burly fork with a stiff wheel or flexy fork and flexy wheel. Too far down either direction and you get a front end that feels "pingy" or like mushy mashed potatoes. 

I feel that there are just some loads generated on a bike that need to be addressed via component compliance instead of suspension because suspension cannot react quick enough. Prime example is my beloved transition spur, which has spaghetti noodles for a rear triangle, and a more compliant 34 up front, but stiff DT Swiss XRC 1200 wheels, leading to a pretty awesome ride feel on trail that is just "better" than the previous 120mm bikes I've ran.


+1 Chad K

I'll agree wholeheartedly but add in the rest of the bike, haha! I found a 140mm 34 just fine on the previous gen optic, paired with a stiff carbon wheel, but the exact same setup frame swapped to an instinct wasn't enough and I had to swap in my 36 to get similar whole-frame stiffness results.


+3 Chad K Jotegir hongeorge

I think a 140 36 would be right st home on that bike. Also having the option to go bigger later is great. 150/130 this bike would be super fun with a slight compromise on the climbs compared to stock specs



The sub-140mm 36 is underrated.  Don't you wanna charge hard on your little bike? Relive the days of the 36 831 on your 29er cross country bike? 

36 users are two used air springs and some custom finagling away from a 120-130mm 36. Then you have the option of running 120-170mm on a single fork. Versatility, wow!


+1 Jotegir

Single most important fork in the business. It really is super versatile. And now can be found cheap in the used market because everyone wants a 38!!



Damn, I hoped you'd say it was a dumb idea, now i think i need to go buy the frame ....


+1 ohio

I’ve been swapping between Fox34 Grip2 and GripX dampers on a 120mm airspring. Going to GripX you need 10 psi more for the same sag and the spring curve is far more linear feeling. The Grip2 provided far more progression and ramp (2 volume spacers). GripX gobbles larger bumps more readily but feels a little less supported mid stroke (3 volume spacers). I’ve gone up in tokens with GripX to get a little more progression. Just swapping the damper alone there is a massive difference in the overall progression in the fork, feels a little more like a Rockshox Sid 35 but smoother.



Wicked information.. thank you.

I feel like I prefer linear feeling forks that ramp up at the end.

The grip 2 on my 38 feels phenomenal. But ive always choosen air pressure over damping, the most important part of a fork is rebound for me. Which the grip x shines at! Feels more intuitive than the grip 2 and somewhat grip 1



"If the riding is big, the fork should be too" is the general rule of thumb people abide by, but the "little" FOX 34 surprised me in all the right ways when It comes to composure.

I've often wondered if/ how over the years  new tech/ materials/ engineering has made a smaller fork ride bigger ??



I’d love to get a detailed comparison of this with the Manitou Mattoc, which seems to be top of the class in this segment according to many.



My Mattoc Pro at 140 mm is just outstanding.  At 6’3” I tend to find the flex in any lightish frame or fork, incl the 34, but Manitou really has figured out stiffness:weight optimization & Fox is playing catchup now that they’re moving to reverse arch.


Please log in to leave a comment.