There’s always something new up the sleeves of Fox Racing Shox when the model year flips over. It seems that we’ve been fed a steady stream of new goodies from 15QR to FIT damper to Terralogic and now Kashima. But when it comes down to where it actually counts, do all these doodads really matter? Do they improve ride quality or just fill out checkboxes on a spec sheet? It’s with that focus that I began testing the new 2012 Fox 32 Float 29 100mm FIT RLC fork with Kashima Coat. It’s got all the checkboxes marked off, that’s for sure, but lets see how it rides.
2012 Fox 32 Float 29 Features
- Factory Series includes stanchions with Kashima Coat
- Air spring
- Adjustable rebound, compression and lockout threshold
- 15QR axle for stiffness (standard 9mm available)
- FIT Damper to keep air/oil separatedFor 2012
- Tapered aluminum steerer (standard 1 1/8 available)
- 100mm travel
- Weight: 3.92 lbs (approx.)
- MSRP: $810
Fox 32 Float 29 100mm Fork Review
Over the past few years, the amount of travel I’ve become accustomed to has decreased significantly from 150mm down to 100mm. During that evolution, I’ve become a 29er aficionado and honestly can’t see myself riding anything other than 29ers at this point. The benefits of big wheels far outweigh some of the misperceptions that are out there or poor designs of yesteryear. With that reduction in travel and increase in wheel size, I’ve been psyched to test out the latest technology in 29er suspension forks.
With the riding season lingering on this Fall, I’ve been able to get out on borrowed time — with just enough miles to comfortably deliver the verdict on the 2012 Fox 32 Float 29 fork. Mated to my Niner Jet 9, the Factory Float 29 has been the perfect match and has provided a noticeable improvement in smoothness over the standard 32 Float 29 and the RockShox SID XX that it has replaced (and both of those are great forks).
When reading up on the hype, you might ask yourself: “Does Kashima Coat really make a difference?” Before I answer that, keep in mind that each year’s fork is always the result of a myriad of incremental improvements, but with the best side-by-side comparison I could perform, I would without question say that yes, Kashima makes a difference. The combination of improved valving and performance along with Kashima Coat makes this fork feel as if it was blessed by the “Smoothness Fairy.” If you still don’t get it, let me use fewer words: Kashima Coat will blow you away.
As with any top-of-the-line fork these days, the options read more like the a-la-carte menu. The Float 29 Factory series 100mm fork is available in either standard and 15 QR axles, standard or tapered steerer and either FIT or Terralogic styles. Luckily, every one of those options comes with buttery-smooth Kashima Coat.
After a quick install, I was anxious to head out on the trails. Luckily, the riding season has continued well into December and I’ve been able to keep riding. While I’ve finally been able to get enough trail time on the fork before posting my thoughts, honestly, this fork had me at first squish. There’s something special about this fork and all it took was a few hundred feet of singletrack to prove that point.
The ride quality of the Float 29 can best be described as smooth and damp without feeling dead. The valving combined with Kashima makes for the smoothest-riding 100mm fork I’ve ever ridden. Honestly, this fork exhibits the best small bump absorption I’ve felt in a long time and even comparable to forks with longer travel. It seems to me that the Kashima Coat can be better felt in shorter travel forks. I believe the added smoothness throughout a shorter-travel design just makes every millimeter count that much more.
Not only does this fork absorb small bumps like a champ, it ramps up really well to absorb bigger hits. Yes, it’s only 100mm, so it’s not bottomless or plush like a 160mm Fox 36, but it is very plush in its XC-centric sphere. I’d definitely call it best-in-class, without question. At the end of long, hand-numbing descents, fatigue was considerably less than with the other 100mm forks tested.
The 15QR chassis is now a well-adopted standard that works great for 29ers. With that extra axle-to-crown height, it only makes sense to step up to a thru-axle design. You can never have too much lateral stiffness, I say and this fork is invisible in that regard… never once did I feel like it was getting away from me or mis-tracking when pushed. It’s stiff as you’d expect, which inspires confidence and allows you to focus on the ride.
Each rider will have to fine-tune the myriad of settings to their weight and riding style. For my 175 lb. frame, I found that setting the air spring at 75psi gave it the right balance between efficiency and shock absorption. I also preferred the rebound setting at 6 clicks in from the slowest setting. I did play around with the lockout threshold a little, but never felt a real need to use it.
Good Float 29
- Kashima Coat is the real deal
- Feels as if the Smoothness Fairy waved her magic wand
- The right balance of trail dampening with trail feel
- Best-in-class small bump absorption
- Ramps up well on larger hits
- 15QR is perfect for this application
Bad Float 29
- Not the lightest in its class
- Though I love the 15QR, you may need a new rack
Bottom Line: Fox 32 Float 29 100mm Fork
The gold-colored Kashima stanchions will mesmerize you with their golden good looks and amazing smoothness. In a crowd of regular stanchions, you’ll be glad to have Mr Kashima aboard as its performance is astounding. What’s more astounding is just how much it can be felt in a 100mm fork. The Float 29 is a superb choice for a smooth-riding and efficient trail performer for XC efficiency or all-mountain fun.