Geoff Kabush previews new Fox 32 AX gravel suspension fork
Remember the gravel suspension fork that Fox introduced back in 2017? Officially, it was called the 32 Step-Cast Adventure Cross (or 32 AX for short), and with up to 40 mm of travel, it was hyped as the next big thing in gravel riding. But in reality, it proved to be little more than a cut-down version of a cross-country mountain bike suspension fork that was unceremoniously obsoleted with the rise of so-called Boost hub spacing. Although it certainly earned a few devoted followers, its middling performance just wasn’t enough for most people to offset the substantial increase in weight and cost relative to a good rigid carbon fork and cushy high-volume tires.
You probably don’t remember it because it was so forgettable. But with the pending debut of the next-generation model, though, Fox is apparently hoping to change all of that.
Currently flying under the RAD (Racing Application Development) that Fox assigns to all of its prototypes, this new fork looks to be a grand improvement over the old model. Fox has yet to provide any technical details or even an official release date, but plenty of information is still clearly visible thanks to a handful of photos from Fox-sponsored athlete Geoff Kabush.
Instead of an adapted mountain bike chassis, the new fork (which will presumably be dubbed some variant of “AX”) features a dedicated body with a gracefully sloping forged aluminum crown, a much narrower stance, and tapered cast magnesium lower legs — not entirely unlike the old RockShox Ruby, in fact. Up top is what appears to be a press-fit 1 1/8-to-1 1/2″-diameter tapered aluminum steerer tube, while down below is what I see as a tooled 12 mm thru-axle, along with the requisite flat-mount interface for the disc brake caliper (the old AX was post mount). Expect a more gravel-appropriate rake on this new model instead of the old one’s MTB-derived 44 mm figure, too.
This upcoming AX fork features a reverse arch instead of the Ruby’s conventional forward-facing one, though, and based on the visible space around Kabush’s 700×40 mm Maxxis Receptor tires, tire clearance should be a fair bit more generous than the old AX’s modest 40 mm figure. 45 mm would be a safe figure, although 50 mm would be even better.
Very much unlike that old Ruby, the internals on this new AX should be far more in keeping with modern mountain bike technology. A tunable air spring seems like a very safe bet, along with an oil-based damper with some from of manual lockout. As for travel, that’s hard to tell from the images without knowing the diameter of the stanchions. Assuming they’re 32 mm (which would be in keeping with some other Fox products), Kabush’s fork looks to have about 30 mm of movement, although some amount of adjustability is probably to be expected if only to cater to the variety of different off-road drop-bar bikes already out on the market.
In terms of weight, your guess is as good as mine. That said, with the old AX coming in with a claimed weight of 1.36 kg, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this new version straying much, much closer to the 1 kg mark. That’s a lot of weight to lop off for sure, but considering the original model’s mountain bike roots, there’s also a lot of potential for substantial savings, too.
Stay tuned on this one. You’ll know more as soon as we do.
For more information (on the existing AX, that is), visit www.ridefox.com.