Fox 38 Harshness?

Gyre

Well-known member
Jan 25, 2021
629
420
Pasadena, CA
Back in the 90's and early 2000's I used to mostly run Fox forks and didn't particularly care for Rockshox. One day I bought an all-singing all-dancing 120mm fork with Fox's best damper at the time and no matter what I tried, the ride was harsh and travel I was getting out of the fork was ridiculously poor. I switched to Rockshox after that and have run most of their line at some time or another (SID / Pike / Lyrik / Zeb). The most recent ones were a Lyrik with a DSD Runt and a Zeb with a Vorsprung Secus, both of which have been the plushest rides I've experienced so far.

When I looked into the Orbea Wild and saw that it had a Fox 38, I thought that with all the good reviews maybe it's time to give Fox another chance so I didn't hesitate about it at all. After a couple months of ownership though, I have to say last night was kind of a "breaking point". I was descending maybe 3500' of singletrack with a mix of loose and embedded rocks, and the 38 was just beating up my hands something fierce.

I'm going to have to get very methodical about trying different combinations of settings/air pressure/tokens, and since rumor has it that Fox forks are shipping with grease filling up the negative air chamber, I'll have to investigate that. I have to say though, I've never had a Rockshox fork act this rough out of the box before.

For those of you having recent experience with both brands, do you experience anything similar to this? Is Fox perhaps just very sensitive to changes or have a narrower "sweet spot" compared to Rockshox?
 
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Cb750stu

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Nov 6, 2020
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Fox are renowned for being harsh , I've never had anything but fox suspension tbh ?

I've never thought they were harsh , I have a 2021 Orbea Wild FS H10 with the 38 performance and I really like it tbh , I had the 36 factory grip 2 on my last bike and was never really happy with it always playing with the settings ,
The first thing I did when I got the Orbea was to strip the forks clean out the overkill grease , fit a Luftkappe ( great upgrade) and SKF green seals which make a big difference imo they have a decent inner cavity for packing SRAM butter into ?

I like the basic damper in the performance fork pretty much set it and leave it , it only took a few rides to get it how I like with the rebound as you can't really adjust the comp much I run compression in-between medium and full open , no volume spacers due to the Luftkappe install ?
You can go down the route of burnishing the bushings with special tools which reduces stiction apparently , a coil conversion will help , you can really go to town on the forks but it's expensive , I'm happy with my fork set up it does what I want with no faffing about with settings etc ?
Like you said you can play around with volume spacers , reduce air pressure etc etc
I don't know anything about the other suspension companies but I'm sure they too have issues ,

Regards
 

Rob Rides EMTB

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Definitely more harsh in my experience compared to Zeb. But that harshness also equals more feel of the trail too.

I wouldn’t say it’s too harsh, but definitely a lot of feeling is transferred to the rider. Vs the Zeb, nice and soft initial stroke in comparison.

I need to play around with rebound a bit more. But I still think it’s just going to feel not quite as supple as the Zeb after all the adjustments

I also have run LSC and HSC wide open to experiment. In my experience of both the forks the Fox adjustments have a wider control. It’s a noticeable difference when making adjustments, versus more subtle with RockShox.

I think The Zeb is so good for a quick set and forget with very good performance out the box and lesser range of adjustability from closed to open on the compression / rebound

Fox the opposite.

Talking shocks for a moment, the X2 is also crazy sensitive to changes. Rebound damping control is superb, definite big differences between 1-2 clicks.Very impressive.
 

fenwick458

Active member
Oct 6, 2020
295
187
Cumbria
could the problem not be down to the weight? My last bike was 14kg, 160mm fox 36 performance fork and DPX2 with 150mm rear travel.
I never did a whole lot of fiddling with that setup but it felt good and I was really happy with it.
then this year I have an Orbea Wild FS which weighs 24kg, 160mm 38 performance fork and DPS shock with 160mm travel. after a month, It was confirmed, the thing is just rough, fork is harsh, back end is harsh. exactly like you said, I would get to the bottom of a red run at the local trail centre and hands were killing
So It's getting a smashpot conversion and a coil shock
 

Gyre

Well-known member
Jan 25, 2021
629
420
Pasadena, CA
could the problem not be down to the weight? My last bike was 14kg, 160mm fox 36 performance fork and DPX2 with 150mm rear travel.
I never did a whole lot of fiddling with that setup but it felt good and I was really happy with it.
then this year I have an Orbea Wild FS which weighs 24kg, 160mm 38 performance fork and DPS shock with 160mm travel. after a month, It was confirmed, the thing is just rough, fork is harsh, back end is harsh. exactly like you said, I would get to the bottom of a red run at the local trail centre and hands were killing
So It's getting a smashpot conversion and a coil shock
Higher unsprung weight (tires/wheels/swingarm/hub/cassette) would definitely lead to a rougher ride, but higher sprung weight should theoretically ride better as long as you're not way off the design envelope for damping and spring progression.
 

Gyre

Well-known member
Jan 25, 2021
629
420
Pasadena, CA
Fox are renowned for being harsh , I've never had anything but fox suspension tbh ?

I've never thought they were harsh , I have a 2021 Orbea Wild FS H10 with the 38 performance and I really like it tbh , I had the 36 factory grip 2 on my last bike and was never really happy with it always playing with the settings ,
The first thing I did when I got the Orbea was to strip the forks clean out the overkill grease , fit a Luftkappe ( great upgrade) and SKF green seals which make a big difference imo they have a decent inner cavity for packing SRAM butter into ?
Okay, so in your case you definitely started out with a healthy negative air chamber. I can get a Secus so I have a really large negative chamber on tap so that's an option. I'll need to decide if I want to go that route now or wait for DSD to come out with a Runt for the Fox 38 (they say early to mid summer).
 

Gyre

Well-known member
Jan 25, 2021
629
420
Pasadena, CA
I also have run LSC and HSC wide open to experiment. In my experience of both the forks the Fox adjustments have a wider control. It’s a noticeable difference when making adjustments, versus more subtle with RockShox.
Yeah, I may be incorrectly expecting Rockshox-like subtlety on the adjusters.

I think I'll need to treat yesterday's run as a good testing ground since it's quite long and start methodically trying different settings and logging them. Probably should open up the air spring and check that negative chamber since the effort will be for nothing if it's packed up in there.

Talking shocks for a moment, the X2 is also crazy sensitive to changes. Rebound damping control is superb, definite big differences between 1-2 clicks.Very impressive.
For what it's worth, on my Ripmo's X2 I just used the "Traction Tune" settings recommended by Ibis and it's been a really good baseline so far. I may find the need to tweak it more when I start taking it to bike parks, but it was a super painless setup.
 
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leftside

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2020
487
321
Vancouver
Went from a Fox 36 Performance Elite to a Fox 38 Performance yesterday. Rode it fully open for first ride. Thought it was very plush. Added some more air today and added 4 clicks on the rebound. I much prefer the Performance over the Performance Elite as it has less settings and is perfect for me :)
 

Forever Wild

Active member
May 21, 2020
251
444
Arizona
Fox are renowned for being harsh , I've never had anything but fox suspension tbh ?

I've never thought they were harsh , I have a 2021 Orbea Wild FS H10 with the 38 performance and I really like it tbh , I had the 36 factory grip 2 on my last bike and was never really happy with it always playing with the settings ,
The first thing I did when I got the Orbea was to strip the forks clean out the overkill grease , fit a Luftkappe ( great upgrade) and SKF green seals which make a big difference imo they have a decent inner cavity for packing SRAM butter into ?

I like the basic damper in the performance fork pretty much set it and leave it , it only took a few rides to get it how I like with the rebound as you can't really adjust the comp much I run compression in-between medium and full open , no volume spacers due to the Luftkappe install ?
You can go down the route of burnishing the bushings with special tools which reduces stiction apparently , a coil conversion will help , you can really go to town on the forks but it's expensive , I'm happy with my fork set up it does what I want with no faffing about with settings etc ?
Like you said you can play around with volume spacers , reduce air pressure etc etc
I don't know anything about the other suspension companies but I'm sure they too have issues ,

Regards
I love my Zeb Ultimate. More supple and more midrange support than my Fox 36 Factory. I don’t have a Fox 38 to compare it with.
 

Careyj1

Member
May 6, 2020
86
77
USA
The past year I have been riding a Fox 36 factory on the 19 Sworks Turbo Levo. I like the handling. For the past two weeks I have been riding a Fox 38 factory, on a 22 S works. I haven't been able to get the setting to give me the same or similar feel on as the Fox 36. Today, I went from 3 tokens down to 2. My ride weight is 195. I am running 99psi and I used the fox recommend high and low speed compression and rebound.

Removing a token helped a little bit however still doesn't feel like the 36. It feels harsh over some bumps. It feels great on jumps. I listen to a youtube from a Fox suspension expert, and he said sometimes it can be the bars or grips or both. I am racing this weekend and I am just trying to get a setting a feel that I can race. I spend 3.5 hours and 50 miles yesterday, testing pressures and setting.

Hopefully more people can share settings that are working.

Also, when I removed the token today, I did see a lot of grease (golden color) in the bottom of tube that the token came out of. Is this normal?
 

leftside

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2020
487
321
Vancouver
The past year I have been riding a Fox 36 factory on the 19 Sworks Turbo Levo. I like the handling. For the past two weeks I have been riding a Fox 38 factory, on a 22 S works. I haven't been able to get the setting to give me the same or similar feel on as the Fox 36. Today, I went from 3 tokens down to 2. My ride weight is 195. I am running 99psi and I used the fox recommend high and low speed compression and rebound.

Removing a token helped a little bit however still doesn't feel like the 36. It feels harsh over some bumps. It feels great on jumps. I listen to a youtube from a Fox suspension expert, and he said sometimes it can be the bars or grips or both. I am racing this weekend and I am just trying to get a setting a feel that I can race. I spend 3.5 hours and 50 miles yesterday, testing pressures and setting.

Hopefully more people can share settings that are working.

Also, when I removed the token today, I did see a lot of grease (golden color) in the bottom of tube that the token came out of. Is this normal?
I'm not sure what's going on here. I thought the 38 felt very smooth compared to the 36. I rode one of our rockier trails called Neds Atomic Dustbin here on the North Shore yesterday, and the 38 absorbed everything that was thrown at it. I even ended up getting a KOM on Strava (ebike category) and my time was down from 7 mins to 6 mins. This was straight out the box with same air pressure as my 36, and rebound and compression totally open. 80 psi, ride weight around 180. I also ride with Cushcore and that helps a lot with the suspension.
 

Gyre

Well-known member
Jan 25, 2021
629
420
Pasadena, CA

Careyj1

Member
May 6, 2020
86
77
USA
I'm not sure what's going on here. I thought the 38 felt very smooth compared to the 36. I rode one of our rockier trails called Neds Atomic Dustbin here on the North Shore yesterday, and the 38 absorbed everything that was thrown at it. I even ended up getting a KOM on Strava (ebike category) and my time was down from 7 mins to 6 mins. This was straight out the box with same air pressure as my 36, and rebound and compression totally open. 80 psi, ride weight around 180. I also ride with Cushcore and that helps a lot with the suspension.
Interesting, I put 180 rider weight in Specialized suspension calculator and gives a fork pressure of 95 psi. Will try less psi and see if that makes it better. The Specialized suspension calculator has the fork pressure of 82 psi for someone that weights 150 lbs.
 

leftside

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2020
487
321
Vancouver
Interesting, I put 180 rider weight in Specialized suspension calculator and gives a fork pressure of 95 psi. Will try less psi and see if that makes it better. The Specialized suspension calculator has the fork pressure of 82 psi for someone that weights 150 lbs.
How much gap do you have left remaining at the end of the ride between the rubber ring and the top of the fork? I only had less than 10mm, so I might try a little more psi next ride :)

I've only done one ride of 20k with the 38 so far, but was very impressed on that first ride. Even though I don't think it's too far off, it will probably take me a couple more rides to dial it in properly, but as it's just the "basic" Performance OEM there aren't too many settings to play with.
 

Mteam

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Aug 3, 2020
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Ive always found fox forks harsher over small bumps compared to the equivalent rockshox fork, but never so harsh as to be uncomfortable.

When things start to get really rough and fast, the fox forks start to feel better than the rockshox, like they are more controlled/controllable.

Got 170mm fox 36 RC2 performance elite on my capra, and 160mm fox 36 ebike grip 2 factory on my wild FS. If I have a choice when buying a bike I'd choose fox suspension for that better feeling when its proper rough/fast, but I'd be ok having rockshox stuff too, but fox would be my first choice.

I havent tried the new fox 38, or rockshox zeb though.
 

Careyj1

Member
May 6, 2020
86
77
USA
I took out one token and running the fork pressure at 99 psi. Feels better. I wonder if the Specialized suspension calculator pressures are too high for most people. I am racing this weekend so it will be interesting to test the suspension during a race. Both XC and enduro.
 

EebStrider

Well-known member
Apr 18, 2020
712
763
Surrey, UK
I’ve got nothing but praise for my Fox 38 forks. When I got my bike, my LBS set them up perfectly, and compared to the crap Rockshox on my Cube, these forks are amazing, soaking everything up that I throw at them. So much so, that I wouldn’t consider a bike with Rockshox in the future.
 

Gyre

Well-known member
Jan 25, 2021
629
420
Pasadena, CA
I’ve got nothing but praise for my Fox 38 forks. When I got my bike, my LBS set them up perfectly, and compared to the crap Rockshox on my Cube, these forks are amazing, soaking everything up that I throw at them. So much so, that I wouldn’t consider a bike with Rockshox in the future.
Huh. What are you running for tokens/air pressure?
 

pampmyride

Active member
Dec 28, 2020
124
161
Sussex Massif
I posted before about the harsh Fox 38s I have on the Haibike. I striped the air side & clean up a large lump of grease. Lubed seals etc & the difference was huge. The first third of travel is plush & heaps better, but then it firms up rapidly and the bumps are felt/transferred. I increased the air pressure after the clean to help with pedal strikes & added one Formula Neopos spacer. It is now "acceptable" (and faster!) but not as sweet as the rockshox lyric on my P bike... The OEM Fit4 version I have has a lock out & some compression damping adjustment, but no high speed controls. To upgrade the damper £400!
 

The Hodge

Mystic Meg
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Sep 9, 2020
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Can't say I've experienced this harshness..I've had 36's, 34's..on previous mtbs ..and the 38's are a real improvement on both ..
Gotta say though I do like a stiff fork..( but then who doesn't ??)
 

Rob Rides EMTB

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Jan 14, 2018
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So, after 20 miles and 4500ft climbing / descending yesterday my hands are feeling slightly battered from yesterday... Never usually get that.

My Fox 38 was difficult to set up to 20% sag using their air guide. I should have been using around 97 psi, but I was having to under fill and using around 85 psi otherwise I was no where near 20%.

So I did what I probably should have done as soon as I got them (on the new Levo)... Today I let out all the air, inflated, but cycled through the travel several times every 20 or so PSI whilst inflating the chamber.

Seems to have had an effect.. My sag point is much closer to the 97psi now for 20%.

And with the standard tyre kicker style fork plushness test without actually riding the bike.... 'oooh that feels plush', whilst compressing the fork from a static position in my studio... they feel a fair bit different....

Will go for a ride in a bit and see how it feels..
 

RickBullotta

E*POWAH Elite World Champion
Jun 5, 2019
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So, after 20 miles and 4500ft climbing / descending yesterday my hands are feeling slightly battered from yesterday... Never usually get that.

My Fox 38 was difficult to set up to 20% sag using their air guide. I should have been using around 97 psi, but I was having to under fill and using around 85 psi otherwise I was no where near 20%.

So I did what I probably should have done as soon as I got them (on the new Levo)... Today I let out all the air, inflated, but cycled through the travel several times every 20 or so PSI whilst inflating the chamber.

Seems to have had an effect.. My sag point is much closer to the 97psi now for 20%.

And with the standard tyre kicker style fork plushness test without actually riding the bike.... 'oooh that feels plush', whilst compressing the fork from a static position in my studio... they feel a fair bit different....

Will go for a ride in a bit and see how it feels..

...and open up those compression clickers (LSC and HSC) all the way. You may also have one of the forks with the infamous grease glob syndrome.
 

Mteam

E*POWAH Elite
Aug 3, 2020
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...and open up those compression clickers (LSC and HSC) all the way. You may also have one of the forks with the infamous grease glob syndrome.
I find my fox 36 dive too much under braking if I dont have a few clicks of low speed compression damping wound on.
 

Careyj1

Member
May 6, 2020
86
77
USA
So, after 20 miles and 4500ft climbing / descending yesterday my hands are feeling slightly battered from yesterday... Never usually get that.

My Fox 38 was difficult to set up to 20% sag using their air guide. I should have been using around 97 psi, but I was having to under fill and using around 85 psi otherwise I was no where near 20%.

So I did what I probably should have done as soon as I got them (on the new Levo)... Today I let out all the air, inflated, but cycled through the travel several times every 20 or so PSI whilst inflating the chamber.

Seems to have had an effect.. My sag point is much closer to the 97psi now for 20%.

And with the standard tyre kicker style fork plushness test without actually riding the bike.... 'oooh that feels plush', whilst compressing the fork from a static position in my studio... they feel a fair bit different....

Will go for a ride in a bit and see how it feels..
I did the same for the fork and shock, let all the air out then inflated doing the equalize all the way through. I also removed one token and it is feeling pretty good. Also I wonder if the grips and bars are part of the issue. Are the bars the same, they look different from the 19 we have.
 

Cb750stu

Well-known member
Subscriber
Nov 6, 2020
499
464
United Kingdom
I sit on the front wheel facing the bars and slowly let the air out pushing up on the bars helps the forks equalise and sucking down , I'm running zero tokens now after fitting the Luftkappe ?
When I stripped the forks there was a lot of grease as per usual from fox ,

Also you have to take out the airshaft from the sleeve so have to undo the footstud from the shaft so a 10mm shaft clamp is needed to clamp and undo the nut ?

When you put it back together it helps using the bullet tool to get it to pass through the hole on the bottom to avoid damaging the internal orings seals it's a nightmare lining it up safely ?
 

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