19 September, 2016
As soon as Fox released the step cast, I knew that would be a game changer since it was still an affordable fork and it stomped the competition in weight savings. Initial thoughts that there might be some flex or not enough clearance for a bigger tire, which I like to run. Well it turns out that neither of these are true and it became one of the best upgrades I put on my bike.
The new 2017 Fox Step Cast fork is a fully updated fork design along with the lightest fork on the market. Step-Cast presents as stepped cutouts in the lowers of the fork that open up extra clearance for rotors and spokes while simultaneously allowing the fork's stance to narrow by 10mm. Less material equals less weight, which is also why Fox hollow the bottom extensions as far as they could in the construction. Additionally FOX employed its 15 x 100mm Kabolt thru-axle for increased stiffness and slight weight savings over a comparable quick-release axle. Adding all this stuff up the 29" version fork comes in under 3lbs with a full length steer tube!
The Float Air spring remains unchanged, which is a good thing if you're seeking smooth travel that is fully adjustable. The Step Cast uses air volume spacers and comes pre-installed with 2 that provides a plush, linear feel in the stock configuration. Adding more spacers creates a stiffer fork free with the same amount of air which prevents the fork from bottoming out on bigger drops and larger trail obstacles. You can add up to for spacers into the fork, which Fox provide you in the box.
The 3-position Fit4 system is very similar to the old CTD system. The biggest change was changing the names from Climb, Trail, and Descend to a graduating scale covering Firm, Medium, and Open. The firm position was a total lock out which was a nice change coming from the Rockshox Pike fork, which doesn't totally lock out on firm. The Fit4 system is very easy to adjust between the 3 positions and then depending on your riding style you can dial in how the fork feels in the open mode. Rebound stays in the same place at the bottom of the fork and can easily adjust by turning the dial much like other forks on the market. The best thing about the fork is the total adjustability with the Fit4, tokens and once that's figured out you can dial in your air pressure.
My biggest concern about the fork was the tire clearance. Since Fox narrowed the bridge of the fork and with the spec saying it can clear a 2.3inch tire, I was a bit nervous with clearing my 29x2.35 on at 28mm outer rim width. Thankfully there is plenty of clearance with my set up and can handle a bit more then spec'd.
After riding this fork since the middle of June (about 4 months), the Step Cast has only been a great experience. I initially saved about 1.5 pounds off my bike, which is pretty huge for just swapping one item. The Fox Step Cast fork is just as stiff as other suspension forks on the market, I couldn't tell the difference while riding. The big thing I noticed was how responsive the fork was while riding. Compared to other fork I rode, even with all the adjustments, the Step Cast handled the trail with a more positive feel even when hitting roots and bigger obstacles. Lastly, I went with the 44mm fork rake, which comes with most of the Step Cast forks, but they do offer a 51mm in the Black 3 Pos-Adj. The 44mm fork shortens up the wheelbase since it's steeper angle, which makes cornering more nimble while creating a faster overall feel.
If your looking to upgrade your XC bike, I would highly recommend the Step Cast fork. It is within the same price range of other competitive forks but is lighter and in my opinion has a better riding quality/feel. Other comparable forks in weight is the Rock Shox Sid World cup and RS-1. Check out prices and more pictures here!