Do you have a 2015 or newer Fox 36 or a Marzocchi Bomber Z1 and want better performance and more adjustability? Well don’t worry, you don’t have to drop $1,000 or more on a shiny new fork to get that. In this blog we’re going to check out the new GRIP2 damper and 3 of the other most common Fox dampers to show that you can cheaply and easily upgrade your current fork’s damper for better performance and save some money by doing so.
Fox 36 Damper Tech: GRIP2 Damper Upgrade Kit
Watch this video or read blog post below:
Fox has offered several different dampers in their 36 series of forks in the past several years, but in model year 2019, the GRIP2 damper was released and is without a doubt their best feeling damper that they’ve made to date. Let's take a look at how this works:
The Fox GRIP2 damper is super sensitive and super adjustable. It's a semi-sealed design and don’t use an expanding bladder like most dampers, which means oil flows freely in and out of the inside of the damper while under compression. This means the seal tolerances don’t have to be so super-tight resulting in less stiction and a more consistent and fluid movement. Also, without an expanding bladder it requires less maintenance. Fox even designed a new PTFE oil to make sure the GRIP2 is always nice and slick. This damper really shines on long, rough downhills.
Now lets take a look at some of the previous dampers for the Fox 36:
The Fox FIT RC2 was the top tier damper through model year 2017 but was retired with the release of the GRIP2. You could adjust it's low-speed rebound, low speed compression and high speed compression. The RC2 had a reputation for riding pretty harsh and stiff. It was slightly over-damped and really required the rider to push things to the limit to really make the most out of their fork.
The Fox FIT4 is a damper that keeps things simple, and really shines on long trail rides. While it can handle some abuse, long rough rides aren’t necessarily the FIT4's damper strong point. It's construction is pretty much the same as the RC2 damper with an expanding bladder, but the adjustments are more simple. The FIT4 has low speed rebound on the bottom and a 3-position switch on top to firm things up with an adjustable open mode. If the damper is too squishy while pedaling, you can lock it out for a more stiff and supportive ride.
In model-year 2020, the FIT4 damper was reinvigorated with a slightly more free-flowing design to reduce stiction even more and offer a softer and more plush ride feeling. The adjustments stayed the same, however the new FIT4 definitely rides a bit more like how a Fox 36 should feel.
The GRIP damper is mainly found in the OEM Fox 36 and in the Marzocchi Bomber Z1. The GRIP2 is the big brother of the GRIP damper since their design is very similar and they ride similar too. They're both semi-sealed and use that slippery PTFE oil. The GRIP damper does lack tons of adjustments and is the most simple of the lineup with only low-speed compression and low-speed rebound, but that's what makes this damper so attractive to some riders. It feels excellent and is super easy to setup, making it the perfect contender for the "set it and forget it" crowd.
If you’ve got any Fox 36 fork from model year 2015 or newer without the GRIP2 damper, or a 2019 or newer Marzocchi Bomber Z1, then you can easily upgrade your fork with the new GRIP2 damper.
Marzocchi is owned by Fox, so some of their parts are interchangeable; one of which is the damper. The Bomber Z1 has a stiffer chassis than the Fox 36, so you’ll effectively have a Fox 36 but with a stiffer, burlier build. GRIP2 dampers can be used from 130mm-180mm of travel.
If you click this link right here, you’ll go to our Ultimate Fox Fork Service video which shows a GRIP2 damper installation as well.
Installation is super easy since this is just a drop-in cartridge. GRIP2 dampers use Fox’s newest PTFE infused 5wt Suspension Oil, which is mandatory to use with GRIP style dampers. You technically don’t have to remove the lowers, but we would highly recommend it since this damper uses Fox’s new PTFE oil, and we’d recommend that you clean all of the old oil out of the lower leg to avoid cross contamination. Also, if you’re wanting better performance from a more sensitive damper, it just makes sense to service your lowers with new oil and fresh grease packed in the dust wipers (or new dust wipers if yours are getting tired). This way you didn’t just spend a couple hundred bucks on a new damper just to be held back by sticky dust wipers.
You don’t technically NEED any proprietary tools, but we would 100% recommend getting at least a top cap socket to remove your old damper and install your new damper. FIT4 dampers use a 28mm, RC2 dampers use a 32mm, and GRIP dampers use a 26mm topcap socket to remove them. The GRIP2 damper will use a 28mm topcap socket for install.
Also, while you’ve got your lowers dropped, now would also be a good time to change your air shaft to make your fork have longer travel if you’d like and even add some extra tokens into the air spring for more bottom-out resistance.
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