Posted on April 27 2018
Out with the old, in with the new:
The Fox RC2 HSC/LSC damper found in the top selection of Fox 36 and 40's over the last 6 seasons get's a major update. It's been a proven performer in the range, the choice for several of the world's fastest riders thanks to its wide range of external tuning. Into 2019, the RC2 steps aside to make way for a new generation of dampers, using technology developed through the various updates of the RC2, and the more recent GRIP damper of the 32 and 34 series.
The new 'GRIP 2' brings a new level of 4-way dampening adjustment, from high and low-speed compression to high and low-speed rebound. This makes for an extremely tuneable fork alongside the dominant adjustments such as air spring pressure and volume.
So, what's it all about, and why?
The 'regular' FIT dampers as we've become so familiar with (for example, Fox RC2, FIT4, CTD, Rockshox Charger 1 and 2 etc) all feature a bladder that expands and contracts during the stroke, assisting oil flow and oil volume changes with heat and expansion. Over the course of time, the bladder in these dampers will weaken, and will eventually either lose its ability to properly expand and contract during and following a compression, or even fail in some cases. (ie, a crack or tear in the rubber bladder). This results in inconsistent oil dampening over time as the bladder loses 'elasticity' and the seals within the FIT damper perish or weaken under pressure.
The name 'FIT', comes from 'Fox Isolated Technology', ie, a damper that is fully isolated from the rest of the fork meaning it can independently be removed for service or replacement. It is a fully 'bled' system when it is installed into a fork either from new or post service.
Why is that important?
Because the 'FIT' Grip2 found in the 2019 range of Fox forks is very different. Whilst there are certain aspects that are derived from it's older sibling RC2, the GRIP2 does not have a bladder at all. In fact, it's not really a fully isolated unit (FIT) like we've come to expect, it's an 'open chamber' system much like that found in various versions of mtb suspension systems over the years, also including many from the motorcycle world. The Grip2 uses an IFP - Internal Floating Piston, in order to regulate is dampening, by controlling damper volume and damper pressure while you ride.
The IFP system is a good thing is due to it's dampening consistency and reliability. It allows the damper to perform much like the RC2 FIT damper, but when the damper is getting 'worked' with either long hard 'shuttle runs' and general heavy use, it can self-regulate its damper pressure by 'spitting' excess fluid from the damper, back into the lowers for re-circulation. It does this via a spring-loaded piston (the IFP) towards the top of the damper that seals fluids from escaping in normal riding conditions. Under heavy riding conditions / heavy use, the piston moves upwards towards the top of the damper as the oil pressure and volume increases. At a point in which the spring-loaded IFP moves up along the inner damper shaft, it meets a 'scalloped' out section of inner shaft (see pic below) that allows the excess oil to flow past. A small bleed hole in the high-pressure outer chamber tube then allows this fluid back into the lower leg 'bath'.
GRIP2 damper pictured:
Then what happens?
The specially designed super low friction lower seal-head of the damper will slowly and consistently 'ingest' fluids from the lower leg 'bath' (Note, forks using a GRIP damper use a specific fluid for the lower leg 'oil bath' in the damper side, and much more volume than the air spring side) and will provide the damper with the appropriate fluids allowing for the ultimately the most consistent ride possible. At the same time, this lower leg bath lube is keeping the right side stanchion and bushings well lubricated.
That's the basis of the GRIP2 damper. Its fine-tuning ranges of externally adjustable HSC, LSC (High/ Low-speed compression), HSR and LSR (High/ Low-speed rebound) will be welcomed by the fine tuners amongst us and will complement the adjustability of many high-end rear shocks, like the Float X2 and DHX2 for example. The GRIP2's HSC and LSC adjustments are also now more independent than the HSC/LSC adjusters found in the older RC2.
The GRIP2 has been tested and proven by the market already, even before it's recent release, sort of... The GRIP '1' that came out in early 2017 in the cheaper level 'Performance' and 'Rhythm' series forks featured the same basis of construction, utilizing an IFP and being able to provide endlessly consistent dampening. The GRIP 1 has been and continues to be a very well received damper with very good results on the trail. The new GRIP2 is effectively a boutique 'high-end' pimped out version of the GRIP1, with shared technology that is proven. It features the endless and independent adjustment that the high-end consumer deserves and quite rightfully demands, and it has performed flawlessly at the highest level and under the harshest conditions by the factory sponsored teams. Thumbs up on this one from us @ Cyclinic.
The GRIP2 will be backward compatible for 2015 onwards 36 for those looking to upgrade an existing chassis, and will likely be available for Fox 40's too, in time. Changing to a GRIP damper from a FIT4 or RC2 will require a new fluid for the right side lower leg to allow for damper 'ingestion'.
Buy the 2019 GRIP2 36 Damper here
^ GRIP 2 Adjuster HSC/LSC - Very clean ^
^ RC2 vs GRIP 2 Damper ^
^ GRIP 2 Damper - 285grams ^
^ RC2 Damper - 240grams ^
^ GRIP 2 REBOUND Adjuster HSR (large) / LSR (small) ^
^ RC2 REBOUND Adjuster ^
^ GRIP 2 Adjusters HSC/LSC ^
^ RC2 Adjusters HSC/LSC ^
Grip 2 (left) vs RC2 Rebound base valves