Ridden and Reviewed
Fox's New Float X Rear Shock
Fox had a relatively quiet launch of a new shock this year, the Fox Float X. This little shock is intended to replace the Fox DPX2, which was found on many high end trail and enduro bikes. The Float X is intended to meet the demands of aggressive trail riders. Fox claims their intent was to combine advanced damping, fade free performance and class leading durability in a light weight package. That's quite the design goal.
The existing DPX2 was a delightful little shock. I think the DPX2 had an excellent air spring, with a user friendly damper. If the Float X is replacing the DPX2, it has big shoes to fill.
The new Float X comes in a wide array of metric sizes, with both trunnion and dual DU bushing configurations. The Float X retains the relatively simple external damper adjustments of compression and rebound adjusters, along with a Firm Mode lever for restricting movement while climbing.
The air spring diameter in the Float X was increased vs. the DPX2, which lowers the air pressure. The newer volume reducer tokens are an array, and don't stack, which allows for finer increments of ramp adjustment to the air spring. I was on the higher end of the volume spacers, but that's partly due to the Sight not being particularly progressive. There should be plenty of volume spacer allowance for get an adequately progressive spring curve to match your bike's leverage curve.
Volume Tokens: 0.7 cubic inch (max. of 0.9 cubic inch)
Air Pressure: 260 psi (max. of 350 psi)
Compression: 4 clicks out (max. of 10 clicks out)
Rebound: 3 clicks out (max. of 12 clicks out)
On the trail I thought the Float X was excellent. It's not going to rival to performance of a coil shock, but for the weight and simple architecture I think the overall performance out of the Float X was better than expected. Once I got the right setup of volume spacers, and the right air pressure, setting the desired compression and rebound was easy with the tool-less external adjusters. The numbers on the knobs make for a handy reference. Without being able to adjust the high speed compression and rebound, I thought the damper tune picked by Fox worked really well. On the rebound side there is a wide range of adjustment. I wound up towards the slow side of the range, but still had ample adjustment range to go slower if needed. The low speed compression adjuster offered a wide range of damping as well. Each click seemed to make a noticeable difference for the rebound and compression adjusters. Although the high speed rebound can't be changed, I found the Float X recovered out of deep compressions quickly, but without ever topping out. Compression wise, the high flow piston being used in the Float X seem to do a decent job of filtering out the high speed chatter bumps.
Overall the damper performance of the Float X was good considering this a fairly simple little shock. I found the shock active through rough sections, generating good grip. The low speed compression did a good job damping rider inputs through pedaling and pumping the bike. I don't think Float X quite rivals the sheer damper performance if it's bigger brother the Float X2, but it makes up for this in it's simplicity to setup. I think for many people they might get to a better setup on the Float X with it's fewer and more intuitive adjustments compared to the more complex Float X2.
The Firm Mode worked well, and provided an efficient platform for pedaling. The Firm Mode allows some shock movement to generate grip on technical climbs, but minimizes bobbing and other inputs while muscling up a climb. The lever is a nice length, in a good spot, and blue, which made flipping the switch while riding easy.
Over the testing period I didn't have any issues with the shock. The Float X also seemed quite consistent in it's performance. I got the shock quite hot on a few occasions and found the Float X to be fairly resistant to fade.
I don't think the Float X is going to blow anyone way on a purely performance basis. If you're looking for the pinnacle of damper performance you're probably looking at the Float X2 or the DHX2. However I think the Float X offers a great mix of a good air spring, with a great little damper that's easy to set up, providing consistent performance in a lightweight package. I think Fox nailed their lofty design criteria with the Float X. For many folks the ease of set up will probably make the Float X a great option. The Float X might not be the most exciting damper product on the market, but I'm sure many folks are going thoroughly enjoy the it on their bikes.
Age - 37
Height - 183 cm / 6'
Weight - 86 kg / 190 lbs
Ape Index - 1.055 / +10 cm
Inseam - 81 cm / 32"
Race Enduro and Downhill
Bar Width - 800 mm
Preferred Reach - 500 - 520 cm (but this is stack and head angle dependent)