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FOX FLOAT X2 Factory 2-Position Rear Shock

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Tested: 2016 FOX Float X2 2-Position Lever Shock

Rating: Vital Review

Review by Johan Hjord // Photos by Tal Rozow and Johan Hjord

We tested the new FOX Float X2 earlier this year, and we came away very impressed with the performance and adjustability it offers. We did not have many complaints or issues to report, but we did note the absence of any kind of lockout or climb function. With the recent release of the Float X2 2-Position Lever, FOX has addressed this issue, and in the name of being thorough we were of course eager to give it a spin. Read on to see how we got along.

2016 FOX Float X2 2-Position Lever Highlights

  • Made for All-Mountain/Enduro/Freeride/DH use
  • Kashima coated body
  • External adjustments: low-speed compression, high-speed compression, low-speed rebound, high-speed rebound, 2-position compression lever, air spring pressure.
  • Extra-Volume

Review by Johan Hjord // Photos by Tal Rozow and Johan Hjord

We tested the new FOX Float X2 earlier this year, and we came away very impressed with the performance and adjustability it offers. We did not have many complaints or issues to report, but we did note the absence of any kind of lockout or climb function. With the recent release of the Float X2 2-Position Lever, FOX has addressed this issue, and in the name of being thorough we were of course eager to give it a spin. Read on to see how we got along.

2016 FOX Float X2 2-Position Lever Highlights

  • Made for All-Mountain/Enduro/Freeride/DH use
  • Kashima coated body
  • External adjustments: low-speed compression, high-speed compression, low-speed rebound, high-speed rebound, 2-position compression lever, air spring pressure.
  • Extra-Volume (EVOL) air sleeve
  • Tunable air spring via volume spacers
  • Travel options (with 2-position lever): 7.875 x 2.00, 7.875 x 2.25, 8.50 x 2.50
  • Travel options (without 2-position lever): 8.75 x 2.75, 9.50 x 3.00, 10.50 x 3.50
  • Weight: 520 grams (8.75x2.75, verified)
  • MSRP: $629.00 USD

Initial Impressions

We knew what to expect when we unboxed the X2, since all that has visually changed between the version we reviewed earlier in 2016 and this one is the 2-Position lever, a small switch added to the top of the compression adjusters. For a complete run-down of the other features, please refer to that review.

However, digging deeper into the box, we found some welcome additions and improvements: there is a small, 2-sided hex key with a 3-mm and a 6-mm side included in the box, which happens to be exactly what you need to adjust the X2’s compression and rebound settings. A great little item to throw in your riding pack to make sure you can always adjust your shock when out and about.

FOX has also taken this opportunity to improve the volume spacer system. Instead of foam rings that have to be slipped onto the shock from the air can side, the volume spacers now clip onto the air can body from the side. This means that in some cases you can actually adjust the air can volume without even having to remove the shock from the bike. Also, apart from a shock pump, the procedure is now completely tool less – very cool. The overall volume of each spacer remains the same as the previous version, and so does the number of spacers you can fit in a given shock.

The Float X2 was developed for gravity applications mainly, and as such, it is among the bigger and burlier air shocks out there. Our 8.75x2.75 version weighed in at 520 grams, 5 grams heavier than the same shock without the 2-Position lever. Note that FOX does not sell the 8.75x2.75 version we tested with a 2-Position lever off the shelf, that option is only available on the 3 smaller sizes. The lever can however be retro-fitted to any of the X2 shocks (including coil versions), at a cost of $125 for the parts and $30 for the labor.

Since we already had our settings dialed from testing the non-lever version, we copy-pasted the set-up onto the new shock and headed out to see what a little blue lever might do for our tired, beat-up legs.

On The Trail

The Float X2 is fully adjustable externally, which means that the only thing you have to worry about when buying it for your bike is whether or not they make the right size, and getting the right hardware. The “base tune” is basically always the same, it’s up to the user to tune the shock to work with the characteristics of each particular frame (in special cases you can request a different tune, see below). Previous testing of the non-lever equipped X2 left us at about 180 psi, 3-4 volume spacers, and within 2 clicks of the recommended settings on all adjusters. That gave us a shock that doesn’t bob excessively, while remaining quite supple and active. With the added benefit of the 2-position lever, we could afford to back off the compression settings by 2-3 clicks, since we were now able to worry a bit less about pedal bob at base settings. In general, we noted a "livelier" feel to this shock, and as it turns out, there's an explanation: the 2 Position Lever version of the X2 has a slightly larger RVS ("Rod Valve System") port diameter than the non-lever version we tested previously, the idea here was to increase the range of the compression adjuster (towards lighter side of damping) to tailor the tune to trail bikes. Note that FOX also offers Compression Medium (CM) and Compression Light (CL) tunes should you for some reason really need a very different behavior.


The Float X2 was first and foremost built for descending, and being able to tune the shock specifically for this application really frees you up to take full advantage of the range of adjustability on offer. With less concern for uphill performance, you can really go for your preferred feel on the downs. The X2 offers a lot of control, and in the slightly softer setting we had now arrived at, a really good compromise between support and sensitivity.

So what about that little lever then? It works by essentially blocking off the main compression circuit, leaving just a tiny trickle of oil able to get through under load. Flick the switch, and you get a very firm feel – not entirely locked out, but quite close. The bike will sag under weight, but slowly, whilst remaining unaffected by shorter, sharper movements like those of your weight transferring with each pedal stroke (chief cause of pedal bob). Pedaling efficiency is thus greatly improved, specifically if we’re talking about those long fire road grinds that get you back to the top of your favorite run. The main blow-off circuit (situated at the main piston) still functions, which is great for when you lack the brain power to remember to open the shock again when you get up there. You’ll soon be reminded, but in the meantime, you’re still getting a bit of travel out of the shock if you happen to run into something big while locked out. This event is actually fairly linear, you do feel a bit of a “step” as the blow-off valve opens, but it’s not as significant as you would perhaps expect it to be.

The rebound circuit is not affected by the X2’s 2-position lever, leaving the shock free to recover as per usual in those instances where you exceed the blow-off threshold. This differentiates the X2 from the Cane Creek Double Barrel Climb Switch, where the lever affects both circuits, albeit only on the lo-speed side. You could argue that the Cane Creek offers a superior solution for technical climbing in that you are actually able to independently adjust the behavior of both circuits in climb mode, but we are getting pretty close to a level of adjustability that may well be beyond most users to care about. Be that as it may, the X2 2-Position shock is clearly aimed at those "just" looking for a convenient way to improve pedaling efficiency on the way back up to the next run, much more so than those looking for any “trail-mode” type of platform selector.

The 2-position lever is easy to use, just tight enough to make sure it won’t shift around during riding, but smooth enough to operate in any position. The shock has two modes, open and firm, although you can actually stop the lever anywhere within that range to achieve an intermediate setting of sorts. There is no indexing however, as this is not what the shock was designed to do, so it’s not like you can easily recreate a particular “platform” feel using this aspect of the lever. That is done with the main adjustments of the compression and rebound circuits, as well as air spring tuning. And on that topic, once dialed in, the X2 offered a marked improvement over the stock shock on our test bike, from small bump compliance to big hit capabilities.

Probably the biggest appeal of the X2 is the amount of adjustability it provides. 4-way independent damping adjustment, air pressure, and air can progressivity go a long way to making sure you can get as close to your preferred set-up as possible. Add in the new 2-position lever, and the shock becomes even more versatile. For 5 grams and $30 (when fitted as new from the factory), we can’t think of a single reason NOT to go for the lever-equipped version for your enduro or trail bike.

Things That Could Be Improved

$629 certainly feels like it’s the wrong side of $600, but this is pretty much the going rate for a shock of this caliber in today’s market. If it’s maximum adjustability you need, this is the price to pay. Is it worth it? For you to decide, but the performance is certainly there and the massive adjustability is user friendly to the point that all you’ll ever need are two allen keys and a shock pump.

Long Term Durability

We’ve been on the X2 with the 2-position lever for about 2 months now, with no noticeable performance degradation of any kind. FOX recommends a full shock service (by a FOX-certified technician) after 125 hours, which is not particularly onerous. Note that a basic air spring service is not officially required before the 125 hours are up. We will continue to test this aspect and more, and we’ll come back and update this review if we uncover any particular long-term issues down the line.

What’s The Bottom Line?

Smooth, coil-like performance in a highly adjustable, airsprung shock – the Float X2 provides the perfect solution for those looking to drop weight from their DH bikes or add another dimension of descending prowess to their trail bikes. The tuning range is wide, but remains largely usable even at both ends of the spectrum. Finding a good setting is well within reach of the intermediate rider willing to put in a bit of time with a pair of allen keys, while expert racers will be able to eke out every last drop of performance thanks to the multitude of tuning options. The 2-position lever adds another dimension to a shock that already had us convinced, which enables the rider to take one more step towards the perfect suspension set-up.

More information at www.ridefox.com.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.


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19 comments newest first

"like those of your weight transferring with each pedal stroke (chief cause of pedal bob)"

Not exactly true, pedal bob is caused by the pedalling itself creating accelerating forces at the ground-tire contact point and the body not wanting to be accelerated much higher up. Thus it lags behind and squats the rear suspension (the rider basically rotates backwards). Anti-squat fights this by providing an opposing force to this squishing through suspension geometry. With no rider squishing the rear suspension (and all other forces remaining equal), the bike would extend in the travel when pedalling.

All vehicles exhibit this, cars squat under acceleration, motorbikes do as well, but the squat is constant there, since you don't have a 3 Hz force period, but more like a 16+ Hz (firing frequency of a 4-stroke 4-cylinder engine at 1000 rpm, double the number for 2000 rpm, etc.) force period, which makes it blur together into a 'constant' force with much less wallowing in the suspension.

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"whilst remaining unaffected by shorter, sharper movements like those of your weight transferring with each pedal stroke (chief cause of pedal bob)"

I understood this (movements part of the quote) as CoG position changes due to pedalling and that causing the pedal bob, not the acceleration induced weight transfers. That's the issue i had with the written part. A misunderstanding then.

| Reply

excellent review.
but just one note.
you can tune this shock like any other shock. there are shimz inside. and when you buy this shock from TF or PUSH, you can ask them to tune it to your weight and bike.

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Of course its tunable like any shock, but the general idea behind this architecture is to provide a wide tuning range at the adjusters, which is meant to cater to most frames. That is why the "base tune" is less relevant when you buy the shock.

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How about the part numbers for the click together spacers and the trick mini allen key.

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Have you guys spent much time with this shock on technical climbs? I've been thinking about picking one up for my Knolly but if it truly is a very firm feel when locked out that makes me think Monarch Plus or DBACS is the way to go as their platforms stay a bit more active or are infinitely adjustable. I've never really understood the reasoning on a very firm platform for a trail bike shock as it's not substantially better than a moderate platform on mellow fireroad climbs but they tend to suffer greatly when it comes to maintaining traction or having odd hangups on ledges when climbs get rough. Seems like Fox historically has focused their platforms more on road/fireroad and less on actual trail climbs but I was hoping they had changed a bit with this one as it sounds like an otherwise rad shock.

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It is indeed very firm, but it still works "OK" for technical climbing (though it feels a bit rough on uneven surfaces when locked out). In some cases, that extra firmness is even a benefit, when you really need to power up something. You can also tune the compression and rebound specifically for a platform feel, in which case you'd hardly need the lever in the first place (and you'd be giving up a bit on the descending side). But yes, this is not a "trail-tune" kind of shock, it was first and foremost built for aggressive descending, and the lever was added for locked out climbing.

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Any comparisons to the Vivid air ? Besides the vivid not having a climb switch. I have the Vivid on my nomad and i'm really liking it,,I just turn up the lsc for climbs, but this shock seems to be getting lots of praise these days. Thanks.

| Reply

I've got both this shock, and the coil version, used on a Nomad.
It came with a Vivid air.

Both Fox shocks are superior to the Vivid, with coil version (with climb switch) being the best.

Vivid air either felt crappy in the first 2/3 of the stroke, or it would never reach full travel.
Played with it for months, sent it back to SRAM twice, now it sits in the tool box.

The shock in this review is great on the Nomad, and the DH X2 with climb switch is even better!
Nomad is my XC bike, so I flip the lever for climbing.....

| Reply

"Is it worth it? For you to decide."
Hmmm, what?
If " the Float X2 provides the perfect solution for those looking to drop weight from their DH bikes or add another dimension of descending prowess to their trail bikes." is true, then surely it is worth it and not for us to decide. Common, stop sitting on the fence and give a proper opinion without disclaimers. Otherwise it just makes the review seem worthless.

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I think it's more written to show this: "The Float X2 was developed for gravity applications mainly, and as such, it is among the bigger and burlier air shocks out there"......which is why it seems so odd that consumers demand a climb switch. The shock is total and complete overkill for any trail/XC/AM type of rig.

But if the reviewer wrote that, you'd still be b*tching saying "don't tell me what I can and can't put on my bike!"

No please some people.

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We're not sitting on the fence. It is an outstanding product, which is why we gave it 4.5 stars. Whether or not you value its features and benefits to the tune of that much money (and extra weight), is clearly for you to decide.

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3 member reviews

Fox Float X2: 2 position lever on Yeti SB5.5c

Rating:
The Good:

Has a lot of adjustability, Climb switch adjust low speed compression for better climbing.

The Bad:

Depending on the bike, the climb switch might adjust to become too harsh

Overall Review:

I am giving this review based on the shock mounted to a yeti sb5.5.

First off I think the X2 float is an amazing shock with tons of adjustability and very good small bump sensitivity. However I want to focus my review on the 2 position lever climb switch.

Based on the bike you run I think you will either love this, or find yourself rarely using it. If you have a bike with a very linear linkage system, I think that you will find yourself enjoying the 2 position lever. However, in my case with the yeti sb5.5 it has an efficient linkage system with the switch infinity, so the 2 position lever made the bike a little more firm then I had imagined.

The lever adjust a piston in the low speed compression portion. So the nice thing is that if you hit a hard square edge or high speed impact, you

Overall Review:

I am giving this review based on the shock mounted to a yeti sb5.5.

First off I think the X2 float is an amazing shock with tons of adjustability and very good small bump sensitivity. However I want to focus my review on the 2 position lever climb switch.

Based on the bike you run I think you will either love this, or find yourself rarely using it. If you have a bike with a very linear linkage system, I think that you will find yourself enjoying the 2 position lever. However, in my case with the yeti sb5.5 it has an efficient linkage system with the switch infinity, so the 2 position lever made the bike a little more firm then I had imagined.

The lever adjust a piston in the low speed compression portion. So the nice thing is that if you hit a hard square edge or high speed impact, you find yourself using more of the travel. Sometime with the climb switch on, I found myself descending and not noticing till the end that my climb switch was engaged.

In short, its a great option to have, but depending on your bike, it might not be a necessary addition.

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Best Air Shock on the Market

Rating:
The Good:

Why buy a coil shock when you can buy this? Great small bump sensitivity (rivals that of a coil shock) Extremely Adjustable

The Bad:

Not easy to tune unless you know what you are doing

Overall Review:

Had a Monarch Plus, and a Cane Creek Double Barrel Air CS, but neither shock felt like "the one" for me. Monarch Plus had great small bump sensitivity but not much adjustability and didn't feel great on the long descents. Cane Creek DB Air CS didn't have much small bump sensitivity, but was adjustable. I feel like the Float X2 combines the best aspects of both products, and delivers something that almost feels as good as a coil shock. Took a few weeks to get it tuned how I liked it, but once it was there, I have never experienced anything quite so controlled feeling in all terrain. The climb switch is great for getting a bit more efficiency on those long fire roads, but not necessarily as useful for the technical climbs as it is almost a full lockout. This shock is worth all 629 dollars. I

Overall Review:

Had a Monarch Plus, and a Cane Creek Double Barrel Air CS, but neither shock felt like "the one" for me. Monarch Plus had great small bump sensitivity but not much adjustability and didn't feel great on the long descents. Cane Creek DB Air CS didn't have much small bump sensitivity, but was adjustable. I feel like the Float X2 combines the best aspects of both products, and delivers something that almost feels as good as a coil shock. Took a few weeks to get it tuned how I liked it, but once it was there, I have never experienced anything quite so controlled feeling in all terrain. The climb switch is great for getting a bit more efficiency on those long fire roads, but not necessarily as useful for the technical climbs as it is almost a full lockout. This shock is worth all 629 dollars. I paid full price aftermarket and don't even feel a little bit guilty about dropping that much dough. It was totally worth it and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for maximum performance out of their enduro bike. I can say without a doubt that this is the best air shock on the market right now, and the best air shock I have ever ridden.

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X2 on my 140 mm Banshee Spitfire

Rating:
The Good:

plush, burly, adjustability

The Bad:

The climb switch is too close to a lockout. I never use it on climbs because it makes my bike too uncomfortable even if it pedals efficiently with it on. Also, finding the right hardware is a little tricky if your not a bike mechanic ( not the shocks fault but worth mentioning )

Overall Review:

Love the shock, I've running it at Whistler all week on my 140 mm and have nothing but good things to say. For me the CS is unnecessary. I wouldn't buy it for a trail bike but definitely buy one for your enduro and dh!

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Specifications
Product FOX FLOAT X2 Factory 2-Position Rear Shock
Riding Type Downhill, Freeride / Bike Park, Trail
Spring Type Air
External Adjustments 2-position lever (open, firm), high/low speed compression, high/low speed rebound, air spring pressure
Available Sizes 7.875" x 2.0"
7.875" x 2.25"
8.5" x 2.5"
Weight 1 lb 2.3 oz (520 g)
Miscellaneous RVS damping system
X2 oil flow architecture
EVOL (extra volume) air sleeve
Kashima coating on shaft
Rod Valve System (RVS)
Price $649
More Info

ridefox.com

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