Gravity enduro is so hot right now. So hot. But when it comes to suspension, all that hotness is the enemy! Heat build-up decreases suspension performance, and that’s one of the biggest challenges facing suspension manufacturers today; how can suspension be kept light and efficient enough for the climbs but still deliver the control and consistency needed for serious gravity enduro use?
The Float X is FOX’s answer to this question. We’ve now run the Float X CTD with Trail Adjust on two bikes (a Yeti SB66c and a Giant Trance Advanced SX), over the course of almost eight months, and we’re convinced it’s a winner.
The Float X may have the same bones as the regular Float shock, but the large piggyback reservoir clearly marks it as a different beast. The larger oil volume the piggyback affords is key; more oil equates to less heat, better damping performance and more control over long descents. There are other obvious external differences too, with the CTD lever located on the side of the shock reservoir, and the rebound adjuster in-line with the damping shaft.
While we’re on the topic of the rebound adjuster – what the hell? We don’t know whose fingers the rebound adjust dial is designed for, but it’s practically impossible to adjust without an Allen key or small stick (a bloody stick!). Thankfully rebound is largely a set-and-forget element once you’ve established your baseline settings/pressures, but this aspect was very annoying during the first half a dozen rides when we were still making tweaks to the suspension setup.
So does it all work as planned? Can I get a ‘hell yeah’? If you’re accustomed to the feel of a regular Fox Float shock, you’ll immediately appreciate the on-trail differences of the Float X. For lack of a better term, the Float X just feels ‘plusher’, much more like a coil shock than the standard Float. On our Giant test bike in particular, the bottomless feel had us re-checking our suspension sag, convinced that we must be running things too soft, but it wasn’t the case – the shock is just superbly smooth throughout the whole stroke.
The buttery responsiveness of the shock on small and medium sized hits is amazing. In our experience, FOX still has the edge over Rockshox when it comes to pure smoothness and suppleness. Whether it’s a product of better sealing tolerances, the new five-piece shock hardware, shaft coatings or lubricants, we’re not sure – we just know that the Float X has better small bump response than any Monarch Plus shock we’ve ridden.
When we pushed hard, the Float X always had the answer, and longer runs we didn’t notice any spiking or inconsistency that we’d usually associate with an air shock being taken beyond its limits. For us, the ultimate vindication of the Float X as a serious piece of descending equipment came when Jared Graves raced on this very shock at the Pietermarizburg World Champs… and almost bloody won.
The CTD system is effective and easy to operate. With the lever on the side of the shock, it’s very easy to access. The three positions are clearly defined, and the Trail mode is a great compromise for adding some welcomed efficiency to a longer-travel bike. We did find that the lever could get a little jammed up in very sandy or dusty conditions though, so cleaning and lubing around the lever junction isn’t a bad idea occasionally.
Would we consider upgrading from a standard Float shock to the Float X? That’s a tough one. The performance benefits are there, and the weight difference is minimal, so it’s really a matter of justifying the spend. From our standpoint, we’d probably be more inclined to look for the Float X as desirable feature when considering a new bike purchase, rather than dole out the cash to upgrade an existing bike.
We’ll be running this shock for another six or so months and we’ll update this review should anything new and noteworthy emerge, but for now we’re very impressed!