The 2017 Float X2 rear shock from Fox is their most advanced mountain bike shock to date. This race proven shock has found itself with two back to back championship seasons under its belt with the help of Aaron Gwin and Richie Rude. When Fox introduced the X2 Factory Series shocks, they were immediately rivaling other high end offerings from brands like Rockshox, Cane Creek, and Ohlins. Now after a couple years on the market, Fox has updated the 2017 Float X2 to improve its performance and ease of use, making it a serious contender when looking to upgrade your rear shock.
In this review, the Float X2 shock used was ridden on a Santa Cruz Bronson. Below are some of the specifications of the shock used.
The Float X2 Air shocks all feature the Rod Valve System or RVS. RVS offers both high speed and low speed compression and high speed and low speed rebound adjustments. These four way adjusters with RVS allow the rider to tune the shock for any terrain or trail conditions with just a few clicker changes. RVS provides incredible traction, keeping your tires glued to the ground when you want them to be!
The EVOL canister makes the shock more adaptable and tunable for the different leverage curves inherent with certain bikes. For example, on the Bronson, I felt the shock performs best with 3 to 4 volume reducers given my weight.
New for 2017 from Fox is the X2 2-position lever. This new option for the X2 shocks allows for an on the fly open and firm adjustment for both the high speed and low speed compression. When climbing, throw the lever closed for a more pedaling efficient platform. When descending, open the lever back up and let it rip!
The 2017 Float X2 now comes standard with two-piece air volume reducers that make on the fly adjustments that much easier. Now when wanting to change the air volume in your shock, there is no need to remove the shock from the bike. First release all of the air pressure from the valve, then twist and slide the air can down away from the reservoir. The two-piece air volume reducers snap together from each side. Up to 6 can be used in each shock. Then slide the air can back on, fill the shock with air, and hit the trail!
Getting the correct air spring setup is always a good place to start when trying to dial in your suspension. For me, I found that using 3 volume reducers provided the best mid stroke support, bottom out resistance, and sensitivity on the beginning stroke. Now this may differ depending on what bike you are putting your Float X2 shock on, how much you weigh, and the level at which you are riding. To get an idea about me, I weigh 165 lbs (75 kg) and will use 3 to 4 volume reducers and 191 psi on my Santa Cruz Bronson.
After figuring out the air spring, the next thing to address is your rebound settings. If the rebound is too fast, you may feel like you are getting bucked toward the front of the bike throwing off your balance. If your rebound is too slow, the shock is going to ride much lower in the travel and won’t be rebounding quick enough to be there to absorb the next impact. This is sometimes referred to as the shock “packing up”. After riding the Float X2 for a couple of weeks, I settled on 16 clicks of High Speed Rebound (HSR) and 16 clicks of Low Speed Rebound (LSR). These clicks are measured from each adjuster being all the way closed or to the right.
The last of the adjustments to tune in are the compression settings. These adjustments are just here to make fine changes in the ride characteristics of the shock. If the air spring is set up improperly, you may run out of clickers on compression. That is certainly not ideal. Here on the Bronson, I run 17 clicks of High Speed Compression (HSC) and 18 clicks of Low Speed Compression (LSC). Again these clicks are all measured from all the closed.
Western North Carolina is home to all different kinds of terrain. With Pisgah National Forest and Dupont State Forest both right out the back door, the trails are endless. For me it’s a perfect place to train, and go on epic adventures with friends! I thought that the Float X2 would be a better fit for the kinds of trails I am riding most at home; fast, rough, and relentless. The Float X2 was a great addition to the Bronson compared to the FLoat X that came stock on the bike.
Once I got the shock setup the way I felt most comfortable, I was able to ride all different types of terrain with little adjustment. From the rough and high speed terrain on the Bennett Gap trail in Pisgah to the smooth and flowy Ridgeline trail in Dupont, the Float X2 handled it all well. But I guess that is what you should expect from a high-end product from Fox.
I also spent some time riding the Float X2 out at Windrock Bike Park just past Knoxville, Tennessee. This was the first time I got my trail bike on some pure downhill trails. The trails at Windrock are a lot of fun and in some places can be very demanding. On these types of demanding trails is where the Float X2 performed its best. The faster I went riding this shock, the more it seemed to keep things in control. That is such a fun feeling to have on the bike!
In my opinion, Fox’s Float X2 air shock is the smoothest 4 way adjustable air shock on the market. This shock would work best on either a full on enduro or downhill bike where the impacts are greater and shaft speeds on the shock are higher. The harder you ride this shock, the more it rewards you.
It has more tuning capabilities than an equivalent coil shock and weighs roughly a half pound lighter. The 2 position lever compression adjustment made climbing much more efficient and was always an easy thing to reach down and change on the fly. For those riding the Float X2, in order to get the most out of the shock, make sure you have the correct amount of volume reducers in the air can. Each bike is different and so there is no magic number for how many volume reducers to use. The fact that you can change the volume reducers without taking the shock off the bike makes quick adjustments on the trail is that much easier. Don’t be intimidated to make adjustments to the shock and you will have it dialed in before you know it.
Max Morgan is 24 years old, and lives in Brevard, North Carolina. Max grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and started racing downhill at the age of 15. He has now been racing professionally for the last 6 years, competing in the U.S. Pro GRT series and UCI World Cup series.