Ever wondered why people put a coil shock on their bike? Would I benefit from running a coil? It looks cool so it must work better, right? The pros all do it so I should too...Well, whatever you’re thinking, you should probably research this question to make sure you are doing the right thing. Here is a rundown of the Fox Shox DHX2 where we discuss the performance as well as the reasoning behind riding a coil shock. So is it right for you? Continue reading to find out!
The Fox Shox DHX2 Rear Shock is the most recent offering from Fox for high-end coil shocks. It uses twin tube technology (which is really confusing; click here to see how it actually works). Basically, it gives you a lot of adjustment. It allows you to independently change the high and low-speed rebound as well as high and low-speed compression so you can get your shock tuned perfectly for your bike, riding style, and riding location. This might not mean a lot to most of the riding community but for a select few, this shock is pure gold. If you are the type of rider that almost spends more time setting up the bike to be perfect than riding it, then this is the shock for you. If you are more the type to put it on the bike and go, then you can probably get away with just running an air shock with fewer adjustments.
If you have a modern trail or enduro bike, chances are it came with an air shock on it from the manufacturer. If you are considering the switch to a coil, here is what you need to know:
Coil shocks are linear. So if you have a bike with a suspension platform that is also very linear as it goes through the travel, you might not want to run a coil as you will spend a lot of time bottoming out. Air is naturally progressive as you change the volume of its container (i.e compressing your shock), which ultimately increases the amount of force necessary to bottom out. You can also change the severity of this progression with volume reducers, but that's a whole other topic.
Coil shocks offer less friction. The seal surface area (where the shock body meets the shaft) on a coil shock is much smaller, allowing the friction to be much lower than the friction on an air shock. This will allow for a more supple feel and will help your rear wheel stick to the ground on those small, chattery bumps.
Air Shocks are more tunable. Even if an air shock has the same number of adjustment dials as a coil (such as the Float X2 and DHX2), you can get your sag perfect! You can change the pressure one PSI by one PSI until you are happy with the “stiffness” of the shock. Coil springs come in either 25 or 50lb. increments, which can always get you close enough to the sag you need but might not be exact.
The Fox Shox DHX2 is a killer shock. It has 24 positions for adjustment for each know so you can really dial in your setup for your riding style, trail conditions, and bike. I have a Fox Shox DHX2 Rear Shock on both my DH and trail bikes. On the downhill bike, for me, it’s a no-brainer. It is extremely supple and with most DH bikes being 200mm+ of travel, you should have no issues with the bike bottoming out. I like my bike to feel more active and playful, which is something I can achieve with this shock. I have also ridden the Fox Float X2 on the same bike. While it offers a ton of support and bottom out resistance (which I personally don't think is needed), you can definitely notice the increased friction compared to the coil when riding over small bumps.
On a trail bike, you have to be careful to not pair the DHX2 with a bike that doesn’t have a very progressive suspension curve. My trail bike is a Canfield Toir which has 140mm of rear wheel travel and is slightly progressive. Being such a short travel bike, it is hard to find a good sprint rate that is supple but offers good mid/end stroke support. I definitely bottom out more than I did with the Float X2 but the added suppleness outweighs the bottom outs.
Very adjustable settings (compared to other brands)
Heavier than air shocks
Less tunable than air shocks (springs only come in 25 lb increments)
If you have a bike that is progressive, then yes, a coil shock is probably good for you. It will allow you to have a more supple feel off the top but still not bottom out thanks to your bike itself being progressive. If you have a bike that is linear, then maybe! If your bike is linear and you are running an air shock with little to no volume reducers and do not have a bottom out issue then a coil shock will probably be great for you! But if you are riding a bike with an air shock full of volume reducers and still feel like you have a bottom out issue, then you probably should not get a coil shock as it will exaggerate the bottom out issue.