The best suspension may already be bolted to your bike.
The shock we have on test is the Float DPS Performance Elite, the model you may find bolted to your brand new rig. Don’t remove it. It’s an almost identical copy of the Factory shock, save for the Kashima coat. For those of you who aren’t regular readers, I picked it up a little over two months ago at the launch of the Fox ‘My18’ range (Issue 163) and it has been bolted to my Whyte T-130 ever since.
The Fox Float DPS system sees some improved hardware for the new year. Namely the EVOL can - this is now a one-piece construction. The three compression settings remain; Open, Medium and Firm. However additional to the standard Performance shock is the inclusion of the Open mode adjustment tuning knob, mirroring the Factory model, which gives you another three options of firmness in Open mode.
It was a rocky start after the Fox test event when, despite having the correct sag and air pressure, I struggled to get the feeling in the shock I was seeking. As a by-product of the conversion to a single piece EVOL can, the negative air chamber is now larger again - swallowing another
10 -15psi than its predecessor. All set up, on the trail this should translate to more mid stroke support, a softer bottom out and a supple chatter over small bumps.
Instead, I was feeling all that through the medium setting and completely blowing through travel in the Open setting - which is where I spend much of my off road riding time. It was interesting to note that the bottom out was much softer despite this imbalance and I was feeling most of the punishment in the climbs, where even in the medium setting, bob was prevalent.
I was lucky enough with previous iterations to be sitting within the goal weights of the factory tune as the bikes were direct from the factory floor. That was not the case this time, so I put in a order for volume spacers. Installing volume spacers is relatively easy and you can do it at home - just be careful as the air can is under pressure and can harm you. The chances are you will have to go through the same procedure, so if this bothers you, Sola Sport can assist you with their new tuning service. The spacers come in a variety of flavours, 0.3in3 to 0.95in3, which can be used in combination or singularly. I installed a 0.4in3 spacer on top of the already installed 0.4in3 and headed for the local trails.
A slight drop in pressure, 110 down to 100 and back into trail carving I went. For me, tuning the shock is about finding the balance between Open and Medium modes. Firm, although regularly used, is mainly to get me home at max pace. With the inclusion of the volume spacer the ride evened out. In the Medium setting the ride firmed up a tad, while in Open mode it was smooth sailing. Over the time of the test the biggest feeling of note was the subtle dampening of small chatter, which makes a notable difference over long rides. The additional support in the mid stroke made all the difference in rocky sections, keeping me more upright in the ride and more in control. The 2018 shock is an amplification of what was most right with the 2017 shock, it’s just providing that little extra tune with the larger negative air canister and improved tune. I could go into much more detail about shim stacks here, but you’ll just have to believe me.
Once the shock was set up and tuned to my taste the rest of the test period was uneventful. The Fox Float performs, and it performs well - shifting to the background of a ride and becoming perfunctory. That’s not to be harsh, just that it becomes part of your everyday ride experience.
I did re-install my 2017 Fox Factory Float to see if I could feel the difference over a weekend’s riding. The newer version has a subtle but a definite feeling in the mid stroke - within an average ride you can really feel the benefit. There’s a finer tune, that floats over the rougher stuff, and creates less stress at the pressure points. It gives a more confidence-inspiring ride over small bumps, so when it comes to the descents you’re fresh. It allows you to worry less about the chatter and more about the thrill.
|- Suppleness through the rood||- Will take some time to fine-tune|
|- Confidence inspiring|
|- Broad range of tuneability|
|FROM: Sola Sport|
Words and photos: Robert Conroy