Suspension Product of the Year Winner
Fox Float X2 Shock
A wise man once said that geometry is the most important factor when it comes to how well (or how poorly) a bike performs, followed closely by its suspension. That's never been truer than today, and as geometry has evolved to allow us to ride quicker than ever, suspension has also had to develop in order to keep us in control. The three Suspension Product of the Year nominees were RockShox's new Lyrik, a single crown fork that can be had with up to 180mm of travel that's controlled by their Charger damper; Fox's sub-four-pound Factory Series Float that offers heavyweight performance; and the new Float X2 shock, with an internal design that's a major departure from the architecture that Fox has used for their previous shocks.
It's the Fox Float X2 that takes the win in 2015, due to its massive and effective range of adjustments, reliable performance, and action that anyone would be hard pressed to tell the difference between it and a coil-sprung shock during a blind test.
FOX Float X2 Shock
Billed as Fox's “highest performing air shock,” and aimed at gravity-oriented riders, the $595 USD Float X2 has externally adjustable low- and high-speed compression damping, as well as low- and high-speed rebound adjustment. Also, the amount of ramp up at the end of the shock's stroke is also adjustable by sliding off the outer air sleeve and adding or removing volume spacers as needed, all of which makes it Fox's most adjustable mountain bike shock to date.
Internally, the X2 employs a twin-tube design, which is exactly what is sounds like: a smaller tube is situated inside a larger tube, with bleed holes strategically situated at the bottom of the smaller tube to allow oil to circulate as the shock goes through its travel. It's worth mentioning that Cane Creek and Öhlins were the first companies to bring this design to the mountain bike world back in 2005, although it had existed on cars and motorcycles for many years prior.
The X2 has not only proven itself to be extremely reliable but also offers the most coil-like feel of any air-sprung shock that we've spent time on.
The standout trait of the X2 is how well it handles high-speed washboard sections of trail, the type of conditions that are common in the summer due to months of dry and dusty weather. The shock made it seem like those repeated bumps had been covered by a layer of carpet - you can still feel them, but they aren't nearly as jarring and painful as they could have been, and the feel of the shock never varies no matter the length of the run. At slower speeds, the performance remains just as impressive, with plenty of suppleness to keep the rear end velcroed to the ground for maximum traction, and enough support deeper in the travel to prevent it from wallowing. Bigger hits never pose a problem, either, and even with four volume spacers installed there isn't any harshness at the end of the stroke. In short, the Float X2 just plain works - there are no weird noises, no odd spiking or fading, just an incredibly consistent smoothness no matter what nastiness you roll through.
When all is said and done, the Float X2 earns its place as one of the best gravity-oriented air shocks currently on the market, one that's capable of anything from World Cup downhill racing to rowdy all-mountain adventures in your own backyard.