Fox’s Float X2 Factory rear mountain bike shock is the brand’s highest-spec, most adjustable air-sprung damper, designed for the toughest conditions.
This model features the 2Pos-Adjust climb lever, making it possible to lock out, stopping unwanted movement on the climbs.
Fox Float X2 Factory 2Pos-Adjust (2022) rear shock specifications and details
The changes to the latest iteration of the Fox Float X2 shock include a damper redesign that permitted Fox to switch to its Variable Valve Control (VVC) high-speed rebound damping.
VVC is a new take on how to open and close high-speed rebound damping. Usually, an adjuster would increase or decrease preload on a valve stack to speed up or slow down the fork’s rebound.
This, according to Fox, can cause harshness, so VVC uses a small winged tab to apply pressure to the top of the shim stack on either its inner point or outer point, acting as a lever, to increase how much pressure is needed to open the valve and allow oil to flow through.
This change has moved the high-speed rebound adjuster to the eyelet end of the shock, too.
It also has a high-flow main piston, linear damping and an independent lockout lever, which is firmer than the outgoing shock.
The new damper now has the same number of high-speed compression and rebound adjustment clicks as the brand’s GRIP2 damper forks (eight clicks) and has 16 clicks of low-speed rebound and compression damping adjustment.
Its body has been redesigned with a new air spring that Fox claims needs fewer volume reducer spacers to achieve the same progressivity as the older model. The eye-to-eye and shaft length dictates how many volume reducer spacers can be installed.
Shock body structural stiffness has been improved thanks to internal fins, but also to reduce hysteresis (where the damper’s valves open slower than the flow of oil causing them to open, resulting in valve flex). It has a new MCU progressive bottom-out bumper that slows down compression speed as the shock gets towards bottom out.
I tested the metric-sized trunnion mount 205×65 version of the Float X2 Factory rear shock, and it weighed 664g on my scales.
Fox Float X2 Factory 2Pos-Adjust (2022) rear shock performance
I tested the Float X2 Factory rear shock on a Marin Alpine Trail XR enduro bike. It uses a four-bar suspension design and is approximately 17 per cent progressive. This means the bike is well-suited to air-sprung shocks, where it can take advantage of the progressive nature of the air spring to aid with mid-stroke support and bottom-out resistance.
Testing happened in Scotland’s Tweed Valley, host to the UK’s round of the Enduro World Series, and Glentress trail centre. Trails ranged from high-speed downhill tracks used for international IXS races to hardcore, super-steep enduro runs and waymarked, graded trail centre loops.
Fox Float X2 Factory 2Pos-Adjust (2022) setup
After riding the suggested settings in Fox’s setup guide for my spring pressure (160psi, one volume reducer spacer) as a starting point, I began the testing process.
I felt the recommended settings made the bike feel over-damped, with the suspension reluctant to flutter over the top of the smallest trail chatter, struggling to both compress quickly enough and rebound fast enough to recover for the next hit.
The same was true for bigger hits when the bike was in its mid-stroke. It felt as though it wasn’t returning to its sag point fast enough and was getting choked on the compression stroke too.
This was especially marked over harder square-edged bumps and caused a harshness through the back end, punishing the rear wheel.
It felt simply as though the damper wasn’t allowing the rear wheel to move out of the way of bumps quickly enough.
This was less of an issue around berms or through compressions, and the over-damped feel improved the bike’s pop and helped keep its chassis stable. It was also less of a problem on one-off landings where the bike was going deep into its travel, but only if that landing was smooth. Add in bumps, and once again it felt choked.
The solution was to wind off the high- and low-speed compression and rebound damping beyond the recommended settings until the bike felt smoother and not as harsh over bumps, but while leaving enough damping on to retain chassis stability.
I ended up running all the compression and rebound adjusters fully open, with no detrimental effects to chassis stability, but an immense improvement in the freeness of the shock’s movement.
With these settings, I ended up installing a secondary volume reducer token to increase how progressive the spring was making the shock ramp up quicker, reclaiming some of the mid-stroke support lost by removing the compression damping.
Running the adjusters fully open was a universal setting across every bike I’ve ridden that’s been fitted with the Float X2 (and DHX2). These experiences and settings were also something my colleagues at BikeRadar noticed and used when testing bikes with this shock.
Clearly, the stock damping is on the heavier side, and although this might limit the range of useable adjustment – where an increase of two or three clicks of damping will begin to choke the shock’s movement – it wasn’t severe enough to limit performance.
When set fully open, the Float X2 was one of the best shocks I have ridden in recent times.
Fox Float X2 Factory 2Pos-Adjust (2022) adjustability
The massive amount of damping and spring rate adjustability of the Float X2 means that it is a highly adaptable shock. Volume reducer spacers are easy to install or remove (just make sure you have a pick or non-scratching sharp instrument to remove the shock body circlip), and thanks to the Allen key external damping adjusters, trail-side adjustments are also a breeze.
Notably, the relocation of the high-speed rebound adjuster from the piggyback to the eyelet end on this model made on-bike changes of this adjuster tricky, usually because the frame’s shock mount was in the way. This might not be an issue on all bikes, however.
Although the range of usable damper adjustability proved to be limited because two or three clicks of adjustment had a marked effect on how much damping there was, the overall span of how much difference there was between fully open and fully closed was massive. This will certainly appeal to the tinkerers out there.
Fox Float X2 Factory 2Pos-Adjust (2022) on-trail feel
Once set up, the Float X2 proved to be one of the most capable shocks I’ve ever ridden, brilliantly blending the masterful fluttery nature of coil shocks with the ever-important mid-stroke and bottom-out ramp-up of an air spring.
Off-the-top smoothness was impressive, with little-to-no resistance or hesitation to initially compress. This improved small-bump tracking, making the bike feel grip-rich and super-comfortable on worn-out trail centre sections. Clearly, this was thanks to the low-friction seals and large negative air-spring chamber, helping it compress into the initial part of its travel.
Arguably, though, it wasn’t quite as supple at the start of its stroke as its coil-sprung counterpart, the DHX2, but it wasn’t far off.
As it got deeper into its travel, performance went from good to brilliant. Once compressed a little beyond its sag point, the compression stroke smoothness increased, and the spring and compression damping work seamlessly together to create a supportive, predictable and easy-to-control ride.
When loaded up in a berm or compression, it had enough scope to absorb smaller and even mid-sized bumps proficiently, transferring a minimal amount of force into the bike, all without eating into its remaining travel.
There seemed to be little-to-no damper fade even on long, gruelling descents, helping double down on the exceptionally predictable performance.
It was the same story towards bottom out, where the air spring ramped up gradually, increasing the forces required to compress the shock. It didn’t feel as if the bike was hitting a quick increase in spring rate, instead the rear end slowed smoothly on its compression stroke towards bottom out.
Arguably, the MCU progressive bottom out bumper reduced the number of hard-stop bottom outs, although if pushed enough on large drops to flat it was possible to feel and hear the shock reach the end of its stroke.
The 2Pos-Adjust lockout proved to be effective at stopping unwanted suspension movement induced by pedalling and was easy to use, but also reduced the amount of grip available on climbs. This meant I generally only used it for paved liaisons or super-smooth fire roads between trails.
Fox Float X2 Factory 2Pos-Adjust (2022) rear shock bottom line
The Fox Float X2 Factory follows in the footsteps of the previous model, being one of the best-performing rear shocks out there.
The damping (when adjusted fully open), spring curve and adjustability, and overall packaging, are well thought out, culminating in a truly accomplished and diverse damper with off-the-top smoothness, mid-stroke support and bottom-out resistance that’s excellently suited for use on a host of bikes.
However, lighter riders – in both style and weight – might feel it is over-damped, even with the adjustments set to fully open.
Depending on the suspension leverage rates of the bike, and the damper that’s fitted, the Fox Float X2 Factory shock is arguably one of the best upgrades to improve performance, you’ll just have to pay for the privilege.
|Weight||664g (205x65mm metric trunnion) – 205x65mm with 25xM8 lower mounting hardware|
|What we tested||Fox Float X2 Factory 2Pos-Adjust (2022) 205x65mm|
|Features||High and low speed compression and rebound adjustment. Spring volume adjustment|
|Damper adjustments||High and low speed compression and rebound|