What is it?
Trail bikes are getting bigger and more capable. These bikes have developed such a large sweet spot that many are finding them ideal for pedaling their local hills and going on big mountain adventures. But there is a gap in the Fox rear shock line-up between the much improved DPS EVOL shock and the burly, downhill-ready X2 shock. Fox sought to address this segment by creating the fascinating new DPX2 shock.
A Float X replacement?
The Fox Float X has been around for many years and has received minor improvements over the years. If you recall, it is that reservoir shock with the rebound adjuster that is impossible to reach. It worked fairly well handling heat on long and demanding descents but it didn’t offer a big performance advantage over the DPS Evol shock.
Thus, Fox completely scrapped the Float X design and combined the best of the DPS and the venerable X2 to create the DPX2. THe goal was X2 downhill performance with DPS simplicity and climbing ability. Have they succeeded? Read on and find out.
The DPX2 has completely new architecture that combines the best of the X2 and DPS designs. It has a new EVOL air sleeve that improves responsiveness and sensitivity, which was proved by the latest DPS shocks. It has three compression damping modes: Open, Medium and Firm. These deliver on-the-go usability to trail riders. For additional tunability, Factory Series shocks will offer 10 clicks of damping adjustment in the Open mode.
- Three compression modes with a 10-click adjustment screw for Factory Series shocks
- Big red rebound knob for tool easy access
- Factory Series feature Kashima Coat
- Weight: 496 grams (depending on size)
- Price: $549
How does it ride?
We’ve been lucky enough to test this shock for the last month. Most of the Fox employees we rode with had this shock on their Pivot Switchblades with 135 mm of rear travel. This seems to be the the ideal application for this shock as the stock DPS rear feels a little undergunned on this capable bike (with a Fox 36 front fork). While we have a Switchblade in the garage, we also have a Trek Slash 29er in the arsenal. With 150mm of rear travel matched up with 160mm in the front, this is one of the most fascinating enduro bikes today. It came stock with an X2 Rear shock, but Fox felt confident enough to replace it with the new DPX2.
First off, the DPX2 weighed 496 grams and was 104 grams lighter than the X2 that it replaced. We have the Factory Series DPX2 with the three position Blue knob that incorporates a 10-position allen compression adjuster. Rebound had one tool-free adjustment knob, instead of the X2’s separate high speed and low speed adjusters.
The shock looked deceptively skinny and the reservoir was shorter than the bigger reservoir found on the old Float X shock. Marketing Manager, Mark Jordan explained that the new air cans have less of a bulge but use the same EVOL technology, just with better efficiency. And the new reservoirs were designed shorter to interfere less with frames and water bottles.
Riding in Open mode, the Trek Slash was as plush as can be. It felt like the X2 as we descended full bore down two of our favorite Santa Cruz descents. Traction was excellent through rooty corners as the tires stayed in contact with the ground well. On the second run, we opened up the compression adjustment knob from 5 clicks out to 8 clicks out (out of 10) and the ride was even more plush.
From there we moved to Medium mode, which is usually called Trail mode. This is where our eyes lit up and we had a bit of a ‘eureka’ moment as the Trek Slash 29er expanded its sweet spot. We normally don’t like ‘Trail’ mode in rear shocks for anything but climbs because it is usually harsh. We often just ride it on fire roads where it is fairly smooth or we are in a subtle climbing battle with friends. Normal Trail mode is more efficient but it is always harsher as it responds to bumps late. It is rougher on the back and it delivers less traction on rocky, rooty climbs. But that’s where the DPX2 shines as the Medium mode is really not harsh. Hit a root or a dip and suspension responds quickly and efficiently. It just doesn’t travel as deep and it doesn’t bob as much during pedaling. It seems like a deadly efficient mode as our Trek Slash felt like a Trek Fuel 120mm travel bike. The supple suspension was there, just less of it. And it put notice to the front fork to step up and keep up with the efficiency.
On the singletrack climb, Mark Jordan asked me to put the shock in Firm mode. I reluctantly obliged as I never use Firm mode, specially on a bike with this kind of suspension prowess. The Ride felt firm and efficient and I felt giddy enough to get off the saddle and climb standing for a bit to take advantage of the platform. But as we hit some roots and steps, the rear suspension moved and took the hits. It wasn’t supple but it wasn’t late or harsh either. It was a controlled recognition of the bump, alien to any other Firm mode I’ve tried in a rear shock.
That in a nutshell was my experience with the DPX2 and it was an eye-opener. Here was a Trek Slash 29er at 27.4 lbs, now with with a massive sweet spot. It’s a bike that I’ve ridden confidently on the rowdy trails of Whistler. And now it’s got the efficiency to allow me to enjoy it on my local hills and grinds.
What’s not to like?
We love this new option perfect for the light, aggressive trail bikes of today because it extends their massive sweet spot. But it’s heavier and more expensive than a DPS rear shock by about 200 grams and $100, and it has an external reservoir that can interfere with water bottle capacity on some frames.
Compared to an X2, it won’t offer the same level of compression and rebound adjustment with high speed and low speed on each area. We also need to explore if the DPX2 gives up anything to the X2 in terms of performance and heat management on long technical descents.
We’ll go through some schematics from Fox to help explain the technology behind the DPX2.
As Trail and All Mountain Bikes have evolved, It is fascinating to see how Fox has mobilized to deliver a rear shock that matches up to extend the sweet of spot their climbing and descending capabilities.