Fox designs air shocks to appeal to the masses. And I don't mean that in a top-40 radio kind of way. I mean that they have a way of democratizing suspension technology that can make any rider feel like a connoisseur of proper tuning. Their coil shocks are aimed at those nearer to the nerd fringe, but rarely do Fox's air shocks appeal to true tinkerers. Cane Creek, on the other hand, has been effectively infiltrating the mainstream for years. It appears more riders than ever are looking for direct control of their suspension, so Fox came up with the new X2 shocks.
Fox's most techy air shock to date, the Float X2 is clearly taking aim at Cane Creek's Double Barrel Air. Like the CCDBA, it features a large-volume air can and a self-equalizing negative air chamber to increase small-bump sensitivity. Both shocks allow use of air volume spacers to control progressivity, and each offers four independent adjustments controlling high and low speed damping for both compression and rebound.
It's those four knobs that make the $630 Float X2 such a fun toy, and their design gives it a slight edge. First, they're easy to reach on almost any frame design. This is quite a perk because you'll be playing with them often at first. Also, they're intuitive to adjust. Each of the four bolts have the same number (22) of clicks to work with, so it's easy to keep track if you're adjusting two or more knobs in unison.
The performance of a shock this tunable is difficult to criticize. There's nearly always a way to adjust out anything you don't like about it. I could bore you with the back and forth I underwent changing volume spacers and turning knobs, but I'll just say I eventually found the perfect setup. The only elusive bit is the high-speed rebound damping. Its effects can be difficult to put a finger on, so don't be embarrassed to just leave it in the middle.
Much less subtle is the new climb setting just introduced on both the air and coil X2 shocks. Fox and Cane Creek have taken very different approaches to what we once just called a lockout. While Cane Creek's Climb Switch focuses on maintaining traction and keeping the shock active while still increasing stiffness and ride height, Fox's Lever simply provides an almost rock-solid platform somewhere around the shock's natural sag point. Until you hit the platform, the Float X2 will behave according to the same damping characteristics it would on the descents. But no matter how much weight is shifted back onto the shock, it rests at about the same point.
If this feature were on a shock designed for moderate travel bikes, the more active approach of the Cane Creek Climb Switch might be preferable over that of the X2 Lever. But without taking drastic measures, pointing a 160-mil-travel enduro bike uphill will often leave you sitting more than halfway into its travel. Depending on the conditions, a neutral riding position may offer more comfort and efficiency on the climbs than would active suspension.
Existing Float X2s and even the coil-sprung DHX2 can be fitted with the new lever, though it'll need to be installed by a suspension professional or by Fox themselves. Adding the feature won't affect the shock performance while left open. There's no doubt that the climbs are harsher when using this simple solution, but don't worry. They'll be over more quickly.