Review: DPX2, the New Trail Shock From Fox
The DPX2 Factory series comes with the sexy Kashima coating.
Released a little over a year ago now, the Float DPX2 is Fox’s replacement for the old Float X. For some reason, the Float X didn’t quite catch on with riders, and the design was a little dated by the time it was discontinued. (The hideously inaccessible rebound knob didn’t help matters.)
Enter the DPX2, the replacement for the Float X. The DPX2 is a hybrid of the X2, a DH air shock, and the DPS, Fox’s lightweight XC shock. As such, it’s designed to meld the best features from the two.
Retailing at around $554USD, the DPX2 is a little more pricey than the top-tier trail/enduro offering from Rockshox, but a little less expensive than shocks like the Cane Creek DBair and the DPX2’s big brother, the X2.
The DPX2 is equipped with the same twin-tube damper architecture as the Float X2 and DHX2, which in short recirculates oil as it goes. Fox claim that this reduces system pressures, which in turn results in better small bump compliance.
Other features include the newly revised, single piece EVol air can and Dual Piston technology. The new EVol can has a larger negative air chamber, which is designed to give a more linear feel with better small bump compliance again, in a simpler package than the previous version. With two pistons, there are separate damping circuits for open and locked, which means more control over the damping.
Given that the DPX2 is essentially a slimmer, simplified version of the X2 (and smaller than the retired Float X), this means there is more clearance for bottle cages on enduro bikes, which could make this a smart choice for many riders.
Available in a range of metric, trunnion metric, and imperial sizes, there should be a DPX2 shock available to fit your bike.
The 3-position compression dial has a small 10-click adjuster in the center for open mode.
Setting the jargon aside for now, how easy is the shock to set up?
Well, it’s pretty simple actually, yet the shock still offers a helpful range of adjustment exactly where you need it. The Float X2, for example, has adjustments for high and low speed compression with an optional lockout lever. The DPX2 only has low speed compression and rebound adjustment, which I found to be plenty; the majority of riders out there will probably feel the same.
The lockout has three positions: open, firm, and locked. On the Factory series, the open mode has a further 10 clicks of compression adjustment accessed by a 3mm hex key. The rebound knob has a sensible range of useable adjustment, and I found it easy to dial in a setting that I like.
You can tune the air volume in the can using a spacer kit that Fox provides. The process is the same as previous Fox shocks and is easy to do. The spacer kit you want is for the 1/2″ air shaft, and fits the DPX2 and old Float X, but not the DPS.
The rebound dial is easy to access on most frame designs.
My first impression of the DPX2 was great. One thing I struggled with on the Rockshox Deluxe Re:Aktiv shock that I replaced was the small bump sensitivity vs. the bottom out. I found that I couldn’t get the two balanced nicely no matter what pressure and combination of spacers I used. I either bottomed harshly all the time, or had poor small bump compliance, as I could feel it kicking in on every compression.
Once I had set my sag correctly and dialed the rebound in on the DPX2, the shock instantly felt like a huge improvement over the Re:Aktiv. The small-bump sensitivity on the DPX2 is excellent with almost zero breakaway resistance, and absolutely keeps the rear wheel glued to the floor. This was something my shop colleagues remarked on as well — this shock is super plush.
Not only is it plush, it has a really nice ramp up from stock, meaning no harsh bottom-outs, even while using all of the available travel. This has made the bike feel much more confidence-inspiring off drops and bigger hits, as it almost feels bottomless. All of this results in the bike tracking the ground really well. The bike feels much more reactive to changes in terrain, is super smooth, and much more composed all around. So far I haven’t felt the need to tune the volume spacers, as it felt great right out of the box.
One really nice thing about the Factory shock is the additional 10 clicks of compression adjust in open mode. This means you can tune the open compression for whatever you’re riding. It’s pretty easily done with just a 3mm hex key. This firms up the open mode a minute amount, which is great for days where you might want a tiny bit of platform damping for pedaling or on big jump trails.
I typically run a bit more compression on open when I’m going out for big, pedally rides, where the descents and traverses can be rough, and I don’t want to compromise on suspension performance. This configuration offers a pretty efficient platform. Otherwise, I might open it back up again for a day in the bike park.
The DPX2 makes for a composed ride on pretty much any trail.
Plushness is great and all, but how about when you want to go back uphill? Well, the ace up the DPX2’s sleeve is the compression adjust. Firm mode is subtle but effective; bump compliance is still good, but this firms up the low-speed compression to provide a really efficient pedal platform. This may not be quite as firm as some people like or are used to, but personally I’m a fan. It works great on singletrack climbs (and rough fire road), when you want active suspension that pedals well with little bob. It complements the modern trail bike well, where suspension designs are fairly efficient anyway.
The lockout, as mentioned earlier, is on a totally different damping circuit. This is pretty much a true lockout, but with a reed valve for blow-off should you hit a bump. The upshot is you don’t damage any internal parts of the shock should you forget to turn it off.
Similar designs have been used in the past, but I find that the reed valves have been set in a fairly useful way such that the blow-off is slightly less harsh than many other shocks. The DPX2 valve has a slightly lower threshold.
I’m not usually one to ever use a full lockout, even on the road. After all, who buys a full suspension bike only to lock it out? I find that the lockout on the DPX2 allows me to sit into the sag a little better and opens up at a nice point, which means that it feels fairly comfortable still, yet very efficient. I found myself using it much more than I have on most other rear shocks, on the road, and on some smoother fire roads.
The DPX2, unlike the X2, uses a fairly standard air can, which means that it can be serviced without the use of special tools. The shock also uses the standard Fox Float seal kit, so servicing the air can is the same as ever. (That is, it’s easy.)
The DPX2 is an excellent upgrade option for many bikes, and looks great too.
In the approximately 3 months I’ve had the shock, it’s been 100% reliable. Despite doing my best to heat it up on big alpine descents in summertime Australia and New Zealand, the damping has been consistent.
It’s worth noting that the OEM Performance version of the DPX2 that is coming stock on many bikes right now does not feature the additional compression adjust on open, and does not have the Kashima coating. However these are things I could probably live without, and the DPX2 should perform great either way.
All in all, I’m very impressed with the new DPX2. It seems to tick all of the right boxes for the intended audience (trail/enduro riders) with regard to features and performance, and is definitely a high quality component. The shock has nice sensitivity, feels great on rough terrain, tracks really well, and has a great range of easy-to-understand adjustment for a variety of situations. The DPX2 totally transformed the feel of my bike from the stock shock and is absolutely a worthy upgrade, or a great OEM shock.