We tested Fox’s FLOAT 2 shocks on one of our Polaris demo sleds last winter. We’ll post the full scoop about their performance on snowgoer.com next month, but to get the the full product testing story and pictures now, pick up the season premier issue of Snow Goer magazine on newsstands now.
We installed a set of Fox’s FLOAT 2 shocks ($695/pair) on our 2009 Polaris Shift 136 demo sled last winter and it felt more planted and stable on the trail than it did with the stock coil-over dampers. The sled stuck to the ground over hard washboard bumps rather than bouncing and jarring through the handlebar like we’ve felt on some other sleds with early generation FLOAT shocks. In all, these Fox shocks did a nice job absorbing bumps and providing a comfortable ride while still being capable for an aggressive pounding over sharp ripples or deep moguls.
One tester said the shocks “worked well all day long with a good balance of small bump compliance and large bump absorption. In the past I haven’t been impressed with the ability of air shocks to offer both of these traits, but the FLOAT 2 seem to have cured this problem.”
What’s new about the FLOAT 2? Fox borrowed technology from its FLOAT X Evol race shocks, including its high-flow damping piston and an improved negative spring inside the shock.
According to Fox Factory Powersports Race Manager Jeff Favorite, the new spring was engineered for a smoother, suppler ride through stutter bumps than the original FLOAT shock.
Also new is the seal head design, which allows more air volume so a rider can set a higher air spring pressure for roll resistance and bottoming protection while still getting a supple ride in the chop. We kept ours aired-up to a relatively low 50 psi.
A shock does more than control ride quality; it influences how a machine handles, too. In winter of 2007-08 we ran a Polaris Dragon with another shock manufacturer’s air shocks and an IQ Shift with coil-overs. The Shift handled better than the Dragon because the coil-over shocks resisted body roll through turns better than the air shocks did. Last winter with the set of FLOAT 2, handling was sharp and the sled cornered flat. While this isn’t a perfect comparison, it shows that Fox has addressed a previous downfall of some air shocks.
Installation was rather easy; a roughly 45-minute job for our Polaris IQ. The shocks include several bushings and o-rings that were an exact fit for the chassis’ shock towers; no bending, prying or other brut force necessary. For our sled, we had to release all of the air-spring pressure so we could compress the shock and attach it to the chassis and lower A-arm.
Our opinion of the FLOAT 2 is good. Just as history has shown, new air shocks out-perform their predecessors. So if you want the lightweight advantage, easy adjustability and high-tech look of air shocks at a reasonable price, Fox has your best option — for now.
— Andy Swanson