Yesterday we got a chance to go try the Fox Poduim RC3 replacenemt shock. Designed to replace the shock on your current MX bike, it also brings an all-new adjustment into the motocross world.
You may be surprised to think that with the top level of performance that stock motocross bike come with that a company is out there thinking they can compete with this. And compete with all of the revalve shops and parts that are established and prover too. Well, this is the goal of Fox Shox and it is a program that is well under way. In fact they have been running the development program of the new shock for a few years now, starting with Gavin Grayck in 2007 and continuing on with heat race wins, poduim finishes in mains this year in the Lites class with the Star Racing Yamaha team. When was the last time you heard about a non KYB, Showa or WP suspension component up there?
We assmembeled out at Zaca Station MX track in central California for the test day. Fox rolled out all the players in it’s line, from a new 2010 Ford F150 Pre-Runner Truck with huge internal bypass shocks on it coming as standard equiptment, to mountain bikes, ATVs and side-by-side’s all equipped with suspension upgrades, or vehicles that come standard with Fox shox. Dirt Rider rolled out our 2009 Honda CRF450R and 2009 Kawasaki KXF250, bikes that have some pretty good suspension stock to see what Fox could do with the shocks.
The trickery is in the details. The Podium’s prelaod adjuster is a huge step in the right direction with a system they call F.A.S.T (Fast Adjust Spring Tension) that uses a 4mm allen bolt to tighten a coller which allows the spring to be turned to adjust the preload force. The spring is pinned to the adjustment collar and is threaded so that it turns easily, with the fixed collar held in position by the shock resevoir so it does not spin, dis-simalar to the style on a KTM shock.
Though the compression, high-speed compression and rebound damping are all pretty generic, the standout feature is a bottom out control. With a 24-position (all of Fox’s clichers have 24-positions) adjustment, it works on the very end of the stroke, near the last inch of travel and had a big effect on the stroke of the shock there. It takes the force and dissapates it through the oil and through heat instead of storing the energy in the shock bumper, making it difficult for the shock’s rebound damping to control. This B.O.C. is built into the top of the shock body and works in conjunction with a secondary piston on top of the shock shaft. As the shock gets close to bottoming it closes off the cylinder and the oil must pass through the adjuster or the blow off valve.
Inside the resevoir Fox uses a non-bladder system to increase the oil and nitrogen volume of the shock and reduce the effects of fade from heat. They also have a very safe way of isolating the Schrader valve from the high heat it might be exposed to from the exhaust systems on current four-strokes.
So how does it work? Well out initial day’s riding was pretty positive. Both Pete Peterson and myself came away impressed that we could just bolt on the shock and not suffer much at all, if any with setup from high-performing stock bikes. In my case I was instantally impressed with the shock and right away felt a need to make the fork work better (more on that later as Fox has some stuff in the works.) Then I got a really good feel for the way the B.O.C. works on controling bottoming. But more than that I felt it really helped on jump take-offs where the bike compresses deep into the stroke. I could control the pop or amount of spring the bike had on liftoff. The clickers all make a notable change, as much, if not more than stock. Pete wasn’t so sure the level of adjustment was necessary for his riding level or his technical ability but was able to dial in a setting for himself just the same. This especially considering the shock, with a spring will retail for just under $1000.
Is this worth the price? Well in a lot of racing applications where you only have a quick practice session to dial in your setting, the F.A.S.T spring prelaod ability and having access to fixing a bottoming issue on a track (usually a bike will work good everywhere and just have a spot or two where it bottoms, having to adjust the compression for those areas means compromise on the entire track) with just a screwdriver is a pretty big advantage to having a dialed setup.
Currently Fox has a revalve service with three levels of tuning available. And in the near future they will have a replacement cartridge for the forks with some new to our industry innovations inside of it. Knowing the advancements they have made on the bicycle suspension arena and some of the technologies in truck shocks with bypass methods, it could be anything. And they weren’t giving it up either!
The shock comes with a free 90-day valving garantee and is reccomended to go 40-hours between rebuilds. It has the latest coatings and some are even proprietary, high-quality bearings top and bottom and a one-year factory limited warranty.
Look to the pages of Dirt Rider for the completed testing of the Fox Shox when we get it done and a for a video just click here.
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