Is there another revolution coming in suspension? Are we in a time when we need to straight-out replace the shock on our top-flight motocross bikes? Well, Fox Shox thinks so and, like in the late 70′s, they are giving it a go.The Podium RC3 is the company’s first offering for full-sized machines in quite some time, and it has a catch, too. It has an additional clicker control adjustment for bottoming out, something that no other shock has. Similar to the shocks it will be replacing for late model MX bikes, it has spring preload adjustability (but with a much more sano and easy-to-use system), high and low speed compression, rebound and Fox’s proprietary bottom out control. We sampled the shocks on our 2009 Honda CRF450R and 2009 Kawasaki KX250F.
Straight away, with first generation settings, it was easy to go out and ride the bikes as if the shocks were from the factory. The settings were in the range of what we’d consider a standard setup, especially on the Honda, if not a little better since the shock is shorter and lowers the bike slightly in the rear. But on the Kawasaki our faster riders felt as if the shock faded on a number of occasions. We sent both of the shocks back along with the fork from the Honda to have everything updated to the latest valving settings (since we were riding the shocks at a very early stage in their life and Fox was still working on final settings, our input now included). This included the installation of the Fox fork tube cap with dual bleed screws on our ’09 CRF450R (similar to the 2010 CRF250R), a $329 service. The caps also have a very convenient on-the-fly compression adjuster.Now the package on the Honda really started to shine. It was, as expected, like a full-revalve and the bike worked seamlessly, and was balanced, too. It has more of a dead feel in the stroke where the bike absorbs bumps and stays extra planted. Other than that the overall action was less springy, more controlled and gave the bike added stability, which most riders appreciated. The bottom out control has a nice effect mostly on the takeoff of jumps. It gives the bike added control, or less kick, by tuning the resistance of the shock before it gets too low in the stroke on jump faces. This is especially helpful in tuning for those nasty kickers on the lips. It didn’t seem to make a huge difference on actual bottoming out, like in an over-jump, where the shock performed admirably.
After the revalve the KXF shock lost the fading feeling our testers were reporting. Revalving to suit your style is a service that is free for 90-days after purchase. Overall, upgrading the shock to a $995 Fox shock is very similar to having a high-quality revalve of your stock suspension, but you end up with an extra shock in the deal and it has added adjustability in the bottom out control that can make the pickiest rider happy. And after a full season of beating on the shock, we can say the durability is as good as anything we have tried as well. -Jimmy Lewis