Posted on November 22 2017
The DPX2 has spent a little bit of time now on board our test bike Yeti SB45. A fitting combination of bike and shock, or maybe too much shock for the bike, but either way - why not. We strive for endless traction, we strive for endless efficiency and endless performance but in reality, we have to settle for the happy medium. The DPX2 is exactly that, it fits the mold for the 120-150mm trail bike that demands sensitivity as well as efficiency.
Our test bike was initially fitted with a very capable Fox Dps EVOL 2018 model rear shock. A well-proven performer in the Fox shock range and further improved in 2018 with the updated EVOL one-piece air can and valving update within. But, for the SB45, we were looking for a more playful feel without losing other important features that are relatively important to the style of bike, such as the climb mode for it's ability to truly pedal efficiently to the trails or on the long fire road climbs and outback epics.
The DPX2 has 3 modes of high-speed compression dampening offering 3 modes of 'open, medium and firm'. That being said, the DPX2's 'firm' mode is not as firm or as solid as the DPS, but it is very efficient and as efficient as it really needs to be for the sort of application it is designed to suit. The medium mode is essentially the one setting we felt little need for time in, but that's more of a personal thing, not a reflection on the shock's performance in that mode.
The open mode is where we really felt that the shock was impressive - as it should be. Starting off like most first rides on a new shock, we wound out our low-speed compression (LSC) dial to it's lightest, or 'fully open' setting by turning it counterclockwise to it's stop (out of 11 clicks). As a 72kg rider running just on 200psi, the setup on the Yeti measured me close to 28% sag ready to ride. A 0.2" volume spacer inside the EVOL air can was supplied as 'stock', and suited the air spring progression I was after just perfectly. With the LSC wound out and running 28% sag, i was only needing to use a few clicks of rebound (from fully open) to get my desired personal feel. As a side note on rebound - generally speaking, a lighter rider will require less rebound dampening to control the air spring due to a lighter pressure being used, thus a heavier rider will likely use a relative additional amount of rebound dampening to control the spring rate's return.
The ride: The interesting thing with the DPX2 is the simplicity in setup. The adjustments are easy to use, obvious in the difference they make and not overly complicated. Whilst that's not what we necessary always look for in a shock, it was a very fitting and almost instant match made in heaven in it's new home on the Yeti SB45 (think similar applications such as Santa Cruz Hightower, Trek Fuel EX, Rocky Mountain Instinct etc). The big initial response was the overwhelming increase in rear wheel traction. And that's the single reason why we carry suspension around in the first place - Traction. It's not there to look pretty (ok sometimes it is), it's there to perform and traction is its purpose. Traction = Speed. Speed = Fun.
Much of this added feel of the wheel being glued to the ground is a combination of the EVOL air can's sensitivity, and the compression pistons wide openings allowing the updated 5wt fluid to move more freely through the revised piston's circuit.
As with any shock with the external reservoir, additional volume of oil and air allows for a more consistent ride over the longer runs and more demanding rides. This was certainly apparent and at not one point did we feel that the DPX2's performance was deteriorating during it's first few months on board the Yeti. In fact, after 3 months of a mixed bag of riding endeavors, by several riders of varying weights, the DPX2 showed zero signs of deteriorating performance - which is a good thing.
The DPX2's damper was a little noisier compared to the DPS in it's action on the Yeti, but not enough to cause any concern, and it's only a result of the way the oil flows through the piston and compression/rebound circuits compared to the more standard styling of the inline DPS.
The range of rebound adjustment for me @ 72kg was massive, too much in fact but again - not a bad thing. It has a suitable range of adjustment to control the spring rate whether you're running 150 or 300psi. The EVOL aircan can be tuned in 2 ways (see more info below) although I found that the 0.2" 'stock' spacer was fine for me at my weight/pressure setting. It provided enough support towards the end of the stroke and at not once was there any harsh bottom out's felt. Well specced from Fox on this one. But, spacers can make a significant change to the end-stroke air spring progression and if contemplating the DPX2, we would recommend investing in the volume spacer kit so you can dial in the progression that suits you. It's one of those 'no right or wrong' adjustments, and it is often relative to the rider weight. ie - a heavier rider using a higher pressure setting is more likely to use a larger size volume spacer.
Interestingly, and new for 2018 with the DPX2, is the ability to fine-tune the initial sensitivity in the EVOL section of the air can with these little EVOL volume spacers. The EVOL section makes up the negative air component of the air can, and it's volume can be reduced in size depending on rider preference to minimise initial stroke sensitivity (by adding spacers). This would, in turn, reduce how far the shock sits into its stroke, and in theory keeping the bb height higher reducing pedal strikes and reducing sensitivity. Greater mid-stroke support would also come as a result of adding volume to the EVOL, although we felt no need for that in our testing. These are fine tune adjustments, and should only be considered once air spring pressure is dialed in. I personally felt no need to 'tune down' the EVOL component of the air chamber on the DPX2.
Summary - The DPX2 has a very defined place in what it suits and what it's capable of. It's very tuneable (internally, externally and by user or service center), it's a welcome improvement on the older brother 'Float X', and is a package that the average rider can understand. Ie - it's not the most advanced shock out there, but it has the settings and the range of adjustment that 98% of us will only ever need. We feel the DPX2 has a strong future on any bike in the 140mm (+/- relative 20 or so mm) arena, and with it's wide range of sizing options available from 184mm to trunion and metric options - It will be a welcome addition and upgrade for bikes where the inline shocks were previously the only options. A big thumbs up from us, and this one's staying glued to the Yeti - for now. :)