The indicated numbers are counting clicks from close (i.e., a compression setting of “4” is four clicks from maximum damping). Smaller numbers therefore correspond to more damping, which might be a bit counterintuitive, but counting clicks from closed is considered to be the best practice for mitigating the effects of assembly tolerances in comparing settings from one shock to another. And anyway, the compression and rebound knobs are also labeled with an arrow that says “firm” and “slow”, respectively, in case you lose track of which way is which.
As per usual for Fox, the Float X is available in three different trims — Factory, Performance Elite, and Performance. The Factory and Performance Elite shocks feature the same damper design, with the only difference being a shiny gold Kashima coating on the Factory version, whereas the Performance Elite model gets a black anodized finish. Fox says that the Kashima coating reduces friction compared to the black finish, but while we haven’t tested both versions of the Float X back-to-back to compare, we haven’t found it to make much difference in other Fox products over the years. Finally, the Performance trim gets the black finish of the Performance Elite, but with a pared-down damper that loses the compression adjuster. The Float X Performance is only available on complete bikes, but the other two versions can be purchased aftermarket.
The Float X also features a substantially bigger air piston than the DPX2, and the result is that a given rider on a given frame should need significantly lower air pressure than with the DPX2. That will be most beneficial to heavier riders and/or folks on higher-leverage-ratio bikes, who could find themselves bumping up against the 350 psi pressure limit for the DPX2. And indeed, I wound up running about 30 psi less in the Float X than the DPX2 I used for comparison on our Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol test bike (190 psi vs. 220). As per usual for an air-sprung shock, the Float X has provisions for a variety of sizes of volume spacers to tune the amount of spring ramp-up deeper in the stroke. The spacers are available in 0.2 through 1.0 cubic inch sizes, in 0.2 cubic inch increments, plus an 0.1 cubic inch mini spacer that can be clipped onto any one of the other spacers to split the difference between sizes. Volume spacer installation is tool-free, by simply unthreading the air can by hand (remember to let the air out first!) and snapping a new spacer into place.
Somewhat unusually, changing the stroke of the Float X is also an easy DIY task. It’s accomplished by removing the air can (as you would to change volume spacers) and then removing the two bolts that secure the plate that the bottom out bumper runs into, and adding or removing spacers behind it as desired. Spacers are available in 2.5 mm thicknesses and can be stacked on top of each other as needed. If you’re making a significant change one way or the other you’ll also need replacement bolts (standard M3 x 0.5 flat head cap screws) of an appropriate length to compensate for the change in spacer thickness. On a lot of bikes (including the Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol that I tested the Float X on — check out the review for more on that) it’s possible to increase the shock stroke to bump up the rear travel slightly, but it’s critical to check for clearance before you blindly go longer — you may run into issues with linkage parts interfering, the tire hitting the frame, or other such issues, depending on the bike in question. Consult with your frame manufacturer if you’re not sure.
All of that does come with a slight weight penalty as compared to the DPX2 — our 210 x 50 mm Float X test shock weighs in at 479 g, 60 g heavier than a DPX2 in the same size. That’s probably not make-or-break for most people (and the folks who do care would likely be better off with an inline shock, such as the Fox DPS anyway) but it’s still worth noting. How it works on the trail is a whole lot more important than any minor differences on a scale, so let’s get into that part of the Float X story.