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Fox's all-new DHX shock is a "trail bike" shock that can handle a whole lot more. | Max Ritter photo.

It seems much of the mountain bike world has become coil-curious in the last few years. While air shocks offer easier adjustment, tend to be lighter, and will work with nearly any frame, coil shocks just have that undeniably smooth feel that allows for gobs of traction when you need it most. Fox has had several coil shocks on the market for the last few years, namely the new DHX2 (updated last year) and the more budget-friendly Van shock (also known as the Marzocchi Bomber CR). These were both aimed at the DH and enduro end of the spectrum, but with more and more mid-travel bikes becoming popular as every day rides, Fox decided to update their trail bike shock to include a coil option. Enter the 2021 Fox DHX. It’s touted as a trail bike shock, but I wanted to see if it could hold up to long, aggressive descents and a summer season of enduro racing. I’ve been testing it aboard my 2021 Rocky Mountain Altitude for the past few months, and its performance as a simple yet effective piggyback rear shock has been wildly impressive.

There’s not a whole lot to the new DHX, and that’s a good thing. It’s got a climb switch, and 11 clicks externally adjustable low speed compression and low speed rebound adjustment. The coil mounts as it does on most other coil shocks, using a preload collar with detents and a wire ring spring retainer on the other end, making for easy swaps to different spring rates. The firm mode of the climb switch is tunable by a suspension shop if you would like to change the way it feels, but I found that for my 180-pound self it provided plenty of pedaling platform without feeling too harsh. Finally, Fox carried over the large rubber bottom out bumper from the DHX2 that prevents any harsh bottom out feeling if you do huck a little too big to flat.

Traction you can trust is a nice feeling, especially when pinning it in loose conditions. | Montana Enduro Series photo.

So, how does a simple trail bike shock fare on downhill tracks? For reference, my Altitude was previously running an air-sprung Fox Float X2. The bike is relatively progressive, so it’s fully capable of running a coil shock – in fact, the Rocky Mountain Pro Enduro team all run coils. After bolting the new shock on and spending a few test runs to get the settings dialed in, I spent a few days riding some of the longest descents I could find in the PNW – North Bend’s Raging River State Park. The steep, rooty descents of trails like CCDH and Physical Therapy were the perfect testing ground – ripping these trails and their relentless roots and chunk requires as much traction and support as you can get. The DHX did not disappoint. The rear end of the bike felt absolutely glued to the ground, particularly when airing and landing into nasty sections of roots. The shock felt supportive, even after repeated big impacts, and when it came time to mash the pedals to get extra speed to clear a gap or bust up a short climb. No matter the trail surface or conditions, the rear wheel stayed planted and predictable, allowing me to push my comfort level and clock some of my fastest times yet. That same feeling carried over to riding blown up bike park trails at Silver Mountain, and then back home in Jackson, where brake bumps and nasty holes are a dime a dozen. The shock simply erased them. Riding lap after lap did not take a toll on my body the way it normally would have, and I'm sure my bike's components were happy too.

So, what’s the downside, you may ask? With all that traction and suppleness, the shock does lose a good deal of the “boing” you might love from an air shock. Of course, that’s kind of the point of a coil – to provide a linear spring rate that allows your suspension to feel more active and smooth. Bottom line: your bike will feel less poppy and lively on the trail, but the tradeoff for being able to absolutely mach through nasty trail sections is very worth it. In a way, the bike feels like it just gained an inch of rear travel.

The DHX does not shy away from big features and has performed consistently for the past five months of heavy riding. | Luke Gentry photo.

I’ve had the shock on my bike since April and have had zero issues with it so far. I did bump up a spring rate after a few days, from 500lbs to 550lbs, as I found that I was bottoming out more than I wanted to and rode too low in the shock's travel. This did give the bike a bit more of a lively feel and prevented any further unexpected bottom outs, while making everything feel more supported. The shock’s performance has not faded at all, and there has been no evidence of any oil leaking from the seals, even after five months of heavy riding.

So who’s this shock for? It would make a phenomenal upgrade on any trail or enduro bike if you find yourself riding aggressively through tech and chunky trail. At roughly 750 grams, it will certainly add some weight if you are currently running an air shock, but trust me, the traction and control you will win by swapping over is well worth it. It's simple, it's durable, and it works exactly as it should. 

The DHX ($570 + coil sold separately) is available as both a trunnion and metric mount in the following sizes: 

Metric: 210 x 50, 210 x 52.5, 210 x 55, 230 x 57.5, 230 x 60, 230 x 65

Trunnion: 185 x 52.5, 185 x 55, 205 x 60, 205 x 62.5

About The Author

stash member Max Ritter

I manage digital content here at TGR, run our gear testing program, and am stoked to be living the dream in the Tetons.