Just one of the areas of a snowmobile where technology has grown by leaps and bounds the past half-dozen years is the shocks.
It has leaped again with the introduction this fall of the new Fox Racing Shox Float AirShox.
Basically the Float AirShox eliminates the need for the coil or steel spring, replacing it with a patented adjustable progressive air spring. This air spring works in unison with the shock's nitrogen gas velocity sensitive oil damping system to provide a balance of lightweight, control and progressive bottomless performance. Fox claims you cannot bottom out this new shock. How can that be? As Fox explains it, during the second half of shock travel the spring force builds up rapidly, which virtually eliminates harsh bottoming.
The uniqueness of the Float shock is the ease with which you can adjust it according to your weight and riding style. Some sledders seem to be intimidated at the thought of adjusting their shock coils for a better ride. The result is a less than desirable ride. With the Float, a snowmobiler can infinitely adjust the spring force with air to accommodate any rider's weight and type of riding. According to Fox, this new shock's application requires 40-80 psi and the company provides a Fox HP Pump with the shocks to easily adjust the spring force in each shock. The starting pressure in each Float shock is 50 psi. This is how easy it is to adjust the ride of the shocks. If you feel excessive bottoming, increase the pressure by 5 psi. Repeat until you no longer feel it bottoming out. Just hook the pump up to the shock and add air. Easy and complete instructions are included with the shocks. If you think the ride is harsh, decrease the air pressure by 5 psi. Repeat until the ride is no longer harsh. Pretty simple, isn't it?
Air, it seems, is more reliable than steel springs. There can be as much as a 25-pound variance in springs whereas air can be exact. The shock ramps up quickly because that's the nature of air, Fox engineer Everet Ericksen said. That also means a progressive spring curve as the air compresses inside the shock.
Seal of Approval
Fox designed a special sealing system that virtually eliminates the possibility of water contaminating the oil. The sealing system uses Fox's exclusive new Samurai Wiper, which features a patented scraper-lip technology to keep water, snow and dirt out. Ericksen explained that the Samurai Wiper works like a squeegee and increases the shock's long term durability because it is able to keep all that foreign matter out. When you look at the Float's design, you can see that the oil chamber is separate from the air chamber, and, according to Fox, heat won't transfer from the oil chamber-where it can heat up when you're really working the suspension and shocks-to the air chamber.
Another important point for us westerners is that the air inside the chamber is not altitude sensitive. That means, as you gain altitude and the air gets thinner, the shock isn't going to do anything funky on you.
Almost-we said almost-lost in this new technology is the fact that a set of Float AirShox shaves 4-6 lbs. off a sled, compared to stock coil-over shocks. Each shock weighs 2.8 lbs. Float AirShox are built using 6061 T6 aluminum impact forgings, which help keep them light.
Float shocks are fully revalvable and rebuildable. Maintenance of the shocks is almost as easy as setting the ride to your liking. Fox suggests sledders monitor the air pressure in the shock once every other month. Then, every year, perform air sleeve maintenance (complete instructions are included) and rebuild the shock every 3,000-5,000 miles. That's better than having to rebuild a shock once or twice every season.
Two Float AirShox and one pump retail for $895 and are available for most makes and models of newer sleds.