New 2013 Fox CTD Float Forks Rides Like its “Coil Sprung”!
The new range of Fox suspension sees some pretty major changes, and not just with the new CTD damper system. Their forks have lost up to 200g across the range making them lighter and more efficient. New mounting hardware on their rear shocks is said to reduce friction by nearly 50%. Founder of Pivot Cycles, Chris Cocalis has said the new shock eye bushes have made a bigger difference to shock feel than the earlier move to Kashima coat did. The new bushing design is more durable too, according to Fox.
However, the biggest news is, without doubt, the new 3-mode Climb-Trail-Descend (CTD) damper system. It features at both ends of the bike, trying the front and rear suspension together. ‘Climb’ is a firm platform that’s designed primarily for efficiency under hard pedaling, although it will still blow off if you hit something. ‘Trail’ engages a moderate level of low-speed compression damping to limit dive and bob but still allows the suspension to perform for general trail riding. ‘Descend’ is soft and plush for maximum traction and control. The top-end ‘Factory’ level products will offer a three-position ‘Trail Tune’ adjustment that lets you decide how firm or soft you’d like the middle setting to be. Fox also varies the CTD tune with the travel, and the shorter travel forks get a stiffer tune on the ‘climb’ mode (although it’s still not a lockout).
On the Trail
We tested the 150mm travel Factory level Float 32 CTD fork. This has the more active, trail-oriented damper tune which is nice. Even the firmest climb setting sees the fork still move for both bumps and rider input. The ‘Climb’ damping adds harshness and minimises bob compared to the other settings but remains pretty active overall.
Flip to the Trail mode and you’ve got a real suspension fork on your hands. It’s plush and has just enough low-speed compression to reign in brake dive and make it nicer to pedal when out of the saddle. The three tuning options within the Factory level Trail mode produce comparatively small changes to the damping – there’s enough variation that fussy suspension tweakers will appreciate it but other’s might not notice the difference.
The deceased mode is very buttery soft and supple. Some may prefer tackling steep and techy trails in the Trail mode, as it’s more resistant to brake dive and body weight shifts. Descent is good for the fast and open stuff where you want to stay glued to the trail.
Overall I feel that similar settings could be achieved with the older RLC fork damper, but CTD is more user-friendly.The three modes are quick and easy to access on the trail with less chance of inadvertently bumping other settings. For those who think low-speed compression damping is some form of a garden sprinkler system, CTD is a real step in the right direction.
For me, the most amazing improvement for 2013 is the new air piston that features in their longer forks. Previously the Float air spring would ramp up in a very progressive manner. Only if the fork was set up very soft could riders use all the travel, leading to lots of sag and mush in the early travel.
The new ‘long travel air piston’ comes on all Float models from 130 – 180mm and features a bigger air chamber combined with a longer negative spring to provide initial suppleness. It makes a chalk and cheese difference to the suspension feel and the fork regularly uses all of the travel without having to flat land from a 3m cliff. Fox talks about providing a ‘coil-like’ feel and they are 100% right, this new air fork brought back strong memories of riding their Vanilla coil sprung fork – very nice!
Possibly Fox could have made the spring rate too linear for the ‘huck-to-flat’ crowd. I have bottomed out the fork on some badass landings however at least the ramp-up can be adjusted by adding more Fload Fluid oil to the air chamber; a very simple and easy way to create a more progressive spring curve.
So far the new Float fork looks really good but we’ll keep riding them and let you know how they go in the coming months.