Project Indy - Fox Shocks

Indy Project Sled - Fox Shocks

Nov. 01, 2005 By ORC STAFF

Fox Shocks

Cost: $350 (US)
Risks: No more than changing shocks
Benefits: Immensely improved ride
Tools Required: sockets/wrenches
Parts Required: Everything you need is supplied with the shocks
Mechanical Skill Required: If you can turn a bolt . . .

The XTRA-10 rear suspension I bought had Fox shocks in it and I have always heard that it is not a good idea to mix gas shocks and standard hydraulic shocks in the same sled. So, I ordered a set of Fox shocks from Polaris. I had considered trying to significantly upgrade the IFS on my sled, but finally decided that it was not worth the effort and expense and in the case of at least one of the options I was considering, the risk. I'm glad I chose the option of putting Fox shocks up front and otherwise leaving the IFS with the Snow Cross kit alone.

The shocks came from Polaris with the bushings installed so that the shocks would mount with the body down. This adds to the unsprung weight of the suspension, so I popped the bushings out and switched the shocks around to mount body-up. Gas shocks can be mounted upside down because of the way the gas and the oil are separated by the piston, so why not mount them in the "best" manner?

The downside is that this position leaves the shafts more exposed to potential damage. The shafts of Fox shocks are critical parts, since the seals seem to be so delicate - even the slightest nick or pit on the shafts will quickly destroy the seals and result in a loss of oil. Once that happens, the shock is shot until repaired. Rebuilding a Fox shock at the end of the season is fairly inexpensive (considering the cost of replacing standard shocks when they fail and in light of the handing improvements gas shocks give you) but replacing the shafts is not. I have not tried shock socks, but I would like to see if they help. So far, the shocks on my Indy have faired well, but I have not riden that many miles on it yet (thanks a lot there, El Nino ol' buddy!) and I now have the afore-mentioned full-body cover for trailering - I had to replace shafts and seals many times on my EXT SP, which I towed on an open trailer with a standard cover. I suspect that trailering is the number one cause of Fox shocks shaft damage, although I have no proof of that.

The swap was as easy as changing a set of shocks, of course - four bolts out, old shocks out, new shocks in, new bolts in - yes, I recommend changing the bolts, it's cheap insurance and it looks better too. The IFS gets a lot of abuse.

The handling difference is dramatic. I bought shocks valved for and springs with rates designed specifically for the 500, but I might try a set of multi-rate springs next season and I will more than likely have a good race shop revalve all my shocks to match the new weight of the sled. But even given that potential change, in stock trim they worked really well. Not a hint of fade, handled the big bumps with ease and didn't hammer me on the smaller bumps at slower speeds. The handling felt better than it ever has.

They are not inexpensive, even through Polaris, but they won't break the bank either. There are alternatives, I have heard good things about the Comet Ride-On shocks and Ryde FX or Ryde AFX (A for adjustable) are good values for the money, although not rebuildable. The Ride-Ons are rebuildable, although I don't know how many shops can work on them. Almost any dealer can work on Fox shocks now.

The biggest trade-off is the increased maintenance. I highly recommend you rebuild once a season, but I know folks who don't rebuild them at all. They swear they still work fine, but I just can't believe that there isn't a lot of degradation in performance. If you can handle the higher maintenance and the cost isn't prohibitive and you ride hard enough that you fade your hydraulic shocks, I recommend them. If cared for according to the recommended maintenance schedule, their lifetime is practically unlimited, unlike non-rebuildables, so be sure to factor that into your cost deliberations.


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