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Fox float shocks in cold weather

big-ted

Danced with A, attacked by C, fired by D.
Sep 27, 2005
1,403
46
Vancouver, BC
I have an old and basic Fox Float R that, by and large, does what I ask of it with minimal complaints. However, once a year, like clockwork, when I choose to go riding in cold (~ freezing) temperatures, an internal seal perishes and I end up with air mixed in with the damping oil. I'm not exactly sure which seal is the culprit, as I've never been so inclined to take it apart beyond a basic air sleeve service. I take it in to my friendly service guy who fixes it and jokingly grumbles at me for riding too hard on basic/old equipment.

I struggle to believe I'm the only one that's had this problem. Anyone care to offer any advice? I know o-rings come in different durometer seals for different conditions. Is this something worth looking at? I guess if it's a specific seal design my chances of finding something suitable or slim to none. Am I doomed to repeat the mistakes of Nasa (ref: Challenger disaster) for ever more?
 

staike

Monkey
May 19, 2011
247
0
Norway
Letting your bike stay in room temperature is a pain in the ass? I hope you weren't thinking about heating it in the microwave or something stupid like that. :D
 

Steve M

Turbo Monkey
Mar 3, 2007
1,995
23
Whistler
Floats use a particularly hard o-ring in the seal head. This is necessary with these shocks because the DU bush in the seal head is very short (required to maintain low overall length of the shock), which means that if the o-ring is not hard enough, it can be flexed sideways to the point of leakage quite easily. However, in the cold, it's simply too hard and prone to leaking oil out (or air in!) when the shaft flexes slightly sideways. Short of completely rebuilding your shock with a softer o-ring for cold weather rides, there is not a lot you can do about it.
 

Lelandjt

Turbo Monkey
Apr 4, 2008
1,729
129
Breckenridge, CO/Lahaina,HI
I've ridden Float shocks since '02 ('02, '05, '09, & '10 models) and living in New England and a Colorado ski town I've used them down to about 10*F. They've always performed fine except the two traits you'd expect:
The oil gets thicker so compression damping is firmer/harsher and rebound is slower. I sometimes speed the rebound a click to compensate.
If you set your air pressure inside the spring gets soft once it gets cold. I leave the bike outside while I get dressed and then check the air pressure in the cold to get an accurate setting. Even in the spring/fall with only 20-30* temp differences inside/outside I use this technique to assure the air pressure I'm riding with is what I want.

Warming up the shock won't help unless your ride consists only of hard and fast enough bumps to keep the oil temp up. For an XC ride it's gonna stay pretty close to ambient temp.

Blowing a damper seal in the cold is not a common thing and if I were you I'd contact Fox.
 
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