Unboxed, Weighed, & First Ride – 2013 Fox CTD Suspension
Cycling is individual sport, but for every satisfying solitary ride, there’s an equally amazing experience to be shared with friends. Riding is a lifestyle, and we are all of are part of one big community, which is unfortunately (and altogether to frequently) punctuated by elitism. The new trail oriented CTD products by Fox seek to level the playing field by simplifying the esoteric art of suspension setup.
For many riders, from seasoned shredders to absolute noobs, the art of tuning their suspension has long been a complete mystery. The task is made doubly difficult on full suspension bikes because the fork and shock are designed as their own separate systems. For 2013, Fox is offering a new and and more intuitive way of taking advantage of your suspension. Designated CTD, which stands for Climb, Trail, and Descend, the new components are designed to work as a complete system. They’ve condensed the dizzying array of settings into three simple modes (plus a few clicks for fine tuning) which are now readily accessible with just a flick of the wrist.
*Updated* With new graphs
Our test unit, a Factory Fox 120 Fit CTD w/Trail Adjust, lowered to 110 mm of travel tipped the scale at 3.32 lbs before the steer tube was chopped. For 2013, the rear shock didn’t shed any weight compared to last years iteration. Fox claims the Float CTD Boost Valve w/Trail Adjust shock with no reducers tips the scale at .46 lbs or 208 gms. Our test unit, per out request, came pre-installed with a Fox Float Air Spacer.
The CTD system/nomenclature is being universally implemented across 32mm and 34mm trail line up and D.O.S.S. dropper post.
When placed in Climb mode, the suspension activates the firmest low-speed compression setting for a firm pedaling platform.
The middle setting, Trail mode, provides “a moderate low-speed compression tune” for most of your riding.To further fine tune this setting, there are three different low-speed compression tunes, which vary from soft to firm. The Descend mode is for attacking the downhills and is equivalent to running no low speed compression.
The shock employs an identical system. The blue has three different positions, and the black ring rotates for three separate compression adjustments in trail mode.
“The benefits of CTD forks over RL forks are obvious with CTD offering the additional middle Trail setting for all around handling. With RLC, riders could adjust the lockout and low-speed compression, so basically two settings. While the low-speed compression adjuster had eight clicks, most riders were either wide open or about three or four clicks in, and once it is set that is where most riders kept it. The comparison charts shows how the adjustable Trail setting provides similar adjustment to low-speed compression and riders still have the option for a plush setting on-the-fly with the Descend mode. Rather than having to choose a single low-speed compression setting for all around handing like the RLC, CTD gives riders the option for a stable controlled Trail setting as well as a plush Descend setting on-the-fly.” – Mark Jordan, Fox Global Marketing Communications Manager – Bicycle Division
The shock comparison chart is fairly straight-forward. RL, RP2 and RP23 all offer two settings while CTD offers three with the option for fine tuning with Trail Adjust. While some bikes benefit more from the three settings than others, overall the rider has three quality damping options at his/her disposal. – Mark Jordan
All new for the 2013 shocks are these new polymer bushing. Fox claims the new hardware reduces friction by nearly 50% on some suspension designs and lasts 10x as long compared to the old DU bushings. Interested? Your local bike shop can order a retrofit kit for your existing shock.
First Ride Impressions
Quick video clip of the suspension shot during a late evening ride
Giving up the familiarity of the old RLC seems like a daunting task until you spend some time on the new CTD platform. The old system offered a lot of adjustability but how often did you really that to it’s full extent? In the past it was always, flick propedal on, ramp up the forks low speed, and you where ready to suffer, flip everything back and it was time to party. The new settings offers more versatility for less effort.
The climbing mode ramps up the low speed compression just enough to offer a firm pedaling platform without being too firm. Where it’s most noticeable is in the rear shock. Before, the RP23 was limited to two settings – ProPedal and no Propedal. One setting was purely for descending and the other could be fine tuned for climbing. The new CTD shock has a very firm feel in the climbing mode, because there are two other settings – one for trail riding and the other for really rough stuff. This shock offers big advantages for bikes with poor pedaling characteristics. The new shock is so impressive, we’d even go so far as to call it one smooth operator. Whether it’s the new bushings, or the Kashima coating, we can’t really tell, but it definitely feels like there’s less stiction up top.
Most of my time was spent in Trail mode. This setting offers three points of adjustment which simulate three clicks of low speed compression. Each click up from soft towards firm made the suspension feel noticeably more progressive. For hitting the local freeride trail or anything with big hits and sweeping berms, all of our testers favored the suspension dialed into different settings in Trail mode. This is where the fork felt most progressive and kept the bike riding higher in it’s travel when slaying berms.
The Descend mode feels incredibly plush initially and is ideal for rocky conditions. Whatever situation we threw ourselves into, the suspension handled it with grace. It’s fairly progressive, predictable, and doesn’t bottom out harshly.
Some will lament that the new system is too simple. That it’s “dumbed” everything down, and that the old RLC (rebound, lockout, and compression) system really wasn’t that hard to understand. We felt the same way till we had some personal time. The new Fox CTD equipment is great.
The geeks will complain that they’ve lost some adjustability but the new system offers benefits in the ways the old system didn’t. Most riders (such as myself) never took advantage of all eight clicks of compression. It was always just a few clicks or none. The CTD line of trail forks, shocks, and dropper post provide a wider range of on the fly-adjustments. The kind of thing you’ll actually find yourself reaching down and using. Instead of fiddling with the lockout threshold or low speed compression, a quick turn from Descend to Trail to Climb, and you’re always set for the next section of trail.
Should you upgrade? That depends on a lot of factors, but we can’t see any reason why you should shy away from the new Fox Kit. We’ve got a fork/shock in for a long term review and will let you know how it fairs after we put it through its paces.
-Lighter than last years lineup
-Good things don’t come cheap.
-Some technical minded riders will miss being able to fine tune their settings.