Shorter shock on SX Trail?

Hey Lee.

I have an older 05 sx trail frame I am looking to build up for light freeride use. It uses a 5th element 8.75×2.5 shock. The headangle is too steep though even with the very long 66 forks it originally came with. I am wanting to run an 06 for 36 talas on it so it becomes more of a problem. The other issue is that I’m not a huge fan of the stock shock and I have access to a dhx5 in 8.5×2.5 size. Is this my silver bullet? How much difference will the shorter length make to the h/a?

Cheers, Jonny

Whistler, September 2005: Jeff Bryson never complained that his SX Trail was too steep. As a matter of fact, he said, “This is the best bike I’ve ever ridden.”

Hey Jonny,

1) A FOX DHX 5.0 will feel much plusher and more consistent than the stock 5th Element.

2) Your SX Trail is too steep? I find that hard to believe. SX Trails are rallied by the best riders on the sickest terrain in the world. Either: 1) your terrain is way out of control, 2) your suspension is set up wrong, 3) you don’t know how to ride the bike or 4) some combination of the above. Numbers 2 and 3 are both true in 99% of cases.

3) According to a quick calculation, the shorter shock will slacken your head angle 1-2 degrees.

That is a significant difference. Doctor Brandon Sloan, the genius behind the SX Trail, says an experienced rider can feel a difference of 1/4 degree.

To sum it up: The shorter DHX will make your bike plusher and slacker. If you make the change, make sure your suspension and technique are dialed.

Go forth and rip!

— Lee

Added after the first comment

Jonny raised a valid question about the published geometry numbers. Look at this business:

I measure both bikes with 65-degree head angles.

– The 2005 model with the 66 fork has the high bottom bracket shock mount.

– The 2006 model (same frame) with the 36 fork has the low bottom bracket shock mount.

This tells me the 2005 frame with a 36 and the low BB shock mount would be sweet.

6 replies
  1. Jonny says:

    Lee bro. Comon, before you attack my riding skills or suspension setup- you could have read the q properly. According to spec the 05 sxt is 68.5 ha. The newer models are 66.5. So yeah, I think an experinced rider like myself might notice the 2 degree difference. The real issue is that this 68.5 listed is with the 2005 66 which is a long fork compaired to the 36 I plan to run. 595 v’s 545 according to my research. 50mm would have close to 2 degree effect on the HA no? Bringing me back to 70.5. Ouch- thats the HA on the epic.

    But I suspect this all to be out of whack. The listed HA must be a typo, or was measured with a shorter fork. Photos of the bike look much slacker, and as I type this I have found a 8.5×2.5 old fox shock to fit and measure. With a pike up front ( 525 a-c) the ha is at 65.5 and bb at around 13.5″. Nice. So it doesn’t really add up. With the 36 it may in fact be on the slack side, but at least I have the provision of using the steeper shock shuttle.

    The only other issue is the fit of the shock. I have read that the boost valve hits on enduros and there might also be an issue with the spring retainer. I’ll find out and update when I try it.

  2. leelikesbikes says:

    Hey Jonny,

    I was not attacking your specific setup or skills. When I answer these questions, I try to answer them for everyone who might have a similar question. And fact is, most riders are equally bad at bike setup and core riding skills.

    You’re right: Those numbers do seem jacked up. I just added to the above post. Check it out …

    BTW: The 2006 SX Trail pictured above has a DHX shock.

  3. WD says:

    I’ve got a pretty much stock 05 SXT. The head angle with the low BB shuttle is very, very slack. Much more slack than the advertised angle. I can’t believe that someone thinks it’s too steep unless something else is wrong. The 8.5×2.5 shock may work but you’ll need to check the link clearance to the frame. With the shorter eye-to-eye yet the same stroke, the link will be 1/4″ closer to the frame w/o any weight on it, and with the same amount of stroke at full travel it might hit. It’s the same issue with fitting a 8.75×2.75 stroke shock. In that case the eye-to-eye is the same as stock, but you’ve got 1/4″ more travel. In both cases, the link ends up 1/4″ closer to the frame at full travel.

  4. WD says:

    FYI, as proabaly already seen, there is a LONG thread on MTBR about fitting a 8.75×2.75 DHX onto the ’05 SXT and other Enduros. It can and has been done–some with frame contact, some without. Some have installed travel limiters, others have ground the weld off the link. I have a DHX coming in the mail for mine so I’ll find out soon enuf. I plan on using the stock 5th coil’s spring retainer and maybe a small washer under the bottom-out bumper for a travel limiter.

  5. brett says:

    long live homebrew suspension mods!

    as much of a headache some of this voodoo can result in, there is some merit in understanding what your bike is going to do with a specific length shock/stroke and going for a different one…. as there is in trusting the manufacturer and going with the recommended size/stroke length… Go for it and report back so others can learn…

  6. Jonny says:

    Thanks guys. Got the shock on no worries. No valve or retainer issues. Geo is pretty spot on with the pike. Will be interesting with the 36.

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