Check out these all-new shocks from Fox, dubbed the QS3 adjustable shock absorbers. Not everyone wants or needs super-adjustability with shocks that have 10-20 clicks of adjustment, and Arctic Cat especially has been keen to this for many years. Thus, some of the 2016 models from Arctic Cat, Yamaha and Polaris will be fitted with these new shocks. They feature a very simple design with a nice big lever that you can grab with your gloves on, giving you three settings; soft, medium and firm. The rotating lever has detents so you can easily and clearly know when you have set the adjustment to the next setting. Each of the settings provides a noticeable difference from the others.
Full counter-clockwise (position 1) is softest. Going straight up to position 2 is medium, which is 29% stiffer in low speed compression and 31% firmer at high speed compression (shock shaft speed, not vehicle speed). Cranking it to position 3 is the “firm” setting, and it ramps it up significantly. This setting is a full 81% firmer than position 1 in low speed compression, and 45% firmer at high speed compression. What about rebound damping? All three positions stay within 3% of each other, maintaining a constant rebound damping across the board.
Now for the cool part – the QS3 adjustable feature is found on the front ski shocks AND on a new remote-reservoir rear track shock! The rear shock appears to be a Fox Zero Pro design, fitted with a remote reservoir and the QS3 adjuster.
What does “QS3” stand for? Simple – Quick Switch 3. It is quick and easy to switch the adjustment, and there are only three settings. Arctic Cat will be using these shocks on their 2016 ZR El Tigre and ZR Limited models (which previously did not have adjustable shocks). Yamaha is using it on their 2016 SR Viper R-TX SE (Yamaha is instead calling their shocks a Fox PB design, not actually using the QS3 designation). Polaris uses them as the front ski shocks on their AXYS Switchback Adventure models.
One thing that we noticed with these shocks is that going to position 2 cranks up the high speed compression (think sharp-edged bumps), where going to position 3 also cranks up the low speed compression (think roller gully-type bumps, or g-bumps where the weight of the sled is sucked down onto the suspension). This is where one most notices the differences between the settings. Also, when the shocks are brand new, they will be pretty firm, even in the softest #1 setting. Just give them some time, as they break in and get some miles on them they will loosen up some. At first we were somewhat surprised they were as firm as they were at the softest setting, but were reminded that shocks over time loosen up, start to lose some of the nitrogen charge, and gradually get softer. So, it’s not like the softest #1 setting is going to be mushy soft, no sir. These are high performance shock absorbers for high performance machines, so if you want a cushy mushy setting, look elsewhere. It would be more accurate to say we go from firm to firmer to firmest rather than describe them as soft, medium and firm. Of course, the internal base valving could always be changed to move the entire performance window one way or the other, but based on our initial testing these shocks are truly worthy of high performance applications.
From the September 2015 issue of SnowTech Magazine.
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