When it comes to our incredibly capable rides, the information and knowledge about geometry, frame materials, parts and tyres is there for all to know. Yet the most misunderstood and most important part in our daily ride is by far our suspension and how it’s set up.
Take this to the top level and it could be argued that the majority of bikes lining up on the start line of any World Cup race are all now very similar. And as a result, aside pure rider skill and fitness, races are more and more often won as a result of dialled (or not so dialled) suspension tuning.
So how does a punter like you or I get the best results from our suspension? Of course we can take our shocks (and maybe bikes) to a suspension tuner, of which there’s more and more legitimate ones these days. Although sending a shock off with the only info being rider weight and intended use, it’s a blind folded approach. Most of us don’t have access to bulky MotoGP-esque data-acquisition equipment so if you’re like me, you tune your suspension to how you like it to feel on the trail. Whether this is giving us the best results from the incredible shock offerings available these days is where I know many of us fall short… Enter the ShockWiz.
From humble beginnings on the crowd funded Kickstarter page, ShockWiz was developed by an Australian legend we now know as Nigel Wade. His mission was creating a simple wireless device that could give us riders information about our suspension performance, then provide recommendations on how to adjust our forks and shocks to improve them and go faster, bigger, or smoother. All simple stuff right?
The heads of SRAM duly took note and from the original prototypes built by Dusty Dynamics, the Quarq ShockWiz was born. Yep, SRAM bought Nigel out and their high-tech power meter making arm of Quarq took the reigns, shrinking it dramatically.
Inside the tiny, waterproof case is a highly accurate pressure sensor and microprocessor that samples air pressure 100 times-a-second as you’re riding.
The ShockWiz then makes a truckload of calculations based on the changes in pressure, and is able to work out how much travel you’re using, and whether your fork/shock is bouncing, packing-down, or bobbing. From there, the free app for your smartphone connects with the ShockWiz and makes recommendations on how you should adjust your suspension to address any issues with some baseline guides for different riding styles. The ShockWiz is compatible with most air-sprung forks and shocks on the market, but it won’t fit or work with everything.
ShockWiz is easily installed, only taking minutes and a couple of zip ties, with one side of the air hose is threaded onto the ShockWiz, and the other is threaded onto your fork or shock. Once it’s hooked up, simply pair it to your phone, and then calibrate following the apps instructions. This gives the app the baseline numbers required to accurately measure how the shock is behaving. Then you need to go ride, lots! The more you ride with the ShockWiz, the more it learns about your suspension, and the more accurate its recommendations become.
We’ve had a little bit of time with the ShockWiz and initial results from the app settings are working and feeling good. Pretty incredible considering only a few years ago this tech only available to the biggest suspension manufacturers and race teams.
With an affordable price tag, and one that will suit groups of riders prepared to all chip in, we’re pretty sure many riders will be benefiting from the results. We’re working on a feature with Greg at Cannon ShockWorks to go the extra mile and see how far we can tune our suspension and get real world performance increases using the ShockWiz, using repeated runs on known trails and shock valving to really improve the suspension characteristics. Stay tuned for more.
Story // Matt Holmes