DATA acquisition is an engineer’s best friend, especially when it comes to setting up a suspension system. Getting that data from, say, a car is pretty easy, but for a bike, it’s a tougher proposition.
And it’s worth considering that when a bike costs the better part of five or six grand, it makes sense to being getting the very best performance possible from it.
A young Aussie engineer has come up with world-beating technology that can help to quickly and efficiently set your single or dual suspension bike up with optimum settings in a fraction of the time it used to take.
Nigel Wade is a young mechanical engineer from Western Australia, whose idea for a data reader has gone from a successful Kickstarter campaign to being picked up by American company Quarq, which in turn is part of the SRAM empire.
His ShockWiz device is a suspension measuring tool that measures the suspension behaviour of air-sprung forks and shocks, sending that data via Bluetooth to a phone app that can suggest ways of tweaking settings to make the suspension work more efficiently for a given application.
For example, the app can be configured to offer advice to find a soft, balanced, or an aggressive tune, with suggestions for air spring rate, sag, rebound speed and even the internal spring curve of the suspension part in question.
The ShockWiz is zip tied to the bike and the unit attaches via an air hose. A process of emptying and refilling the fork or shock is required to give the ShockWiz a baseline, and then you're away. It doesn't really care what it measures in terms of brand or type - it just measures what's going on with the air pressures.
The more data the ShockWiz gets, the better its advice is, and we found that at least of 30min of solid riding gave the best result. An easy to decipher app can then hook up to the ShockWiz via Bluetooth, and offers advice on which way to tune the fork or shock.
We tested the ShockWiz on a X-Fusion Sweep fork under our young speedster Max at a recent event at Thredbo. Starting with the factory recommended air spring settings of 60PSI of air pressure and mid-way settings on all other settings like rebound and compression, it took two runs down the same trail to provide a full read of data.
Suggestions were actually minimal, which tells us that a lot of suspension ills can be cured straight off the bat via correct spring sag settings. We sped up the rebound rate (the speed at which the fork extends back from being compressed) by two clicks (from 12) and slowed down compression a tiny bit, and Max declared himself happy with the result.
It also worked well with a burlier version of the X Fusion fork called the Metric, although we lacked the volume spacers to fully tune the fork as the ShockWiz suggested. It also suggested that the fork's rebound was okay, when in fact it was topping out quite obviously, requiring a full three clicks of rebound damping to make it go away.
Downsides? The ShockWiz does need to be calibrated every time it’s attached to a new device. It’s not at all hard, but is a bit time consuming.
As well, you’ll need to make sure that your fork or shock is compatible with the ShockWiz. It won’t work on coil spring units, for example, or a handful of air-sprung forks that use a dual-air spring (there aren’t too many of those, though).
We also had a bear of a time making the Android version of the app work with the ShockWiz, though the iPhone version hooked straight in. Speaking of the app, a recent update has added the ability to store profile tunes, which is great. Previously, all data was erased when a new device was set up.
Granted, this is high-end stuff for most average users, and the physical cost of the unit will restrict its use to bike shops and the like. However, if you have, say five suspension units in your garage (two duallies and a hardtail), or a circle of mates who are also keen to improve the performance of their big dollar rigs, then the ShockWiz is a great addition to your tool box.
Cost: $529 (sample online price, Australian retailer)
Weight 45g (head unit only)