Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Electronic suspension - the future of MTB?

Slowly but surely electronics are making their way into mountain biking. Recently Shimano released their Di2 Dura ace electronic groupset for road bikes. It wasn't long before mountain bikers started experimenting and now the term Di2 hacking is used for an aftermarket version of the electronic shifting mechanism for mountain bikes. Ki2 has commercialised this and is offering what they call a new standard in high performance.

The first real OEM mountain bike electronics were announced by Fox this month. Fox unveiled what looks like the future in mountain biking suspension with their 2013 ICD ELECTRONIC SUSPENSION REMOTE SYSTEM. With acronyms like iRD (intelligent ride control) and iCD (intelligent decent control) MTBs are starting to sound like 4x4s. This system has been on the bikes of the team pro riders like Geoff Kabush for a while now. So now there is no more speculation about the mysterious battery and wire leading from the bar to the fork. Essentially it's an electronic switch to toggle between Climb and Descend modes on the fork and, on full sussers, the shock. A rotating switch activates this on the bar. Eventhough this technology has been unveiled now before the new bike season it is probably too late for 2013 bikes as they will have already have been specced last year and gone into production.

With more and more single speed rigid bikes hitting the trails, the arrival of 2X10 and now 1x11 XX1 from SRAM, it makes you wonder if all of this is electronics is necessary. With many riders looking to go back to the simplicity, reliability and lower cost of these basic machines well have to see if increasing the cost and complexity is going to be the right route.

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