Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Batteries For Your Mountain Bike

Image courtesy of c_g
"Hey Hon! Can you grab the battery off the charger for my mountain bike? I forgot to get it on the way out the door."

That sound ridiculous? Well.....it's already a reality! Fox and Rock Shox have entered into the electronically controlled suspension game, and it won't be long before you start hearing a lot more about this stuff.

Probably the most intriguing of the two efforts for most folks will be Fox's set up, since it was they who collaborated with Shimano to come up with the electronic hardware that got Di2 off the ground for road bikes. Of course, Shimano has been using the battery to operate drive trains for three years now, but Fox was quietly coming up with a way to utilize the system for themselves. Of course, drive trains are not Fox's forte', suspension is.

So they cooked up this system that uses the very same battery a Di2 system does and hooked it up to work the settings on your suspension fork, because- you know....it's easier than doing it manually.  There is a servo motor inside the right leg of the shock shown here, and also a servo that mounts on the damper for the rear suspension. Wires run into and out of the shocks, to the battery, and up to a ring shaped control module mounted on the handle bars.

Image courtesy of c_g

Fox dubs the technology "ICD", and it controls the "Climb, Trail, and Descend" modes on Fox shocks. For a full on tech geek fest, see "Pink Bike's" write up on the stuff here.

The stuff was also reported on here for Twenty Nine Inches

Thoughts: While it is easy to rail against batteries, technology in general, and all that on bicycles, one needs to pause and consider whether or not electronic suspension "mode selection" is worthwhile. Because this isn't really doing anything but making the selection of what platform your shock is set to easier to choose.  Keep in mind that the complete system, (Fork, damper, battery, charger, and harness with controller), is upwards of $2000.00USD. All that hard earned cabbage just to make switching settings easier? 

While the technology is impressive, for the minimal gains you get in faster switching of shock settings, one has to wonder why the system doesn't just decide all that for you for 2G. To my mind, this is the real benefit that needs to be pursued, if you're going to attach a battery and wires to your rig, anyway. 

Cannondale tried this once, and those that got to ride the prototypes said the technology showed lots of promise. Valving operated by electronics that could keep the wheels glued to the ground better than by mechanical means. Well, that sounds like something worth going after, and perhaps Fox is headed in that general direction with this. 

Also of interest is that since Fox collaborated with Shimano on this technology, it may be why we haven't seen a Di2 mountain bike group. Maybe. Just a speculation there that Fox has an agreement to keep that technology for shocks for the time being. 

Finally, as I pointed out yesterday, I am a single speed kind of guy, and I don't even fiddle with my suspension settings now. Why would I even want this Fox gizmo? Well, certainly, as the Pink Bike post stated, the long travel guys with their "squishy" bikes might like a "push to pass" button, but otherwise, I don't really see this as anything but a gizmo at this point.  An interesting, expensive gizmo at that.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Mark,I'm like you...gimme one gear (and as long as my spine can handle it...) a good steel or carbon rigid fork-even with decent v-brakes,and I'm happy :)

The DC