I recently was given the loan of a Quarq ShockWiz by Bike Remedy in Stonehaven.
I was pretty excited to fit this to my rear shock (a Cane Creek Inline) and to see what suggestions it came up with.
ShockWiz is essentially an air pressure sensor that attaches to an air spring, so it will work for both your fork and rear shock. There are a few exceptions to this, such as air springs where the positive and negative chambers are linked when the shock pump is attached. A full list of known incompatible forks and shocks can be found on the ShockWiz website.
The ShockWiz then connects using bluetooth to a phone app to give you feedback and suggestions about your shocks performance. The app allows you to tune your suspension to four different styles efficient, balanced, playful and aggressive. It also gives you feedback on different shock performance characteristics and suggestions as to how to improve them.
All this is based around a “Shock Tuning Score” and “Confidence Rating”, both being scored out of 100%. The Tuning Score is how close you are to a dialled setup based on the tuning style selected. With the confidence score being how sure the ShockWiz is, basically the more ride time you have the more confident the ShockWiz will be.
The unit itself is pretty small and comes with a silicon sleeve to prevent damage to your suspension whilst also having multiple mounting holes. It attaches to the schrader valve on the suspension via an adapter hose, there are two sizes to allow for different fitting positions.
Installation is a fairly simple affair, attach with the adapter hose to your suspension and cable tie securely to the shock body or fork CSU. You then link to your phone via the app and then follow the apps instructions for calibrating the unit to your shock or fork.
The whole process can be done in 10 minutes, so perfectly doable in the trailhead carpark.
Once fitted the shock the unit automatically switches on when the shock is compressed and then switches itself off when it detects no activity for 10 minutes. It will gather data for as long as a “session’ lasts, that can be one ride or a months worth of riding, it doesn’t matter.
All the storage and processing is done within the ShockWiz so you don’t actually need your phone with you on a ride for it to work, just to view the feedback. That said, who doesn’t ride with their phone these days and the fact you can get feedback in realtime is pretty sweet. One of the drawbacks of the unit storing the data is that you cant export or save a session to compare different tunes against each other, a downside but not a deal breaker.
On the trail the unit is more or less invisible, working away, its little red light blinking away letting you know its still on. I found myself periodically checking the app as the tuning score and suggestions would change the more I rode. A fire road climb to the top of a hill compared to the root filled descent down the other side will obviously provide different data for the unit to work with.
Traditionally, when setting up your suspension, you would ride and repeat the same section of trail, making adjustments and notes. Now I’m sure the ShockWiz would perform best using that kind of approach, however the fact that the app recognises deficits in the data gathered and will tell you to go ride a road climb, or a rock garden suggests that you don’t have to. The ShockWiz is tuning for the entire ride, not just one descent.
Sure if your being strictly scientific about it, you could start a new session, ride a descent, push back up without compressing a shock then ride the descent again, thus only gathering data about that descent. But most riders are not racers and need a shock tune for the entire ride, not just one section, thats where I believe the ShockWiz comes into its own.
For the average rider this will speed up suspension set up, you have a weekend pass, why waste it shock tuning? For racers I can see this becoming as common as the helmet cam during practice. Being able to easily tune your suspension to the course during practice so you are perfectly dialled for your race run, very tempting.
But the thing to remember, it works within four tuning styles, what feels best for you might not in fact be a perfect score. You might prefer 84% efficient or 92% balanced for example. So the ShockWiz is a tool, a useful tool, but it does not replace a basic understanding of suspension setup and what your LSC, LSR, HSC and HSR actually mean. It still requires you to think and interpret what it suggests, albeit very useful and easily understood suggestions.
The big drawback is the price, its not cheap, it will set you £360.00 which you have to put into context. The new GoPro Hero 5 is £399. A good fork will set you back just over twice that, but whats the point of a high performance shock or fork if you struggle to set it up correctly?
That is where shops like Bike Remedy come in. most riders set their suspension up, note the settings and revisit maybe when winter starts or when the trails dry out. They aren’t looking to tweek every ride. So being able to rent the unit for a weekend, get some good miles in that are representative of your normal riding, adjust and ride again. Ideal.
As with all new tech their will be naysayers, it’s a gimmick, why spend money on something you can do for free? What was wrong with rigid? But I can certainly see the appeal of it and know plenty of riders interested in testing their own suspension with it.
For more information on buying or renting a ShockWiz I’d go speak to the guy’s at Bike Remedy in Stonehaven.