There’s been whispers of Fox’s electronically-controlled suspension for years now. Occasionally, you’d see a photo from at a race pit, an interview from a trade show or a post on a spy forum. Then last year, you started seeing mysteriously uninhabited ports and mounts show up on new frames, and guessing would inevitably follow. “I think that’s for that Fox Live thing.” We knew it was some sort of electronically-controlled suspension, a concept that made Formula One cars so much faster, that the FIA banned the technology in 1993. But what would could it possibly be doing on a bike?
You know those funky levers mounted on the handlebars of many XC racers, Europeans, nerds, and various combinations of the three? The ones that allow them to lock their shocks for the climbs with just the flick of the thumb? Fox Live is like that, just way more advanced, and you don’t really need to flick your thumb anymore. Live Valve adjusts the fork and shock automatically as the trail changes. Accelerometers on the fork, rear axle and frame constantly track the movement and angle of the bike, and they send that information to the controller 1,000 times per second. The controller then takes that information and adjusts the suspension accordingly. From the moment the sensors read the trail to the moment it completes the shock adjustment, just 3 milliseconds will have passed. For reference, a blink of an eye takes 300 milliseconds. Fox claims that a sensor on the fork will detect a bump, send a message to the solenoids in the damper and open up the compression before you ever feel the bump happen. On a typical ride, the system might adjust the suspension over 450 times per hour. Try doing that with the flick of your thumb.
The system has six different settings to match how you want the system to work. One of those setting is off, so if you want you suspension fully open all the time, that’s available also. The other five settings are set up by bike manufactures to work best with the bike they are building. Each setting will work differently depending on whether you are ascending, descending, in the flats, or even airborne. You can also still adjust open-mode compression, rebound and bump sensitivity of the Live Valve with the system installed.
Fox claims the battery takes one and a half to two hours to charge, and can last between 16 to 20 hours of riding, depending on how rough the terrain is. Or you can just charge the system for 15 minutes to be used during a two hour ride.
We are still only slightly closer to understanding exactly what all this witchcraft means. So far, nobody at Bike has even done a parking lot bounce on any of this. It all seems too good to be true. We can’t wait to find out.
Want to learn more? Check it out on Fox’s website.