A brilliant assistant.
If you’re confused by knobs and dials, or you’ve just bought a bike and want a short cut to ideal set-up, the Quarq Shockwiz makes a brilliant assistant.
If you’ve ever felt like you need a degree in mechanical engineering and a PHD in vehicle dynamics just to set up your suspension, then Quarq may have a gizmo designed just for you. It’s called the ShockWiz and it combines data-logging with tuning advice to help you optimise your bike to particular terrain and your riding style.
Originally developed by Nigel Wade from Dusty Dynamics, following a successful Kickstarter campaign the product was bought and refined by SRAM’s electronics arm – Quarq – and is now on sale to the public. As such, it’s the first affordable device of its type on the market.
ShockWiz works by measuring the variation in air pressure in your fork or shock (it’s not compatible with coil springs) as it cycles through its travel, using the mathematical relationship between pressure and suspension displacement to work out how much travel you’re using and how fast you’re using it.
Based on this data – collected 100 times a second – and the algorithms developed by Wade and the Quarq engineers, an app downloaded to your smartphone will give you suggestions about what needs changing to improve performance.
The unit itself is small and light, with power coming from a replaceable CR2032 watch battery, and it is protected by a rubber boot and sealed against the elements. Slots in the rubber boot allow it to be attached to a fork crown, shock body or frame using zip ties, but we’d like to see a more reusable solution here – such as a Velcro strap.
We managed to find ways of connecting the unit to every shock we tried, but the Shockwiz didn’t want to play ball with some Fox products we tried, as the hose chuck simply didn’t have the depth to depress the core of the Schrader valve. This does appear to be an isolated incident though.
Before riding you have to calibrate the unit to your fork or shock. It’s a bit of a laborious process, but once complete you can screen grab the calibration info and input it manually on subsequent session, which saves a lot of time.
We found it only took two or three short climbs and descents, a total of around 15 minutes riding, before it had collected enough data to give a very confident set of recommendations. You work through these in order, from top to bottom, and the app gives very clear and easy-to-follow descriptions and explanations to guide you along the way.
For example, being one step out on air pressure requires a 5 per cent adjustment. Being two steps out requires 10 per cent, and so on. Once you’ve made a change, or a number of changes, you start a new session and, all being well, the air pressure will now be in the green. But it’s not just air pressure and sag that the Shockwiz offers guidance on – it’ll advise on volume spacers, rebound damping and both high and low speed compression damping.
The recommendations it gives are tailored to the riding style you choose via the home screen on the app. Lively will suggest a running less rebound damping than Aggressive, for instance, so it’s vital to read up on these definitions to make sure you’re making the right adjustments for your preferred riding style.
Having used the Shockwiz to set up several bikes now, we believe it’s a useful, but by no means essential, tool. If you have a reasonable knowledge of suspension and a good idea of what you like, and what you don’t like, the Shockwiz will probably just confirm what you already know.
But if you are confused by all the knobs and dials and have no idea where to start, or you’ve just bought a brand new bike and want a short cut to your optimum set-up, the Shockwiz makes a brilliant assistant.
However, at £360 per unit, it’s prohibitively expensive and as such makes real sense is as an after-sales tool for shops and suspension tuners. Being offered the opportunity to borrow a unit, or a couple of units, when you buy a bike from a dealer would be a great incentive for any prospective consumer. And we’re sure there are plenty of riders who would benefit from renting one for a day to help set up their existing bikes.