Interbike 2011: Fox Racing Shox introduce Smart Pump concept

Uses the IRD smart phone app to calculate initial rider set up

Fox Racing Shox has offered a glimpse of their future at Interbike 2011 in the form of a concept product that pairs an ANT+ enabled electronically calibrated shock pump, called Smart Pump, with Android smart phones or Garmin GPS units, to run versions of Fox's IRD (Intelligent Ride Dynamics) application.

The purpose of the pump and app is to make finding a rider's initial set up, including sag and rebound damping settings, easy and accurate. The system also makes setting up both front and rear suspension an easy one-person job.

"Whether you're a media person trying to explain how to set up your suspension, a bicycle dealer selling a $5,000 bike and trying to offer a proper set up, or an OE working very hard to put together a nice package of all the components and getting your chassis to work with the suspension, and then trying to teach and encourage people to actually set it up properly—for 20 years we've been trying to do this and there have been various degrees of success, and various degrees of lack of success," said Mario Galasso, Fox's bicycle division vice-president. "This is a glimpse of a technology that we've been working on that we call Smart Pump."

Fox's bicycle division VP, Mario Galasso, introduces the Smart Pump concept

According to Glasso, the Smart Pump takes the air spring, which is a known volume, compression ratio and diameters, and uses it as a position sensor. "It's already there, it's already in the shock, it's already in the fork," he said. "We're not trying to integrate anything that costs more, weighs more, or makes it more complicated. The air spring is already there and we've developed a pump with smarts in it that communicates to a smart phone application."

Garmin's Edge 800 will also communicate with the smart pump over the ANT+ protocol via a software update, and enabling the Edge to see the pump through it's set up menu. The first step is scanning QR codes on Fox's suspension so that the pump knows the specifications of the spring it's working with; it works both with forks and rear shocks. "The neat thing here is that you've got a device with no user interface [the Smart Pump] but a lot of complexity that you can make simple by having a conversation with the rider using the richer user interface of a phone or an Edge 800 bicycle computer," said Ross Stirling, the team lead for ANT+.

The QR code on a Fox F32 series fork

Those simple questions: what's your weight? What type of shock or fork is it? And corresponding prompts: sit on the bike; slowly step off the bike; cycle the suspension; add or reduce air pressure, take the complex task of setting up sag or rebound damping and reduce it to an instruction any rider can carry out. The Smart Pump sends real time pressure readings and damper 'clicks' to the device after it's been initially attached. After the entire instruction is created, the pump spits out a file that can be named and saved for reference.

Fox's IRD application

Rebound is the most interesting assessment that the Smart Pump makes. "It'll measure your rebound speed," said Galasso. "It uses the air spring as a position sensor, and in a fairly stable environment, it can also be used as a velocity sensor, so we can read how fast the thing is rebounding after we've set the right spring pressure for your weight. Again, it's a concept. It's something we're introducing here at the show. These electronic things are something we're calling Intelligent Ride Dynamics."

The Smart Pump is not currently for sale, nor did Fox offer any estimate on its availability or confirm if it will ever be available in this form.

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