In case anyone was wondering, yes, I’d noticed the Bikerumor coverage of Kabush’s Scott bike with the Di2 battery-powered fork and rear shock lockout that are the exact patent I’d posted a while back. Lest we wonder that that says about the increasingly cozy relationship between Shimano and Fox, let’s consider that Shimano’s literally plugging its Di2 battery into Fox’s products. By some standards, you have to be married to do that.
Whatever the working relationship between the two companies, they sure are interested in making our bikes more complicated. I read with great interest the Bikerumor article itself, and then the comments that following. Having ridden one of those bikes with the Girven/Noleen piston-velocity-sensing forks my own self like 180 years ago, I’m willing to go out on a limb and say the only thing Foxmano’s NASA-level shit has in common with the 9-volt battery sucking ancient Noleen is that both products were in some way attached to bicycles. I don’t doubt the quality of the Di2 battery-powered lockout system going on there on the Kabushmobile, but I do have to wonder what the market is for such a thing.
Only yesterday, I’d asked if you’d be willing to buy all the new stuff necessary to convert to a SRAM 1×11 system, but in light of what Fox and Shimano are trying to bring to market, buying a new rear wheel, shifter, cassette and rear derailleur seems pretty basic and plain. Sure, there’s a parallel between the two–both address age old issues in fresh ways–but why do I expect electronic suspension will be tougher to sell?
Stigma, for one thing. There’s always going to be some kid who thinks the customer base for gadgets like this is made up of fat old men who like overpriced bikes that do all the thinking, because they can’t pick a line for shit. Haters gonna hate, for sure. But when that kid is motoring away from your electronic wonder bike on his rigid, steel 29er, you have to at least regard his bad attitude as constructive criticism. If you think you’re going to haul ass like Kabush once you’re wired up, the bad news I bring you is that no electronic suspension system is going to help you. It’s like the winter I was living in Atlanta during a freak snowstorm and watched somebody repeatedly gun the engine and plow his BMW into the center barrier again and again and again, thinking, presumably, that his “driving machine” would translate his incompetent spasms into some sort of positive outcome. There’s only so much the machine can do for you. For most of us, Mert Lawwill himself could be operating our suspension via remote control, and we’re still not going to be able to pick a line for shit.
Kabush, it seems unnecessary to point out, is simply hauling ass this year. You could tie him to a tandem with Oprah, and the boy would still be winning, so don’t let’s read too much into wires and servers as relates to victory just yet. I don’t know if people want all this stuff on their bikes. Probably they’ll accept it, but that’s not what I asked. What I asked is did they want it? Because bringing products to market that no one asked for really only seems to work if you’re Apple.
In contrast to the Inspector Gadget approach, consider the weirdly simple Magura fork Bikerumor and MTBR and everyone else just convered.
I have to tell you, I think I have a crush on this weird neo-retro Magura 29er fork, the TS8. For starters, nobody in Germany got the memo that any product is supposed to have an “X” in it. “TS8″ sounds like an elite group of airport security people who appear from out of nowhere whenever there’s a potential problem, staring holes straight through you while they pull on a rubber glove.
So not sure about the name, but the c-clip in the bottom of the stanchion warms my heart. That’s how we used to do it. And really ditto on everything else about this fork, from simple-ass air chamber and piston (which is going to need 5cc of RockShox RedRum on top of it, I all but guarantee) to the cartoonish elastomer stack negative spring, to the ability to futz with oil viscosity to change compression damping.
If the Foxmano Di2-powered Lockout-o-matic is the suspension of the future, the Magura TS8 is the suspension of the past, only seemingly very well executed and using much better materials. So I should be far more interested in the groundbreaking Fox forks, but I find I’m actually much more intrigued by the simple Magura, particularly the idea that I can mess with oil weights again and really change the feel of the fork. The Fox post had over 10,000 views; the Magura about 2,400, so I suspect I’m firmly in the minority on this one, but I can’t help it. The simple but easy to tear down and customize Magura looks far more interesting to me right now. Maybe if I owned an X-box I’d feel differently.