MTB Suspension Telemetry and Tuning

MTB Suspension Telemetry and Tuning

Recently we've been getting a lot of questions about why use telemetry in suspension tuning, how do the pros do it, why is the setup different for each race...Here's some answers on those questions.

Suspension settings change and need to be changed depending from one track tot he other. Those are mostly small changes but sometimes they can be more drastic. In most cases, the big adjustments are made after the first telemetry measurement on a specific track. These measurements are done specifically for each driver so the suspension set up is also done exclusively per their preferences.

When we talk about XCO races, blending in with, and feeling the track, means a lot. The riders spend days and hours before the race studying the various lines and the mechanics find and come up with the best possible suspension setups. We need to set it up in a way whereh there's best balance between stiffness, speed and sensitivity, so that no segment suffers because it makes a difference during the race itself. The same world cup driver at two different tracks has completely different setups, such as tokens, pressure, oil type and shim stack.

Teams like Scott Factory Team, Specialized, Thomus and similar don't run stock setups like you can buy in a store. They usually have a prepared choice of 3 to 5 different combinations of damper and oil type settings, and about 10 click and pressure options they came up with by measuring and testing at training camps.

In recent years, if you've been following the World Cup more closely, you could notice certain changes between races and see different problems happening.

  • Thomas Pidckok almost had a DNF in one race because at one point the electronics on the suspension stopped working. Fortunately, everything started working soon.
  • Some change the suspension brand or length in the middle of the season
  • After the first two races of this year's world cup, GOFteam stopped using the fox live valve system.

A lot happens that goes under the radar and things are a bit more complicated than they seem.

Let's go back to "amateur" cycling, I put it in quotation marks because cycling in Croatia and elsewhere is nearing semi-professional with the amount of dedication and financial and time investments by riders. Basically 100% of the bikes we get in our shop have used the aproximate suspension setup because it says so somewhere. During my service, however, I always try to find out about the driver's needs and riding style through conversation and roughly adjust the suspension to work better and more adapted.

To improve our own offerings and service, we decided to introduce telemetry measurement into the service option. That way there is less guessing and more engineering and numbers-supported optimizations. Ultimately this results in faster rides and races.

Setups for XCO and XCM are also significantly different. Telemetry measurement in itself is not overly complicated, it requires a rider, full race equipment, bikes and sensors. Similar to bike fitting, but for suspensions. After that, we do a lap on the track or downhill course (depending on the discipline) and we read the data and make decisions about changes and finally adjust the suspension as preferred by the driver.

Furthermore, the driver receives on paper all the parameters and further instructions on how to adjust the bike depending on the terrain configuration of each subsequent race or ride. These changes are  usually about small things, because the most important part is done during the telemetry measurements.

It is important to note that the approach is individual and it is not possible to transfer the same setup to all riders just based on the their weight and sag. The telemetry measures G forces from different directions (up, down, left, right, forward) and that is individual for each person.

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