The modern level of fang dangled devices now available to a traditionally mechanical mountain bike is somewhat overwhelming when considering our 'I'm cooler then you' mentalities...
'Back in my day', the most technological advanced accessory was the humble trip computer which in reality was one of the worlds most overpriced magnetic reed switch induced liar. Continual squabbles on rides resulted in arguments of how could 'that bastard' have recorded 76km/h down that hill?! Little did we know at the time that one day we would even have a phone that would fit in our palms let and have no buttons! Oh and then there was the ability to trace your ride every step of the way and so on and so on.....
Roll on into the future and the mountain biking market is forever filling our minds with jargon of products we 'need' to enjoy our ride more. New geometries and industry standards that are ground breaking and set to change things (again!) as we know it. More unnecessary gadgets to fill the cabinet that have literally been used once and other ride enhancing must have's.... Placebo affect maybe? Jury is still out....
Every so often however, something new comes along that we can actually use and ironically may find handy. I might even go far as to say beneficial. Really? Well actually yes, yes it is.
Enter the super snazzy, Quarq Shockwiz, a small, user friendly suspension tuning device that in a nut shell, gives you yet another app on your smart phone that measures your air-sprung shock and forks performance and feedback and displays that data with some form of manly finesse.
Running through the simple in-app setup guide, I was pessimistic as to how my expert knowledge before hand could really be beaten by some corporation that builds electronic bike guff, a pack of clever boffins and a tiny little bluetooth connection. How could this device beat what I really want in my normal setup? I've watched hundreds of Youtube videos on how to setup your suspension and after Km's upon Km's of intimate trail time I had it nailed! My Niner couldn't get much better could it?
Looking through the profiles I had options for 4 main riding styles, Efficient (pedaling), Balanced, Playful or Aggressive. Starting with my trail bike I opted for the Playful profile, re-set my sag levels and centered my rebound adjustments, jumped on and rode.
Pulling up at my first stop I connected to each Wiz and analyzed the results. An easy to follow set of prompts and suggested settings presented themselves on the App and made things pretty clear. A few clicks here, a little less air here and the possible addition of another volume spacer.
I don't recommend making any changes involving volume spacers be made out on the trail or with lack of knowledge or the correct tools. If in doubt, seek help.
Looooong story short. After only a few sessions, the addition of 1 volume spacer and lots of hops and slides, I had the wiz coming back with a healthy result on the detections tab and some really cool, but ultimately irrelevant analytics of my ride parameters under the statistics tab. Jumping distance, impacts, dynamic sag etc.
So, with all of the above, did it make a difference? This is where I have to put my tail between my legs and for once embrace what I thought to be a complete gimmick to being an interesting wee tool that was actually good.
The witchcraft inside those two small boxes were that of an accurate, user intuitive and modern device that made a rather large difference to my bike and how I rode it.
I'd love to say that as a result I am now staring back at the lens of the next Semenuk bike park remake but sadly, not even this box of wizardry can work that many wonders and the internet sure isn't ready for that! I am however, enjoying the ride a lot more, popping, jumping and cornering like I never have while feeling more comfortable and in control. The gains made by the few sessions were subtle but noticeable so one shouldn't be expecting a 26" vs 29er difference here.
So what does it cost and where can ya get it? If you're a super gear-head they can be purchased from most bike shops and the app is free to download for iOS or Android. In this case, they're rentable for a weekend of tinkering from Mybike Whngarei for an affordable price. The team there will help you to set them up and calibrate them to your bike ready for use and even have what it takes to make any changes you may require internally.
So go on, give them a whirl and see just what technology can do for your riding. I know, I know, subtle settings aren't always needed for the weekend warrior or to have fun but, for once, I have to disagree and bite my tongue while merrily following another so-called fad.