Sure it's been two years since the ShockWiz Kickstarter campain. Yes, it's also been a year since SRAM jumped on board and launched the product under the Quarq name.
If you went by time alone, you might think us folks at WLC had been slacking off in regards to the hottest new product in suspension tuning. But truth be told, the ShockWiz has been hard to get a hold of and slow to get to market. Once the "product available" email came in though, we jumped at the "add to cart" button, and well....... that pretty much brings us to now.
The Quarq ShockWiz is a small electronic gizmo that attaches to the air chamber on your (air sprung) suspension fork or rear shock. Using Bluetooth technology, it transmits data to a (free) ShockWiz app that you load on to your smartphone. Yes, this means you have to bring your phone along on your next ride....... but lets be honest, you were probably planning on hunting Strava KOM's with it anyway, right?
In person the ShockWiz is small, expensive, unassuming and comes in a box containing almost nothing aside from the required mounting accessories. Being a crotchety old grump, the lack of printed instructions was a bummer to me, as was the realization that learning to use the device/app requires watching a few YouTube videos. Yes, I realize this is the preferred method of ingesting information for 99% of the population........but I personally would have liked something to read. Once I broke down and stared at the computer for a while, I found it exceedingly simple to mount the unit and load up the app. It did however take me a while to realize that the Bluetooth function of my phone needed to be on in order to pair with the device. Whoops.
Set-up for using the device is straightforward and the app walks you thru the steps with a nice "Setup Wizard". The actual steps of this process were a little more in depth and time consuming then I expected, but nothing you couldn't power thru in an uninterrupted 15 minutes. Make sure you have a shock pump with you though, since you'll be taking things down to 0psi when you start.
I was curious to see what the app would tell me about my setup as I had my own thoughts after a few good rides. Air pressure felt right to me (though I do like it on the firmer side), but the rebound damping seemed a little light. Compression seemed a tad bit high. Okay Mr. ShockWiz, what do you have to say?
Let go riding!
On the trail the app monitors shock performance in live time, and will offer suggestions of what to ride next if it requires more data. I found myself stopping every 20-30 minutes to check the app, and see if it had any route suggestions, and then would alter my course accordingly. After an hour or so of riding, I stopped for a break, and checked my results. First up, it was recommended that I drop the air pressure in my (120mm travel?) Rock Shox Pike........ something I sort of expected right off the bat. I'm always game to try something new though, so 110psi became 93psi.
I reset the app, and went riding again. With 93psi, the fork felt soft to me, but the ShockWiz seemed to disagree, giving me a green light for shock pressure but suggesting I lower my compression damping and add an air spacer. Since I didn't have air spacers and a socket set in my backpack, I opted to lighten the compression damping by two clicks, and add a few more psi to the fork. I reset the app, and started off again.
With a slightly firmer feel thanks to the extra psi, the fork felt a bit more to my preference, and even the ShockWiz agreed it was still within range (another green light for me!). It was still recommending an air spacer addition and even lower compression damping, and now a bit more rebound damping as well. Since all changes should be done one at a time (ish?) and from the top down on the suggestion screen, I opted to pause my ride and head home to tear down the fork and add a spacer.
With the air spacers added, it was back to the fun part of testing, and another few KM of ripping around the trails had both me and the ShockWiz pretty darn happy with the performance of the front fork.
Overall, I have to say I'm quite happy with this tuning tool, though I did come away from it with a few "tips" that I feel I should pass on.
1. The ShockWiz works best when used as a dedicated tuning tool, and not as a "monitor my random ride" tool. Use it with intent if you want the best results.
2. Bluetooth is a PITA sometimes. Walking away from your bike for a mid-ride snack, pee break, hike, photo op, etc? Expect that your phone may likely have lost connectivity with the ShockWiz or be prepared for a disappointing data-less surprise once you get home.
3. For best results, expect to use the ShockWiz over multiple rides with series of small suspension adjustments in between.
4. A shock pump is your friend.
5. Unless you are really committed and focused.......expect to spend more than a day getting things dialed.
6. Ride the terrain you want your suspension tuned for.
All in all it's a VERY cool product. While it's retail price might be a bit steep for some, I do think it's a cost well spent if a rider has multiple bikes with suspension to set-up, and a good investment for tuning down the road. For those not looking to drop that amount of coin in one shot..... Well, lucky for you WLC has just launched a rental program. Come into the shop for more info!