If you recall from their recent 2013 product updates, Fox is taking a more integrated approach to front and rear suspension and has revised their damping characteristics to provide tunes optimized for climbing, “trail” and descending. The old 1-2-3 Pro Pedal settings are replaced across the range with CTD settings instead, with some models getting some additional adjustment within the Trail setting.
Look a little further back in time and you may recall their iRD (intelligent Ride Dynamics) intro at Interbike last fall with the electronic shock/fork set up app and pump. iRD is Fox’s categorization for electronic products “employing non-traditional solutions to help customers improve their ride experience.”
The first big product under iRD to hit production will be the Float iCD (intelligent Climb Descend) electronic remote switch. This is pretty much exactly what we speculated it would be after seeing it on Kabush’s Sea Otter winning Scott Spark 29er: it’s an electronic switch to toggle between Climb and Descend modes on the fork and, on full sussers, the shock.
The remote switch rotates around the bar and is super sleek…a far cry from their obnoxious mechanical remote. The downside to this ergonomic system is the loss of the middle Trail setting, which is arguably where most riders would spend the majority of their time. That said, it wouldn’t surprise any of us to see future iterations that include the trail settings because there are already three positions on the full suspension system’s switch (there were only two on Kabush’s bike that we could tell): Climb, Climb (rear only) and Descend. The half-full circle visible in the image above is the Climb-Rear Only setting and keeps the fork wide open while firming up the shock. By combining remotes for front and rear suspension, Float iCD offers quicker, easier and simultaneous changes with minimal hand movement. It might be a bit tough to use with the new Grip Shift, though. It can be mounted on the left or right.
What we didn’t know until now was why they were using the Shimano Di2 battery. Turns out it’s a genuine collaboration between the brands. Here’s the scoop, from Fox:
“Float iCD shares features with Shimano’s E-Tube electronic shifting technology. Float iCD uses Power-Line-Communication (PLC) that allows data and power to flow along a single wire. This permits minimal wiring and ease of set-up, using only three wires for full suspension bikes and two wires for front suspension bikes. The system also has a PC interface option that allows customization of the remote switch function and provides access to diagnostic tools, switch operation counting and firmware updates.”
The Climb mode has firm low speed compression and the Descend mode opens it up to soak up larger hits and drops. The exact settings can be programmed with software intended for dealers, but it’ll be for sale to consumers, too.
Fox says the expected battery life is around 2-1/2 months, which means you’ll only need to charge it about six times per year just to be on the safe side. Actuation speed is very quick, just 0.25 seconds to switch modes at the fork and 0.45 seconds for the shock.
UPDATE 1: Confirmed, the red knob remains as external rebound adjustment, same as their regular shocks. Actuation is via small servo motors that twist the adjustments in the same manner you’d rotate the compression knob.
Initially, the system will only be available on the Float iCD 100 or 120 forks and Float iCD shock. Here are the details, from Fox:
- Fork: Internal actuator unit, Factory series with FIT damper and Kashima-coated upper tubes, 100mm or 120mm, 26” or 29” wheel, and 9mm or 15QR axle options.
- Shock: External actuator unit, Factory series with Kashima-coated body and air sleeve, 6.5×1.5” to 7.875×2.0” sizes, and standard or large eyelet air volume options.
- Remote Switch: Right or left mounting option, two or three position rotary switch, non-contact operation and integrated battery low feature.
The Full Suspension System includes fork, shock, battery, battery bracket and remote switch with three cables linking the system together. Weight is as low as 1860g (4.10 lbs) for a 100mm tapered fork with 9mm QR dropouts and a 6.5×1.5 shock w/o hardware. US retail is set at $1,999.
The Front Suspension System includes fork, battery, battery bracket and remote switch with two cables. Weight is as low as 1555g (3.43 lbs). US retail is set at $1,499. International pricing is not set yet.
UPDATE 2: Compared to standard fork and shock, Fox says there’s a 70g weight penalty for the electronics added to just the fork, and 140g added on a full suspension setup. Fox’s marketing manager says that’s for the remote, wiring and servo contraptions and the battery. The Ultegra Di2 battery and mounting harness come in around 74g and 35g respectively on our scale, but this comparison is to the standard FIT fork and Float shock with the mechanical remote.
UPDATE 3: A tapered steerer fork with 9mm QR dropouts is offered in Europe, not in the US, meaning the lightest weight system in the US would be about 80g heavier, but that includes the front thru-axle, so it’s almost a wash.
Availability is set at September, 2012. We have a few questions in to Fox’s marketing guys and will update this post as soon as we hear back with more details.
Now, about the bike. I spoke with Adrian Montgomery, Scott’s marketing guy, and he said due to the timing of this release, you probably won’t see it spec’d on 2013 model bikes as most brands are showing those to dealers and distributors now and spec has long been finalized. For big brands at least. On team bikes, including this one, he simply gave them the go-ahead to drill the frame for battery mounts and wiring ports because, well, the frame can handle it and the pros don’t care about voiding their warranty. We should mention neither they nor we recommend you do this to your own bike. Look for 2014 models to have this system integrated a little more cleanly than the color-matched tape hiding wires.