Hacktastic! DIY Automatic Electronic Suspension Lockout w/ Stealth Remote Buttons!
After hearing nothing but positives from those that have ridden the LaPierre x Rockshox EI Shock collaboration and seeing the potential for battery powered suspension adjustments from Fox using a Shimano Di2 battery, we’re excited for the future. If nothing else, they can offer minuscule (and aesthetically pleasing) buttons to change shock settings. On the big end of ideas, pulling power from an eventual electronic drivetrain’s battery and truly offering precognition for trail conditions is pretty slick. Retro grouches be damned!
Seems Vladimir Kolotov agrees and didn’t wait for others to roll it out en masse.
Combining his love of riding with a talent for small electronics, he’s built his own terrain sensing system that can automatically adjust between a fork and shock’s open or closed position. And for control freaks, he’s built what’s arguably the cleanest set of controls we’ve seen. Or, rather, not seen…
There are really two systems worth calling out here. The first is the remote lockout shown in the video. Tiny buttons are hidden under the grip, making them invisible on the bike but easily accessible.
That’s an awesome hack in and of itself. But wait! There’s more!
From there, Kolotov put small accelerometers on the fork’s crown and inside the steerer tube (unsprung and sprung), a cadence sensor linked to a microcontroller and battery hidden inside the steerer tube. The idea is that you can teach the system to react to forces at the front of the bike to control the suspension settings based on impact forces, riding speed and pedaling cadence.
The LaPierre x Rockshox system uses similar data sets to firm up the suspension when the terrain is smooth and open it up when things get rough or a big landing is expected after launch. Kolotov says his system can very easily be programmed in C++. He’s done just that and created three modes built around Fox’s new CTD shock. The first is the manual mode described above
The second reads the bike’s incline angle and automatically selects the appropriate setting within Fox’s stock CTD settings, like so (note the rotation direction and position of the levers as the bike’s front or rear is lifted):
The third setting is where it gets really interesting. He’s created an Android app to view system activity and control the settings. Currently, it lets you set baseline incline/decline points where you’d want it to move between CTD settings, but eventually it could provide complete control over the system however it needs to be controlled:
Basically, it could let you dictate where the suspension should be during different activities (coasting, pedaling on flat, pedaling on climbs, etc.) and/or let predefine positions based on suspension movement so it automatically adjusts based on trail conditions. Because it’s easily programmable, the options are essentially limitless. With built in Bluetooth, the changes can be made wirelessly via smartphone or using the buttons on the handlebar.
Controls and data on left are for semi-automatic mode where you set gradient points for suspension setting changes. Red line is raw inclination data and blue is the averaged (more like actual) bike incline. On the right are settings for full auto mode where it measure front end impacts for both the shock (red) and steerer tube (blue) and lets you set the severity at which it changes modes.
Settings pages within the app give you plenty of system control.
It gets better. It’s very low power, meaning it only needs a small battery that can fit inside the headtube (or draw minimal power from a Di2 battery when the time comes). It powers off when not in use, too, giving it months of standby.
It’s also light. Kolotov says the entire system weighs in at just 120g, about a third of the LaPierre EI system. Lastly, it’s cheap…his parts total was under $100 using off the shelf electronics.
Big thanks to Vladimir for sending this over!