ON-THE-FLY SHOCK-ADJUSTMENT SYSTEMS
In the late summer of 2017, Polaris announced the first electronic on-the-fly (OTF) shock-adjustment system for the 2018 RZR XP Turbo Dynamix Edition. Fox and Polaris engineers had been working on the Fox Live Valve shocks and On-the-fly shock-adjustment systems since 2011. Through distributor and co-developer Shock Therapy, Fox then released a stand-alone iQS upgrade for any 2017-or-newer 2.5/3.0 Fox Podium shock in 2019. At the same time, Honda released its 2020 Talon 1000X-4 Live Valve. Two-seat Talons get the same option for 2021. All of these OTF systems utilize the same Fox Live Valve electronic base valves, which replace the mechanical compression adjusters on the Fox Podiums, as do the all-new 2021 Yamaha Wolverine RMAX 1000 Limited Editions. Also with Fox, Can-Am goes a step further with the 2021 Smart-Shox Dynamic Damping Adjustment (DDA) system, which electronically alters compression and rebound damping for the 2021 Maverick X3 X rs Turbo RR and Maverick X3 Max X rs Turbo RR. For this tech briefing, let’s start with the basic Live Valve e-clickers used in iQS, and then explain the various On-the-fly shock-adjustment systems used by the four OE Manufacturers.
FOX LIVE VALVE IQS
Fox intelligent Quick Switch (iQS) is basically four Live Valve motorized base valves that are controlled by a Fox/Bosch ECU unit via a wiring harness. Any 2.5 or 3.0 Fox Podium with a QS3 (Talon/base X3/Wolverine RMAX), LSC (Teryx KRX) or RC2 (X3/YXZ) compression adjuster will accept the Live Valve e-click base valves. At present, iQS has a three-position dash toggle that tells the Live Valves to open to full Soft for rock crawling or trail riding, or adjust to Medium for desert or Hard for dunes and fire-road drifts. Hard also acts as a panic button, so you can get the best ride quality on Soft and instantly close off the base valves for emergency impacts. Shock Therapy is working to get the Fox-built steering wheel with switches from the Dynamix 2.0 RZR Pro XP, and we have tested the iQS system on the RZR XP Turbo, X3 X rs Turbo R, Teryx KRX1000, and Talon 1000R. ST sells the non-interactive iQS system for $2075. On-the-fly shock-adjustment systems are totally independent of any other shock features, like IBP, BOC or aftermarket shock tuning. It is also expandable, as we will discuss later. Yamaha adds iQS to its Wolverine RMAX2 and RMAX4 LEs with Comfort, Medium and Firm modes. The price difference from XT-R models is $2000. Note: The Wolverine 1000 shocks are Fox 2.0 Podiums.
HONDA’S TALON 1000 LIVE VALVE EDITIONS
Honda’s Live Valve Edition Talons add sensors on the engine/DCT, steering wheel, brakes and mode switch, and the Talon ECU by Bosch adjusts the Live Valves to be interactive. When braking, the Live Valves stiffen compression on the front shocks, and the outside valves stiffen in turns to fight body roll. Hard acceleration causes the rear Live Valves to increase damping to fight squat. The automotive-grade ECU reads inputs every 5 milliseconds (or 200 times per second) and takes only 20 milliseconds to fully stiffen the various base valves. However, the Talon Live Valve mode switch only has two settings: Sport (hard) and Normal. The 2020 X-4 Live Valve has an MSRP of only $2,000 more than the base model. Live Valve Editions also work with Honda’s Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD-i4WD) to control slides and have softer spring rates than base Talons.
See UTV Action’s full test on the Talon X-4 Live Valve here: https://utvactionmag.com/honda-talon-1000x-4-live-valve/
POLARIS’ DYNAMIX EDITION RZRs
Polaris’ Dynamix (and now 2.0) active-suspension system is more complicated than Honda’s and uses seven sensors. It has engine, CVT, steering wheel, throttle and brake sensors, plus a three-axis gyro (pitch, roll, yaw) and three-axis accelerometer. The Dynamix stiffens the front shocks during braking, the rear shocks during acceleration and the outside shocks in turns, but it also keeps the outside shocks stiffer when counter-steering into slides. Also, when you stab the brake pedal and then the gas, like when encountering a washout, it keeps the front valves stiff for three seconds. Dynamix Live Valves have double the adjustment range of mechanical adjusters and modulate both high- and low-speed compression. Dynamix displays each shock’s setting on a Ride Command screen; below 20 mph in Comfort mode, the base valves are at full soft (displayed “0”). Sport puts valves at 30–40 percent, and Firm maxes compression damping at “10.” When you turn the ignition key on with the Firm setting, it noticeably raises ride height.
CAN-AM MAVERICK X3 SMART-SHOX
Fox and Can-Am developed the 2021 Smart Shox Dynamic Damping Adjustment (DDA) to have OTF compression and rebound adjustments via an electronic adjuster on the shock shaft, next to the piston. Two sensors per shock measure shaft speed and position 200 times per second and feed info to the ECU, which then stiffens or softens both damping adjusters as needed. The DDAs retain a plush ride while reducing body roll, braking nosedive, squatting under hard acceleration, and kicking over whoops or jumps. DDA adjusters have increased range of rebound adjustment over the Podium RC2 mechanical adjusters, and they are developed to increase rebound damping on inside shocks in turns and rear shocks on braking to enhance traction.
The semi-active OTF uses multiple sensors similar to Polaris Dynamix but modulates both compression and rebound for extra stability. This works with the pistons’ velocity-sensitive valving and position-sensitive IBP ports, and it also provides bottom- and top-out protection. The Can-Am Smart-Shox DDA also displays on the X3 7.6-inch instrument cluster and can be adjusted for larger tires and for widths up to 80 inches. The price difference between the X3 X rs Turbo RR and Smart-Shox Turbo RR is $1,700.
LOOKING TO THE OTF FUTURE
Walker Evans Racing (WER) is working on its own e-Clicker OTF system for WER needle and Velocity 2.5 shocks, and we have heard Elka is doing the same but isn’t ready to release anything as of press time. Shock Therapy is working on Pro XPs and on software to make iQS expandable to tell e-links for sway bars to engage or disengage to further fight body roll. ST is also working on a Bluetooth iPhone program that allows the shocks to be tuned by phone beyond the Soft/Medium/Firm settings.
In October, Suspension Direct, Inc. (SDi) in conjunction with WER, introduced its E-Clik shocks for lifted Jeeps in three versions. The basic E-Clik system (see photo) includes electronic base valves for four WER-made 2.5 piggyback shocks with Velocity technology, an ECU controller and a dash-mounted switch providing three-level damping with independent front and rear settings for $3,299.
E-Clik Active ($4,299) adds 12 independent sensors that monitor inputs and movements and send messages to the SDi ECU 250 times per second. The ECU then adjusts each shock’s compression base valve with the fastest adjustment time in the industry. This system upgrades the controller to touchscreen with Road (prioritized Composure/Handling), Trail (prioritized Comfort) and Manual (driver-controlled settings) modes plus an icon for base-valve settings per shock. Active also provides adjustments for vehicle/bed load and tire size, and has icons for vehicle speed and tilt angle.
The third E-Clik Pro version is $4,999 and includes all of the E-Clik Active features, plus the patent-pending Pro menu that allows upgraded tuning for pitch, roll, turn, throttle and brake sensitivity. Both Active and Pro versions stiffen front shocks on steep descents and soften rear shocks for traction and control, making the E-Clik system the most advanced e-compression system and a possible rival for the Can-Am Live Valve DDA. Future SDi/WER E-Cliks for UTVs will be produced for WER needle and Velocity 2.5 shocks first, so Polaris RZR owners can have this performance-enhancing technology.
23011 North 16th Lane
Phoenix, AZ 85027
Suspension Direct, Inc.
571 B Crane St.
Lake Elsinore, CA 92530
Walker Evans Racing
2304 Fleetwood Drive
Riverside, CA 92509