Posted on August 16 2017
Electronics and suspension is nothing new, but combining it with well tuned and well setup modern suspension systems is getting us a wee bit excited. 15 years ago, I first raced my ELO (Electronic-Lock-Out) Lefty for what would become a 6 year love affair with that particular model. It wasn't overly supple, it had no real way of controlling the bottom-out resistance, nor did it feature any external adjustability - but i loved it, mainly for it's dead-set simple lockout function.
Now, several years later we're here smashing trails with similar technology, within the guts of our 2016 Fox 32. Fox have done a pretty clever job with partnering with Shimano on this one, by using technology that already is known, and works (Di2). A relatively simple adaption to allow remote actuation of the internals of a modified Fit4 damper, and it's a pretty neat little system.
I have set my 2016 Fox float 32 iRD onto my Yeti ARC Carbon hardtail, and run a 900mm wire from the water bottle cage mount, up to the fork/remote lever assembly. I plan on running a 1200mm wire soon, so i can route it internally. The remote lever that comes standard with the iRD system is relatively basic, and seems a little flimsy in its execution however it's function is spot on, and the ergonomics have been well thought through with a cleaver and very easy to use 'toggle' style switch. The switch allows you to select between the three main settings of the FIT 4 damper - Open, Medium and Firm. There is no fine tune of the open mode with the iRD damper, unlike a standard FIT4 factory damper.
Jumping between the three settings is quick and easy, and the little indicator display shows which setting you're in, plus as with all Di2 setups, you have the battery power indicator located on the cable to show when you're running low.
For me, the iRD is certainly very cool, but probably a little overkill, as on a hardtail it's not like it's difficult to reach the crown, or use a simpler cable-pull remote system - but i can see where it would be amazing - On a dually. If you're running remote cable pull fork and shock, often the lever action is tight, clunky and can require careful attention to cable tension to ensure proper function. By using the Fox iRD system for the front and rear, your lockout adjustment will become absolutely effortless, with a quick flick of the toggle on the bars and you have a lockout front and rear. This is where the iRD is likely to be the winner, with a single battery used for front and rear, and one single effortless little handlebar lever unit that does everything you will ever need it to.
Stay tuned for more on this as we step it up. :) Aiden