Are you constantly searching for the perfect suspension setup, spending hours trying to tune your bike with no luck? Enter the Quarq Shockwiz, a high tech mountain bike suspension tuning component that links directly to your smartphone. In this review, our customer adds one to his Yeti SB4.5 to get his suspension dialed. Check it out!
Quarq ShockWiz Review
Setting up mountain bike suspension today is a complex task. Frame manufacturers are constantly pushing the envelope for lighter bikes with increased pedaling efficiency *and* plush, active suspension. Frame and shock manufacturers work together to create shock tunes and compression ratios that optimize the suspension feel, but they’re designed around an average rider profile that probably doesn’t reflect you — unless you’re a pound-for-pound match to a computer simulation or a suspension dynamometer. What are you supposed to do, then? Deal with sub-par suspension performance? Not on Sram’s watch! A fantastic gadget exists to help you navigate the mysteries of suspension setup, and it’s called the Quarq ShockWiz.
Initially, a KickStarter Project, Quarq’s (now a division of Sram) ShockWiz is an electronic air pressure logging monitor about the size and weight of a silver dollar — or a 6th generation iPod Nano if you’re under 30. The ShockWiz is compatible with all air sprung forks and rear shocks (a direct-mount version of the ShockWiz is required for the Rockshox RS1 fork), the ShockWiz promises to help you navigate tuning your suspension through easy-to-follow settings and air pressure modifications. The ShockWiz app will tell you if you need to increase or decrease air pressure, add volume spacers, adjust rebound speed, or tweak the high and low-speed compression settings.
I initially tested the ShockWiz with my 2016 Yeti sb4.5 with a Fox Float DPX2 rear shock and Fox 36 fork. Attaching the ShockWiz to my bike took only a few minutes. The ShockWiz comes packaged with two reusable zip-ties and two lengths of hosing so that you can perfect the mounting location. I run a tube and tool strap under my shock, so I attached the ShockWiz under my top tube and tucked the extra bits of zip tie into molded cutouts on the ShockWiz case. The gadget weighs almost nothing, mounts securely, and I didn’t experience any rattling or movement. Be aware, though, that while the case is soft and rubbery, the zip ties are bare plastic and can scratch or damage paint or decals if you over-tighten them.
Once you get the ShockWiz mounted and connected to your shock, all you need to do is fire up the app on your smartphone (both iOS and Android flavors are available) to start optimizing your ride. Once paired with your ShockWiz, the app’s home screen gives you your baseline air pressure, a readout of the current ShockWiz battery level, calibration status, a shock tuning score, and the desired ride feel. The ride feel has several options, from firm to soft, and you can even specify a custom setting. I chose the Soft - Planted benchmark, as I ride mostly seated and want my Yeti’s shock feeling supple and couch-like. I closed the app and stashed my phone as I pedaled off onto some non-technical but rooty and rocky single track.
After one lap, I stopped and pulled my phone out to check my shock tuning. Here’s where I discovered the first caveat of the ShockWiz app — it has to be open to record data. Now, I’m the kind of electronics fiddler who doesn’t like to read the manual before I start playing around with a new toy, and I got burned here. The ShockWiz app is powerful and complex, so it isn’t exactly intuitive. Lesson learned. I tried the loop again with the app open. Once I stopped this time, the app had recorded enough data to give me some suspension tuning tips.
Now, when I set the bike up earlier this spring and installed the Fox DPX2, I eyeballed the sag to around 30% which required a shock pressure of ~275psi and I didn’t touch the compression or rebound settings from the box — not an ideal situation, I know. I’m not a small man (6’7”, 250 pounds geared up to ride), so I’m pretty far into the high-end of the DPX2’s air pressure chart. Riding the bike, I knew the rebound was way too fast and the shock pressure was too high, but I was curious as to how much I needed to change it. A quick glance at the app revealed I was way off on both air pressure and rebound settings. The app plots your pressure and compression/rebound settings as color-coded sliders: a red slider means you need to change more than 10% or 3 clicks, yellow 5% or 1-2 clicks, and green means you’re within the estimated optimal range. Both my air pressure and rebound sliders were red, as was my high-speed compression slider. I adjusted my compression and rebound settings, and I removed the Shockwiz to let out some air. I depressed the Schrader valve on my DPX2 and let out 4 short bursts of air. Reconnecting the Shockwiz, I learned my air pressure dropped to 167psi — way, way too low for my Sasquatchian stature. Here’s where I learned another lesson of using the ShockWiz: bring your shock pump with you to the testing trail. In a future revision of the ShockWiz, I’d love a built-in bleed valve to prevent this unintended deflation, but even the best engineers can’t protect against every conceivable user error. Time to head home.
Having remembered to bring my shock pump this time, I headed out to the same trail system and fired up the app. I lowered my air pressure by 12%, slowed the rebound 3 clicks, and took off on a short loop. The app was far happier with this pressure and told me I was spot-on. The bike settled in nicely, feeling much more planted underneath me. In short, it was about 95% the way to optimal. I removed 2 more PSI, lightened the compression, and felt like the bike was totally dialed. I’m super stoked with how the rear suspension feels on the bike now — and the only way I can describe it is indeed “soft and planted.” Rooty sections that had me feeling like I was about to get bucked straight off the Yeti are now smooth and controlled. I feel like I’m a better rider now that I’ve got the rear suspension where it needs to be. The great thing about the app is that the changes you need to make are all clearly spelled out, eliminating a huge barrier in suspension setup — depth of knowledge. I know some of the basics of suspension tuning, but I’ve built up maybe a handful of bikes and perfected the suspension on even fewer, so I wouldn’t dare call myself an expert. Having the ShockWiz strapped to the top tube allowed me to skip the years-long learning curve and make substantial improvements to my setup just by connecting the dots.
Since I’d summited the Everest that was my rear shock, I decided to try the ShockWiz for fork tuning. Mounting the ShockWiz to the fork crown is super easy using the included zip ties, and I wasn’t afraid of it knocking into my frame or scratching the anodization on the crown. After another loop on the test track, the app reported my air pressure was too high, but I’d somehow managed to blindly nail the rebound and high-speed compression settings. Riding another section, my only recommendation from the app was to ease up the low-speed compression by 2 clicks. Done. The fork is now running through its travel as I expect it to, and rock gardens are no longer a bone-rattling experience. I chose the “soft, poppy” feel for the fork, and the description is perfect.
I’m enjoying my ShockWiz, and I’m glad I own one. I highly recommend the ShockWiz to people, like myself, who lack the in-depth knowledge and spare time required to really get the most out of their suspension setup. I’m not Richie Rude; I’m not hammering my bike down EWS courses chasing prize money where a full-on suspension telematics rig and setup can mean the difference between winning and missing the podium. I’m a dad with a full-time job who loves mountain biking, and I want my bike to feel as good as it can so I don’t have to worry about wasting any time on a ride adjusting my suspension. In about 3 hours I made a noticeable improvement in my bike setup, which allows me to enjoy my riding more and eke out as much performance as I can muster. If you’re in the same time-crunched boat as I am, or are a racer looking to push your suspension’s performance to the next level without the benefit of a factory sponsorship, the ShockWiz is the ticket.