2009/09/23

Say hello to Simon



What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas right? Not this time. I had been cruely teased that something/someone big was coming from Cannondale called Simon but I didn't get much details apart from being related to mountain biking. Yesterday, the company introduced Simon to the press and let the details out...

Simon is an electronically controlled suspension, here applied to a Lefty of course. I know electronics are not new in bike suspension, K2/Noleen/Girvin had a 'brain' years ago supposed to control damping but it was controlling things, not you... and it turned out to be no better than a standard suspension was at the time, which wasn't too great to begin with. Cannondale itself also had their ELO Lefty which was an electric remote lockout that worked really well, a small button beside the grip was all you needed to touch to lock and unlock the Lefty.



Simon not only takes it one step further, more like a marathon worth of steps further. A little motor controls the main valve, it opens it, closes it and everything in between but what is great is the software that controls it. Sensors and accelerometers in the Lefty lets the computer know what's going on and the computer controls the valve accordingly, but also from what you want it to do. With a little joystick, you can navigate the user friendly interface and control pretty much everything: lockout, rebound, bottom out control, pedaling platform, amount of travel (both top out and bottom out limits), high speed compression, progressiveness... It's like having your own suspension engineer built in without the need to even get your hands dirty. Even the initial setup is quite interesting, it tells you the current sag, the suggested sag and suggested air pressure of the main spring. You can then use one of the presets and quickly change from XC to DH on the fly for a sweet downhill section, lock it out for a smooth section, then reduce the travel for a steep uphill then put it on AM for a nasty technical section. You can also customize any variable to your liking.



For now, it's still in testing and no release date or target price have been set. There are still a few things to improve to make it more consumer friendly. The headtube mounted battery doesn't last a long time. It also adds a bit of weight although it pretty much only makes the Lefty closer to the weight of standard two-legged forks. Cost would also be a big issue if they were to release it right now so we'll see how it evolves from here.

Even though it wont be needed or wanted by everyone, there is no doubts Simon is pretty much revolutionnary. It's Formula 1 suspension technology applied to mountain bikes! Now, I'm waiting for my unit to test and help develop it further... Okay, that probably wont happen but it's so far from anything we thought was realistic on our bikes at this point that wishing the impossible now actually looks possible...

1 comment:

Vu said...

Hey Dan,
I was at the show and I got to able to get a closer look at it. All I can say is that I am definitely looking forward to the day it is release.