Interbike ’13: Lapierre’s E:I Suspension- by Guitar Ted
Last week I shared my impressions from my Lapierre Zesty 429 demo ride at Interbike. It is a fine bike, but I thought maybe it could benefit from a different tune on the damper than what I was riding. This is interesting because if you could adjust your suspension for different situations, and it was easily done, why wouldn’t you do that? I know I sure would have liked to have easily tweaked the suspension on the Zesty Trail had I had that opportunity, and time to do it.
This problem is resolved with Lapierre’s and Rock Shox’s collaboration and invention of the “e:i Shock System. A system that can adjust the suspension on the bicycle 20-30 times per minute! Lapierre’s Matt Millen walked me through the way the e:i Shock works. Lapierre offers e:i Shock on several of its models. For my walk through, we looked at the XR 729 29″er XC full suspension bike.
What It Is: The e:i Shock system is an electronically controlled suspension that works by getting signals from two accelerometers- one on the fork lowers and one on the stem- a cadence sensor, a relay on the rear shock, a lithium-ion battery pack mounted on the down tube, and a display unit that also functions as a cycling computer.
The display unit has all the typical functions of a cycling computer but additionally, it displays which of four modes you can choose to set for the rear shock. It also displays the current state of charge for the battery, which lasts for up to 25 hours per charge.
The accelerometers sense the level and speed of the trail obstacles being encountered by the front fork. This signal passes through the display unit and then is sent to the relay on the rear shock which then adjusts the rear shock in concert with the front fork, or in accordance to how you override the shock settings with the display unit.
Not only this, but the system is adjusted accordingly to whether or not you are pedaling the bike. Coasting? The rear shock is then set at a certain open setting. Pedaling? Then the shock is set according to how the bumps are interacting with the fork up front. All this happens in 0.1seconds from impact of obstacle with the front wheel. So at 36K/hr, your rear suspension receives the signal and is adjusted before the obstacle you hit with your front wheel hits your rear wheel. Amazing!
So, if the front fork is seeing small trail chatter, the Auto Mode adjusts the rear shock for that. Hitting some bigger chatter? The e:i will adjust the rear shock to accommodate for that. Coming across a section with bigger hits? The e:i will open the damper up to absorb that.
As stated, you can choose to set the function of the e:i suspension in four ways beyond the fully “Auto”mode described above. These choices override the Auto Mode. These modes are as follows: 1: Pedaling + No shock This is basically a locked out setting on the rear shock for long climbs or for sprinting. 2: Pedaling + Light Hits This is like a platform setting on the rear shock. 3: Pedaling + Big Hits This is a wide open mode on the rear shock when not pedaling suitable for mostly down hill sections. 4: No Pedaling A wide open setting all the time for down hill runs.
The system goes into a default open mode for the rear shock if the battery were to lose charge or there is a failure of some sort. The system is a collaboration of Lapiere and Rock Shox and is currently only available on Lapierre XR, Zesty Trail, Zesty All Mountain ET, and Spicy models in 2014. The entire system only adds 350 grams to the bike.
I would have enjoyed the opportunity to have tried this out, however; the bike in my size was never available to check out at Interbike. The e:i seems like a high tech solution to the oft “set it and forget it” default suspension tune that I seem to find myself having to use as a compromise for ride time. I mean, who wants to fiddle around changing the suspension for different trails or trail sections? However; if e:i can optimize suspension performance as I ride without any down time setting and resetting suspension parameters, then why wouldn’t this be a great advantage for my riding? I know many will reject “more technology” as an intrusion to the “purity of mountain biking”, but in this case, it would seem that e:i may actually be a good thing for those looking to squeeze the optimum performance from the suspension components bolted to their bike.
At any rate, it is a fascinating technology and I would love to be able to check it out further. Perhaps Twenty Nine Inches will get a chance to review one of the Lapierre e:i equipped 29″ers soon. Stay tuned……