FOX Live Valve

FOX Live Valve

Electronically Controlled Suspension System

Introducing Live Valve, FOX’s most advanced electronically controlled suspension system for mountain bikes. Featuring ultra-fast reacting sensors and the fastest valve ever created by FOX, Live Valve automatically adjusts the fork and shock independently as the terrain changes.

Designed from the ground up by FOX’s Advanced Products Group, Live Valve essentially changes the way we interact with suspension on mountain bikes. Accelerometer sensors on the fork, rear axle, and main frame read bump input at the wheel and the pitch angle of the bike, sending information to the suspension Controller at a rate of 1,000 times per second. The Controller interprets this information and the solenoids adjust the suspension in just 3 milliseconds – that’s 100 times faster than a blink of an eye. In fact, Live Valve is fast enough to sense a bump at the front wheel and open the fork before the rider feels it.

The solenoids use a latching design that only requires a small pulse from the battery to toggle it between open and closed. The latching characteristic of the solenoids means that they don’t require power to be either open or closed, only when changing modes. This design is a key feature for power efficiency.

FOX Live Valve

The speed and proficiency of Live Valve provides suspension control at a level not possible with conventional design, adjusting the suspension over 450 times an hour during a typical trail ride. The system optimizes the suspension based on climbing, flat terrain, and descending. It even knows when the rider gets airborne and can set up the suspension for a comfortable landing.

The Live Valve system is complex, but what you get is simple. It’s doing the work for you, allowing you to focus on the ride. Once the system is setup, all the rider needs to do is turn it on and enjoy the ride.

Live Valve by FOX, the future of mountain biking efficiency and control, is here.

FOX Live Valve

We spoke with FOX’s global communications manager, Mark Jordan to get a little more info on Live Wire and who will benefit from the technology.

What does Live Valve mean to mountain bikers?
It will simplify the ride, allowing riders to focus on the trail without thinking about suspension modes or lockouts. Riders can jump on their bike and go, and let Live Valve take care of the rest.

Will this technology benefit beginners as much or more than advanced level riders who are familiar with tuning and tweaking their own suspension?
Live Valve will benefit all types of riders. Riders still setup their FOX suspension the same as before but Live Valve adds another dimension with selecting Bump Threshold and automatically adjusting the suspension according to the trail. With regular suspension, riders basically select one damping tune setup for a ride. They may change suspension modes during the ride to increase efficiency and comfort. With Live Valve, riders essentially get two damping tunes – a firm mode and open mode. Live Valve helps put the suspension in the best mode for the terrain; climbing descending and traversing.

How fast does the system work and react to terrain features and changes in the trail?
The Controller can adjust the suspension in just 3 milliseconds – that’s 100 times faster than a blink of an eye – so it’s fast enough to sense a bump at the front wheel and open the fork before the rider feels it.

Are there certain types of trails where this system will be more beneficial than others?
If you are referring to the typical trail rides most people do then the answer is no, Live Valve does not cater to a particular type of trail. Live Valve will read the terrain and make adjustments to provide a more efficient and comfortable ride.

Thanks for the info Mark, we’re excited to test out the new Live Wire suspension products in the near future! Fox offers Live Valve Kits for their 32, 34 and 36 chassis.

FOX Live Valve

KEY POINTS OF LIVE VALVE SYSTEM

• Simplicity: System is complex, but what you get is simple. It’s doing the work for you. Allows rider to focus on the ride.
• Extremely fast: 3 milliseconds from bump sensing to change of damping
• Speed enables fork application: Live Valve senses a bump at the front wheel and opens the fork before the rider feels it
• Extremely smart: Allows us to do things with damping that are not possible with a conventional passive suspension
• Optimize suspension setting based on climbing, descending, flat ground
• Knows when rider is airborne and can set suspension for landing
• Can make changes faster and more often that possible by a human (700+ changes during an XC race.)
• Power efficient: Latching solenoid only uses power when changing modes
• Wiring: Fast communication speed with quick release design
• Seamless: Automatically adjusts the suspension to the terrain
• Removable battery: Allows easy charging and easy option to swap to second battery
• Common micro USB cable for charging – no charging dongle
• With 32, 34, and 36 fork series available, system is adaptable to a wide range of bikes and riding styles

The Challenges

Bluetooth: The Live Valve system samples the sensors at 1,000 times per second, which is not possible with Bluetooth (only capable of 30-100 times per second). The latency of the Bluetooth system created too much delay in the system resulting in harshness in the suspension. Also, Bluetooth sensors would require separate batteries, adding more maintenance, cost, and effort pairing devices.
Completely hidden: We wanted to make a system that could work on many frame designs and required a user interface on battery so we chose to not make the system completely hidden.
Connectors: We tested smaller diameter connectors but they are extremely fragile, not waterproof, could not handle our speed requirement, and require clocking. Our wiring can handle the speed required for the system and uses a simple quick release connector.
Wiring diagram: Wiring going from fork to shock allows us to use one battery.
Hidden Battery in head tube: It was too challenging on small frames and wiring coming out of steer tube are a hazard according to current test standards and would require longer fork lengths for the correct clearance.

Complete Live Valve Aftermarket Systems (fork, shock, controller w/ sensors)
32 Step-Cast: $3000
34: $3000
34 Step-Cast: $3125
36: $3250