Motion Instruments Expert Data Acquisition System


Review by Robert Johnston

Modern performance mountain bike suspension is awesome. Adjustable in so many different ways, you can make most top-tier models feel damn close to how you want, so long as you know which dials to turn or what to do with the spring. Some riders have a great feel for what to do, and others simply don’t care; but for the subset of riders who care but don’t know exactly how to improve their setup or for those looking to dial in their setup to the finest point, data acquisition can give the valuable information to point them in the right direction and achieve an optimal setup on their suspension. We’ve been testing out the Motion Instruments XC-Enduro Expert Data Acquisition System for quite some time, learning a lot along the way, and ultimately getting the suspension of some of our test bikes dialed in to an extent that we’ve never managed before, but it’s not without its challenges. Read on to find out if the system is for you.


Built to collect the full spectrum of data required to analyze and tune your suspension while out on the hill, the Motion Instruments suspension data acquisition system works with the MotionIQ iPhone app to store and display the information gathered when riding. The Enduro Expert system is tailored to enduro mountain bikes and eMTBs with fork travel up to 180mm and rear shock stroke up to 75mm (covering just about everything ever made). For downhill bikes there’s a longer travel version compatible with forks from 160mm and up, which is identical in function but sized to fit the longer length of downhill forks.

Motion Instruments Expert Data Acquisition System

The Motion Instruments “Expert” system is the cheaper of their two mountain bike offerings at $799, and consists of a Fork Tracer with inbuilt transceiver; and a 75mm MIPS Potentiometer with separate plug-in transceiver for the rear shock. The MIPS Potentiometer boasts an impressive 99.9% accuracy claim, whereas the Fork Tracer settles for 99% accuracy to accompany its lower price point. It’s important to note the Expert system is not designed for extreme wet weather and mud. For those looking to add extra accuracy and improved all-weather usability, the Enduro Pro system at $1,299 replaces the Fork Tracer with a 200mm MIPS Potentiometer, giving the same 99.9% accuracy as the 75mm MIPS unit.

The Fork Tracer mounts to the top of the air spring on most single crown forks on the market with the Motion Instruments replacement air top cap (included), and slides on a separate lower leg-mounted Wiper that’s stuck onto the fork with a 3M pad and bolstered by two strong rubber bands (or a zip tie, which I found more practical). The ideal fixation of the MIPS Potentiometer will vary from bike to bike due to space limitations and different frame designs, but there are various options for fastening, from stick-on pucks to a coil spring mount adapter and some more permanent solutions. The Tracer Transceiver is then zip tied onto the frame or shock piggyback if space allows.

Regardless of the system selected, the Motion Instruments kit will collect data of your suspension movement at a high frequency and save it on the MotionIQ app. This app is available with a range of different subscription options (Free, Expert, Pro and Coach) that allow different “levels” of users to access certain features. The free version will only let you access the “generic hardtail/softail” bike setups, which means full suspension bikes only receive a linear rear axle position, which won’t deliver the true position of the rear wheel based on the leverage curve and so won’t let you get an accurate picture of what the rear end of the bike is doing. That said, on particularly linear suspension systems, or as a rough approximation, the generic mode will do a reasonable job for many. The results section of the free version doesn’t give you the full spectrum of recorded data either, limiting it to Vibration Analysis, Axle Position Statistics, Compression and Rebound Speed Histograms, Position and Deep Axle Histograms. This removes data like Compression and Rebound Lengths, and the Bike Balance analysis, which can be particularly useful to aid in obtaining a predictably handling bike.

Motion Instruments Expert Data Acquisition System

Moving up to the Expert system for $9.99/mo or $99/yr, you’re given the opportunity to download the profile containing the shock leverage curve for your specific frame. Motion Instruments has an ever-growing database of curves for various bike manufacturers, and will work with a customer to set up a curve for their bike if it’s not in the database already. You can set up two individual profiles for two different bikes, and two custom curves are included with your MotionIQ Expert subscription. Extras can be purchased for $9.99 each. Rebound and Compression Length Histograms; basic Bike Balance analysis, and various map and Strava functions are unlocked in addition. This is likely to be the best choice for most private users, covering an enduro and downhill bike and giving almost all of the available data to use in their pursuit of the best performing rig. The full Bike Balance analysis controls are available to unlock for a one-off purchase at $99, giving an individual the full spectrum of data to get their bikes dialed in.

Stepping up to MotionIQ Pro subscription at $29.99/mo or $299/yr, which is likely the subscription that would be selected by a race team or bike company looking to develop a new bike, you can create unlimited profiles and curves. You obtain the full Bike Balance analysis, and the ability to generate A/B reports that compare the desired statistics of two runs. The MotionIQ Coach subscription is targeted at teams and those looking to set up a tuning or coaching company, with unique provisions to allow riders to collect data and transmit it back to the “coach” for analysis.

Once you’ve recorded a batch of data, the app compiles the data for you to analyze in various ways and learn about what your suspension is doing on-trail, so you can tweak the setup to perform optimally.

The first MotionIQ results page offers the chance to perform many additional tasks. There’s the ability to view the data logged in various graphs; view the recorded GPS file and export to a ride logging app; share the results through various different avenues; add notes to the file, trail name and conditions and specific suspension settings; and add pins to the results that allow the data to be easily viewed between two points on the trail or to eliminate any static time before or after the run.

There are then three discrete pages of data for the Fork, Shock and Rear Axle, giving information on travel and axle position from maximum used to dynamic sag; and compression and rebound lengths and speeds. The user is able to manipulate this data with sliders to control various parameters, letting them focus on particular information to analyze. The final page is the Balance, comparing the front and rear end of the bike and giving some very valuable insight to get the bike feeling as predictable and therefore easy to ride as possible.

Motion Instruments Expert Data Acquisition System


It’s taken me a long time to write this review. Not because I’ve had issues with the equipment or the software working, but purely because I haven’t found myself quite logging the hours on the kit that I had expected or would have liked. This is for a number of reasons, which won’t be much of an issue for the typical consumer that Motion Instruments is targeting, but proved to be somewhat tricky for me. I’m going to start the review by explaining this, then talk about why the kit is excellent and very useful, in the right hands. The intricacies that make the Motion Instruments kit a little tricky for me come under three broad categories: bike fitment; the weatherproofing; and the data acquisition and analysis process.

Figuring out the best way to mount the kit to each bike can be time consuming. This is not an issue on many machines, especially if you’ve got a nicely exposed shock such as typically found on a Horst link or Single pivot design. However, get into multi-link suspension or some more complex designs, and it can be difficult. I believe you could obtain a setup on every bike on the market through one way or another, but it may take some serious experimentation, and then a collaborative effort between yourself and the helpful chaps at Motion Instruments to obtain the correct motion ratio to give the desired curve for your bike setup. I didn’t attempt to create a setup on any of the particularly tricky bikes that came along the testing belt, assuming the time and effort required would exceed the benefits of running the system on the bike. As I became more experienced with the Motion Instruments system though, I realized this was a bad attitude to have, as the potential to improve the handling of a bike is very high and not overly arduous. That is, once the kit is set up and the curve is loaded to your MotionIQ app.

Motion Instruments clearly states “The Fork Tracer is not designed for extreme wet weather. Consider the Pro system with the optional carbon fiber shield for testing in the rain and mud.” I don’t want to harp on about it, but where I live it’s very often rainy and muddy. Should I have preempted this and requested the Pro system to begin with? Yes, for sure. But I didn’t, and so was left with some “weather anxiety” that prevented me from taking the kit out through most of the year. Eventually I got a bit fed up of the kit sitting in my toolbox raring to go, so said “f**k it” and took it out regardless. I’m yet to experience any issues, but it’s clearly not recommended, so if you’re likely to be a wet weather user then save up the extra dough and prevent a headache or fear of using the kit in all weathers. After all, the value of the cheaper kit quickly dives when you stop using it in adverse weather conditions.

The third is the data acquisition and analysis process. Motion Instruments does what they can to help instruct users how to best utilize their Data Acquisition System, with a long guide to walk you through the process. However, since the app is only designed to give the user the information, and let them form their own opinion of how to interpret and adjust the suspension settings to improve the performance, it would be somewhat impossible for Motion Instruments to instruct each and every rider to seek the numbers that would be ultimate for them and give them a blueprint on how to achieve them. This means that every rider using the Motion Instruments system will need to experiment with adjustments in a grand bracketing process to learn the numbers that best work for them and therefore what they should be targeting when using the kit to set their bike up. I haven’t personally had – or I suppose made – the time to learn exactly what my “perfect” numbers are, so I’m not getting the ultimate efficiency out of the Motion Instruments system. Typically I can use the system to set up a test bike to be as good as practical over the course of a few rides in terms of balance and use of travel, but I then have to switch out for the next test bike in the lineup, and haven’t managed to use extensive time to experiment with the setup to decipher exactly how good a bike can get.

That said, in using the Motion Instruments kit on several bikes, reading the data and feeling how that translates to the handling of the bike, I’ve not only felt the incredible benefits that a near perfectly balanced suspension setup can yield, but also learned the feeling and process to get a bike most of the way there without the use of the Motion Instruments kit. Nowadays, adding the Motion Instruments kit to a bike lets me further tweak and dial in the last few percent of performance, and this is where the kit is really going to shine for those serious about their riding – Racers being the obvious candidate. By getting their setups dialed in the last few percent, there are undoubtedly performance benefits to be had, giving an easier bike to ride and increasing safety or the confidence to push harder.

Add to this the possibility for downhill racers to tune the bike to excel for a particular track or condition, and you can see a serious racer making real gains and justifying the expenditure many times over. But, with so much focus required by a racer on a race weekend, the Motion Instruments system and the process in getting the bike set up would have to become near enough second nature. For this, either the rider would have to spend a lot of time learning the process and developing their own understanding of the figures they should be chasing and how to go about it, or the use of a suspension tuning expert, such as when we spent the day with Dave at Dialled Telemetry, would be a smart alternative to allow the rider simply to ride and log data, and let an expert assess the data and make the changes required to achieve the ultimate performance.

Motion Instruments Expert Data Acquisition System

Speaking to the equipment, everything is put together well, but does have a slightly “DIY” feel. Not necessarily in a bad way – it’s very much function first – but it doesn’t quite have the “wow factor” of some bits of bike bling. But then, this is not designed to decorate your bike, only to aid you in achieving the best suspension setup you can. The included fixtures and fittings all go together nicely, and everything has proved to work without issue. I haven’t had a serious crash with the system fitted, and some of the somewhat flimsy looking connections do leave me wondering how it would hold up if I was to do so, but given that it’s been designed for MTB and Moto, my concerns likely aren’t too real.  Connecting to the app and getting everything synced has proved to run smoothly throughout the duration, and Motion Instruments are constantly upgrading their Motion IQ app functionality to make it perform as best as possible.

Using the app takes a little bit of getting used to and learning where certain things are and how to use them, but there’s a lot of smart functionality in there to let you manipulate data, add comments and do just about everything you could need to do. The app is responsive, and I’ve had zero issues with glitches or lagging. Adding to the slight difficulty of the whole Motion Instruments process initially is the vast amount of data accessible when you’re using the “Pro” version of the software, which many could find overwhelming. That said, the more you use it all, the better you begin to understand it and the easier it is to focus on the parts that matter to you at that moment. So, it’s certainly better to have too much than too little, and it’s likely that those using the “Pro” software may know a thing or two about working with the system already.

Balanced bikes work much better, and without a system like the Motion Instruments XC – Enduro Expert system, your bike is likely not as balanced as it could be. So, for riders looking to squeeze the maximum performance out of their machines, Motion Instruments Data Acquisition Systems are highly worth considering.

The Wolf’s Last Word

The Motion Instruments Data Acquisition System is undoubtedly the ultimate tool for serious riders to analyze and tune their suspension to work as best as it physically can. That said, it’s not an easy tool to use effectively, requiring a lot of user involvement and understanding in order to harness its capabilities. For those who are willing to put in the effort and give it the attention it deserves though, it’s a way to take your mountain bike and unlock its full potential.

Price: $799.99

We Dig

Incredible tuning potential
Accurate and consistent data
Well put together system
Capable app

We Don’t

Requires knowledge and experience to get the most out of it
Not a plug-and-play, foolproof system


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