Fox To Release Live Valve Smart Shock? Electronic Dropper?

by
April 27, 2017

If you’ve had your eyes on the interwebs today, you will have seen a big song and dance about the new 2018 Rocky Mountain Altitude. Updating a four-year old design, the new Altitude represents a significant leap forward for the platform, with a new 150mm travel frame that is packed full of up-to-date technologies.

However, there was one particularly odd thing about the images that came  packaged in the Rocky Mountain Altitude press release. Namely one rear shock that’s been blurred out. But why?

rocky mountain altitude fox live valve
Rocky Mountain has just launched the new Altitude…with a blurry rear shock?

From the looks of that rear shock, it’s a Fox Float X with an EVOL air can. And that makes sense, because Rocky Mountain has a very close working relationship with Fox Racing Shox. You may have also noticed that all of the new Altitude models are coming exclusively with Fox suspension front and rear, and with Fox Transfer dropper posts too.

But the Float X shock already exists. And after all, Fox already released its 2018 suspension line last week during Sea Otter. So why would Rocky Mountain be blurring out a rear shock on there?

There are several clues that we found that’s helping to paint a picture of what’s going on. Firstly, there’s an additional cylindrical chamber mounted perpendicular to the Float X’s piggyback reservoir, so there’s something else going on there. We also found a second telling clue in the Altitude’s press release amongst the long feature list. In mentioning the Altitude’s internal cable routing, Rocky described the new frame as being “future-proofed to be compatible with Di2, Fox Live, and a dropper post simultaneously“.

Future-proofing is good, and we know what Di2 is, but what about those last two points, and more specifically, Live Valve?

rocky mountain altitude fox live valve
That shock right there looks a lot like a Fox Float X rear shock, but an additional cylinder on top of the piggyback reservoir indicates there’s something else going on…

Heard of Live Valve?

It’s ok, and we’ll forgive you if not, because it hasn’t exactly been in the mainstream. In fact, the last time we heard about Live Valve was nearly two years ago, and we haven’t heard a peep since. The name design first emerged as a new prototype technology that Fox Racing Shox had been working on for the past few years. In essence, Live Valve is basically the American brand’s answer to the e:i electronic automated suspension system that RockShox codeveloped with Lapierre/Haibike/Ghost.

In Fox’s case, Live Valve consists of a clever rear shock that uses electronically-controlled damping. The processor is fed information from external accelerometers and sensors that help to determine whether the shock’s compression damping should be closed for pedalling efficiency, or wide open for maximum traction – or somewhere in between. The Live Valve design also integrates fork damping into the system too, with an accelerometer stuck onto the fork lowers to measure impact frequency and amplitude.

In short, Live Valve is a smart suspension package with a completely automatic pedal platform. Futuristic no?

fox live valve rear shock altitude rocky mountain
What’s that mount for? Maybe a speed sensor, or perhaps a mount for a Live Valve accelerometer?

Digging further, it would appear that Fox is nearing production of the Live Valve system, and Rocky Mountain is partnering with Fox to spec the Live Valve system on the new Altitude. We used the magnifying glass to find out another clue in the images Rocky Mountain is circulating amongst the Altitude press release. What do you see in the above image? A couple of small holes inside the non-drive chainstay just towards the pivot. And what would those bolt holes be used for? Well, if we were going to guess again, we’d say that’s where a bolt-on sensor would sit for use with the Live Valve rear shock. Intriguing…

rocky mountain altitude
Maybe that Fox Transfer dropper post is electric too?

While the whole electronic shock thing is pretty darn exciting, we’re also interested to learn more about Rocky Mountain’s claim that the new Altitude will be future-proofed with simultaneous compatibility with Di2, Live Valve, and a dropper post. From that sentence, we would hazard a guess that Fox is finally going to release an electronically-activated dropper post. Of course Fox won’t be the first, as Magura already has the Vyron, and KS is working on the LEV Circuit, but it’s still very fresh territory, and one that we’d welcome with open arms if Fox is able to develop a wireless electric dropper post that’s as reliable as the current Transfer dropper.

And if the new Altitude offers simultaneous compatibility, then perhaps an electronically controlled dropper post will provide one of the input sensors for the Live Valve system? Say, drop the saddle out of the way, and the rear shock automatically opens the compression damping into a descending mode for maximum cush? Put the saddle up to full height, and the damping winds up to firm up the shock for stable pedalling? Questions. So many questions…

Of course all of that is pure speculation on our behalf, but we’re pretty darn excited to hear more about the Live Valve system, which we’d expect won’t be long at all. Stay tuned.

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