We met Brandon at the Sea Otter Classic in 2018 through another introduction by Mike Ferrentino. Mike, we owe you a few beers and dinner. During our meetup, we discussed a few things about telemetry and what Motion Instruments is doing differently. At the time, we were still solving synchronicity challenges. Our prototype looked pretty rough. We concluded our discussion with a verbal commitment to get Brandon onto a system once we were further along. We decided to contact Brandon last fall and sent him a note, “Hey, why don’t we meet up at Interbike? We can throw on a system and see how far we can get your bike dialed in?” At this time, we had done a few blind tests and were pretty confident in our system. We were a bit nervous, but at the end of the day, we saw 4 potential outcomes of a test like this: 1) Your bike is perfect, we can’t make it better, but we can quantify why it’s great. 2) We can make your bike better, and the data will guide us. 3) Your bike could be much better, but your kit cannot get you there due to maxed settings on your suspension. 4) We can’t make your bike better, and we don’t know why. We were confident we had put #4 well behind us.
When we saw Brandon, we noticed that he was taping his wrists and his bike had Flex bars. He has a history of dirt jumps and big hits, so it looks like he’s had some injuries. Our assumption that his injuries slowed him down was quickly shattered on our first run. He quickly proved to be an adept and agile rider with a LOT of speed and style. We got to the bottom and looked at the data. we saw a few things that caught our attention: 1) High average G Force Reading 2) Slow Fork Rebound velocity in the high speed range 3) Really slow shock rebound velocity, 4) Nicely balanced front and rear Compression throughout the entire speed range.
We preceded to take 4 tuning runs. After each run, we looked at the data and made modifications. In short, we sped Brandon’s fork rebound speed up by over 70%. We increased his shock rebound speed by 40%. His fork up and down motion increased almost 10 meters compared to his original setting, a 15% increase. His vibration score went down which meant he was absorbing less impact. We had a lot more metrics that changed favorably, including his dynamic bike balance. Brandon said he felt he could hold more corner speed and that he felt a lot more comfortable on the bike. We concluded there was more optimization to be had if we could get a lighter tune on rebound for the shock. Spacers could also help speed things up, but we ran out of time. This would have been our next approach for a future test, experiment with shock tokens to modify the air spring which could achieve higher rebound push.
“Knowing the potential of true data, I jumped at the opportunity to work with Motion Instruments to dial in my personal ride. What shocked me was the end result – drastically faster rebound settings than I have ever run in my life. This equated to less fatigue, more traction, and the ability to consistently carry higher speeds on that day and on those trails. We all know that ideal suspension isn’t a set and forget thing, but Motion Instruments opened my eyes to an even wider range of tuning possibilities.”
For the last test, Brandon threw a surprise at me and said he wanted to take another run with the original settings. My mind quickly drifted “Crap, what if he likes the original setting better?” If you’ve ever been around a good reporter, you are locked in and they can smell BS a mile away. I said, “yeah, let’s see how closely the data correlates to the original run.” Granted, this was his 5th time down the same run, so the metrics should change a bit I assumed. I followed him down the run and noticed I was able to see his dust, a first for the day. When we got to the bottom he was really shocked at how much the bike had degraded from our tuned setup. Everything he liked about the tuned ride had eroded significantly after reversing to the original settings. He complained about the rocky stutter sections, g-outs, and ability to hold his line in corners. He also noted that his hands hurt on that run.
When I did an analysis of all the runs, I compared the first and last run (reversed settings to original) to see if the results were consistent and they were nearly identical. I noted that his max compression speed went up on that run, probably because I wasn’t stinking up his line ahead of him so he was pushing a bit harder. But the conclusion was undeniable, we made his bike a lot better and the data we collected and analyzed proved this. Overall, what I took away from this from Brandon was how easy the kit was to install and how fast we were able to get his bike setup. On the chairlift, we discussed a few things about traditional bike setup, including the parking lot bounce up and down test. My point to him was that all of that stuff is dubious at best. There is no substitute for data with you riding your bike, at your speed. Only then will you know what you’re leaving on the table with your setup.