Fox taking ‘halo product’ approach to launching Live Valve suspension feature Tech| Innovation
SCOTTS VALLEY, Calif. (BRAIN) — As a $2,000 upgrade, Fox’s new Live Valve electronic suspension control system certainly fits the “halo product” category. And the suspension brand is rolling out the system with a handful of bike brands, who, in turn, are selling Live Valve-equipped bikes through a handful of their top retailers initially.
That makes it a more manageable task for Fox and the bike brands — Pivot, Giant and Scott to start — to educate their dealers on the new system, said Mark Jordan, Fox Factory’s global communications manager.
“We’ve got tech vans all over the world that do that stuff, including three in the U.S. They will visit some of those key shops. Those are the shops that will get the bikes first and the guys who are the most interested in it and are better equipped to handle it,” Jordan said.
In addition to the tech vans, Fox has dealer education materials on its website and the bike brands that use Live Valve are also training their dealers on it.
Fox is also focused initially on getting its distributors up to speed on the new technology and providing them with diagnostic and tuning tools. Jordan said some of those tools and more in depth training will eventually trickle down to dealers.
The Live Valve system includes accelerometers on the fork and on the chainstay, and a battery and controller on the frame, all connected by wires. The wiring is internal except for where it extends from the fork crown to the frame. Fox doesn’t shy away from the system’s complexity: a key marketing phrase is “The system is complex, but what you get is simple. It’s doing the work for you.”
The system promises to open and close valves hundreds of times during a ride, without the rider having to think about it. It senses the terrain 100 times per second and opens the compression damper as needed. It also senses whether the bike is climbing, descending or traversing and adjust accordingly. The comapny claims the battery lasts for about 14 hours of riding.
New bikes will arrive at dealers with the system fully installed. Dealers will need to plug in a wire or two, make sure the battery is charged, and perform a calibration, which involves standing the bike upright and holding down a button for 15 seconds. Sag adjustment is done the same way as other Fox shocks and forks, and mechanically the shock and fork are similar to previous Fox products, so service is about the same.
The controller has five Bump Threshold settings, allowing the consumer to choose the level of firmness in the system. Each controller arrives with a custom base tune determined by the bike manufacturer. By connecting the controller to a PC with a micro USB cord, those settings can be customized. Initially, only manufacturers and distributors will have the tools to perform those custom tunes, but Jordan said eventually some shops might be given access.
Bike brands also will be able to make custom profiles available for download by consumers, he said.
“For example, Pivot could make a Mach 5.5 2.0 update available, or Scott might make several profiles available with different levels of plushness,” he said. Those profiles could be downloaded to a PC with Windows 10 and uploaded to the bike’s controller with a cord.
As far as sell-through support, Jordan said initial demand is high from the dealers who specialize in selling upscale mountain bikes. He said consumer awareness is helped by the fact that Fox has previously launched Live Valve in other markets. The 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor comes with Live Valve-controlled shocks, for example.
“It’s a pretty elite kind of halo product at the price it comes in at. And there are not a lot out yet. Pivot got a handful, Scott has theirs. There are not huge numbers so they are going to sell quickly,” Jordan said.
Giant’s Live Valve bike, a $11,500 version of its Anthem cross-country bike, will be available later this fall.
Pivot spokesman Ron Koch said the company had sold all but one of its Live Valve-equipped Mach 5.5 bikes as of Tuesday afternoon, the same day the product was announced publicly. “I wouldn’t be surprised if (the last bike) is gone by the end of the day,” he said. Koch said Pivot held back two Live Valve bikes to bring to the Interbike Outdoor Demo next month.
Some Live Valve-ready frames have been on the market for several years, including some Giant models and three Rocky Mountain bike models (Rocky Mountain is not offering a new bike with Live Valve, however). The Pivot Mach 5.5 frame has been Live Valve-ready since its launch early last year. Some Fox fork models also have been Live Valve-ready for several seasons. In addition to the brands mentioned, Niner Bikes told BRAIN it is working on a Live Valve frame, as well.
Fox will sell aftermarket kits for about $1,800 retail to retrofit Live Valve-ready bikes.
More information: ridefox.com/content.php?c=livevalve-bike.