Factory Suspension For All: Motion Instruments Data Acquisition 1

Not just data acquisition devices, but an app to help you make decisions as well.

 

Cruise the pro pits at a supercross race during the day and you will see most teams running data acquisition devices all over their machines. Some of the easiest to spot are the cables running along the forks of the bikes. These, along with devices on the shock, are recording every single movement of the suspension to let the team see exactly what is happening with the bike. 

Now, anyone could go out and buy these devices. They are used in all kinds of four-wheel racing and other high-performance industries. But, for the average rider, they would be completely useless. The pro teams have to do some heavy lifting (coding and other computer stuff) to just get the data from the devices, then figure out what the data says, then interpret what that means in regards to racing a dirt bike. So, yeah, not user friendly in the least bit. 

But, we all want our suspension to work better and be more tuned to our preferences and riding styles, right? Well, the guys over at Motion Instruments decided to take a crack at suspension data acquisition, designing both the actual ‘tracers’ and, most importantly, an app that lets you see and understand what your dirt bike’s suspension is doing. 

The fork tracer is universal. It can be mounted to any fork.

Hardware

Called ‘tracers,’ there are two physical devices that record the data - one for the fork and one for the shock. As you might have noticed the fork tracker is not the cable system the pro teams use and Rob Przykucki, CEO of Motion Instruments, explained that the main reason for designing something different was durability. He says that the cable system only gets so many hours of use and has to be replaced. If you are a big-budget team, it’s just part of the cost of going racing. But, for the average rider and for suspension shops, they wanted something that would last years. 

At the bottom, the tracer attaches with a longer fork guard bolt.
The top section slides into the lower.
The top attaches with a special fork wrap fixture.

The fork tracer is fairly simple with basically a tube inside another tube that is protected with a carbon fiber guard. It attaches to the top of the fork below the top triple clamp and bolts to the bottom with one of the fork guard bolts. It’s a pretty elegant system actually. Rob ensures us that mud, dirt, water, and dust have no effect on the tracers. This design also makes the fit universal; any bike, any brand of suspension. 

The shock tracer is a little bit more tricky. We had the guys from REP AEO Suspension, who have been using the system with their racing customers, install the devices and since they are very new, they haven’t been fitted to all machines yet. The shock has to be removed and some engineering decisions have to be made. On our 2020 Honda CRF450R, it was a super tight squeeze to get the shock tracer on, but they made it work. 

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There is also a Bluetooth transmitter that can go anywhere (ours was on the bars) and a button on the bars as well. When you hit the button, a pin is dropped in the data. Say you want to see what your suspension is doing through a particular section of the track. You can hit the button entering and hit it again exiting that section and when you look at the data, you’ll clearly be able to see the two pins and know that the data between them are for that section of track. Also, if you are riding and the suspension does something of note (good or bad) you can drop a pit for closer examination with the app.

The tracer is connected to a bluetooth transmitter.
Bluetooth lets it connect with your phone.
Hit this button to drop pins in the data at specific times.
The bottom of the shock tracer. Each bike will have different installation.
The top of the shock tracer on the shock body.

Software 

This is where the real magic happens because raw data is just points and numbers. When you are done with a session you open the MotionIQ app and you can see a massive amount of data on what your suspension just did. Since the guys from REP AEO Suspension were at the track with us, they were more the ones to dig into the data. While the app is very intuitive, just like any new technology, there is a bit of a learning curve to understand what you are seeing. 

While you can see in plain numbers all of the compression strokes and rebound strokes broken down into speeds and percentages, one of the most powerful and easy to understand parts of the app is a graph showing front and rear balance. This is a good starting point if your bike is really off, set-up wise. The graph plots the average movement of the fork in a line and the average movement of the shock in another line. The closer these two lines are to parallel, the more the bike is balanced. If the lines diverge in different directions, either the fork or shock is moving way more and faster than the other which would make for an unbalanced machine. 

Parallel lines means the suspension is working together and the bike should be balanced
If they diverge, the sock or fork is moving faster and/or more than the other.

Testing

As we mentioned earlier, we had suspension experts from REP AEO out to the track with us to run through a day of testing. You do have to have your phone on you or the bike for the system to record data. Since the REP AEO guys have been using this system for a while, they had two suggestions on where to put the phone. One, which we did, was a custom holder on the backside of the front number plate. The other option they’ve had good success with is a holder on the back of a chest protector. 

We had two testers out to ride, each claiming to have different riding styles. One prefers to steer with the front and puts a lot of emphasis on having as much front end feel as possible. The other prefers to ride more off the back and steers with the throttle more. What was pretty cool was that the data totally confirmed this! With the same settings, they both did a session and we were able to see that one rider had way more weight on the front of the bike and the other had more weight on the rear. This was actually one of the big takeaways from the test. A rider can use this system to see their particular riding style and set the suspension up to best suit that style. 

After setting sag, which you can use the app for, each tester did some laps, reported how the bike was feeling to the suspension guys, they looked at the data on the app, made some changes and sent the testers back out. The changes they made were not told to the testers and when they got back, they reported how the suspension changed if at all. 

It's a tight squeeze on Honda.

This is where the Motion Instruments system shines. When you learn what to look for and can navigate the app easily, tracking down suspension settings is a million times faster than just riding alone. Some riders can’t articulate what the suspension is doing. Some can but are explaining it wrong. Sometimes it feels like there might be a fork issue, but the data shows its actually the shock. Data doesn’t lie. The app shows exactly how fast, how far, and for how long the suspension is moving. 

A great example of the app helping us was with the front end steering rider. While most of the time he is focused on what the fork is doing and trying to get the precise feel he wants, the shock gets less attention. But the REP AEO guys took one look at the data and immediately made changes to the shock. Why? With a front-end weight bias, they could see that the shock wasn’t using all of its stroke and unnecessarily stiff. They softened the compression and sped up the rebound a ton. That is another thing they see a lot - shocks being too stiff on rebound, as indicated by slow shock rebound speed in the data. The other rider had a completely opposite set-up with a stiffer shock since he rides more off the back of the bike. 

Again, the data doesn’t lie and each time the tester came back in, the changes were noticed and the suspension very quickly moved in the right direction. In less than an hour, each tester found the best bike feel (suspension acting the way they want and the bike balanced) and could see it in the app. 

Fork data.
This show how often your axle is where.
This shows your whole ride. You can zoom way in to see exactly whats going on.

Save Some Cash

The Motion Instruments Moto Kit and the MotionIQ app are in the final production stages and the price isn’t completely set in stone yet, but it will be around $2,300. Yeah, it’s not a cheap system. For the serious racer, race team, suspension shop, and/or privateer, it would actually make a lot of sense to own this system based on how quickly it can help set up a bike for different tracks and conditions. 

But for the average rider, this might not be something you use every time you ride. What is super cool though, and something we think everyone who rides a dirt bike should do, is that suspension shops (including REP AEO) can buy this system and do a suspension testing day with their customers. Or shops could rent out the system at an even lower price and let the rider dial in their own suspension. 

One of the final cool things about this suspension tracking system is that data can be shared via the MotionIQ app. Meaning, you could be at the track, record a setting, send it to a suspension expert at a shop and he can tell you what direction to go, if you wanted a second opinion. REP AEO has been doing this with a rider in Florida who has a Motion Instruments Moto Kit on his bike. They are able to see his recorded sessions and give him exact changes to make to his bike. 

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Overall

To be quite honest, this was more of a game-changer than was expected. Tracking your suspension is one thing, but being able to use that data to make decisions and make changes to your dirt bike is another. Going into this test it wasn’t clear that having all this data would make setting up suspension easier. If anything, more info can make things more confusing. But not with the MotionIQ app. Not only did it confirm that the testers had different riding styles and preferences, but it also showed how to better set up the bike for each rider’s style. 

Setting up dirt bike suspension is not easy. There are a ton of variables and then you have to rely on how the bike feels, which doesn’t offer any concrete answers. For the third time we will point out the fact that data doesn’t lie and anyone can clearly see what their suspension is doing with the MotionIQ app. Do we think everyone needs to buy this system? No. But, we think it is pretty obvious that every rider would benefit from using this system, if just for the day.

Special thanks to the very capable and forward-thinking guys at REP AEO Suspension

For more information check out MotionInstruments.com

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