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Riding Lapierre’s 2014 Spicy with E:I

Electric Shocks Now

Words by Cam McRae. Photos by Cam McRae and Pete Roggeman.
November 27th, 2013

I wasn’t skeptical as much as disinterested. Whiz bang automatic electronic suspension! Intelligent no less. Whatevs as the kids say, if that’s what they say. Accelerometers, a speed sensor and a cadence meter mounted at the bottom bracket and on the stem and fork. Yawn. It probably doesn’t work and just adds weight and complexity. Please release this bike so I can ride it and be unimpressed.

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On the rapidly changing terrain of Bootleg Canyon I expected the E:I shock to do the wrong thing – turns out I was the one who would be wrong.

Pete was on a bike aimed at the Enduro market as well so we pointed it to a challenging climbing trail. A couple of douchey dudes coming down informed us the trail was down only. I guess nobody told the trail builder whose signs showed us the way. Wrong loser. You wanna go? So maybe I was in a mood. Was it me or was it Vegas taking its toll? Whatevs.

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The E:I system uses accelerometers, a speed sensor and a cadence meter mounted at the bottom bracket and on the stem and fork to determine what the shock should be doing..

We got on the pedals and I started to notice some things. Or rather I failed to notice things. Unwanted suspension bob was absent as was stiffness when the trail pointed down unexpectedly. When it was smooth and a little faster the suspension locked out. On a rough technical climb section it firmed some but still complied to the terrain’s demands. The EI system was spoiling my bad mood which put me in a worse mood. Once on the way up I stood up and mashed the pedals clumsily and it took two strokes for the system to realize that not everyone pedals like Nico, and then firmed right up. On the way down the system got completely out of the way at times and provided a platform at others.

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The battery is said to last 24 hours of ride time before charging, and the shock’s modes can still be changed if you run out of juice.

The sensors are said to analyze the info coming from the terrain and the rider 30 times every second. With that info the system chooses between three damping modes; locked out, platform and wide open. In automatic mode a teeny weeny motor (aka servo) determines which of the three modes you should be in. That’s not the amazing part. The amazing part is that it works. You can also use a toggle on the bar to manually change modes or, if your battery goes dead (Lapierre says 24 hours before recharge) you can choose the mode on the Rock Shox Monarch with an allen key.

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Carbon shark fin derailleur guard is a nice touch.

Many of you out there are comfortable with gadgetry. Go Pro cameras and Garmins and remote shock actuation levers all sound really good to me, but in practice I’m not keen on riding with them. I could promote myself as a purist but more likely I’m just easily distracted, so all that clutter on bars and helmets sucks the love out of my ride. If you have the grey matter to deal with that stuff and still enjoy the experience that’s great – but I’m not that guy.

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Busier than most of the bars in Vegas.

While the system makes a bit of a mess of the handlebars I didn’t find it distracting at all. The E:I does the job so well you can easily forget it and lose yourself to the singletrack experience. Bootleg Canyon gave us just a taste of E:I but with Lapierre re-entering the North American market we’re soon getting an E:I bike – coincidentally a 2014 Spicy 527 just like you see here – to punish properly.


We’ve got a Spicy incoming – longer term thoughts shortly…

  • craw

    I bet it won’t be long before this is everywhere.
    Were you able to adjust the system if you thought it ran things too firm or too open?
    I would think that once the system is dialled you could put it somewhere not on your bar?

  • nouseforaname

    Cam: Is that 24h of riding or just 24h sitting there? Is there a display to show battery life? How long does a full charge take? How many charge cycles does the battery have?

    @Craw – article says you can manually adjust the shock if the charge is gone, via an Allen Key on the shock itself.

    • nouseforaname

      Misread what you asked.

  • boomforeal

    i wanna hear about those gloves cam…

    • Cheez1ts

      Those gloves are superb (I think)! I got a pair of red Giro gloves that look just like the ones Cam’s wearing (in a different color) for 10 bucks and if they’re still in stock when I make another order I’ll be buying another pair or two because I like them so much.

      As for the E.I. I’m very intrigued. Excited to see what he has to say about it on the shore.

    • allix2456

      Spent a good 5 minutes trying to figure out how’d I’d missed the introduction of glove mounted cameras after reading your comment =P
      I have to admit it would be really really cool!

  • cam

    The battery life estimate is based on 250 suspension adjustments an hour for 24 hours. And Lapierre calls that very conservative. The system turns off when an adjustment isn’t needed and when the battery gets low there is an additional low energy mode engages automatically.

    There are five sensitivity settings that can be adjusted from the bar allowing you firm things up or soften them.

    I’m afraid I’m unable to speak of the gloves. They are for Vegas only.