Podcast: Talking Data Acquisition with Specialized & Ohlins' Engineers

Dec 12, 2018
by Downtime Podcast  
Photo courtesy of Ohlins

Words Chris Hall : Photo Courtesy of Ohlins


On this week’s episode of the podcast, we talk Data Acquisition with two of the top engineers in the industry, Jason Chamberlain from Specialized and Torkel Sintorn from Ohlins. We discuss how data has been used to help design better bikes, how it’s used today by people like Loic Bruni to get their bike set up for ultimate performance, and where data acquisition might be heading in the future. As well as all that, there’s some suspension set up tips from these two super experienced engineers. Give it a listen using the player above.

You can also listen by searching for ‘Downtime Podcast’ on iTunes, Spotify, or Google Podcasts, by asking Alexa, or over on our website http://www.downtimepodcast.com/data-acquisition/ and you can follow us on Instagram @downtimepodcast


45 Comments

  • + 27
 So Jason, what are you doing over there at Specialzied now? Nothing. Just deleting e -mails from Pinkbike users on how short and steep the latest Stumpy is and answering those asking why Stumpy doesn't look like Stumpy Evo... Thanks Pinkbike for your Field Test!
  • + 14
 Unpopular opinion: I think the new Stumpy geometry is just fine, and the bike rides like a dream.
  • + 7
 2019 Specialized Stumpjumper, A.K.A. Feltons Revenge!
  • + 1
 @TheR: I agree. Love mine... would like a slight bit more reach though.
  • + 2
 @TheR: Agreed (on the 27.5 version)
  • + 17
 The bottom line is Bruni's bike often looks on a different planet to everyone elses so they must be doing something right.
  • + 5
 @jclnv I totally agree.
  • + 8
 Agreed, his bike simply seems to float, never get bucked, back wheel never seems to hang up, his bike always looks totally in control when compared to every one else. No doubt it's rider influenced also but I really think the suspension is next level too.
  • + 3
 @bigburd: Yeah that's exactly how I feel when I watch it. That bike just looks so well set up!
  • + 4
 I'd argue that's mostly the pilot, not the bike. He has the best form on a bike IMO
  • + 1
 @tmurt13: seconded
  • + 6
 The difference between moto and bicycles is huge. Yet we keep getting moto influenced guys trying to better our sport. Ohlins, PUSH, etc...The problem with all this data aquistion is it is rider specific. The way a rider weights his bike is going to overall influence the suspension MORE than anything. You can get all the data you want on the suspension and how hits affect it but without knowing where the rider is weighting the bike you can't know how it needs to be tuned. Unless you're working with the same rider over and over and they are very consistent in the way they ride and the track is consistent. This is why tuning suspension for every day riders thru this technology will never work. In Moto they have a throttle which creates lift that you can hit anytime you want. On a bike the rider has to create lift (throttle) with their body movements, by loading and pumping. How does the computer know when a rider is floating over hits, or loading the bike into the hit? This is why on Mountain Bikes we do not want MOTO influenced suspension that just sticks to the ground and doesn't create lift or pump. I mean I know thats what the FREDS want is ultra butter silky smooth suspension that just gobbles up everything, But real riders want feedback and platform and something to push against.....
  • + 4
 " This is why tuning suspension for every day riders thru this technology will never work."

It's not out of the realm of engineering possibility to develop an algorithm that tunes the shock parameters within a few clicks of general users' preferences.
You just have to take a ton of data and understand the tuning parameter space. A chip in your cell phone could do the calcs easily.
  • + 5
 Spot on. Moto suspension is SO different..... On a moto you are more a passenger, where weight shifting and skill ability doesn't change the performance requirements a ton. For the majority of moto riders, the same settings and spring rates can work pretty damn well for most. Not so with MTB....
  • + 2
 @chrod: without giving away too much, the key would to have something that monitors body movement, and a test rider that is smart enough to be able to correlate the graphs to what was happening on trail. whether they got thrown forward or were going down a steep and were rearward etc, and then go thru the data and get rid of info that was from rider error or something unusual. Problem is there aren't too many super fast riders that are also scientific and intellectual enough to work with this.
  • + 1
 We are talking about a 30 pound human powered vs a 250 pound with 55hp machines. . . .
Suzuki’s new MX shock (BFRC) is a twin chamber and and it doesn’t have the same (dead) feeling that inspires confidence.
I know setup and condition of components definitely helps and I believe data acquisition help with front rear balance.
But we overthink stuff too much as it is still 90% rider.
  • + 1
 @thuren: That is just not true at all
  • + 1
 @dtbkr: How so? Be clear I said "majority" of riders.... If you are a 150lb beginner moto rider or a 200lb intermediate moto rider, a well set up moto can work great for both people with ZERO changes. I'm 200lbs above average rider on an MTB, and I can't just jump on a 150lb beginners MTB a shred away.... I'd be almost bottoming it out just sitting on it....
  • + 1
 @thuren: spring rate is a big deal on a MX bike. I can notice a .2 KG spring difference. But damping not so much. Most people are fine with stock valving on MX bikes with clicker adjustments.
  • + 1
 @MX298: In really fine tuning moto suspension, obviously, springs need to be addressed. My point is that off the showroom floor a beginner 150lb rider and an intermediate 200lb rider can get along pretty damn well, with the exact same setup... Not so with an MTB.
  • + 4
 They've made a really good point there, 99% of us mortals are not capable doing the things that the pros do, yet we want products catered on what the pros do. It's just not realistic to for us to expect the same experience.

It's like expecting a race car to perform well in everyday riding.
  • + 1
 weird comparison. nobody said they want a WC demo for their way to work.
  • + 8
 speaking of acquisitions...
  • + 1
 I can absolutely see the advantage of gathering load data, mostly to fine tune frame and component design with real in-use force numbers, but the shock and fork data gathering just seems a bit of a waste. If I heard that right, the damping curves and tuning still all comes down to rider feedback....
  • + 1
 @thuren I think the benefit comes from being able to combine verbal feedback from a rider with data, to understand what can be changed to make improvements. I think what they are saying is that you can't tune just on the data alone, as it's important that the rider is fully bought in to all the changes and believes they will have the right effect. The data helps quantify what's happening and helps riders get to the perfect set up faster.... if they know how to use the data!
  • + 1
 @downtimepodcast: Makes sense. I guess the one thing it could help with is a baseline one rider to the next, and shortening the communication to damper tuning timeline.
  • + 1
 @thuren: for sure, I think that's totally right
  • + 3
 As Polish Öhlins mechanic told me: acquiring data is simple, managing it is the hard part. Great podcast!
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: thanks bro! Totally right, it's the interpretation that has the value, but that's the hard bit!
  • + 1
 I wonder when data acquisition equipment will be so light and unobtrusive that telemetry becomes a reality in mtb races. Imagine racing XC or DH without worrying about shifting gears and being able to tune suspension in real time, all through live data being gathered. I wonder where the line will be drawn in terms of electronic assistance in bike races.
  • + 2
 @Verbl-Kint The telemetry gear is already super small and light (in some cases anyway). The problem comes when you want to actuate things remotely. The actuators needed to do that can be relatively heavy and have high energy consumption. As soon as actuators get smaller and their energy demands decrease then we'll see what happens!
  • + 4
 Cheers for sharing @pinkbike crew!! I hope people enjoy this one, it's a bit different to the other episodes...
  • + 2
 enjoying the non 'fitness and training' type episode...
  • + 4
 Love the podcast series! I really think this one missed the mark...no technical details of how the data is analyzed (besides basic trends and balance); asking why the value of DAQ is so low, what damping adjustments are made in response to data qualitative opinions, peak velocity, peak force...having a ball park value would be cool. Seems like a marketing piece and not the technical piece everyone was hoping for....
  • + 4
 @Loamhuck: I'm really sorry that you feel that way. My intent was to create a technical piece around data acquisition, and I think on the whole I managed to host an interesting discussion. I would agree that it doesn't go into some of the real detail of the data analysis. I think there are a few challenges here, recording remotely across 3 global locations makes that kind of deep dive difficult, also the detailed understanding is where the performance benefits are, so it's fair that people may not want to give that away as it's a perceived advantage. Also, in the case of Loic's bike, the person who does the data analysis is Jack I think, and I wasn't able to get him for this piece. That doesn't mean I'm finished on data acquisition though, I want to go deeper, but for the minute, this was the best that my budget and access could do, sorry if it didn't work for you. PS. My background is in high frequency data acquisition and analysis in the automotive industry, so I'm very happy to get into the detail given the right opportunity!!
  • + 1
 @downtimepodcast: Huge thanks for the clarification. The $ is in details and they don't have to give away the goods, but a intermediate theoretical discussion would be incredible for the bike community! Personally, I (and most of my friends) would love to see a deeper discussion and it sounds like you are well equipped to lead that discussion at just the right depth. Cheers and great work as always...I'm just making a point on the content (and title).
  • + 1
 @Loamhuck: it's a pleasure... I've tried really hard to get into data acquisition with a few of the teams now, but it's been tricky as it needs some significant trust I think, and I only get to see them at one world cup every year. It's an area that I'm super excited about, so I'm not going to give up!! This was my first effort to put something out there. Hopefully it gives a flavour and provides interest for some people.
  • + 2
 @Loamhuck: And No, what would you spend £100 on... wtf!!!
  • + 4
 Great episode - didnt know you could turn your rebound the other way
  • + 2
 Can we just take a moment to admire that Stumpjumper in the photo? Sweet Mary mother of God that's gorgeous!
  • + 1
 Does it have angie? or Jimmy?
  • - 1
 We have to upload more red loctitce into the air chaber!

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