Tom Pidcock's mysterious suspension system was first spotted in Nove Mesto when he showed up at the short track race on a bike with surprisingly few cables. Although his bike in several events, including Sunday's XCO just a few days later, featured suspension with standard cable-actuated handlebar remotes, Pidcock appeared to be testing electronic suspension in the XCC event on his unbranded BMC Fourstroke, which he rides because team Ineos Grenadiers' bike sponsor, Pinarello, doesn't make a mountain bike.
Yesterday, he rode the same bike and electronic suspension setup to Olympic victory, which gave us a few more photos to analyze.
While his fork had the same SR Suntour branding as his standard Axon, a thin, electronic-looking cable spouted from the crown and disappeared into the bike's frame instead of the usual mechanical connection to a handlebar remote. On the rear, he rode an unmarked black shock with a much larger diameter than the SR Suntour Edge shock he has often sported. Seated right behind the shock, there was some type of control with another cable routed into the frame near the bottom bracket.
The third shot in this series has a decent view of the control box and the wiring. Note the large shock diameter.
The most likely explanation is that it's a prototype for something similar to the Fox Live Valve or the Specialized Brain, but we've had some back and forth about who is responsible. It would be plausible for Pinarello to be working on a mountain bike, which isn't out of the question considering the brand now sponsors the Olympic XC men's champion, plus Pinarello already makes a road bike with electronic suspension. Next, since it's a BMC frame, it would be possible for BMC to work on creating something to compete with Specialized's Brain. Lastly, SR Suntour would have plenty of incentive to compete with the Fox Live Valve by entering the electronic suspension scene.
If Pinarello re-entered the mountain bike market, they'd have to top this infomercial.
We can rule out it being a Pinarello project simply because of the amount of collaboration it would take between Pinarello and BMC to develop such a system using a BMC frame. Along a similar vein, if BMC were developing an electronic suspension system, the testing would probably be done by sponsored riders like Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and the rest of the Absolute-Absalon team, but that crew is Rockshox'd out. It makes the most sense for it to be a SR Suntour project, but we'll admit that the unbranded shock combined the branded fork had us scratching our heads.
Fortunately, today, SR Suntour all but claimed the project:
This looks like a complete redesign compared with SR Suntour's current cross country offering, the Edge. The prototype has a very different silhouette from the Edge, and obviously the difference between an electronic and a mechanical control is significant.
We have reached out to SR Suntour for comment and will keep our eyes on Tom's bike to keep you updated on all the latest.