Old News: Cannondale Simon Released to Press at Interbike

Been to a few press presentations, some of which have been pretty hilarious in their use of props to amuse the audience. Like when the old GT used dry ice to introduce the I-Drive suspension design in Brian Head, Utah back in 1990-something. The bike was fine but what I remember most was trying to keep up with Hans Rey on the fine Brian Head trails and winding up at the local clinic for several stitches in the old knee. This latest stunt from Cannondale was reminicent. One early Las Vegas morning during Interbike, a group of journos was loaded into the back of a Mercedes Unimog and taken on a blindfolded trip to C-dales secret compound deep in the desert. Well actually, they closed the door to the Unimog, leaving us in total darkness as we four-wheeled to a local self-storage unit. Out of the darkness we hear a garage door opening, we back up, the door closes, and we are suddenly blinded by bright lights and surrounded by men in hazmat suits.


Here’s some happy campers in the back of the Unimog. One guy was using his phone togather gps data.


Then we were offered a light breakfast as we watched the indoctrination video.What Cannondale has been working on for the last five years is supposed to change the way we ride mountain bikes. And here I had thought it was all about spinning pedals in circles to move the bike forward. Ok I’m a smartass. My mind races back to the “Smart Shock” that pro Flex came out with a long time ago. We always said, “Just gimme the dumb shock, willya?” So here we are again. But seriously, folks…


This new thing is called Simon, and what it is is an elaborate damper and computer for your suspension, designed to achieve whatever suspension response you can imagine. This is interesting stuff. You got yer accelerometer on the hub that’s measuring bump forces. And an optical position sensor in the fork leg measuring the shock position. These two devices are hooked up to a computer CPU inside the steerer tube that collects all the info on shock position and bump impact, and thus controls a micro-motorized shock damper. There are 10,000 terrain-response maps built into the computer, plus a high level of self programming for you to set things up to your own liking. Here’s what the CPU and damper motor assembly looks like on a tv screen…


We all then went out into the daylight to ride the Simon-equipped bikes around the parking lot…


So here’s the first screen you would see as you begin to program Simon. Using the 5-position joystick, you program your rider weight in, and Simon tells you how much to pressurize the shock.


Then you pick what type of riding you’ll be doing, from five options: XC, All Mountain, Downhill,Travel Management and lockout.


Here’s a picture of what one control screen looks like. In the downhill mode you’re able to control high and low-speed compression damping, rebound damping and bottom-out.


So there’s lots of input the rider can put into the system, but the heart of it all is this fluid control system, rather than attempt to explain it,I’ve simply cut and pasted from Cannondale’s press materials….


And another graphic showing the whole system…


So what’s it good for? Another smartass shock? All cynicism aside, I think it would be pretty nice to really get control of my suspension setup while riding. I’m always on that quest for the one mountain bike that can do anything, and Simon just might do the trick. I’m imagining riding a completely locked-out bike to the trailhead, doing some cross country riding and maybe even long-travel stuff as well. Cannondale’s Simon could potentially do it all. When might you be able to purchase Simon? Time will tell. What we saw was a high level prototype, it may be some time before Simon hits the market. I think it’s easy to assume that the plan would have to include control of the rear shock as well as the front, this was nowhere in sight at this press trip.


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