RockShox has announced a brand new electronic suspension platform called Flight Attendant, a system that measures rider and trail input to automatically adjust the suspension using an algorithm to create the most efficient ride possible.
The wireless AXS system revolves around three suspension positions: Open, Pedal and Lock. With the Flight Attendant set in Auto mode, the system will choose the optimal position to suit the terrain and rider needs. The system can also be set to a manual mode, allowing the rider to toggle between the settings using a bar-mounted AXS controller.
Flight Attendant is targeted at the enduro and trail bike market with Rockshox offering the platform on its best mountain bike forks. The system is fitted to Pike Lyrik and Zeb forks, which give travel options between 120mm and 190mm, depending on the fork you choose, while a Super Deluxe rear shock handles Flight Attendant duties at the rear.
RockShox isn't the first to develop an electronic suspension system; Fox beat it to the market, releasing its Live Valve back in 2018, while SR Suntour has its own Olympic Gold-winning system in the works. What appears to be significantly different with the RockShox system is that Flight Attendant involves the crankset, alongside the fork and shock sensor.
Confusingly referred to as the pedal sensor, it's actually an insert that is located in the XX1 or X01 DUB spindle. The addition of a pedal sensor means that when the system is collecting data, it's able to sample both the trail and rider input which Rockshox claims makes Flight Attendant predictive, rather than reactive.
The system itself takes readings from the fork, shock and pedal sensors every five milliseconds, which is apparently roughly 80 suspension state decisions in the blink of an eye. That's a lot of data, and this information is fed into RockShox's algorithm to determine the correct suspension system (Open, Pedal and Lock). Flight Attendant will prioritize the Open setting but will adjust the suspension to be more efficient when it senses pedaling. That said, the system links in with SRAM's AXS network so Flight Attendant's bias towards different settings can be customized based on your riding preferences through the app, or using the Flight Attendant Control Module.
In terms of traditional suspension tuning, rebound is still manually adjusted in the same way as other RockShox suspension systems, using the rebound adjuster knob found on the rear shock and on the bottom of the fork’s lower leg. Riders can also tune the Low Speed Compression for the rear shock and fork with 10 settings using the Control Module or SRAM AXS mobile app. Sag setup needs a little more consideration, as the Flight Attendant system will need to be recalibrated for optimum performance if sag numbers are significantly changed. RockShox's Flight Attendant suspension will also support the use of tokens to control air volume.
The addition of all these extra electronics means you will need to be on top of your battery charging before you go for a ride. The fork and shock use a rechargeable SRAM AXS battery giving 20-30 hours of ride time for the fork and 30-40 hours for the shock. The pedal sensor uses a AAA lithium battery and the controller has a CR2032 battery, both of which give around 200 hours of battery life. If you do run out of juice on a ride, or forget to take an AXS battery with you (it happens to the best of us), the suspension will set itself into the Open mode.
RockShox Flight Attendant: Specifications
The forks have been reworked as well with all three models getting a redesigned chassis complete with a lightweight machined and anodized crown, bringing with it a new look as well as some weight savings. Internally the Charger Damper has been replaced by the new Charger Flight Attendant electronic damper which is similar to RCT3 in that it offers three suspension positions: Open, Pedal, and Lock. The damping adjustment range across rebound and low-speed compression are similar to that of the RC2 damper.
RockShox has also snuck a couple of other new features in too. First is something RockShox calls ButterCups: essentially two rubber pucks housed on the end of the damper and air spring, which are designed to absorb high-frequency vibrations. We suspect this has been developed off the back of the research carried out while developing the recently released RockShox Rudy Ultimate XPLR gravel fork. While forks are extremely sensitive these days, gravel suspension has identified a wide range of high-frequency vibrations that regular telescopic forks struggle to absorb due to stiction in the system. RockShox claims the ButterCups absorb 20 per cent of unwanted trail chatter and should help reduce hand and arm fatigue on the trail.
RockShox has also added Pressure Relief Valves which can discharge any air pressure build-up in the lower legs caused by variations in altitude or temperature, and help maintain the fork's sensitivity. Both these new features will come with all Flight Attendant-equipped forks.
RockShox Flight Attendant: Weight, pricing and availability
RockShox claims that, depending on the spec, the Flight Attendant adds 308 grams. That includes the fork, rear shock, pedal sensor, both SRAM AXS batteries and the difference in weight between a 1- and 2- button left controller. The fact the system runs using the wireless AXS system means it doesn't add any extra clutter to the bike other than the controller.
The Flight Attendant system will only be available on complete bikes due to the specific rear shock fitment and tuning required by frame manufacturers. That means availability will be dependent on bike brands but we should begin seeing the best enduro mountain bikes and trail bikes fitted with the system soon from the likes of Specialized, Canyon, Trek and YT. Pricing and specs of these bikes are still to be confirmed.
RockShox has hinted that Flight Attendant may be available to retro fit in the future, but for the foreseeable it will be new bike day if you want to purchase Flight Attendant.
For the full product details and technical specification, check out Rockshox.com.