RockShox introduces Flight Attendant, the new electronic and automatic system

Mountain bike 5 oct. 2021 16:10 Migue A.

In Brujulabike you could see it before anyone else and now it's official. It's called Flight Attendant and it's the latest from RockShox, an electronic suspension system that takes any cable out of the equation and makes the suspension work automatically by reading and understanding every situation in milliseconds.

What is the RockShox Flight Attendant

Let's try to explain it in a simple way because the RockShox Flight Attendant is intended to eliminate the complexity of the suspensions. The system consists of 3 sensors located in the fork, shock and crankset that send information in real time to the control module located in the fork (right bar) and this by means of its own algorithm is responsible for locking, unlocking or adapting both the fork and the shock at every moment. When we say every moment, we mean every 5 milliseconds.

As a reference, a blink takes on average between 300 and 400 milliseconds, so in the time of one blink, the Flight Attendant has made about 80 decisions based on terrain and rider data.

The Flight Attendant's three sensors: fork, shock absorber and crankset.

SRAM AXS technology to eliminate cables

The RockShox Flight Attendant is a great technological leap that will allow us to enjoy mountain biking in a much more natural way, but it has also brought a great aesthetic advantage: goodbye to remote lockout cables. The AXS technology that SRAM has been using for years in its electronic groupsets has been used for this purpose.


The communication system between the AXS devices is crystal clear and effective, there are no glitches, and it's more than proven after years of World Cup racing. It also appears to use the same battery system compatible with SRAM AXS groupsets or the RockShox Reverb dropper seatpost.

 

The button controller is identical to the one used on AXS shifters. 
Flight Attendant module and sensor in the shock absorber
The control module is located on the fork and allows all kinds of adjustments to be made and the active mode and position to be displayed.

With the RockShox Flight Attendant you become faster and more efficient

Something we haven't said so far is that RockShox has focused the new Flight Attendant on Trail and Enduro bikes, and for the moment we will only see it on suspension and bikes of these modalities. But it's easy to assume that it won't be long before we see it on XCO bikes.

In any case, the brand claims that the system has been developed over thousands of kilometres of trails around the world, and has been scientifically designed to do the complex calculations for you. By analysing the uninterrupted stream of data, Flight Attendant anticipates the perfect suspension setting for the rider and the demands of the trail. This allows you to optimise effort and maximise performance, which translates into greater speed.

How the RockShox Flight Attendant works: 3 positions and 3 operating options

The system offers 3 compression positions: Open, Pedal and Lock which can be selected with three operating options: Auto, Manual or Override. Let's see how it works.

3 compression positions: Open, Pedal y Lock

With the Open position activated, the suspensions work with the full amount of available travel, which is typical of any descent. In the Pedal position, the suspension adopts an intermediate position that improves traction when pedalling. Finally, with Lock activated, the suspension remains firm to maximise effort and transfer all the power of pedalling to the wheel.

When the system is in Auto mode the LEDs are green.

3+1 Modes: Auto, Manual, Override and Safe

However, these three positions work in Auto mode by default. As we ride, the Flight Attendant system activates the position that suits us best depending on the terrain and our pedalling. But if for any reason you want to leave the automatic mode you can select a Manual mode and choose any of the above positions. To activate the Manual mode and switch between the positions you can use the remote control located on the left side of the handlebar (the most common) or you can also use the Flight Attendant control module located on the fork.

In Manual mode the LEDs are red. In this picture the system is in Manual mode and the Lock position has been selected.

In addition to the automatic mode, there is a third option called Override, which you can select from the handlebar lever and activate a predetermined position (Open, Pedal or Lock). Imagine that you are going uphill and the automatic system has the Pedal position activated so that the bike has a better traction, but you need to sprint to the maximum at that moment, it is a good situation to select the Override mode with a click if we had it preselected with the Lock position. With another click the Override is deactivated and the system continues to work in automatic mode.

In Override mode the LEDs are orange. In the picture the Override mode is activated with the Pedal position selected.

What happens if I run out of battery? There is a final mode called Safe mode, which only kicks in when the system detects a problem, such as an extremely low battery level. In this case, the Safe mode is activated and keeps the suspensions open until the problem is resolved.

In Safe mode all positions are illuminated yellow.

The automatic system can be adjusted according to the style of each rider. 

The Bias Adjust offers the possibility to fine-tune the way the Flight Attendant acts in Auto mode according to each rider's preferences and style. By default, the system is set right in the middle: Bias 0, for a perfect balance between the three suspension positions. Adjusting the Bias according to personal riding style tells the Flight Attendant system whether to favour the Open or Lock position.

The purple LEDs indicate that we have Bias Adjust selected and that it is set so that the system adopts a softer position.

When you set the system to Lock (+1 or +2), the Flight Attendant maximises rider efficiency and the return from each pedal stroke, with the system favouring the firmer Lock or Pedal positions as often as possible. When you set the system to Open (-1 or -2), the system will take a softer approach and favour the Open position more often so that the overall pedalling is gentler. There is no right or wrong, the Bias Adjust is full of options and possibilities to fine tune the system to best suit your style. Adjust the Bias at any time via the Flight Attendant control module, or with a simple button on the AXS mobile app.

Compression adjustment

Adjusting the performance and feel of the fork and shock absorber has never been easier. It can be done from the fork control module or from the App itself and offers 10 adjustment positions.

APP SRAM AXS

The SRAM AXS smartphone app has become an essential part of the RockShox Flight Attendant. From the mobile phone you can make all the Flight Attendant settings, as well as the rest of the AXS components that you have installed, and you can also check the battery level or update the firmware, among other things.

RockShox Flight Attendant range: forks, shock, cranks and controller

The RockShox Flight Attendant system comes in 3 fork models, 1 shock and 2 crank models, plus the controller.

New features on RockShox Flight Attendant forks

As we have said, the RockShox electronic system has so far only reached the most enduro mountain bike disciplines and will therefore only be available for the new versions of PIKE ULTIMATE FLIGHT ATTENDANT (intended for Trail), LYRIK ULTIMATE FLIGHT ATTENDANT (All-Mountain fork) and the ZEB ULTIMATE FLIGHT ATTENDANT (for Enduro). All three share new features:

The control module, located on the right bar, is responsible for collecting and interpreting the information coming from the three sensors and sending information to the fork and shock absorber about the position to be activated. In addition, all system adjustments and controls can be made from this module.

ButterCups are the name given to the new gold-coloured housings at the end of the damper. They contain two rubber pucks that absorb high frequency vibrations before they travel through the fork and into the handlebars. The brand claims that they block up to 20% of the vibrations, resulting in less rider fatigue.

The new Charger Flight Attendant electronic damper features an automatic three-position compression adjustment (Open/Pedal/Lock), with 10 clicks of independent adjustable Low Speed Compression and 20 clicks of adjustable rebound.

New DebonAir+ inner tube. This update to the current Debonair promises a butter-like small bump feel, increased support throughout the travel, and higher overall ride height for more confidence when things get steep.

Forks in the Flight Attendant range include Pressure Relief Valves that eliminate unwanted air pressure that builds up in the lower leg caused by variations in altitude or temperature. By pressing of a button or two, Pressure Relief Valves restore the lower leg balance for optimum sensitivity and a premium fork feel.

Finally, all Flight Attendant forks now have the option to fit stiffness reducers. Torque Caps increase the torsional stiffness of RockShox forks by 5%, but if you're not interested in "stiffness on demand" a standard hub cap can easily be fitted.

Shock absorber RockShox SUPER DELUXE ULTIMATE FLIGHT ATTENDANT 

The new Super Deluxe Ultimate Flight Attendant has been upgraded with the Motor Module that collects all the data in real time and sends it to the control module located in the fork. The new 3-position RCT3 Flight Attendant now works more optimised than ever.

SRAM XX1 and X01 EAGLE FLIGHT ATTENDANT crankset

Another key part of the new system, the pedal sensor, is located in the cranks. This sensor is integrated in the new SRAM XX1 and X01 Eagle Flight Attendant carbon cranks. The brand claims that they are the lightest, stiffest and most resistant they have manufactured to date.

ROCKSHOX LEFT HAND 2 BUTTON AXS CONTROLLER

The new left-hand controller with two buttons can be used to control both the Flight Attendant system, if you want to activate the Override mode, and to raise or lower the RockShox Reverb AXS dropper seatpost.

Price and availability of the RockShox Flight Attendant

All the information from RockShox has come in dribs and drabs in the last few hours and so far we don't know anything about the price and availability of the new system. The only thing we do know is that Specialized, Canyon, YT and Trek are going to start offering it from now on in their standard models.

As soon as we have data on prices and availability we will update the article with them. For the moment you can find more information about these components on the RockShox website.

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