We have been really fortunate to meet and work with some amazing people. In the early days, our technology was pretty rough around the edges and we had to work very closely with our riders to figure things out. After a couple of years, we started to let a few systems out in the wild just to see what would happen. One of the first was the husband/wife team of Rae Morrison. Rae’s husband and full-time manager/mechanic, Jesse, contacted us and wanted to purchase a system. Since we really weren’t selling systems at the time, we agreed to meet them at the Northstar EWS and set them up with some prototype hardware. We showed them the basics of the system, how to connect and calibrate the bike, then they were gone. Mounting was a bit of an issue on the rear shock, but once they got past that hurdle, they were up and running. Occasionally we would see some of their testing on Instagram. We recently sent them a note to ask how things were going and we decided to publish the answers into a user story. Enjoy!
- How long has Rae been racing? How did she start out?
Rae started riding a mountain bike when she was a teenager after her parents bought a ‘family’ mountain bike for her and her brothers to use and Rae was basically the only one who rode it. She started turning up to club MTB rides, raced a bit of XC and road which she was very good at. In her early 20’s the Enduro scene was just starting and she pursued that after being inspired by some amazingly fast kiwi girls that raced overseas. She worked her ass off, packed her life up, sold most of what she owned to live in a horrible rusty van for a season. She battled it out, got a few epic results and picked up a pro contract back in 2015.
- How did you guys meet, and how did Jesse become the full time manager/mechanic?
“Rae and I met when I was working for a wheel building company here in NZ called Wheelworks (which happen to be the wheels Rae still races on). We were looking for a rider to sponsor and I had heard of this very fast and aggressive female rider who was a perfect fit, turns out we hit it off very well - haha! When Rae and I met I was racing road and XC and didn’t know a lot about the big bikes back then. But I was always frustrated with the lack of care and attention that went into her bike set up and racing while she was on some of the pro teams. So I spent hundreds of hours studying and learning, including buying a replica of her bike so that I could test and tinker to help her out. Fast forward 4 years, the opportunity came up for her to run her own LIV racing backed program which allowed us to travel the world together and put the time and effort into making her the best and happiest racer we can.”
- Have you had any experience with data and suspension prior to using MI?
“We had messed around with a ShockWiz, but it gave such strange feedback each time that I just got frustrated that I couldn’t really get what I wanted out of it. We have done a lot of testing in timed runs and slow motion footage which was very helpful in getting us 90% of the way there. But in the pro woman’s EWS, you can’t afford to leave 10% unturned.”
- How did you hear about Motion Instruments?
“I was looking for an affordable data acquisition system for a while and needed one that had all the data I wanted but it also had to be delivered in a way that I could easily understand and quantify. That took a long time to find, but I remember stumbling onto an Instagram story of Greg Minnaar using it on his V10... I did my research and was instantly sold.”
- How has your process changed for setting up the bike?
“It removes the guesswork. There are so many factors that can register as a particular feeling, so now we are able to isolate what that variable is and tune more of it in or out. From there we focus on making Rae feel good on the bike and look at what sort of data that produces so we understand why she likes it that way.”
- Has efficiency gone up?
“Massively! We are at a point now that I can put a fresh shock tune into her bike and she knows exactly what it does, and why we did it. We then know what readings to check for and how much of a change it has actually made. Rae gives me feedback if it was better or worse to ride and then we overlay that with the times she put down on the trail.”
- What was the biggest thing you learned about your previous setup with data?
“That stock shock tunes don’t work for a 60kg woman who rides harder than that average 90kg man - haha! These top women need custom setups. They are very far from the stock tunes that come in modern suspension as their speed and body weight don’t meet the `”norm” in my opinion. They have the most to gain from being set up properly.”
- What is your impression of the balance algorithm?
“I think it’s great, it allows you to get a really good even baseline to work from. I know some riders who prefer one end faster or stiffer than the other but for me the balance shows that both ends are running in the same ballpark. In the beginning Rae had an OEM shock that always felt a bit too slow and she was jammed wide open on compression and rebound. We tested with it and it was down nearly 80% compared to the way she likes to run her fork. The shock was rebuilt with a custom piston and a light shim tune which allowed us to get much higher shaft speeds. Within 2 weeks we had front/rear balance within 2%. We now have a bike that is working evenly and efficiently over all terrain.”
- Does the new tuned bike behave better at speed?
“Honestly if I was to run Rae’s settings at my spring weights, I would die! But that's the beauty of data, it’s about getting it to behave better for her. She’s a very dynamic rider who pops and dances up and over things to generate speed and that is what you need to make her settings work. So for her, yes, it behaves beautifully at speed. Watching her rip down a trail, she’s got that trophy truck style active and reactive suspension that she can still push hard into the end stroke with a ton of support.”
- Are there any noticeable differences in the new setup?
“I would say the biggest thing would be how fast the rebound is. She’s always run her stuff fairly soft but was quite slow on rebound which we saw bogged the bike down a bit and created a lot of harsh feedback. But It’s very open now.”
- What will you use the data for now that the bike is set up correctly?
“Confidence. Now we know what she likes and have a clear understanding of what works best. If she’s having a hard time figuring out a new bit of suspension or isn’t feeling great it’s so easy to put the data on and show her where everything is or where it needs to be. She’s one of the most mechanically sound riders I know so it’s really important that if she feels something that we are able to isolate it and make confident movements in the right direction. From time to time, we also receive new suspension from DVO to test. When DVO wants rider feedback, it's great to have a solid benchmark to work off from the start. Also, we can just send them data directly from MotionIQ with a click of a button.”
- Will your race practice day routine change now that you have data?
“Absolutely, every EWS race she will practice with data. We will be looking at any big events that cause anomalies or undesirable feedback and look into tuning those out. Every round is so unique that I’d say we will be making a few tweaks here and there to just ensure everything is moving the way she likes, regardless of terrain.”
- What would you do to improve the product?
“Ohhh that’s a tough one, I’ve had to have my own custom frame bolts machined so that we can fit the system to the frame quickly and easily. Making it universal and user friendly will be the key to making it an option for more teams and riders.”
Update since this blog was published, we've taken this feedback about mounting to heart. Check out the MIPS mounting blog.
- Any other surprises you've stumbled onto that you didn't expect?
“That when I put it on my bike, my settings were very average - haha! I was confident I had it fairly dialled but I was like 8psi off in the fork and 15psi off in the shock. Plus the damping was all over the show. Feels bloody amazing now. Which goes to show, no matter how smart you are, with data you are smarter.”
Well, there you have it. Unfiltered feedback from your competition. Jesse and Rae’s results correlate with our experience, especially with really fast women riders on stock tunes. Our goal with MotionIQ was to provide actionable data, not setting recommendations. With data, a sixth sense emerges where you now correlate your feeling with data and make intelligent suspension set up and adjustments as a result. It’s an additional and invaluable feedback loop.