Computer shocks for all By the staff of Dirt Wheels
Computerized suspension arrived in the UTV world with the Polaris Dynamix. And while it may sound lazy, after you have suspension that you can instantly adjust from inside the car, you are spoiled. There are many times when you will gain performance and comfort by adjusting your UTV suspension, but most people don’t bother when it means stopping the car, climbing out and manually adjusting the shock adjusters. Then, of course, you need to stop and put them back to your “normal” setting.
Until now, if you wanted electronic suspension adjustments from inside the cab, you had to buy a Polaris Dynamix or, more recently, the top-of-the-line Honda Talon 1000X-4 Live Valve four-seater; in other words, a machine that came stock with the system.
Now Fox has a kit that turns original-equipment Fox 2.5- and 3.0-inch internal bypass shocks or the Fox Factory Race Series aftermarket upgrade shocks to computerized Live Valve shocks. At the moment, the kit is available for Can-Am Maverick X3s from 2017 to present. Fox calls the kit “iQS” for Intelligent Quick Switch. The iQS system allows three-position shock adjustments via a dash-mounted rocker switch. Like the manual Fox QS3 shock adjustments, each change is quite significant, so you easily feel the change.
The iQS system is a very complete kit. The most visible part is the Live Valve—electronically adjustable compression valves that replace the stock manual adjusters. Most of the kit is hidden, including an automotive-grade wiring harness with abrasion-resistant plastic shielding, a Bosch ECU, cable ties, plus there are a template and even a 30-page installation manual.
The basic kit is $2,075. You can buy it from Fox. You will need to send your shocks in to have the Live Valves installed. Once you get the shocks back, you are responsible for installing the rest of the kit. It is actually preferred that you get the kit from a distributor.
At the moment the sole distributor is Shock Therapy. Unlike Fox, Shock Therapy will handle the entire install. It is $500 to install the Live Valves in the four shocks, and it runs another $200 for the rest of the install. Fox and Shock Therapy suggest that additional mods like the ST Ride Improvement modification to perfect the suspension setup be made at the same time. This seems like a wise choice since the shocks will already be getting serviced. When you have your suspension dialed in, and then add the ability to change the adjusters on the fly, you have a great driving experience and excellent control. Naturally, when you add other changes or modifications the price goes up, but you save on labor by only paying for the shock service once.
The kit is designed to handle demanding environments, with critical components such as the Bosch ECU being rated to IP67 standards. In addition to allowing damping changes on the fly, iQS allows Fox to provide a wider range of adjustment in the electronic valve. You have full functionality of your shocks based on the terrain without having to stop to make an adjustment. The setup is great for ever-changing terrain, including rock crawling and trail riding.
Mode 1 is firm for aggressive riding and more load capacity. Mode 2 is a balanced all-around setting, and Mode 3 is soft for trail comfort. We were fortunate that Shock Therapy had the kit installed on the company’s fabulous-looking X3 four-seater. We have driven that car before with full Shock Therapy-modified suspension. We were quite impressed at the time we tested it. Compared to other X3 Maverick Max units we had driven, the Shock Therapy machine rode higher in the stroke, so it had more clearance, and it felt like there was far more usable travel.
With the iQS system installed, the car was set up softer and more compliant overall. There is no need to leave it stiff enough to cope with major G-load impacts. You can run a more reactive general setup, then use the dash-mounted switch to bump up the damping when needed. We could clearly feel the difference between each mode. When you have that instant in-car adjustability, you find that you make more adjustments than you ever think you would.
This is a premium kit, and it isn’t cheap, but you definitely will be happy to have that switch and the adjustability that comes with it. Shock Therapy hopes to have kits for other machines soon, and we did have a chance to drive a Polaris RZR with the iQS kit installed. For more information on the iQS kit and installation options, go to www.ridefox.com or www.shocktherapyst.com.