Modern off-road shocks allow us to effectively tackle rough terrain with speed and stability. The advent of gas-charging, reservoirs, bypass tubes, cooling, and anti-cavitation methods keeps shocks from fading, while allowing for progressive damping action. Additionally, some shocks provide an external means by which the compression and rebound settings can be manually adjusted.
JRi Shocks has recently introduced their new electronically controlled adjustable shock system, which they’ve named “JRide.” Their system allows a vehicle user to remotely adjust the valve settings on the shocks by four different means: a smartphone, a dash-mounted full-color display, a keypad, and a hand control behind the steering wheel.
The JRide’s electronically adjustable shocks allow you to adjust compression and rebound damping on-the-fly. Preset shock settings can be chosen. These can be either factory presets or customs settings you’ve created for the terrain you’re currently in. Changes are typically set in about 0.1 seconds. Fine tuning of the compression and rebound can also be done independently. Settings can be programmed separately for front and rear ends, or each corner can be tuned on its own.
The OR/10 off-road shock is an internal bypass shock that uses an outer radial fluid flow path to bypass the piston to make on-the-fly adjustments. As expected of high-quality race shocks, the OR/10 shocks are fully rebuildable and use low-friction seals to reduce piston stiction in use. The JRi shocks use a proportional valve that receives an electrical current as its means to adjust. Should the electrical portion fail (or loss of power), the shock will default to a soft setting but will still provide full damping capabilities. The shock will not go dead if electrical power is lost. Also, the electronic valves are interchangeable with a passive adjuster.
Optionally, the shocks can be configured as speed/position sensitive using an LVDT sensor to monitor and allow adjustment of damping based on shock velocity or shaft displacement. The amount of position- or velocity-dependent adjustments is nearly infinite with this upgrade, compared to the three or four fixed-position adjustments you get with a traditional off-road position-sensitive bypass shock. Available shaft stroke lengths range from 10 to 22 inches.
Since the system allows you to have multiple stored shock settings, this means you have the ability to quickly change the settings from the driver compartment as you move across the dirt. Running smooth sand, you might want a relatively soft setting. Then, if you hit a set of deep whoops, you might want to swap the valve settings to something firmer to keep from bottoming so easily.
There was a time when vehicle electronics were looked upon with some hesitation from off-roaders. A major concern was failure out in the backcountry. However, modern vehicle electronics have made huge strides in reliability in the last several decades. Today, racers from NASCAR to Dakar rely heavily on performance electronics to control ignition and fuel management duties in extremes from sub-zero tundra to scorching desert climates.
Granted, the reliability JRi has built into their product may take some time to prove its merits. However, the capability to make compression and rebound adjustments on the move could prove to be a huge advantage to racers and enthusiasts looking for dynamic shock tuning in terrain. It’s an exciting new field in shock technology.