Home > Bike Types > Mountain Bike

Rockshox Flight Attendant Gets Faster than Ever for XC

2024 rockshox flight attendant electronic suspension lockout on SID fork

For 2024, the Rockshox Flight Attendant electronic suspension management system is updated to pull more data from more components to deliver a better ride, with a focus on making racers as efficient and fast as possible.

In fact, those are the exact words they use: “The entire focus is to make riders faster.”

It’s a system that, without any conscious input by the rider, is designed to unlock speed and efficiency. In their testing, RockShox found it made riders an average of 1.8% faster. That’s a competition-demolishing 96 seconds faster for a 90-minute XCO race.

What’s new for Flight Attendant?

2024 rockshox flight attendant electronic suspension lockout system on a bike

The main update is a new algorithm that takes more input from the bike and rider to customize it to your riding style and performance. It still adjusts and adapts to the terrain, but now it’s also adapting to you. If you get faster, it’s going to help you go faster, If you get slower, well, it’s going to adapt to make you more efficient at your slower speeds. More on that in a minute.

First, it’s worth noting that the change is primarily a firmware update, so all the original Flight Attendant parts will be able to use the new algorithms to get somewhat better, but…

2024 rockshox flight attendant electronic suspension lockout for XC bikes

There are two hardware changes that give the new algorithm everything it needs – Transmission rear derailleurs and Quarq power meters.

When the original Flight Attendant launched, Transmission was still a twinkle in SRAM’s eye, and it relied on a separate cadence sensor rather than existing power meters to tell it when you were pedaling or coasting.

Now, it’s able to pull data from Transmission derailleurs. What data, exactly? Um, data. They won’t say exactly what, it’s a trade secret, but my hunch is that it knows which gear you’re in. Combine that with its new ability to monitor your power output and it combines your cadence, gear ratio, and effort, which lets it guess at what you’re doing and adjust the suspension accordingly.

2024 rockshox flight attendant electronic suspension uses Quarq power meters

So, what changed to make it compatible with power meters rather than “needing” (quotes are my own) the cadence sensor in the crank spindles?

Turns out, nothing more than a bit of coding. When Flight Attendant launched, SRAM says they didn’t realize how many people wanted and used power meters, so the pedal/cadence sensor was simply technology pulled from their power meters but separated to provide “less data” more affordably.

The updated Flight Attendant can now read pedal cadence directly from a power meter, but they’ll only pull that data from Quarq power meters (spindle and spider) and select e-bike systems that SRAM has tested.

Which means it’s not compatible with 3rd party power meters. At face value that seems like they’re just walling their garden to force you to buy a Quarq PM. But the non-conspiratorial reason is this: They know what the +/- accuracy rating is on their equipment, but they can’t verify what other products will have. And for Flight Attendant to work as advertised, they need to know exactly what the incoming data means.

sram transmission drivetrain closeup

The more AXS components you have on your bike, the more data points there are for the system to learn. In my opinion, having power and gear selection data is a big leg up that Fox doesn’t currently have for Live Valve.

Also worth noting, all Flight Attendant forks and shocks have three compression damping modes – firm, middle, and open. How those are tuned is up to the bike brand and their suspension kinematics, but it’s not just open or closed, which is another important distinction from the current Live Valve.

How long does it take to learn “you”?

2024 rockshox flight attendant electronic suspension lockout ridden on an XC bike

A few rides minimum, and that’s intentional. You don’t want it to readjust everything if you have a one-off slower ride. Maybe you’re riding with the fam, or just not feeling it that day. Don’t worry, that’s not enough for it to change what it thinks you need.

But, it will pick up on gradual improvement, which is what most of us see as we ride more and more. This lets it fine-tune the performance based on where and how you normally ride.

How does it work, exactly?

rockshox flight attendant app screenshots

It starts by capturing a few rides’ worth of data. If you want to speed up the process, do a 90-minute ride that has a little of everything, including a few all-out sprints and one sustained effort (like a long climb).

From there, it uses some of the new tricks up its sleeve, like Split State:

rockshox flight attendant split state charts

Split State lets it operate the fork and shock’s compression damping independently. Specifically, it can:

  • Control fork lockout separately from the rear shock lockout
  • Independently adjust fork and shock to keep you in the best and most efficient mode, which is something you can’t do with a mechanical, manual lockout lever
rockshox flight attendant effort zones chart

Once it has enough data on your power zones and fitness level, then uses that data to sort out how to modify the Split States for your particular bike. It has four zones – Low, Medium, and High Effort, plus Sprint.

While it’s creating your profiles, you can still tell it to lean one way or another with Bias Adjust. Set that to favor a more open or firmer suspension and it’ll oblige.

rockshox flight attendant mode lights

The lights change color based on what zone it senses you’re in.

rockshox flight attendant override mode lights

Should you ride somewhere new, like a rougher trail, and want it to be more open and active, you can use the buttons on the fork and/or your AXS shifter or the buttons on the fork to choose from Manual or Override modes:

  • Manual – cancel the automatic system and manually cycle between firm, pedal, or open
  • Override – shortcut to your preferred manual mode, which you set in the app

There’s also a “Safe” mode that keeps the suspension in an actively open state when either the fork, shock, or pedal sensor’s battery gets too low.

Why not just give it an on/off switch?

Flight Attendant adds a hefty premium to the price of a bike. With all of the brains and electronics behind its functionality, you’d think that’s what makes it so expensive. So, why not just give it an on/off button switch and leave out the “brains” of it? Why not let us just turn it on and off remotely to save some coin?

Good question, I asked them exactly that. Here’s the reply:

“Because it really wouldn’t save much if anything in terms of retail price, and the whole point of it is to take away the mental effort,” says Chris Mandell, SRAM’s MTB marketing manager. “Also, you’d lose its ability to separately optimize fork and shock mode, and you’d lose its ability to learn from your riding to optimize the system for you.”

He also said that the actual software for making it smart isn’t the reason for its cost, it’s all of the electronics and hardware. Making it “smart” doesn’t actually drive the cost up that much, yet it provides most of the benefit, so there’s no reason not to.

Can I buy it aftermarket? Or upgrade my current fork to Flight Attendant?

The new Flight Attendant system launches today on the all-new Specialized Epic 8 S-Works, and will be showing up on more bikes very soon. It’s also available aftermarket on the SID SL Ultimate (100-110mm travel; $1,349; 1,480g) and SID Ultimate (120mm travel; $1,449; 1,624g), both using the Charger Race Day 2 damper. For the rear, it comes on the SIDluxe Ultimate ($849; 349g), and they offer a wide range of stroke and length options. Because it’s all wireless, you can put it on any bike that fits.

parts requirements for rockshox flight attendant

At a minimum, you need the fork, shock, and pedal cadence sensor…there is no fork-only setup option at this time. To use the Adaptive Ride Dynamics, you’ll need a power meter. The rest of the devices add bits of data or, with the dual-button AXS POD or Paddle shifters, give you more intuitive control for the Override Mode.

For the SID D1+ (2024) models, you can buy the complete Flight Attendant cartridge and drop it in place of your current damper. The rear shocks, however, are tuned for specific bikes and models that have confirmed clearance for the shock with its electronic bump, so you’ll need to check Rockshox’s website for the latest list. Specialized, Canyon, Pivot, Orbea, Mondraker, and Santa Cruz have bikes on the list as of this post going live.

They will also sell the Flight Attendant control module separately, which you’ll need to add to a Flight Attendant-specific Charger Race Day 2 Damper, which is sold separately. These kits are available for SID Ultimate, SID SL Ultimate, Pike Ultimate, Lyrik Ultimate, and ZEB Ultimate…just make sure to buy the correct parts for your specific fork.

Want to get caught up on the technical details of Flight Attendant’s sensors and parts? Check our original story here.


Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 month ago

It could do this with any AXS RD or wireless powermeter of any brand. But they’ve decided to feature gate this to Transmission only. No thanks.

1 month ago
Reply to  Oliver

Edit: article implies Transmission … but diagram says any AXS RD, and any PM / cadence sensor.

1 month ago
Reply to  Oliver

Also if you put the cheapest quarq on it, the +/- is way more than most well known power meters. So yes they are at least gating it to the homegrown pm

1 month ago
Reply to  Neo

Yup. And no two riders are going to put out the exact same power anyways, so accuracy is irrelevant. They just need to know rider output / effort.

1 month ago

12 years after the Rock Shox Monarch Relay.

1 month ago

So cool!

1 month ago

The best part is when your Flight Attendant stops working, you don’t need to replace an archaic cable–just send the whole fork back to SRAM! Progress!

Subscribe Now

Sign up to receive BikeRumor content direct to your inbox.

Subscribe Now

Sign up to receive BikeRumor content direct to your inbox.