RockShox Flight Attendant | Blister

After the initial experimentation period, I just left the system in the +1 Bias Adjust setting and mostly ignored it. And it worked incredibly seamlessly. The Capra pedaled remarkably well for a 160+ mm travel Enduro bike, especially given its fairly middling performance with Flight Attendant turned off, and it opened up and worked as normal suspension when I wanted it to. And so I just didn’t think about it, because I didn’t need to.

I think that having a system that defaults to being open, and only firms up the suspension when it’s confident that you want it to — within the bounds of whatever Bias Adjust setting you’ve chosen — is key to it working so well. It’s far preferable, in my book, to have the suspension stay open for a few extra seconds of pedaling effort when it maybe could have been firmed up than it is for the suspension to be in a firm mode when you hit a significant bump, especially on the way down. Even with fairly aggressive Bias Adjust settings, Flight Attendant does that very well. And in fact, I opted not to use the +2 Bias Adjust setting more for climbing comfort than for any descending performance reasons. Once the bike was pointed downhill, even the +2 setting opened up reliably when I needed it to.

The way that Flight Attendant sometimes puts the fork into one mode softer than the shock (e.g., fork in “climb” and shock in “lock”) is also key to it working well. One of the reasons that I’m generally skeptical of fork climb modes, especially on longer-travel bikes, is that firming up the fork makes it ride higher, putting the bars higher and making the seat tube angle slacker — exactly the opposite of what you want when climbs start getting steeper. And Flight Attendant compensates for that really well, both because the fork doesn’t ever firm itself up as aggressively as the shock does (“lock” mode isn’t truly a lockout on either, but it’s appreciably softer on the fork), and because it does a good job of kicking the fork down a level when the bike is pointed up something super steep. The idea behind the system isn’t really all that complicated, but the devil is absolutely in the details, and RockShox has the tuning down very, very well.

Zack: I had my own Terminator suspicions when I jumped on the Flight-Attendant-equipped Capra, and the chirping servos working away on my ride to the trailhead were definitely a new experience — exciting, but a little unsettling. Over the course of the first 30 minutes of riding, I still noticed the servo noises but found myself forgetting that the bike had anything special going on, and just rode. And I mean that as a high compliment — the electronics deliver a pretty seamless experience versus the on/off sensation that some of the more aggressive climb switches provide on traditional suspension. I wasn’t surprised that the bike climbed as well as it did, to be honest, because it’s the obvious expectation of a system like this. Where I was more surprised was in the level of resolution it provided between the open and closed settings. Less-than-steep climbs with some tech sprinkled in would send the bike into more of a middle “trail mode” range of settings, and at times the fork’s LED indicator would illuminate two LEDs at once to indicate that the system was operating in other settings in between lock, pedal, and open. This was where the Flight Attendant system really started to show its true value to me, doing a great job of balancing grip, comfort, and efficiency in sections of trail where other traditional suspension setups would have you stopping twisting knobs to find similar settings.

Personally, I found the +1 Bias Adjust setting to be great on longer, smoother climbs, but I ended up also using the baseline setting a lot. I found that the +1 setting was a bit harsh on rougher and flatter terrain, where the shock in particular would be a little too eager to return back to the “lock” setting. This is the real beauty of the bias being adjustable — it’s easy to change the behavior to suit whatever type of ride you’re in for on a given day.

I did have a couple of gripes with the system when it came to more playful riding. I like to jump off curbs and such on my way to the trailhead, try stupid log skinnies, and generally mess around a little bit when I’m on my way to the top of whatever descent I’m going for. Unfortunately, pumping the bike into something you want to try to jump over doesn’t necessarily trigger the system to switch to “open” mode, making loading the suspension for bunny hops and goofing around a whole lot harder. The suspension did always open up upon landing, but it felt like the Flight Attendant system was a little more purposeful and serious than my riding style sometimes is. Now yes, you can move the system into “open” mode manually by using the left AXS shifter, but I often forgot, and toggling through the modes was never quite second nature for me.