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Dynamix and Smart-Shox : Semi-Active Suspension Revolutionizing the Industry!

semi-active suspension

You will agree that comfort remains one of the key elements that makes the difference between a successful ride or not. If you are driving on a bumpy trail and you are being “shaken like a money tree to lose your spare change,” you will not enjoy your walk. You will not be inclined to repeat the experience anytime soon, and with good reason. In recent years, manufacturers have developed semi-active and intelligent suspensions that enhance the experience on certain side-by-sides. This article will discuss the Dynamix suspensions from Polaris and Smart-Shox from Can-Am.

Long before the arrival of these “super suspensions,” driving pleasure has nevertheless evolved greatly over the years. This is certainly what tips the scales when it comes time to select the quad that will meet our expectations.

In order to have impeccable road holding to control these beasts with astonishing power, each manufacturer also strives to equip these machines with long-travel suspensions.

Have manufacturers gone even further in daring by offering electronically controlled suspensions that will adjust according to the terrain? The answer is certainly affirmative and we see this at Polaris and Can-Am.

Dynamix, the Semi-Active Suspension From Polaris

What is Polaris’ Dynamix?

The semi-active Dynamix suspension was the world’s first intelligent suspension system specifically designed for off-road use. This system includes sophisticated sensors constantly monitoring seven vehicle inputs. It then makes 200 adjustments per second to optimize the driving experience. Dynamix is designed to optimize the performance of each shock absorber, taking into account factors such as the position of the brake pedal, speed, vehicle tilt, and steering wheel position.

The Dynamix system adjusts the suspension at all times, whether you are accelerating, braking, turning, or in the air. These continuous changes provide the driver with greater performance without sacrificing a comfortable and enjoyable ride.

dynamix semi-active suspension

The adjustments of this extraordinary suspension work in conjunction with the Ride Command system implemented in 2017. It is possible to view the various parameters on the screen at all times. This includes the selected mode, G-force, steering angle, and suspension damping.

For 2022, Polaris innovated by enhancing its semi-active suspension by introducing a new feature in its RZR Pro R and RZR Turbo R models. The Dynamix DV was a huge step forward, as Polaris buyers now had control over the damping, rebound, and compression valves in the Fox or Walker Evans shocks.

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Basically, Polaris added a controller to the semi-active suspension that adjusts the damping of rebound and compression on the fly based on where and how you are driving. There are four modes: Baja, Rocks, Trail, and Comfort. Each is intended for the most common types of terrain and driving styles.

4 modes of the dynamix semi-active suspension

Baja Mode

Use the Baja mode to achieve a high dynamic driving height. This provides better shock isolation and high clearance to help you float from one crest to another. It is the ideal setup when you want to tackle the toughest terrains the desert has to offer.

The Baja mode is also designed for aggressive turns. The suspension will lower the front of the platform as you turn to maintain grip and promote high turning speeds. At the same time, the power steering adjustment helps avoid bumps and enhances the feel. This helps keep the wheels pointed where you want them.

Rock-Climbing Mode

When it’s time to climb, the Rock-Climbing mode provides you with the clearance and control needed to tackle steep and deep slopes. High compression damping maximizes the driving height while low-speed angle damping improves stability in pitch and roll. This ensures that the driving power will constantly be applied to everything you are trying to climb or cross.

Once again, the function is in the name. In Rocks mode, the vehicle sits as high as possible when stopped, but it becomes really smart once you start moving. When negotiating rocks and slopes, the suspension constantly measures the slope angle to tilt the RZR into the hill, ledge, or rock to be as stable as possible. Here, the power steering effort is significantly reduced to make your life easier.

Track Mode

The power steering assembly is designed to provide increased steering input, offering you an immediate connection to the terrain. Its low and flat position is perfectly configured for winding trails and the hard surface of the desert. Then, medium compression damping and high rebound damping reduce the driving height. This greatly helps reduce lap times on short courses or through winding wooded trails.

The Track mode is also calibrated for numerous quick and aggressive movements and impacts. It is therefore possible to navigate corners without worry. Here, the EPS is set to require more effort and provide the maximum possible sensations and feedback.

dynamix dv

Comfort Mode

If you are going on a family hike or touring with friends, you will prefer the ultra-luxurious driving experience of the Comfort mode. It first reduces the compression and rebound damping to optimize passenger comfort. Then, it increases electric assistance for effortless steering when you want comfort for miles and miles.

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With this mode, the semi-active suspension is configured to feel as plush as possible. This means it offers low compression to smooth out bumps and high rebound damping to return to normal as quickly as possible.

There is no doubt that Polaris has innovated since the introduction of the Dynamix semi-active suspension for the 2018 RZR model year. However, did its rival, Can-Am, stand idly by without reacting? Of course not! And it responded with its own version.

Smart-Shox, the Semi-Active Suspension From Can-Am

What is Can-Am’s Smart-Shox?

The semi-active Smart-Shox suspension is equipped with nine sensors that transmit real-time data to a computer capable of making up to 200 shock valve adjustments per second. An adjustment from one extreme to the other takes only 17 milliseconds.

The expression “better late than never” applies very well here. Indeed, it took Can-Am four years to respond to Polaris and implement an electronically adjustable suspension in the high-performance Maverick X3 side-by-side. It was certainly well equipped, but it lacked that extra touch to measure up to the RZR.

The shocks themselves measure 2.5 inches at the front and 3 inches at the rear. Can-Am claims that the travel is 22 inches at the front and 24 inches at the rear. It should be noted that these figures take into account tire flexibility and optimal terrain conditions. However, the actual usable 20 inches are sufficient for any side-by-side vehicle nowadays.

smart-shox semi-active suspension

According to Can-Am, Smart-Shox is a fully self-adjustable semi-active suspension technology. This involves superior performance, increased control, and greater comfort. It is the only suspension in the industry that controls both compression and rebound, regardless of the terrain or conditions. The following three aspects were prioritized to implement this semi-active suspension at Can-Am:

Improved Performance

The system constantly monitors the position and speed of the wheels. It acts on both compression and rebound to improve shock absorption and filtering. It is the only semi-active suspension in the industry with on-the-fly rebound adjustments. This system also boasts the fastest valve response time in the industry. The Smart-Shox can go from completely soft to firm in an average time of 17 milliseconds (0.017 seconds).

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It provides better ground tracking for increased traction, better launches, more comfort on rough terrain, and the feeling that you are truly connected to the ground.

Better Control

The Smart-Shox technology allows for automatic real-time suspension adjustments. This improves vehicle stability and provides excellent control with flatter turns. It reduces front and rear rebounds while minimizing vehicle body movements. It automatically adapts to any type of terrain after selecting a driving mode: Comfort, Sport, or Sport+.

Comfort Mode

The Comfort mode prioritizes controlling the vehicle’s body, for flatter turns, while allowing the suspension to move as freely as possible for a smooth ride.

comfort mode on the smart-shox semi-active suspension

Sport Mode

This mode focuses on handling and straight-line comfort while minimizing roll in turns and body movements. It is the perfect setting for most driving situations, terrains, and driving styles.

Sport+ Mode

Sport+ is the most performance-oriented suspension setting. It prioritizes total shock stiffness for more precise handling, the most aggressive bump control, and a true race-inspired feel. All with just the press of a button.

The latest addition from Can-Am, the Maverick R, is also equipped with the innovative Smart-Shox technology. This semi-active suspension was developed in collaboration with FOX. It adapts to the terrain, providing better traction and increased stability. Whether braking, accelerating, or taking a turn, the Smart-Shox reacts instantly to enhance your off-road experience!

smart-shox semi-active suspension

In conclusion, we must face the facts. Technological advancements related to the suspensions offered by Polaris and Can-Am make the activity even more appealing for enthusiasts. It is also important to remember that they are there to enhance the driving experience, comfort, and traction, but we must not become overconfident. These semi-active suspensions allow us to become better drivers, but we must remain responsible and reasonable in our driving.

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