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Written By: 
John Arens

Experienced racers know horsepower means nothing without the handling to match it. They’ll sacrifice power for a vehicle that handles precisely and will hold it’s line regardless of the terrain. That’s why Can-Am’s introduction of their new Smart-Shox system has the potential to add more to the driving experience than another 5% horsepower gain ever could.


Most shocks on ATVs and Side x Sides offer at least some adjustment capability. As expected, entry level models are pretty basic, while high-performance models often feature infinitely adjustable suspension that allows you to dial in the ride height, compression, and rebound. The complexity of the suspension is a direct correlation to the rest of the unit, and that is one of the problems. Most owners never both changing their shock settings, figuring the factory picked what worked best, and to some extent that is true. All of the OEMs dial in their suspension based on average load, terrain, driving style, tires, etc. It’s not exactly a compromise, but it’s the best they can do based on their research, and it delivers a pleasant ride. With multiple springs, knobs, and adjustments, the complexity of true high-end suspension can present a daunting challenge to many. It’s also one of the reasons we are huge fans of the Fox QS-3 system introduced by Can-Am a few years ago. It made suspension adjustment a breeze. Simply turn the clicker knob at the top of the shock to one of 3 settings, (SOFT, MEDIUM, or FIRM), and go riding! True, it’s not the perfect ride you might dial in with a full race shock, but it delivered 90% of the benefit, and the system was very easy to understand, especially for less experienced riders. We still love it! The new Can-Am Smart-Shox is taking that QS-3 ease of ownership to a very high performance shock, and just like the QS-3, there are even three modes to pick from. It’s the most advanced shock on any Side x Side today.


Can-Am’s new Smart-Shox system is an active suspension system that, through a combination of sensors and variable orifice valves, adjusts the suspension system in real-time. As you race down the trail, the system reads info back from nine sensors at 200 times per second, and adjusts the shocks accordingly. Details of the new Smart-Shox system are:

  • System reacts to both rider input and the terrain through multiple sensors.

  • Smart-Shox self-adjust up to 200 times per second, acting on both compression and rebound. Full soft to full firm time is .017 seconds.

  • Benefits of Smart-Shox system are reduced dive while braking, less squat under acceleration, and flatter cornering. The vehicle maintains attitude and ride height more efficiently.

  • Tires follow terrain better, allowing for more aggressive acceleration and braking.

  • Tri-Mode shock adjustment capability from the drivers seat. Driver can choose Comfort, Sport, or Sport + mode at any time.

  • Available on Maverick X3 X rs Turbo RR

  • In the unlikely event of system power failure, the system resorts to the stiffest setting.


Can-Am has always relied heavily on technology with their engine management systems, and now that is extending to the chassis. Nine sensors placed on the chassis and at the suspension arms relay info back to a central processor that gathers that data and adjusts the shocks instantly. A sensor at each wheel detects travel and velocity, while sensors on the chassis detects roll, dive, and acceleration or braking attitude changes. In aircraft terms, this is known as roll, pitch, and yaw. A switch on the dash allows the driver to select one of three pre-set suspension profiles. The system will not retrofit other Can-Ams however due to a different wiring harness, and the lack of precisely placed sensor mounts. The Smart-Shox system is currently for the top end Maverick only.


Can-Am was not the first company to work with FOX on an active shock package. There are several major advantages to the Smart-Shox system that no other company currently offers. They are:

  • SMART-SHOX is easily adjusted from the drivers seat. The three levels of adjustment make dialing in your ride extremely easy

  • SMART-SHOX offer both compression and rebound adjustment

  • Multiple sensors detect rebound speed. This eliminates the suspension “loading-up” or “packing”, thus shortening wheel travel with each bump, or by rebounding too quickly and causing the vehicle to swap side to side.

  • Smart-Shox sensors take multiple readings across the chassis, and adjust the shocks as a complete package, not just at the individual wheel absorbing the impact. This delivers far better handling.

  • The wheels follow the terrain much better. This improves acceleration, cornering, and braking.

  • The Smart-Shox system practically eliminates bottoming over an unexpected obstacle or bump

  • The vehicle is now easier to control with Smart-Shox


The major advantage of the QS3 system was it’s ease of adjustment. You simply couldn’t miss and it made the entire vehicle better. The new Can-Am Smart-Shox on the 2021 Maverick X3 X rs TURBO RR deliver the same ease of adjustment with a top-of-the-line racing shock. It’s as good as it gets with vehicle suspension, and as experienced riders and racers know, suspension is really the key to covering the course quickly. Expect to float over rough terrain faster than you ever have before.