Yes Motocross and off-road suspension has evolved over the years but has it really evolved. Considering what computers can do these days, hand held computer smart devices and whatnot, traditional motocross suspension has been a slow roll. The basic single shock design with or without a linkage has been in use for 30 years now. Technology has changed, better valving designs, coatings, high and low speed circuits and so on, but the concept is pretty much the same. We have see radical concepts over the years and even some Works bike have tested these concepts under racing conditions but the general design has remained the same. Maybe this is just what works and there is no need to change it – or is it?
Some of these active suspension systems for auto racing have been banned in several forms of racing. To show how crazy this system can be, check out this video below at the 1.25 minute mark, you will be amazed. Imagine a motocross bike that can soak up bumps without effecting the chassis as much as it does in present day.
As of late the air fork has and is in the news. Some say it boils down to cost and a way to make a more affordable fork. Some say air is more tunable. Again, the basic design of a telescoping fork has been used for over four decades. materials and diameters have been altered, internals vastly improved but the basic engineering of the shell is very similar with some sort of way to slow the passage of oil depending on the force.
The question is, do we need better technology, which will end up costing more. And if suspension was better would riders go faster? This could make for safer motorcycle or ones that go faster through the rough and put riders to the ground even harder if they crash?
Technology or active suspension is on the forefront and I bet all of the manufactures have been testing or developing the next generation of suspension, or at least suspension internals. I am talking about smart suspension that can adjust itself in a micro-second depending on what it hits. It can make changes to rebound depending on how the shock or fork was compressed or make a shock or fork stiffer if it feels like you are about to bottom. We are in the electronic world and it started with EFI and electric starting on moto bikes. Why not have electronically controlled suspension? Several street bikes have electronically controlled suspension so it is a matter of time for moto bikes if the increased cost will pay itself back. Like the 6D Helmet, it only takes on player change the game.
There has been hints of this type of technology over the years. They even have fluids that react to forces and change viscosity in a spit second.
The mountain bike community is all over new stuff and since some mountain bikes cost more than dirt bikes; and don’t even have an engine, maybe they are willing to pay for the next level of technology first.
Here is a story over at PinkBike that covers some of the new technology Fox Suspension has been working on. Imagine a factory team able to tune a riders suspension remotely, or a way to change valving right as they approach and complete a set of woops. A set of suspension tuned for a specific section of the track. Read up on the story and let us know what you think and how this might play into our world of dirt bikes.