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New SHOWA Air Forks

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MINI-VIEW: BONES BACON ON SHOWA’S NEW ‘AIR FORK’ DESIGN

Pro Circuit/Kawasaki suspension guru Bones Bacon had exciting news to share with us in regards to a brand new fork design from Showa. Called the ‘Air Fork,’ this system doesn’t use a single spring. Can you believe that?! Are you confused? Bones answered all of my pressing questions, and it turns out Showa’s Air Fork seems downright sweet.

MXA: What’s the big deal with Showa’s new Air Fork design?

Bones: First of all, it saves two pounds in the front end. That’s huge! This new design will make it much easier to work on the forks and should greatly improve performance. There are two air chambers in the one fork that act as the spring, while the other fork leg contains the damping. Simply add air to the fork to make it stiffer.

Will this system hold up better to the rigors of Supercross and motocross compared to a traditional fork?

Yes. Imagine a car tire with an inner tube inside the tire. Now imagine that you run over a sharp object that punctures the tire. Despite the hole, there’s still enough air in the tire to keep going. That’s similar to how the Air Fork is designed. I told the Showa guys that there was no way that we could move to a new concept at the risk of failing to finish a race. Showa is headed in the right direction with the Air Fork.

What are the other advantages of the Air Fork?

We can get away from seal stiction while also being able to keep air in the forks. I’m pretty excited about all of it. A simple goal would be to have these forks equal in performance to what we have now, and the benefit would be that we saved two pounds. That’s enormous. We spend thousands of dollars on parts for the bike that saves grams. By saving two pounds on the bike would be incredible.

Will the Air Fork work well for all types of skill levels?

I think so. Imagine having a rider like Bubba Stewart, who rides really far over the front of the bike and needs a fork that’s super stiff. Then all of a sudden you put a rider on the bike that rides in the middle of the bike. You wouldn’t have to have nearly as stiff of a fork setting. With the Air Fork you’re effectively doing that because you’re taking two pounds of weight off the front of the bike. You won’t need as much damping or spring rate/air pressure to hold the front of the bike up anymore.

When will you start testing with the Air Fork?

In a few more weeks we’re going to start testing with the Air Fork to see how far we can take it and develop it. That’s going to be the future of everything. Time will tell. It has to meet our durability and performance requirements before we feel comfortable putting it on a race bike.

Why is it easier to work on the SFF design, and more specifically, the Air Fork design?

You can get so much further testing with the SFF system, because there are so many possibilities with it. If you’re going to change the valving then you’re working on one fork. If you’re going to change the spring rate then you’re only working on one fork. Even with the system we have now we saved weight. Friction is down 25 percent. Turning balance is better because we offset the weight of the heavy disc and caliper that’s always on the left side of the bike by putting the spring on the right side. Now with the new Air Fork we will put the air fork on the left and the damping side on the right, so turning balance will be even better than the SFF design.

Do you foresee the team using the Air Fork in Supercross?

Not this year, no.

What about Broc Tickle racing with it in the 450 class?

There is a possibility of that, but it will have to meet our expectations. We’ll have to put it through a lot of testing first. The goal would be to eventually race with it. We’re going to have an exclusive on the system, so it would be to our advantage to get it dialed in for racing.

When will the fork be for sale to the public?

I don’t know that. It depends on our development and how testing is coming along.

So the Air Fork is truly in the infancy stages.

Yes. The first time it was ever on a motorcycle where anyone rode it was at the Showa Ride Day a week and a half ago. Showa had it on a bike a few times doing preliminary things. Since then they’ve had all new parts coming from Japan for it. They’ve had the Air Fork on a dyno in Japan and everything came out positive before it came over to the U.S.

What did Darryn Durham think about the Air Fork, since he was the first rider to try the system out?

He was really excited about it. On the day he rode with it the track was pretty sloppy. After he came in the first time he asked to ride with the Air Fork again once the track got better. Later on in the day he went out for 40 minutes on the suspension. He came back impressed with it. He said that it had a different feel, and it took him some time getting used to the light feeling in the front end.

Can you adjust ride height with the fork like you can with the SFF system?

Yes, that’s done with one of the two pressure chambers. It’s done the same way that you would do for preload. I haven’t messed with the fork at all yet. I saw the fork a couple of months ago, and then only last week.

What are the two screws on top of the one fork leg?

Those are caps that you take off. There are air valves underneath the caps to adjust the air pressure in the two chambers.

How do you adjust the air pressure in those chambers?

Showa has a big gauge that they screw onto the valves to make those adjustments. It’s interesting to note that the fork actually contains nitrogen and not air. I suggested to Showa that they change the name of the fork to Nitrogen Fork. To me ‘Air’ sounds old. I’m not sure if they’re going to stick with that name or not.

How instrumental were you in this design?

I had very little input in this design. Granted, we keep the line of communication open. I had been urging Showa to step it up for several years. It’s important not to get stagnant, because Kayaba is gassing it. Showa took a big risk with the SFF design, and it has worked out awesome. Now they’re doing the same with the Air Fork

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many tuner try air suspension on cross ,supermoto,and superbike but don t work good as

standard type of suspension. make a weight improve but not a riding improve

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many tuner try air suspension on cross ,supermoto,and superbike but don t work good as

standard type of suspension. make a weight improve but not a riding improve

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If PC is running the system this upcoming Supercross season then the forks must be as good or better than the A kit stuff

If they don't show up with them at A1 then we know they are a work in progress

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http://motocrossactionmag.com/Main/News/MOTOCROSS-ACTIONS-MIDWEEK-REPORT-8407.aspx

Scroll down to the midway point.

Pretty interesting design! This definitely seems like a big improvement to the fork setups we have currently, and along the lines of the mountain bike suspension designs currently on the market.

Well...this is both great news and bad news.

This "stuff" should have been on production bikes 5 to 8 years ago, and now, it's still only a pre-production A kit? :busted:

That's weak, but it seems to be a good reflection of how seriously (not) SHOWA takes the two-wheel off road market.

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http://motocrossactionmag.com/Main/News/MOTOCROSS-ACTIONS-MIDWEEK-REPORT-8407.aspx

Scroll down to the midway point.

Pretty interesting design! This definitely seems like a big improvement to the fork setups we have currently, and along the lines of the mountain bike suspension designs currently on the market.

By the way, thanks for the post. :busted::thumbsup::busted:

Didn't mean to kill the messenger.

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Well...this is both great news and bad news.

This "stuff" should have been on production bikes 5 to 8 years ago, and now, it's still only a pre-production A kit? :lol:

That's weak, but it seems to be a good reflection of how seriously (not) SHOWA takes the two-wheel off road market.

I agree, the suspension technology that we currently have on dirtbikes is lagging in comparison to say streetbikes (MotoGP). It almost seems like we are starting to get into the technological revolution, so to speak, with dirtbike suspension. We have been using the twin chamber setup for the past decade and now we are starting to see some innovative designs (a la the SFF and AF or Air Fork) designs. Hopefully this "revolution" will keep going. It will be interesting to see what can be done.

By the way, thanks for the post. :busted::thumbsup::busted:

Didn't mean to kill the messenger.

Your Welcome and Thanks, not a problem! :bonk:

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"andreani suspension" have tryed a air suspension ."wds" built sofisticated air suspension and 2 official team 3 year ago in supermoto world championship use it but before an year

stopped the collaboration. "pedro" from marzocchi said me "suspension air will be the future, but very far" they have a lot of problem , the first is the progression of air "spring"

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"andreani suspension" have tryed a air suspension ."wds" built sofisticated air suspension and 2 official team 3 year ago in supermoto world championship use it but before an year

stopped the collaboration. "pedro" from marzocchi said me "suspension air will be the future, but very far" they have a lot of problem , the first is the progression of air "spring"

As with any new technology, they all have bugs to work out. As far as the air forks won't be here until far into the future, I disagree. I say give it two to three years and they will have it figured out.

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"andreani suspension" have tryed a air suspension ."wds" built sofisticated air suspension and 2 official team 3 year ago in supermoto world championship use it but before an year

stopped the collaboration. "pedro" from marzocchi said me "suspension air will be the future, but very far" they have a lot of problem , the first is the progression of air "spring"

extactly. Mt. bike guys know all about air spring vs coil and oil. Air springs tend ramp up way to fast and there was no progression and spike before you get to the bottom. So trying get a it plush and not spike in the mid would one of the issues.

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we wait and see!!!but andreani suspension work on suspension air by 13 years

pedro's marzocchi try to work on it by many year.

the future is on electonic suspensio unfortunately

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Yeah I agree, I think magneto-rheological suspension will definitely be the wave of the future. It is too expensive right now. I bet the electronics for it would be pretty complex as well.

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I'm a little skeptical.

Air spring suspension is used in mountain bikes to reduce weight - not as an improvement to suspension performance. Air-sprung shocks tend to have problems with stiction. I'm a little out of date on mountain bike technology, but historically downhill-specific mountain bikes (where weight is less important and suspension action is critical) all use coil springs in the fork and shock.

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I'm a little skeptical.

Air spring suspension is used in mountain bikes to reduce weight - not as an improvement to suspension performance. Air-sprung shocks tend to have problems with stiction. I'm a little out of date on mountain bike technology, but historically downhill-specific mountain bikes (where weight is less important and suspension action is critical) all use coil springs in the fork and shock.

yes, thats true. There are some downhill air dampers as well, but not as common as the coil spring ones.

I have a set of air suspension for my mtb. I hate this stuff.

Either it is broken or it responds really crapy.

A friend is always telling my stories of an air fork he rode once upon a time in a Husky TE 610. I dont think it was the standard fork.

Do you guys know this type of fork?

Should be round about 10 years ago when this fork was on the market.

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been done before, didnt yz forks around 1976 also do something similar?

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When I used to Dh mountain bike the coils always worked better. I'd be interested to see how well they work.

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