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Added a new video LIT Pro - Dakota Tedder / Millville 7/24/2014 12:06 AM
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Want to see what a rider goes through on an outdoor national track? Then take a lap with Dakota Tedder around Millville.

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Added a blog post Life of a Test Rider: 14 Bikes, 3 Days, 2 Continents 7/23/2014 6:54 PM

(Note: Click on the pictures to see the captions!)

My name is Michael Lindsay, and I’m the Content Manager here at Vital MX. What’s a Content Manager? I’m still figuring that out, actually! To put it simply, I get to dabble in a bit of everything. That ranges from day-to-day and weekly features you see on...more

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Added a new video Josh & Justin Hill #HillBrothas 7/23/2014 12:06 PM
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Spend a day with Top Supercross Athlete Brothers, Josh & Justin Hill. Lurk with DS and experience the brotherly love and watch them shred some Motocross Secret Spots in Southern Cali.

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Added reply in a thread Racetech Revalve? 7/23/2014 11:54 AM

Did you mention in your story about the part where you have been starting the majority of the crap lately?

By the way, I don't notice if you have checked your recent postings, but behave yourself, the warning shots were fired.

Added a new video Masterclass: Jeff Emig 7/23/2014 11:32 AM
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Jeff Emig Joined Shane Booth & Chris Urquhart from Motodevelopment for a Moto Master Class at Appin. They also had 4 times Mr Mx Champion Stephen Gall come along and share his expertise.

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Added a product blog 2014 Spy Whip Goggles 7/22/2014 11:30 PM

The all new 2014 Spy Whip Goggle combines progressive design and a taste for the unruly into a full-fledged mask of mayhem. Strap-up and crack that whip!

  • Patented Scoop ventilation.
  • Triple-layer Isotron face foam with Dri-Force fleece.
  • Anti-fog, scratch-resistant Lexan lens with posts.
  • Silicone-ribbed strap.
  • ...more

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Added a new video Enjoy MFG - Creativity 7/22/2014 5:32 PM
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Check out this exclusive behind the scenes look into Enjoy MFG's sew shop. This video gives you a little perspective at what goes on into building a seat cover.

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Added a product review for Neken SFS Triple Clamps 7/22/2014 4:26 PM
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Tested: Neken SFS Triple Clamps

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review and Photos by Michael Lindsay

Wandering the pits at a Supercross race can reveal some pretty trick parts on the top team’s bikes. Earlier this year, I spotted a unique set of triple clamps on Ryan Dungey’s KTM. Instead of standard solid bar mounts, they’d been replacedwith little air shocks! My first thought was about how cool an idea this was, but it was quickly followed by, “There is no way you can buy these.” Well, I was wrong. These clamps are built by a French company known as Neken, and they’re for sale to the public. So we snagged a set of their SFS (Smooth Feeling System)clamps and put them to a long-term test.

Neken SFS Triple Clamp Features:

  • Built in adjustable shock absorber bar mounts.
  • Available as top clamp only, or as a complete set.
  • Currently available in blue, red, and orange for most major motocross models.
  • Air pump/gauge included.
  • MSRP $739.95 top clamp/ $929.95 complete set.

First Impressions

Trick, trick, and trick. This is the first thing that popped into my mind as I unboxed these gorgeous clamps. I felt like I’d stolen these straight from a factory team’s race shop! Since we decided to test a top/bottom clamp set, our box included a top SFS clamp, bottom clamp with steering stem, and an air pump. Installation for these clamps took a tad bit longer than usual, mostly because the lower clamps didn’t come with a bearing pre-pressed on. The majority of clamp sets sold nowadays, come with a bearing already pressed onto the stem. This means you need to order an OEM one separately. Beyond that, it goes fairly quickly. Especially since the top clamp has the bar-mount shocks already installed. Because of the design of the bar-mount, you must use an open-end wrench to tighten the steering stem nut. The lower bar-mount has a cross piece that blocks any access to the nut with a socket.

Once the clamps are installed, the torque settings are located above each grouping of bolts (a nice touch). Then you can set the air pressure on the bar mounts. There is only one Schrader valve, which feeds both shocks evenly. Neken includes an air pump to adjust the pressure with, which I highly recommend using. This is because it has the extremely fine adjustment needed to properly set the shocks up. Even a shock pump that you would use to adjust a set of air forks seemed inadequate (I tried), as they don’t bleed slowly enough to set the pressure accurately.

On the Track

To start things out, I tested the clamps with 120 PSI in the shocks. This was equivalent to using a solid bar mount, and gave me a base feeling as which to judge the capabilities of these clamps. After getting some solid time in with them (literally solid!), I started dropping the pressure five PSI at a time. Once it dove below 100 PSI, you could start to feel the way these clamps worked, and the difference they made.

I’ll be honest, going into this I was fairly certain I’d feel an odd sensation when the bars would drop away as the shocks compressed. I’m usually extremely sensitive to bar movement, but that wasn’t the case with the SFS. Could I feel them moving? Yes, but the consistency and the way they moved was different than I expected. I imagined the bars dropping away, but when you think about it, they’re compressing as the bike comes towards them (such as when the bike hits a bump). So even though the bar mounts move, you don’t get the sensation that the bars are moving. Especially because the shocks move together so seamlessly, and the tolerances are so tight, that you don’t feel any rocking in the bars or bar-mount themselves. This leaves you feeling like you’re in complete control, actually improving your connection to the bike. But all the while, the shocks are compressing as the bike comes towards you, which takes the edge off of impacts.

This was at its best when I found my personal sweet spot, which was at about 60 PSI. At this point, I still had enough damping force, but without the shocks blowing through the stroke. If I went below this (about 50 PSI or less), I could actually feel the bar mounts bottom out with a thud into the clamps. For the most part, 60-70 PSI was the best range to stay in. On a few tracks, which mostly consisted of large jumps and harsher landings, I could get the occasional bottoming feeling at 60. In response, I would bump the shocks up 5 PSI at a time until it no longer occurred.

The advantages of these clamps became more obvious as the tracks became rougher, especially on a choppy, hard-packed track. In these situations, I could put the front end where I wanted without as much effort, mostly because the clamps took that extra harshness out of impacts. This was most apparent when the front end was diving under the forces of heavy braking. At this point when the front end is deeper into the stroke, and more weight is transferred there, braking chop can feel more vicious. This can make the task of entering a rut even more difficult. But the secondary suspension these clamps provide takes away from that abrupt feel of each bump. This allowed me to keep my control over the front of the bike, without it jittering around, and throwing me off balance.

Long-Term Durability

The SFS shocks have kept a consistent feel, even with around four months of solid use. Also I couldn’t detect an loss in performance during long motos. I actually expected a bit of fade, but this never occurred. Neken also claims that the shocks never need to be serviced.

The Last Word

First, the minuses. The clamps are definitely on the pricey side, and the bar mounts have no fore/aft adjustment. For me personally, this was fine, as it’s set more to the rear of the clamp, which was about where my normal setup would be. But lankier riders who prefer their bar mounts forward in the clamps may have a problem.

The pluses are obvious, these things work! What may look like a gimmick is actually a great advantage. Especially for riders suffering from arm pump or hand numbness, this could be the solution for you. Especially on choppy, hard-packed tracks. If you’re looking to improve your connection to the front of the bike, while keeping your arms from turning into bricks, the SFS triple clamps from Neken is a top-of-the-line option. Even though the performance is spot on, we do mark it down a bit for its price, lack of bar position options and lower bearing, thus the 4 star rating.

Vital MX Rating

Check out Neken.EU for more information on available models and where to purchase.

About the Test Rider

Michael Lindsay - is a born-and-raised moto freak and gearhead from the heart of motocross in Southern California. First swinging a leg over a bike at the age of five, he immediately caught the racing bug, spending nearly every weekend behind a gate…and a lot of time on the couch while injured. While swinging back and forth between moto and the off-road scene, giving him a wide range of experience on the bike. Of course, all of this led to one thing: Lindsay loves working on his bikes almost as much as he loves talking about them. When he’s not in the Vital MX forum or writing his latest product review, you can find him out at the track taking dirt naps, snapping some pictures, or drooling over the latest parts for his bike. With an outspoken personality, gearhead background, and as Vital MX’s guru for product, Michael is here to share his unbiased opinion.

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Liked a bike check YZ360 ohlins / DG / 70's / 80's retro custom 7/22/2014 12:00 PM
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Added a new video Honda Jtech Team Report 7/22/2014 9:36 AM
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Check in with the Italian based MX2 team to see how their 2014 season is progressing so far.

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Added a new video Chapter 2 ft. Ryan Sipes: Episode 4 7/21/2014 6:28 PM
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As racing continues and new opportunities present themselves Ryan presses on through the GNCC Series and dabbles with some pro nationals. Episode 4 highlights some of the recent developments in his racing season and shows a behind the scenes look at more of his hometown and Dad's business.

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Added a comment about feature Social Scoop 7/21/2014 5:49 PM
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Discussions such as this are better meant for the forum.

0 0 0

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Added a new video Malvern MX 7/21/2014 5:41 PM
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With nice dark soil and long sweeping corners, Malvern MX is definitely a true motocross track. The track also features some big, yet forgiving jumps to allow riders to work up their skills and have fun in the process. The 1.5 mile long track has about 150 feet of elevation change throughout the track, and sits in a valley which allows for great spectating. Malvern is also completely lit up by lights so practice and racing can be held both at day and at night. No shortage of amenities either, the facility features a permanent concession stand along with a playground for kids. It's no wonder that Malvern Motocross is one of Northeast Ohio's favorite motocross tracks.

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Added reply in a thread James Stewart positive after Budds Creek! 7/21/2014 11:20 AM

http://www.vitalmx.com/forums/Moto-Related,20/Okay-I-dont-normally-do-this-but,1273186 GuyB posted this about it last week.

ML512 added a feature story Social Scoop 7/21/2014 8:45 AM

Michael's Picks

Michael's Take: Let's start out Monday with a little advice.


Grant Langston: So this is what the TV crew put up for "the keys to the Moto" for me this morning! Lol

Michael's Take: Welcome to the privateer life, brought to you by Top Jimmy.


Jimmy Albertson: #bestbudsaticktogether @jimmyalbertson...more

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ML512 added a feature story WORCS Round 6 Race Report: Robby Bell 7/20/2014 3:52 PM

By Robby Bell

With the sudden closure of Pala Raceway, the scheduled destination of the sixth round, the WORCS crew picked a brand new venue to play host: Iron Mine race park in Cedar City, Utah. What awaited the racers was a very fast, wide racecourse that flew around the surrounding desert,...more

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Added reply in a thread James' answer when asked "what's the hardest obstacle on the track?" 7/20/2014 7:14 AM

You're just assuming at this point. If you ask around, quite a few of the riders will bring up the fact that they wish that there was more breaks throughout the season.

Added a new video 2014 Spring Creek National Race Highlights 7/19/2014 9:42 PM
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A first-time winner emerged in the 450 Class, as Eli Tomac finally put a stop to the Red Bull KTM team's domination. In the 250 Class, Jeremy Martin - who grew up riding Spring Creek - lived up to his billing as the favorite for victory, while other title contenders experienced misfortune.

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Added a new video Ronnie Renner Rides the Floating Red Bull X-Fighters Course in Munich, Germany 7/19/2014 9:22 PM
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The track builders for Red Bull X-Fighters took jump construction to the next level for the Munich stop of the tour, by building one of the most spectacular FMX courses the sport has ever seen - a FLOATING dirt track right in the middle of Olympic Lake in Germany. Robbie Renner gives us a course overview, then hops on the dirt bike to demo the epic new set-up.

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