Tech Tips: Air Fork Setup 16

Since the Motocross industry has been moving towards air forks, there's been a bit a of a learning curve for the general public in regards of how to adjust and take care of these new damping units. In particular, Showa's SFF TAC fork take a bit more attention when it comes to adjustments, due to the three air chambers they feature. To help take a bit of the confusion out of the TAC fork, we've got a few Tech Tips to make your life a bit easier.

For any other motorcycle parts, accessories, or gear needs, you can find them at

Credit: Joe Carlino
Create New Tag
  • slipdog

    10/10/2015 2:15 PM

    Can you spot the Vitard in this comment section?

  • 160180

    10/9/2015 2:15 PM

    I have a better idea buy a spring conversion kit way more consistent and less to do.

  • Mike 13

    10/9/2015 2:08 PM

    Great info from a reliable source. Question about the bike in your vid, what oversized bar clamps are those and will they fit stock triple clamps?

  • ML512

    10/9/2015 4:07 PM

    It's a set of X-Trig PHDS bar mounts that I modified to fit stock triple clamps.

  • mxb2

    10/9/2015 8:54 AM

    good info, thanks

  • aaryn #234

    10/9/2015 2:54 AM

    Awesome Video ML, and a great explanation on how it all work. Currently running a 15 RM-Z450 and it has taken some time to get my head around how they work and finally getting to a point where I am happy with them (though would take the old spring SFF off my 250 in a heart beat still)

    Glad you talked about re-checking pressures after you first ride on each day you head out riding. I have noticed that the pressures always change after the first ride, but once they are re-set after the opening ride do not move for the remainder of the day.

    One thing you did not mention (unless I missed it ) I have read that you should remove all the air from the balance chamber before staring with the inner / outer / balance, sequence of setting pressures. Just noticed Theycallmeebryan as posted the same.

    Would like to hear your thoughts on that.

    Once again great vid.

  • ML512

    10/9/2015 7:55 AM

    I've seen the recommendation, but I can tell you that none of Showa's race techs do that or tell us to do it. They just push how important it is to keep to the correct order.

  • MXTompkins44

    12/27/2016 10:08 AM

    I know this is a late reply, but I wanted to mention that the Showa SFF app specifically states to drain the balance chamber before setting air pressures and also the Kawasaki manual is consistent with this same requirement. I'm still trying to figure why this is so important because the chambers are separate so I would t think bleeding the balance chamber would be not be so critical but both Kawasaki and Showa seem to think it is. If you can provide an explanation I'd appreciate it!

  • MXD

    10/9/2015 8:50 AM

    So just leave what's in there as long as you go Inner, Outer, Balance? I've been emptying the balance and outer then filling them in order. I have arm pump by the time I'm done.

  • randy.geniec

    10/8/2015 7:50 PM

    I ride moto and MTB and have used air exclusively on MTB for the last 10 years....that being said..THIS IS TOO COMPLICATED. Good thing I ride a KTM. I would change this back to spring first thing...waaaaaay too complicated.

  • Motörhead

    10/8/2015 7:23 PM

    Why do these things exist?

  • keith101

    10/8/2015 12:36 PM

    Always amazed at the inaccuracies in which the so-called "insiders" communicate.

    1.) A negative pressure balance chamber is NOT required as was suggested in this video. If you recall, the first generation SFF Air forks had only two chambers, an inner and an outer, without a balance or TAC chamber and they work well. In fact, they are easier to work with than TAC forks since you have one less chamber. and if you run zero psi in the outer, you are really only working with the inner chamber.

    2.) Contrary to the comment made in the video about air pressures increasing inside the forks due to riding, this is a false statement. The only way pressures rise in these forks is from ambient temperature changes. You can check with the experts at Showa to clarify this statement. Thank me later.

  • ML512

    10/8/2015 1:40 PM

    The original A-kit Showa air forks have a negative coil spring instead of the negative air pressure chamber. Similar to how the PSF forks work (they have a negative spring internally).

    There was never a production SFF Air fork on any bike before the TAC fork.

    Also, I actually personally communicate with some of the Showa techs here in the US every week or two.

  • theycallmeebryan

    10/8/2015 11:57 AM

    Mike did a great job of explaining, but my experiences are a bit different. Here are my tips:

    -Always check/set your pressures ON LOCATION before each ride.
    -When making adjustments or checking pressures, make sure the front wheel is off the ground.
    -Any compression of the fork or any pressure from the balance chamber will effect the inner chamber reading.
    -Forks do tend to raise a couple PSI in pressure as they heat up. Check when cold.
    -The provided air pump has a check valve in it. When setting pressures, don't account for "air pressure loss" while removing the petcock. That air release sound is the pressure coming out of the hose in the pump, not the air fork.

    -When making adjustments, follow these guidelines:
    1. Completely remove the air from the balance chamber
    2. Completely remove the air from the outer chamber
    3. Adjust the air pressure in the inner chamber
    4. Add air pressure to the outer chamber
    5. Add air to the balance chamber

    -When transporting the bike with the forks compressed, let all of the air out of the outer and balance chamber to help preserve the seals.
    -If storing the bike overnight with the forks tied down, loosen the tie-downs and let the fork completely extend.

    Hope that helps.

  • MXD

    10/8/2015 10:28 AM

    I understand the importance of filling the chambers in the specific order but if I have to add pressure to any one chamber, do I have to empty them all and start with 0 in each one (technically, I suppose I could just empty the outer and balance as the inner would be the first to fill)?

  • keith101

    10/8/2015 12:38 PM

    You do not need to empty them. They were already filled from the factory so all you are doing is checking pressures and setting to your desired setting. Some over-complicate this and it's really not as critical as some make you believe....