Evolving Technology in the Industry

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11/26/2018 6:55 PM

Just starting a discussion while also trying to get homework help.
I am writing a. essay for one of my college classes on how technology in the dirtbike industry will continue to improve and how it will affect the jobs in the industry. So far I have written about how dirt bike suspension manufactures have been able to create new technology that improves the suspension while keeping the same classic suspension concept that has always been present in dirt bikes. I discussed how the use air shocks allows quick changes to be made to the bikes making it easier when riding in various kinds of track conditions.

The part I need help on is how the changes in suspenion technology as it further develops will create benefits and problems in the dirt bike industry.

This is my first post so please don't completely rip me a new asshole. Even though I know this will happen because this is Vital. I am open to comments and suggestions. I hope to one day get a marketing related job in the industry. I was going to write about how digital marketing technology will change the industry but my professor thought that topic wasn't strong enough.
How will the further development of suspension technology benefit and cause problems for dirt bike racing teams?


I study Supercross more than my college textbooks. NAU marketing major. Looking for a job in the industry.
Twitter: @DirtBikeGirl_12
YZ 125
CRF 230

11/26/2018 7:28 PM

New (more complicated) technologies can lead to mechanical failures and dnfs so thats a problem for teams.


11/26/2018 7:30 PM

Benefits: better suspension

Problems: more parts means more things to go wrong. And cost more $$$ to fix.


11/26/2018 8:09 PM

The reality is damping technology hasn't changed significantly in 15 years

And factory showa forks back in 90-92 were damn near the design standard for the current SSS fork.

Shocks also haven't changed much in design.

The biggest changes have been in hugely increased spring rates - and damping rates vs mid 90's bikes.

Air on paper is exactly as you describe - more tuneable for the consumer over a wider range..and lighter.

The biggest negative for me as a suspension guy has been all the extra tools and shims - every different fork has often had different specific tools and shims to stock - which adds SKU's for people to make and stock....
In the "good ole days" the same basic tools and shims would dial you in for a showa or kyb.

Now each OEM has their own set ups and rod sizes - shim sizes etc.


11/26/2018 8:26 PM

New Electronic technology...?


Nobody ever told me, I found out for myself. You've got to believe in foolish miracles. It's not how you play the game, it's if you win or lose. You can choose. Don't confuse. Win or lose. It's up to you!

11/26/2018 8:36 PM

One thing to consider with air vs spring is the different behavior as they are being compressed. Air has more of a parabolic force vs compression curve, while spring has (in theory) a straight line. Each has it's own feel that some riders will prefer over others. I don't know that I'd say air is a step forward, maybe a step sideways if that makes sense.

For the industry, air forks/shocks can be good because they are cheaper to make, lighter, and have slightly less parts. This can help reduce cost and eliminate the need to stock different springs for rate changes. On the down side, reliability is a little bit of a concern because a blown seal means the end of your race, rather than just a bit of an oil mess. You can still finish a race on a blown spring fork or shock, but it's just not going to happen with air since that's all that's keeping your bike suspended. Dungey had that very issue at the start of a heat race years ago, and he had to pull off the track right out of the gate. As unlikely as it is, it's still a concern that isn't there for spring suspension.

Currently, it seems like most teams and riders can't figure out that the hell they prefer so most teams get to deal with both!laughing


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11/26/2018 8:38 PM

If you can switch gears over to bicycles, check out my buddies new fork that isn’t a traditional telescopic. Trust Performance


11/26/2018 9:24 PM

I think the next wave of technology for suspension will be a GPS linked automatic tune-ability similar to how they can map a fuel injection map for parts of the track they will be able to automatically on the fly change the spring rate and clickers based on the track location for say whoops or corners or a big jump.

More computers until the AI is just racing the bike for us. ?


11/27/2018 8:27 AM

Anybody remember when Yamaha experimented briefly with a flat torsion damper on rear suspension? How about that floating fork design that some guy was shopping around a couple years ago? There's still some innovative thinking out there, but hey, when you've got a good basic mousetrap, making a better one doesn't happen very often and may even be impossible to significantly improve without serious technological leaps. Some designs are just fundamentally nearly ideal.


11/27/2018 8:45 AM

And here's a short little write up that will give you some highlights. It doesn't give a lot of insight into benefits/detriments, but does highlight the offset of benefit vs. complexity and how progress is not always progress.



11/27/2018 8:49 AM

I would think in the future suspension would be electrinically controlled. Tuners would program what stiffness it should be at certain travel points for certain g forces and the suspension would be tuned automatically on the fly.


11/27/2018 9:04 AM

The E era may come

But I hope not, costs are already plenty high. And a failure of that system could get your hurt big time. The question is - how much faster will you go for what price - and I think that we are already at a point of only small incremental gains.


11/27/2018 10:46 AM

Suspension development has to balance the needs of the factories, and the requirements of the consumer in a way that most other forms of racing dont . This is because the sold product and the Factory equipment are extremely close in terms of their specification.

There is nothing in car racing that will ever find its way on to your road car ,(apart from supercar stuff) although the lessons learned may well go into the design of things in the future.

When i worked in the WRC, the dampers we used were basically Ohlins, with our own mods, we had a team of 4 guys who went on event , and supported the cars . and rebuilt in the field as required.
Then we had a genius engineer who thought he could do better, and designed damper that we need to buy a £750000 damper dyno and rig room for , and cost the thick end of £1m to develop. It had multiple pistons and shims, which all had to be perfect on every one to give the desired rates across all 4 dampers, which meant we needed to spend £80k on equipment to check the parts . And employ a guy to use it.

To switch an Ohlins spec damper from rough gravel to smooth gravel, took about an hour a pop, and about £12 of shims(which were re-usable) .. the new one which was too soft, on the compression side required holes making smaller ( which you cant do) and the cost to find the benchmark spec , from where it was , to where it needed to be was £28k for eight dampers.

The Ohlins were 1.5 sec a km quicker with just a rough guess at the setting .

Thankfully the Management finally saw sense and went to BOS , who are now running Kawasaki in MXGP

As Derek Harris says , the basics dont change, what changes is the ability to make better quality parts with better coatings and adjustability for a lower price. ,


11/27/2018 11:04 AM

JM485 wrote:

One thing to consider with air vs spring is the different behavior as they are being compressed. Air has more of a parabolic ...more

A blown fork seal will not result in the air leaking out. A blown fork seal on an air for is no different than a spring fork.


Tomac and/or Anderson for 2020.....

11/27/2018 11:56 AM

Fork seals, springs eh, so yesturday.

How about radar. Think about it. Kinda like self driving cars. Mount a radar to the front of the bike, that will see every
hole, whoop and sand spot in front of it. Then send that data to a set of forks and rear shock that will react Before
the wheel actuallys make contact with the obstacle. Increase travel to a min of 24 inches. Then, the rider and bike should be able to just ride around like it's a flat track, as long as nothing is more than 2 feet deep.

11/27/2018 12:13 PM

Dirtbikegirl12 wrote:

Just starting a discussion while also trying to get homework help.
I am writing a. essay for one of my college classes on how ...more

Your idea of writing about how digital Marketing will effect things was a better idea imo and a very interesting topic ,
That was Discussed recently on an episode of pulp podcast
I think it was the 2nd most recent one , if he wont let you do that than maybe a better subject than specifically suspension technology, could be new technology as far as Electric bikes , there have been a lot of discussions on here of how Electric bikes could change the industry.


11/27/2018 12:25 PM

Hman144 wrote:

Anybody remember when Yamaha experimented briefly with a flat torsion damper on rear suspension? How about that floating fork ...more

"How about that floating fork design that some guy was shopping around a couple years ago? "

Whatever happened to that? I thought that was such an interesting idea.


11/27/2018 12:37 PM

seth505 wrote:

If you can switch gears over to bicycles, check out my buddies new fork that isn’t a traditional telescopic. Trust Performance ...more

That's rad! Their fork reminds me of the old Works stuff that Honda was designing back in the 80's



If it can't be fixed with a hammer, it's an electrical problem.

11/27/2018 3:50 PM

The main suspension items i would discuss are:
(Not already mentioned)

Recent improvments - addition of high speed compression adjustment on a second circuit - still not on most forks, but std on shocks. And also cone valves. And also coatings to reduce frction where you dont want it - externals and internals.

Possible future probably relates to things some are doing already - e.g separate circuits for compression and rebound. Check out cane creek DB shocks for MTB’s. i think this is what Oilins also do.

Other areas from suspension - fuel injection on 4 strokes. Fuel injection on 2 strokes. Mapping options - yamaha have an app.


11/27/2018 9:18 PM

I'm glad you picked suspension technology, because the engine technology is only driven by the regulations put in place by the sanctioning bodies, and manufactures only produce whatever will win given those regulations. Hence the extreme displacement handicap for 4-strokes over 2-strokes. Manufactures simply won't spend millions of dollars on R&D for a design that has been written into forced obsolescence by the rule makers. Also interesting that you chose to write about air forks.. which were everywhere a few years ago and seem to be all but gone now, because what sounds great on paper doesn't always equate to better results on the track. Elon Musk of Tesla and Space X has explained that humans have an insatiable appetite for "new tech" and will discard what's often a much better design for something "new" that they view as more "high tech" which is why the A.I. apocalypse is upon us..


I'd rather push my two stroke than ride a four stroke!

11/28/2018 5:24 AM

The next big technology will be a entry level 2 stroke... One everybody can afford.
Wow... can you imagine!!! Everyone down your street will have a dirtbike!!!


11/28/2018 6:27 AM

My wife and I are at Disney World right now and we went to a luncheon with 6 other people and a Disney visioner. Learned a LOT about how at Disney a persons idea gets transformed, developed and built into making someone’s new idea into a final product we all love.

MX needs A LOT MORE visioners to come up with a new better product idea. It’s not new there have been a lot of new ideas to make a better performing product that lets us go faster and safer.

Yamaha seems to work that way on a lot of new designs. Single shock rear suspension, Fool floating rear brake, Boost bottle, Adjustable suspension clickers, Power valve, 4 strokes

CDI ignition, Fuel Injection

FMF power bomb.

Aluminum frames