Will KTM / WP ever give up on trying to reinvent the fork?

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5/16/2021 8:04 AM

This is kind of a fill me in on the history here question. I stopped riding around 2009 and am back now as part of the covid outdoor recreation resurgence.

I come back to find so much momentum going towards KTM & Friends and I'm happy to see it, hell I always sort of wanted a KTM back in the day even though my friends insisted they were a joke! I'm so glad to come back and find not only did they keep two strokes alive, they are thriving.

However, despite the fact that I'm nothing but a weekend putter who won't ever know the difference, I'm having trouble getting excited about buying anything with this hair brained WP stuff up front. Air forks? Split damping? Cone valves?

It almost seems like they're dancing around something below the surface, do Showa and KYB control some kind of patents on shim stacks or there actually real shortcomings to shim valving? WP claims bent shims are a menace, personally I never heard of it. Does that really happen?

Forks just seem like one of those end of the road technologies to me, like the swingarm, we've found it, there is no further reinventing of the wheel to be done. Am I wrong or is WP wrong or is there more to it like patent control?

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5/16/2021 8:11 AM

Well they have forks that work as well as any brand now and weigh 3lbs lighter than anyone else. So I’d say that’s worth the effort.

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5/16/2021 8:45 AM

yz133rider wrote:

Well they have forks that work as well as any brand now and weigh 3lbs lighter than anyone else. So I’d say that’s worth the ...more

Am I right to understand that very few riders at the pro level of any discipline runs split damping or air forks?

I understand regular riders aren't pros, but one of the coolest parts of the sport to me is the proximity of the stock bikes to the factory bikes. Obviously they are on a different level of setup, tuning, refinement, etc. but just the fact that their bikes are generally based on all of the same components and design is something that seems special to me. Completely different from things like cars where you can never even dream of having a machine that that even resembles those at the pinnacle of the sport.

It's just unsatisfying to think that you're getting this inferior design when the Japanese bikes are still offering something that is demonstrably the superior technology.

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5/16/2021 8:56 AM

yz133rider wrote:

Well they have forks that work as well as any brand now and weigh 3lbs lighter than anyone else. So I’d say that’s worth the ...more

sandhills wrote:

Am I right to understand that very few riders at the pro level of any discipline runs split damping or air forks?

I ...more

Your reading into way more than you need to be. Making a mountain out of a mole hill here. I just came off of some yz's with the SSS kyb's. The wp air fork on my 21 ktm's is as good.

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5/16/2021 9:02 AM
Edited Date/Time: 5/16/2021 9:03 AM

sandhills wrote:

This is kind of a fill me in on the history here question. I stopped riding around 2009 and am back now as part of the covid ...more

My first motorcycle, a 1976 Yamaha YZ 125x, came with air forks.

This is not a new or “hair brained” idea.

I’ve been lucky enough to spend some time with the WP technicians, and they are doing a lot of research into how to make the motorcycle more comfortable so racers can go faster over tougher terrain, using multiple technologies.

Yes the outer shims in the stack do bend.

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5/16/2021 9:07 AM

The twin chamber twin spring forks coming on most new Japanese bikes is pretty much the same design for the last 20+ years with incremental changes such as piston and fork leg diameter.

Professional racing is more to do with time at the test track and chassis setup than anything IMO.

I've liked all air forks I've ridden, and IMO the WP air fork has evolved really well in the last 5 or 6 years it's been around

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5/16/2021 9:12 AM

Honestly man, don't sweat it.

People here said it was fine, and although I'd disliked air forks on mountain bikes and air suspension on cars previously, I still went Husqvarna and I cannot fault it.

Stock comfort clicker settings from the manual (they expect riders to be fast), Race Tech calculator for air pressure for my weight (minus a few psi, was a little stiff) and I am WAY too slow to pick fault with them after such a long layup.

It's all good and there are tonnes of avenues to upgrade if/when you get back to being legit fast and not liking them.

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5/16/2021 9:23 AM

Don’t look too closely at the KYB forks on the Star bikes. Spoiler Alert 🚨 they run split function air forks. #nowyouknow

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5/16/2021 9:24 AM

SmokinJoe439 wrote:

Your reading into way more than you need to be. Making a mountain out of a mole hill here. I just came off of some yz's with ...more

100% reading more into this than I need to, but what else is a hobby for?

Isn't the fact that them being just as good as a 15 year old product is considered an accomplishment evidence that they're not a good technology in the first place? "We've reinvented the wheel and after years of development we are proud to say it's almost as good as the wheel, you can barely tell the difference!"

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5/16/2021 9:25 AM

Patrick Potato wrote:

Don’t look too closely at the KYB forks on the Star bikes. Spoiler Alert they run split function air forks. #nowyouknow

This is enlightening, noted.

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5/16/2021 10:09 AM

Also, it’s a jumping off point. They’ve got these things working as well as the status quo. The intention would be to continue developing them too far surpass the current offerings.

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5/16/2021 10:15 AM

Main difference between coil vs air spring is consistency. If you have an air fork you're going to need to check pressure when you get to the track, and again after the fork warms up. If you have a coil spring you can be lazy, most people with air are probably not checking it either though so...

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I work to provide for my family, I ride to keep my sanity.

5/16/2021 10:29 AM

Why do you NOT want them to try and reinvent the fork?

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Make sure you downvote!

5/16/2021 10:35 AM

Star Racing is running psf 1 they have compression and Rebound in each Fork

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5/16/2021 11:13 AM

To the OP: WP's end goal is to meet or exceed the SSS Kayaba forks with two added benefits. These benefits are a 3lb weight reduction, and adjustable spring rates via air pressure to suit a wide variety of rider weights. WP is getting very close which is admirable considering their first air fork came out in '17 on the MX line. Four years of developement and they have made significant headway and in another four years, they may be better performance-wise and still have the 3lb weight savings. Time will tell. Sometimes reinventing the wheel takes time, and a few steps backwards until you solve the issues.

Most of us remember some of the medieval torture devices the big four gave us over the years to pass as suspension. Yep, even Kayaba and Showa messed up the settings and gave us steaming piles of $hit that were miserable to ride. Those were the "original wheel" spring forks too. How they messed the tried and true spring fork technology up that bad is truly amazing. I won't mention the other manufactures' attempts at air forks on their production bikes. Some were horrible and a nightmare to set up.

Some hobbyists won't blink at spending $1200 on a Ti bolt kit to save 2lbs so a 3lb weight savings is nothing to sneeze at.

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5/16/2021 11:14 AM
Edited Date/Time: 5/16/2021 11:14 AM

EngIceDave wrote:

Why do you NOT want them to try and reinvent the fork?

Because I don't want to be a tester for a questionable technology. Anyone will tell you the original forks on any given five year old Husky right now are a downside to the bike. What are the chances that if you buy a TE 150i today the same will be true five years from now? I'd say 100%, if it's not already considered true right now.

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5/16/2021 11:18 AM

Then buy something else?

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5/16/2021 11:19 AM

sandhills wrote:

Because I don't want to be a tester for a questionable technology. Anyone will tell you the original forks on any given five ...more

Questionable technology

LMAO yeah dude for sure, questionable.

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

5/16/2021 11:28 AM

Where would we be if companies hadn't tried to re-invent stuff??

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The above may be fact or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting. I am not sure, you have no chance.

5/16/2021 12:18 PM

Motocross suspension tech questioned by a clueless pro whiner.
Priceless.
laughing

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5/16/2021 12:25 PM

I get where you’re coming from, sandhills. KTM has a history of trying different suspension concepts. Usually with mixed results. PDS on moto bikes? Tried that. 4CS abomination? Check. Air forks with questionable seals and sketchy front end traction? Yep, that was just a few years ago. Split function Xplor forks that are downright dangerous above 30mph? That’s a current offering.

Meanwhile Yamaha has had it figured out since ‘06.

To dismiss the op’s point by saying “well their moto offering is as good as the YZ now” is to dismiss the pain KTM has put us through over the last 20 years.

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5/16/2021 12:40 PM

ZOBITO wrote:

Motocross suspension tech questioned by a clueless pro whiner.
Priceless.
laughing

You're right, the motocross season is about to start. I'll keep an eye out to watch how the WP air forks are performing.... They will be there right?

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5/16/2021 1:23 PM

KTM has been spending millions to try to get close to where Yamaha’s SSS stuff was in 2006. Maybe another 15 years and they’ll get there.

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Alright Lunger, Let's Do It

5/16/2021 1:28 PM

sandhills wrote:

You're right, the motocross season is about to start. I'll keep an eye out to watch how the WP air forks are performing.... ...more

No one is for forcing you to buy a KTM, or any bike for that matter.
Why the criticism? Are you just venting because you have been out of motocross for years and don’t understand it now?

3/4 of the riders I race against week in and week out are on a KTM platform. Are we all just clueless as to how shitty these motorcycles really are?

Sorry I don’t understand...

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5/16/2021 1:34 PM
Edited Date/Time: 5/16/2021 1:35 PM

sandhills wrote:

You're right, the motocross season is about to start. I'll keep an eye out to watch how the WP air forks are performing.... ...more

You're right, the motocross season is about to start.
There'll probably be less clown show pointless topics.
Can't wait.

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5/16/2021 1:36 PM
Edited Date/Time: 5/16/2021 1:37 PM

Johnny Ringo wrote:

KTM has been spending millions to try to get close to where Yamaha’s SSS stuff was in 2006. Maybe another 15 years and they’ll ...more

KTM needs to solve the problem of understeer on turn in and square edge bump absorption before the AER 48 fork is as good as the KYB SSS

They are getting closer, although I gave up on them and switched to Cone and Trax last week.

Rumor is the 2023 fork takes another step forward toward spring fork feel, I guess we will see at the beginning of next year - they are working very hard at developing the best fork.

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5/16/2021 1:56 PM
Edited Date/Time: 5/16/2021 1:57 PM

Brent wrote:

No one is for forcing you to buy a KTM, or any bike for that matter.
Why the criticism? Are you just venting because you have ...more

Well the reason I'm making this post is primarily because I'm bored, a wave of people such as myself has bought out all the new bikes. If there was a dealer within a 500 mile radius that had the one I've settled on I'd own it already and be out playing with it. I'm refurbishing my 2003 but it's not worth putting that much money into so I'm doing it piece by piece, waiting to see if I hit an expensive road block. Got my front brake master cylinder rebuilt last weekend, new clutch boss this weekend, carb rebuild kit ordered for next weekend.

I've been open to the idea that I just don't understand motocross now, but the more I read the more I think I do understand that what KTM is selling for forks on production models is not a succeeding technology.

I'm friends with two racers, both are on KTM's, one is an amateur fun racer on air forks who wants cone valves, the other has their pro card and has cone valves.

I can see that KTM is the leading platform and that's sort of what frustrates me is I want to jump in, I want to be on one, but as a hobbyist (even though I'm not serious enough for any fork to make a difference) part of the fun is being particular and I don't want to buy something that is going to leave me feeling like what it really needs is a set of $4500+ kit forks. To my friends who are more serious that's worth it to them, but not to me. And I find it curious that KTM is sticking with this shortcoming on the showroom floor. I suspect there must be something cost wise behind it.

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5/16/2021 2:04 PM

sandhills wrote:

Well the reason I'm making this post is primarily because I'm bored, a wave of people such as myself has bought out all the ...more

Then just buy the KTM and put SSS internals in. Not $4500 and you wont have anything but great things to say about your 15 year old fork technology.

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5/16/2021 2:09 PM

Air forks are cheaper to manufacture than spring forks according to MXA so that could be a reason KTM has stuck with them but I'll tell you this. I've been riding Yamaha's with SSS suspension for around the last 5 years or so. About 6 months ago I jumped on a mates 2018 KTM 450 sxf and took it for a spin around the track. The suspension was set for him which is around 10 pounds heavier than me. I honestly couldn't fault the forks. If I was getting nit picky I'd say they were a little vague over smaller braking bumps but how much of that was suspension set up I don't know. By all reports the 21 air fork is much better. Then you have the weight saving a well.
I just bought a 21 yz450f but I'd be lying if that quick test ride didn't have me considering the KTM

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5/16/2021 2:12 PM

KTM and WP are trying to progress development with great results. Only mcf doing so.

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