What if someone told you that motorcycle forks are a weak, outdated suspension technology, and that they invented a whole new system that is both more stable, and faster around a track? That’s MotoInno’s claim, and they’ve designed a whole new suspension system they say performs better than any other. The down side – it ain’t very pretty! See what you think below.
The MotoInno front suspension looks a bit complicated – but it sure works well!
We all know what to expect when looking at a front motorcycle suspension: a pair of forks. The telescoping front fork, a design originally invented by BMW in the 1930s, was a huge leap forward from the girder forks and springer front ends that were the standard for the time, and have become the industry standard for decades due to their simplicity, low cost, and relative effectiveness.
Telescoping forks are so common nowadays, from dirt bikes to starter bikes to million dollar MotoGP bikes, that their nature is rarely questioned; if anything the debate about what makes a suspension “better” has to do with the quality of the components in a suspension system and the performance they provide, rather than the nature of the system itself. Fundamentally, the design hasn’t changed in nearly a century!
But truth be told, forks are actually a system that has some pretty major compromises. Think about some of the weaknesses of a forked suspension system:
- Long distance between mounting point and point where force is applied. A motorcycle’s front suspension has to deal with a lot of force in many directions; there is the up-and-down force of the suspension’s impact absorption, the side-side-to-side force on the suspension during cornering, and finally, tremendous rearward force during braking. To handle all these forces without flexing, a forked suspension has to be beefy; meaning big fork tubes mounted to a massive triple clamp bolted to a reinforced frame.
- Brake dive, which changes steering geometry in corners. We all know that the front end of a bike dives when we hit the brakes; it’s just something we expect and learn to deal with. This can be reduced on adjustable forks, but the nature of forks means they will always dive down under braking, which creates a challenge when braking and cornering are done simultaneously (trail braking.)
For 80 years, front suspensions have remained essentially the same, and the problems inherent to them have been addressed by simply making the components stronger, lighter, and better. But what if the front suspension were actually reinvented completely, with a whole new design that would eliminate the problems inherent to a forked system?
Well, that’s exactly what the folks at Australian engineering firm Motorcycle Innovations – MotoInno for short – have done with their crazy-looking new TS3 Suspension System. And while it looks both overly complex and a bit unattractive at a glance, the way it works is fascinating; and according to them this system works so well, it can make the same rider up to one second faster per corner than a forked sport bike. If that’s true – then this system is a genuine game changer!
This system could be a total game changer in performance motorcycle suspensions.
How It Works
Without getting overly technical (don’t want to get too in over my head here) the TS3 works by mounting the wheel on a flexing parallelogram, rather than at a single point, the way forks are. What this allows is for the bike to retain a consistent steering geometry, instead of the constantly changing geometry you get in a forked bike (depending where the forks are in the stroke.) To see it in action, check out this video created by the folks at Gizmag.
But even more importantly, this system can be tuned to reduce brake dive, or even eliminate it altogether, which will allow a rider to brake harder and deeper into corners, due to not having to compensate for the compression of the forks. In racing, that would allow a rider to not only brake later, but achieve higher consistency around a track – and consistency is the key to posting good lap times. (In fact, the system can even be tuned to create reverse brake dive, raising the front end under braking – wrap your head around that one!)
As if those benefits weren’t enough, get this; due to the reduced need for heavy bracing and thick fork tubes to counter act the stressed on a conventional forked bike, the TS3 system actually comes out to be lighter than traditional forks too. That means that even without the differences in handling, this system would have an advantage over forks on weight savings alone!
Even without the handling benefits, the MotoInno solution turns out to be significantly lighter than conventional forked setups, meaning they have a built-in advantage. The components can even be made of carbon fiber for greater weight savings!
Putting The TS3 To The Test
This system is complex, not conventionally attractive, and, at the moment, only a prototype. But despite the cost and complexity, the performance benefits seem to be there, so the MotoInno team is putting the TS3 to work where it will really be tested – professional motorcycle racing. Currently, MotoInno is putting together funding to field a team and build a race bike featuring the TS3 mounted to a Honda CBR600RR engine, with plans to take the bike straight into the lion’s den of Moto2 – the racing class right beneath MotoGP – next year. This seems like a lofty goal for a startup, but we will certainly be able to see if this system turns out to be competitive or not very quickly!
The MotoInno TS3 front suspension looks neat, but there are a lot of moving parts, and we’re not too crazy about the location of the brake caliper, or about how tire changes would go. We need to see this thing in action!
The TS3 is fascinating, fun to watch in action, and represents a revolutionary way to solve the problems with conventional front suspensions that most of us didn’t even realize we had. On the down side, it’s complex, looks expensive, not conventially attractive, and we’re not too crazy about where the brake calipers are mounted, or about what tire changes would be like with this system. Nevertheless, we can’t wait to see it in action in Moto2 next year (if MotoInno can get a team together!)
What do you think about the revolutionary MotoInno suspension system?