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Digital Subscriptions > Fast Bikes > 336 > Getting to grips with it J

Getting to grips with it J

For those not initiated into the dark art of suspension setup, electronically altered pogos could well be the tech you’ve spent your life waiting for. But is it really as good as it’s made out to be, how does it work, and will it make you faster?

ELECTRONIC SUSPENSION

Showa’s entering the electronic suspension world with these high-tech pogos…

C omputers: they’ve taken over just about everything in our lives nowadays. Music, television, photography, pornography - it’s all now ruled by LCD screens and silicon chips. And generally, it’s made things much better all round (especially the pornography, or so they tell me). Cheaper, faster, better, easier. They’ve taken a while to make big inroads into bikes though. Up to about ten-fifteen years ago, you could still buy a new bike with stubbornly-analogue carburettors, but since then emissions rules have meant that almost every bike has come with a fuel injection system, which includes a little computer. That was pretty much it till recently though - a fuel injection ECU, maybe an ABS control box, and a digital clock in the dash. Not exactly Tron, is it?

But over the past few years, that’s all changed. Firms like BMW and Ducati in particular, have now got integrated computerised systems that manage many of a bike’s functions. Traction control, power modes, wheelie and launch control - a top-level superbike now has all of these, letting you customise the engine’s output to your precise demands. Lovely.

What about the chassis though? Well, ABS is a contender of course - and these smart systems are increasingly part of the overall system, using the same wheel speed sensors, dash display and controls. But the last part of the picture is suspension. Having a computer look after what’s going on with your forks and rear shock is the obvious next step. And it’s happened already, on a few high-end models. But what’s the point of electronic suspension? And how can it make you faster?

Way back when

Well, there are a couple of basic things we need to realise about electronic suspension sysiems at the moment - and for the near future. Firstly - they’re not always just about performance. The first electric suspension adjustment systems arguably appeared in the early 1980s, on Honda’s behemoth Gold Wing megatourer. The two-wheeled pantechnicon came with an on-board air compressor on certain models, and at the push of a button it could increase the pressure inside its air-sprung shocks and forks, stiffening up the suspension for a pillion (or a topbox full of Beajoulais after a Calais booze cruise).

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In this month's issue of Fast Bikes... - Johann Zarco exclusive Marquez didn't dare stay in front of me - Battling Bimotas Classic YB4 takes on the BB3 - WSB Slayer Honda SP-1 for £3.5K - Ducati 959 vs MV F3 800 etc