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Friction Reduction 101
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What is the main difference between the OEM suspension components and the "works" components of our sports top stars?


Works Factory Suspension

The internals (valves and shims) of this super trick suspension are often almost identical to what is used in production bikes. It is the materials used, the surface coatings, as well as the contours that are special. These ensure two key characteristics of good suspension:

      ·         optimal stiffness

      ·         maximum friction reduction 

      While the general rider has no control over the flex characteristics of the forks themselves, different triple clamps can change the flex characteristics of the front end.  The main area of concern is "maximum friction reduction".


Friction reduction:

One of the most overlooked aspects in suspension performance is friction reduction. Static friction (or stiction) is dependent on two things. The first is the coefficient of friction, which is dependent on materials, surface preparation, component condition, etc.  The second is the perpendicular force applied to the surfaces in question. If a fork seal did not apply pressure to the fork tube there would be no friction. At the same time, if that was the case, the seal would not seal and do its job.

Letís think about what happens to a fork as the wheel impacts an object. The force of contact is directed radially from the point of contact to the axle.  The impact compresses the fork and also tries to bend it. There is an inherent amount of flex built into the fork and it does bend momentarily until the force is relieved. This bending applies force to the fork bushings and creates friction between them and the inside of the outer tube. This is the reason bushings wear and keeping bushings fresh is so important. On severe hits the frictional force created can be greater than the damping and spring forces combined.  The internal components of the damping system of the fork also have several points of friction, but letís keep it basic for now.

The rear suspension of the modern, linkage equipped, motorcycle has several points of friction as well. Not only do we have to take into account internal components of the shock, but also the multiple pivot points associated with the complete system.

Letís start with the shock itself. One of the main areas of friction is the internal piston. The piston has to seal on the interior of the shock body. This seal is critical as to allow the valving system to manage internal pressures. If the seal was inadequate, oil would bypass the valving and not allow it to do its job. Just as in a fork, the perpendicular and horizontal forces applied to the shock create large amounts of friction in this area. You also have the compounding friction of the shaft seal and bushing.  

Along with the shock we also have to deal with the multiple pivot points involved with the linkage system.  On most bikes there are at least seven bearing points that need maintained for the rear suspension to function properly. It is worth the time to maintain these areas. Not only to maintain peak performance, but future cost savings as well. Have you priced all the bearings needed to rebuild the linkage and swing arm? It is an expensive and time consuming job.

So what can be done to combat these areas of concern? We have put together an assortment of cost effective products and preparation procedures that not only reduce static and dynamic friction, but offer increased durability as well. 

Fork tubes and shock body/shaft polish and preparation:  

(Standard procedure with every revalve and rebuild)

SKF Fork Seals: $70.00 

(includes dust and oil seals for both forks)

SKF- JM Illinois

High Quality Bushing Kit: $59.80

(includes slides and guide bushings for both forks)

DLC Coatings: $499

JM Racing Illinois 342 W Embarras Street Sainte Marie, Il 62459 (618)-455-3152         mborgic@jm-racingmb.com

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