Something has been missing in motorcycle racing for many years now. Long travel, highly adjustable suspension has been around since the late eighties, but a device that provides accurate feedback about what the suspension is doing has been noticeably absent.

This has led to all manner of myths and misinformation about the process of evaluating and setting up suspension. It also causes suspension setup to be perceived as a "black art", something far too difficult for the average guy to figure out.

Let's look at what has been available in the past.

How about the front fork zip tie?

Pros Cons
Cheap – heck you could probably bum one from your buddy. It doesn't tell you how many times you have bottomed.
Simple – it doesn't require a high level of training. It doesn't tell you what obstacle caused the greatest compression.
  It tells you only the maximum amount of travel used since the last time you pushed it up.
  It doesn't report anything about what your ride height was.
  What about the shock? You can't put a zip tie on the shock! We've seen people try. It's ugly.

What about a video camera?

Pros Cons
You have a buddy video tape you landing a big jump and he loves videotaping. Unfortunately, video records at only 30 frames per second. That is, it takes a picture every 1/30th of a second. Meantime your 13 inches of rear wheel travel can blow through its entire stroke in just 1/5th of a second. In other words, video samples too slowly to capture the action.
Video cameras are not very expensive at $500 to $1000. And you might already have one. The fenders get in the way of actually seeing if bottoming occurs.
You can use the video camera to tape your sister's wedding. Requires someone else to video you.
You can use the camera to work on your riding style or capture your crashes for America's Funniest Home Videos. Best when shot perpendicular to the motorcycle, which is hard to do unless you have a mini-helicopter cam.
  You have to analyze the videotape to try and figure out what it's doing. Good luck!

Rider feedback?

Pros Cons
Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has an opinion.
Inexpensive. Even the fastest riders have a hard time telling what the suspension is actually doing.
  Poor feedback can set you off in the wrong direction for a whole season.
  "The best you've ridden is the best you know." If a rider doesn't know, or remember, how the suspension should feel, they are often an unreliable means of feedback.
  Riders get used to however the suspension is working, good or bad.

What about watching how the bike is working?

Pros Cons
Inexpensive. See "What about a VIDEO CAMERA?"
Everyone has an opinion.  

Do nothing.

Pros Cons
"Stock's best! Practice, practice, practice." You get what you pay for.
  Stock might not give you an edge over your competition.

Send your suspension to someone to have it done and hope it's good.

Pros Cons
If it doesn't work you can blame someone else. You might not get what you pay for.
  Different tracks require different settings.

Other data acquisition systems

Pros Cons
Very sophisticated. Very sophisticated (and hard to use).
You can typically add sensors to measure other things like engine and air intake temperature. For a system that can measure suspension cost typically starts at $5000 (without a long travel transducer).
  A LVDT transducer (the most popular transducer for measuring travel) that can measure 325mm of suspension travel costs approximately $800 by itself.
  Standard transducers are fragile. They don't like mud and dirt.
  If you crash on the transducer and need to replace it you have to buy a complete new unit.
  The software provided is typically very difficult to setup and understand.

Short story: In 2003 we put a ShockClock on Mike Alessi's Honda CR85R at a private supercross practice session. Mike is a very talented young rider who had just won eight classes at the Mini Olympics. In just two practice laps we recorded his front suspension bottoming 23 times! Before ShockClock testing no one knew this was happening. How could they? Mike, though a very smart rider, simply had gotten used to bottoming.

Several years ago Race Tech and Delta Measurement Systems began an ambitious development project to create a suspension data recording system that would be simple and low cost. The system would be intended to become an indispensable tool for the privateer racer and pro suspension tuner alike. It would provide critical information about suspension performance and would give a privateer racer feedback to guide him through the process of creating high performance, well-balanced suspension.

After years of intense effort, Race Tech is proud to announce the ShockClock Suspension Analysis System.

The ShockClock Data Acquisition System

Pros Cons
Costs $799.99. Costs $799.99 (it's not free).
Measures and analyzes only suspension. Measures and analyzes only suspension.
Very rugged. It doesn't mind mud and dust.  
If you crash on the transducer and break a Wave-Guide Tube they can be replaced for less than $60.  
A complete replacement Transducer retails for approximately $160.  
The standard transducer measures 380 mm (15") of travel.  
Sampling rate of 240 samples per second. (8 times faster than a video camera.)  
Mounting hardware for the front and rear on most motorcycles.  
The ShockClock Software provided is so sophisticated it is very easy to setup and understand.  
Multiple units can be setup to record front and rear at the same time.  
Can be modified to fit road race, bicycle, snowmobile, quad, mini, and truck applications.  
Transducer can be shortened by the user.  

Are you ready to explore a new world of suspension performance? If you are or if you'd like more information please call Race Tech at 951.279.6655.