Radical brake system
Australian company rethinks bike frame to send forks to the history books
FRONT suspension on a motorcycle has always been a matter of compromise.
Telescopic forks have stuck around for nearly a hundred years because they’re the least bad solution we’ve found so far — but an Australian team believes it’s finally built the front end that could relegate forks to the history books.
It might look bizarre, but the Motoinno system is lighter, it maintains constant geometry, it turns tighter and you can dial in whatever rake, trail, and degree of brake dive you want at the turn of a spanner.
It’s so stable under braking and into a corner that Motoinno says it’s up to a whole second faster through a single corner than the same rider on a GSXR750.
The Motinno syste is not the furst alternative to the traditional fork. There has been many others over the years, but they’ve all had their drawbacks, and until now, forks have prevailed — even though they’ve got problems of their own.
These problems are as old as forks themselves. As riders we simply ride around them, because no satisfactory alternative has popped up yet that didn’t have bigger problems of its own.
Enter the crazy- looking jigger from Australian company Motorcycle Innovations TS3. In true Australian style, cofounders Ray Van Steenwyk and Colin Oddy have shortened their company name to “Motoinno,” so that’s how we’ll refer to them from here on.
Motoinno’s solution is not a simple one. In fact, it takes a fair bit of time to get your head around. It’s an entire motorcycle frame designed around a suspension idea that appears to eliminate the major problems of telescopic forks, while introducing none of the usual problems that crop up with hub center front ends. The Motoinno guys say it can be designed around pretty much any motor.
Looked at purely as a suspension system, the Motoinno front end operates as a parallelogram.
The triangle that holds the wheel on stays at a constant angle, and there’s two more arms from the top and bottom of that triangle that go straight back to pivot points at the top and bottom of the frame.
That provides your direct brace against braking forces, and it makes for a bizarre thing to watch, as my brother Chris will demonstrate below, in a glorious motion that gives us an idea of what to expect on his upcoming wedding night: The next step is to steer that front wheel.
The Motoinno design tilts the forward beam of the wheel holding triangle to steer the wheel - the lower beam and the parallel- ogram suspension stays firm while the wheel steers.
The handlebars connect to the steering mechanism via a simple pair of scissor links that isolate suspension action from the handlebars themselves.
Again, it’s easiest just to watch it in action. You can tune your rake and trail to a wide degree, and also dial in whatever degree of brake dive you’re comfortable with — including no dive at all, or even reverse dive, where the front end actually lifts under braking if you really want to bake your own noodle.
You can think of the system as something like a MacPherson strut car suspension system. So, what we’ve got here is:
• a very direct connection between the steering and the front axle;
• excellent braking force management through to the frame;
• total control over brake dive or rise, without affecting steering geometry at all;
• minimal sideways flex and zero front- to- back flex;
• tuneable rake and trail geometry;
• no large swingarm that might drag on the ground when leaned over;
• a total frame and suspension system that actually comes out lighter than a forked bike, because it doesn’t need a massively reinforced steering stem; and,
• a nice, wide steering lock that allows tight u- turns.
When we arrived at Sydney Motorsports park to test the Motoinno prototype, the guys had the front end tuned to dive a little under brakes — mainly because that’s part of the feedback riders are conditioned to use to feel how hard they’re brak- ing. The system was set such that it would dive to no more than about 25% of the available suspension travel on the front monoshock, allowing the rest of the travel to deal with bumps in the braking zone.
The dialled- in brake dive feels very natural, and the bike is so smooth and stable under brakes that I quickly found myself lifting the back end with confidence and ease. At slow speeds, it handles great.
At faster speeds … well, due to a scheduling stuff- up, I didn’t get the chance to ride the Motoinno bike in anger on the racetrack. That sucks. But Isle of Man champion Cameron Donald did get three quick laps in at a tentative pace, feeling the bike out, and he was kind enough to give us a few comments.
“The bike amazingly feels quite conventional in the way it handles on the track, which is the biggest surprise to me. It’s not what you’d expect, because it certainly doesn’t look conventional. The way it turns into a corner, and the way it has some dive under brakes and whatnot, is actually very similar to a conventional forked motorcycle.
“I’ve had limited experience on center hub steered bikes, but what I saw as the big positive to this was the way that I could trail brake into the corner and hold a very tight line. You’ve still got an amount of dive, the way the boys have got it set up, but you can trail brake into the corner well past where you normally would on a conventional bike, and with a lot more brake pressure. That’s something that will take some time to get used to, because it’s so different to a conventional bike.
The Motoinno team claims thei system cuts a second per corner on a GSX- R750 with the same rider.
Not per lap, per corner — which will quickly add up to a big difference at the first race using this system.
Loz Blain testing and liking the new Motoinno system front wheel braking system.