Rad­i­cal brake sys­tem

Aus­tralian com­pany re­thinks bike frame to send forks to the his­tory books

The Witness - Wheels - - BIKING - LOZ BLAIN

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.

PHOTO: GIZ­MAG

Loz Blain test­ing and lik­ing the new Mo­toinno sys­tem front wheel brak­ing sys­tem.

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