BUMP AND DON’T MIND!
New MT-10SP and KTM Super Duke R thrashed on Britain’s bumpiest road to see which copes best
It’s a big ask for a rear shock and a pair of forks to keep up with everything we throw at them on the road. They’re one big compromise.
Your suspension’s first job is to keep your bike’s tyres drilled into the road surface so you don’t fall off, but after that you want a comfortable ride and support under the stresses of braking and acceleration. Most of all you want your suspension to give you confidence.
You can adjust most suspension, of course, but the better you make it in one direction the worse it becomes in the other. A stiff set-up is great for the track, but it will shake your fillings out on a bumpy back road. There will also be less grip where you’re not able to go fast enough to load the tyres properly. Go too soft, for supple ride quality and you’ll have a high-speed blancmange on your hands when you push it.
This is where semi-active electronic suspension comes in. It adjusts itself every inch of your ride, giving you maximum grip, stability, comfort and support, no matter what the road conditions.
Electronic suspension has been around for a few years now, with Sachs units appearing first on the 2012 BMW HP4 and 2013 Ducati Multistrada. Öhlins have more recently got in on the act, too, supplying spangly gold and yellow units for the Ducati’s big-capacity Panigale, Yamaha R1M and the new Honda Fireblade SP. Interestingly, Suzuki say they experimented with electronic suspension for the new GSX-R1000R, but found their new Showa gas forks and shock work better.
Expensive electronic suspension is the preserve of the ‘special ones’, which is why Yamaha have bolted it to their new MT-10SP. Electronics control the rebound and compression damping automatically, depending on road speed, acceleration and braking forces. Electronic suspension on touring and big adventure bikes go a stage further with adaptive preload, keeping the bike level when you load it up with luggage and a pillion.
Today we’re here to see if electronic suspension is all it’s cracked up to be. We could compare the SP to the stand-