New MT-10SP and KTM Su­per Duke R thrashed on Bri­tain’s bump­i­est road to see which copes best

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Michael Neeves SE­NIOR ROAD TESTER

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-

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