Moto mem­o­ries

Classic Dirtbike - - Contents -

Sus­pen­sion was the area of en­gi­neer­ing in­ter­est for the MX world in the Seven­ties. Three inches of move­ment wasn’t enough… more was needed.

For years and years the knowl­edge­able in our world pro­cras­ti­nated about rear sus­pen­sion on dirt bikes… “Pre­pos­ter­ous,” they said, “how could a rider feel what was hap­pen­ing with the rear end bounc­ing around?” Then the scram­bles world dis­cov­ered with a bit of thought into spring rates and damp­ing a rider could go much faster with rear sus­pen­sion than with­out – tri­als rid­ers would have to wait a year or two longer for the ben­e­fits of rear spring­ing.

Once the idea of sus­pen­sion on scram­blers took off, the in­dus­try stan­dard was the ven­er­a­ble Gir­ling unit. It suf­ficed for many years and would have car­ried on were it not for the pesky mo­tocross scene and for­eign fac­tory in­ter­est in such sport. Mo­tocross tracks in Europe tended to be longer and faster than UK scram­bles cir­cuits and more power was needed. Pro­duc­ing power has never re­ally been a prob­lem and his­tory has many ex­am­ples of bikes with fab­u­lous power but which were vir­tu­ally un­ride­able.

Once the Ja­pa­nese fac­to­ries de­cided MX was the way for­ward things be­gan to de­velop quickly and the Eu­ro­pean man­u­fac­tur­ers had lit­tle op­tion but de­velop too. The pages of the press seemed to high­light a new de­vel­op­ment each week and our pic­ture of Gen­nady Moiseev’s 250 works KTM at the Dutch GP in June 1974 de­tails that week’s ex­per­i­ment. Ac­cord­ing to the cap­tion, Moiseev’s sus­pen­sion – a spring­less unit with sus­pen­sion and damp­ing be­ing han­dled by a gas and oil mix – had suf­fered prob­lems the pre­vi­ous week and KTM’S engi­neers had come up with a so­lu­tion in­volv­ing ex­tra plumb­ing to link the two units. Though Syl­vain Ge­boers emerged the win­ner of that par­tic­u­lar GP, the sus­pen­sion de­vel­op­ments must have worked as Moiseev emerged as the 1974 World 250 MX cham­pion ahead of CZ’S Jaroslav Falta.

That sus­pen­sion on the rear would reach epic lengths would soon be ob­vi­ous but in 1974 there was still a ‘let’s see if this works’ ap­proach as the GP cir­cus sped around Europe with lit­tle time for fac­tory vis­its and one can imag­ine the engi­neers hard at work overnight in the back of their truck.

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