The motorcycle suspension system serves two primary functions: first, it isolates and absorbs bumps and vibrations from the road, ensuring the comfort and safety of the rider and passenger; second, it provides support for the rider’s steering and handling.

The typical configuration of modern motorcycle suspension systems includes dual front forks for the front wheel and a single or dual shock absorber for the rear. However, the actual situation goes far beyond this “typical configuration.” The suspension system not only provides robust support for the rider’s riding and handling but also plays a significant role in the overall appearance and style of the motorcycle, becoming an important foundation for showcasing the rider’s individuality and self-expression.

Telelever Front Fork

The Telelever front fork is one of BMW motorcycles’ signature features. At first glance, it may appear similar to a conventional telescopic front fork, but its structure is quite different. While conventional forks combine suspension and steering functions, the Telelever separates these two functions. Moreover, while the telescopic front fork is secured by upper and lower triple clamps, the Telelever has only an upper triple clamp, allowing for a longer sliding tube design with increased overlap between the sliding and fixed tubes. This design enhances front fork rigidity, improving stability.

Another advantage of the Telelever front fork is that it significantly reduces front-end dive during hard braking, making the operation of the anti-lock braking system (ABS) smoother. Although ABS generates pulsed braking force, the Telelever front fork prevents the rider from experiencing a forward dip sensation, enhancing overall stability and the rider’s control over the motorcycle.

Duolever Front Fork

The Duolever front fork is derived from an invention by British inventor Norman Hossack, which was further developed by BMW engineers. This suspension system differs from conventional telescopic or inverted front forks. It uses high-tensile aluminum alloy material, providing very clear road feedback, especially during high-speed riding, where the sense of direction is remarkably strong, instilling the rider with ample confidence. During intense high-speed braking, the Duolever’s characteristics prevent significant front-end dive, surprising riders who are accustomed to conventional front forks.

Additionally, compared to BMW’s traditional Telelever front suspension, the Duolever is 10% lighter, weighing only 13.7 kg, reducing overall motorcycle weight.

Inverted Front Fork

The inverted front fork is in contrast to the conventional telescopic front fork. In this design, the inner tube is mounted on the lower part of the front wheel axle, while the outer tube is installed in the upper triple clamp. This inverted structure offers two main advantages: first, it reduces the unsprung mass of the motorcycle, resulting in a more agile and responsive handling; second, it increases torsional rigidity, which also improves handling performance. However, the downside is that the inverted front fork is more expensive to manufacture than the conventional telescopic front fork, so it is primarily used in sport bikes and high-performance street motorcycles.

The previous generation of Honda CBR1000RR was equipped with the Big Piston Front Fork (BPF). It features a large-capacity damping chamber, significantly reducing hydraulic pressure generated during the fork’s compression and making the entire damping process smoother, especially during the initial compression stroke. The most direct benefit for riders is optimized handling performance. The front fork can provide rich and precise feedback to the rider, resulting in a more stable and solid feel at the front end, particularly during intense braking.

The suspension system of the Kawasaki ZX-10R embodies the successful experience and wisdom of the Kawasaki racing team competing in WSBK (World Superbike Championship). The ZX-10R front wheel is equipped with the Balance Free Front Fork (BFF), a sharp weapon derived directly from WSBK racing and now used for the first time in a production motorcycle.

In conventional front forks, hydraulic balance fluctuations often lead to cavitation, causing instability in the suspension performance. However, the Balance Free Front Fork jointly developed by Kawasaki and Showa can suppress pressure balance fluctuations and offers several advantages. These include enhanced braking stability, optimized front-end feedback, improved driving comfort, and the provision of independent adjustment of compression and rebound damping.

The rear suspension features a horizontal back-link rear shock absorber, which also employs the Balance Free technology, making it more compact and lightweight. This BF shock absorber provides powerful shock absorption capabilities, catering to both comfortable road riding and stable high-speed racing on the track.

In 2012, Ducati achieved a remarkable victory in the “Race to the Clouds” Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in the 1205m class. To celebrate this achievement, Ducati promptly released the Pikes Peak Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak edition. The Pikes Peak edition’s suspension system was highly anticipated, featuring a Sachs suspension system with 48mm inverted front forks and a single rear shock absorber, complemented by the Skyhook Suspension System (DSS). This DSS system continuously and dynamically adjusts damping during the riding process to achieve optimal stability performance.

During the driving process, the rough and uneven road surfaces create vertical forces that impact the motorcycle’s body, while the longitudinal forces generated during intense braking, acceleration, and deceleration moments also challenge the bike’s balance. The DSS helps counteract these forces and ensures the best stability and performance for the rider throughout the ride.

For this purpose, Ducati developed a semi-active suspension system called Skyhook, which assumes the presence of a fixed control point above the vehicle. Following a specific algorithm, the system responds quickly to input dynamic information and continuously optimizes and adjusts damping parameters. This maintains a constant relationship between the motorcycle and the assumed control point, keeping the bike balanced and providing the rider with a smoother riding experience.

To provide dynamic information to the Skyhook system, sensors are installed in both the “elastic” and “non-elastic” parts of the motorcycle’s frame. Based on the rider’s selected driving mode and various input parameters, the Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS) system, through the Skyhook algorithm, swiftly adjusts the suspension system’s compression and rebound damping. The corresponding increase or decrease in damping force effectively counteracts the impacts caused by rough road surfaces and the forces generated during braking, acceleration, and deceleration. This results in enhanced stability and improved ride quality for the rider.

The most distinctive feature of this “Beast” lies in its unique front suspension, which consists of aluminum alloy double swing arms to hold the front wheel and a vertically adjustable single shock absorber mounted just behind the front wheel. This front suspension, composed of double swing arms and a single shock absorber, resembles the rear suspension of conventional motorcycles, giving the V-Rex a unique and unconventional appearance. This unique front suspension not only absorbs shocks and bumps like conventional front forks but also provides light and agile handling, allowing riders to maneuver this over 300kg heavy “monster” with ease.

However, the bold and distinctive personality of the “Beast” sometimes requires riders to adapt to its characteristics. Due to the installation of the unique front suspension, during braking, the V-Rex does not exhibit the slight front-end dip typical of conventional motorcycles but instead feels like it wants to “stand up.” The rear suspension, on the other hand, features a single swingarm with dual shock absorbers mounted almost horizontally at the rear of the engine.

Although single shock absorbers are dominant in the rear suspension of modern motorcycles, dual shock absorbers still have a market, especially for retro motorcycles that seek style and atmosphere. Dual shock absorbers are considered a standard configuration for creating a vintage look. Moto Guzzi V7 is one such stylish machine. The Moto Guzzi V7 Special, introduced in 2012, pays tribute to history as a retro model. Not only does it share the same name, but it also embodies the same essence and spirit, reflecting the design philosophy of a touring motorcycle.

The Softail family of Harley-Davidson is characterized by its simulation of classic hardtail styling, presenting a low and long profile. The Softail member Breakout naturally inherits this classic feature. It is not a true hardtail as it is equipped with rear shock absorbers; however, they are horizontally installed within the body, making them difficult to be noticed. The Breakout has a radical and aggressive style and features unique paintwork and personalized components. The most eye-catching aspect is its super-fat tires. The front end of the Breakout uses robust 49mm front forks, with a wider fork spacing compared to the previous FX Softail, allowing for the installation of a thicker 130mm front tire.