Motorcycles > Motorcycle Suspension and Steering Systems

hub-center motorcycle steering system

Front End

Motorcycle steering and suspension can be controlled by several different types of front end.

The most common form, by far, is the telescopic fork which consists of sliding steel tubes with long springs inside which use hydraulic fluid for damping shock absorbers. The front fork is one of the most critical parts of a motorcycle. The angle of rake determines how controllable the steering is. The more horizontal the forks are the more laid back the handling, more vertical = more twitchy and agile.

girder front suspension
Girder front ends can be found on the radical Confederate Wraith motorcycle. The Wraith has an advanced 'multi-link' girder front end. One of the earliest types of motorcycle front suspension, the girder fork consists of a pair of uprights attached to the triple clamp by linkages with a spring usually between the top and bottom triple clamps.

hub centre steering
Hub centre steering is characterized by horizontal forks running to the center of the front wheel where by a complicated series of pushrods the wheel is turned. Hub centre steering can be found on the Bimota Tesi 1D, Tesi 2D and Suzuki Nuda concept.

steering damper
Steering dampers can be found on many modern sportbikes and all race bikes, steering dampers are similar to telescopic forks in that they provide a dampening effect to bumps in the road. A steering damper provides a resistive force against the direction of movement, giving a controlled compression and rebound. Dampers are velocity dependent so the faster the spring moves (like when you hit a bump), the more resistance the damper provides. If you attach a damper there will be a dampening force that will tend to stop any steering motion. In most cornering at mid to high speeds, your front wheel steers very little to lean you into a corner so the damper doesn't have much of an impact. However, if the wheel hits a groove and starts oscillating back and forth vigorously, the steering damper will resist the movement and dissipate the energy providing more stability to the whole bike. The level of dampening can be adjusted quickly and easily by way of a dial on most units.

Rear Shocks

Rear shocks usually come in three different forms:

Dual shocks. One shock absorber placed either side of the wheel attached to the swingarm and frame.

Monoshocks. One shock positioned at the front of the swingarm, above the swingarm pivot bolt. This type of shock is found on most modern bikes, especially sportsbikes.

Softail monoshock. One shock mounted horizontally in front of the swingarm below the swingarm pivot bolt.

See Also:

Motorcycle Engines
- Stroke, 2 or 4
- Configuration

Motorcycle Frames
- Introduction
- Types

Motorcycle Suspension and Steering Systems
- Girder front end
- Telescopic forks
- Hub center steering
- Steering dampers
- Rear Shocks

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- Belt
- Shaft

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