Test Ride Reports on SHOWA ”BFF/BFRC-lite KIT”

  • 02/09/2016
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[Webike News]

A test ride was held at Tsukuba Circuit for the ”BFF/BFRC-lite KIT” released from suspension manufacturer SHOWA. These are reports by Motorcycle Journalist, Kenny Sagawa.

The Long-awaited After Market Product from SHOWA

SHOWA is a company known worldwide for manufacturing suspensions for two and four wheel drives. The company has made a brilliant success by manufacturing OEM suspensions for various two wheel models produced in and outside of Japan and offering well performing suspensions to racing models which have made brilliant success.

Their latest success was made by the ZX-10R that won the 2015 Superbike World Championship with the Kawasaki Racing Team, adopted with SHOWA’s front fork.

The ”BFF/BFRC-lite KIT” is the first after market product produced by this leading suspension manufacturer.

A New Product to Establish the SHOWA Brand

Mr. Yokoi of SHOWA told us the story.
SHOWA has being offering OEM products to two and four wheel manufacturers for a long time. We have made brilliant success offering suspensions to racing models that compete in the top category at MotoGP and other races. But as a single brand, the name of our company lacks recognition. To enhance competitive strength, we must consolidate branding. Our advantages are that we have extensive knowledge in quality management achieved from producing OEM products and advanced technology from involvement in the motorcycle racing field. The ”BFF/BFRC-lite KIT” is assembled with SHOWA’s technology and is a product that we are proud to offer.

In other words, the ”BFF/BFRC-lite KIT” is a suspension that combines the performance of racing suspension and reliability and durability of OEM products.
According to Mr. Yokoi, although it is for public roads, it will offer the performance of SBK racing specified models 2 seasons back. The first release will be Front BFF (Balance Free Front Fork), Rear BFRC-lite (Balance Free Rear Cushion Lite) for ZX-10R.

Suspension that Offers Sporty Performance and Exquisite Riding Comfort Just Like a Racing Suspension

A special characteristic of the ”BFF/BFRC-lite KIT” is its special structure.
Usually suspensions are installed with positive and negative pressure valve settings and cavitation (oil foam) pressure balance fluctuation generates due to large pressure resistance. The new suspension is designed with balance-free structure that has no fluctuation and will offer smooth operation due to its new hydraulic circuit. By generating damping force at large flow rate, response, controllability at slow speed and uniformity has improved.

*Suspension equipped with ”Balance-free Structure” for ZX-10R

This will help to excessively improve grounding, stability, riding comfort and offer sporty performance and exquisite riding comfort together with specifications that cope with delicate settings.
The structure of the ”BFF/BFRC-lite KIT” is quite similar to the OEM suspension mounted to ZX-10R but is made with different material and fine accuracy.Main features are; ”Improved Absorption Energy due to 10mm Extended Stroke”/”Improved Operation due to World’s First Thin Film Coating Technology”/”Superb Grounding due to Fully-Carved Axle Holder that Combines High Rigidity & Texture”

You can see from the picture that the bottom bracket is cut-out and made from special material with high accuracy.

Ride Test Review

After the briefing session, we had an opportunity to test ride ZX-10R with STD specification and ”BFF/BFRC-lite KIT” specification.   ** *****


*ZX-10R with STD specification

*ZX-10R with ”BFF/BFRC-lite KIT” specification

First of all I’d like to quote about the appearance. The inner tube of the ZX-10R with Kit is finished with outstanding ”Emerald Color Coating” .
Due to special coating technology it will reduce friction loss by 20 to 30%. The tough looking fully-carved axle holder is mounted with titanium bolt and offers a stylish appearance not just travelling performance.

*”Emerald Color Coating” used on the Inner Tube

The rear shock is mounted with springs and rods colored in ”Candy Red Metallic” and features a beautiful adjuster. If you look down on the mount below you can see its equipped with a pillow ball for height adjustment. It sure has racing quality and the parts themselves give us high expectations.

*Rear Suspension is also finished with ”Emerald Color Coating”

However it started raining in the morning and the road surface was fully wet. The situation was terrible but I switched my mind and got onto the course.

”Capability” of the High Performing Suspension In Wet Weather

First I tested the ZX-10R with STD specification and it was to my surprise rather well balanced. Well of course it is. The base model is last years champion machine and an up-to-date 2016 model. ZX-10R is I think absolutely impeccable. I tried to find a fault in the suspension, but I couldn’t.

After the STD, I tested the ZX-10R with the Kit. It felt slightly higher than the STD and front rear suspension felt to have less subduction.
When you’re actually riding, the suspensions feel a little stiff or in other words makes the body of the machine feel large. For a short ride, the STD is easier to handle. It might have been because of the rain. Due to standard tires, I couldn’t make run loads and draw out advantages of the high performing suspension.

This upset me but after riding the two vehicles in rotation for some time, I must have got used to the wet condition. Eventually I came to realize the advantages of the Kit.
The first thing I realized was the stability when braking.

The second hair pin of the Tsukuba Circuit is a loose bend, and you have to make a full brake, tipping the body of the bike, but under wet conditions you can easily make an overturn which is terrifying. With the STD, once you choose your position you can’t change it, but with the Kit, you’ll be able to change your position while you’re braking. It must be due to the capacity of residual stroke. I think this is a great advantage.

Security from the Machine

My next discovery was the traction feel at cornering. I gently opened the throttle on the slippery wet course and the rear tires kicked the ground. What I mean is the rear tires had a better grip.
Especially on the first and second hair pin corner exit of the Tsukuba circuit, machines easily loose grip due to non banks. But with the Kit you can open the throttle slightly more than the STD model. This will increase escape velocity and effect speed at the straightline and back straight.

The ironic last corner is one of the corners of Tsukuba circuit that require high speed cornering. It was terrifying to use standard high grip tires in wet conditions.。
I gathered my strength and raised my speed increasing the bank of the machine at each lap. I was able to bank the machine mounted with the Kit to a boundary that was impossible for the machine mounted with STD. It felt as though the machine was giving me security. The high performing suspension must have stood out at the last corner due to run load.

I didn’t measure my time but I guess you’d be able to increase speed with no struggle at all. I now understand the SHOWA developers words ”push forward and grounding and security will improve”.
I’m sorry this isn’t a clear-cut review but the weather was bad and I appreciate if you’d consider it. If I have the chance, I’d like to go back and test cornering on a dry course.

OEM SDBV(SHOWA DUAL BENDING VALVE) Mounted to NC750X

To experience the evolved OEM suspensions, NC700X and NC750X were also brought to the circuit.
NC700X is mounted with regular fork with free valve structure and the new NC750X 2016 model is mounted with SDBV (SHOWA Dual Bending Valve). By generating compression damping force progressively, the SDBV improves grounding and security.

*Cut Model of SDBV(SHOWA DUAL BENDING VALVE)

It is true that with NC750X, damping force activates to offer smooth movement the moment you’re on the NC750X. The ride is comfortable but as you know I was on a fully wet road with tires from different manufactures and it’s a shame that I couldn’t feel the braking and cornering performance in detail.

Products will be Available for General Users!

Our first product will be the ”Premium Upgrade Kit” that includes BFF and BFRC-lite. The ”Premium Upgrade Kit” will be the high end model
in order to establish branding. The first Kit will be for ZX-10R but other Kits will eventually be available for other super sports models mounted with SHOWA OEM products.

Concerned prices are 888,000Yen for BFF and 222,000Yen for BFRC-lite Kit. It seems rather expensive. But I’m sure you’ll be convinced if you recognize that the specifications of this Kit is equivalent to the suspensions mounted to the KAWASAKI Factory Racer that competes in Worldwide Superbike Championships.

There is also good news for riders who can’t afford this Kit. SHOWA will be releasing high performing high functioned ”Performance Upgrade Kit”, in the near future in aconvenient price range. I can’t wait to see it.

 

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