WITH THE NK SFS AIR TRIPLE CLAMPS
Ryan would do when that time came. MXA didn’t need
the KTM team to use the triple clamp to believe in it; we
just needed a long enough test cycle to prove its worth.
We knew that we had to keep what we were doing
under wraps until Anaheim 1 on January 4, 2014.
The learning curve. DeCoster, Dungey and Dungey’s
mechanic, Carlos Rivera, had some concerns. How strong
were the bar mounts? Would the clamp hold air over the
long run? What would happen if there was an air leak?
What was the best pressure setting? The MXA wrecking
crew had the same questions, plus we had to deal with
a product that didn’t have an American distributor or a
firm retail price. Plus, our tech support for the NK SFS air
triple clamp was based in France, not SoCal.
The solution was simple—we would run it until it
failed. So as Ryan Dungey pounded out laps at the KTM
test track, the MXA wrecking crew pounded out laps at
Glen Helen, Comp Edge, Racetown and Milestone. We
moved the triple clamp from our 450SXF to our 250SXF
to our 300SX and back to the 450SXF. And, we traded
a constant stream of e-mails with Benoit Beaumont in
France. We learned a lot.
Air pressure. On that first test day back in October,
most MXA test riders settled on 65 psi, which was
actually more pressure than Ryan Dungey was using at
the time. The more we tested, the more we increased
the pressure, and it turned out that Ryan Dungey was
doing the same thing. Eventually, our base number was
75 psi, with some test riders running 80 psi or more.
Air loss. Initially, we felt that we were losing about
15 psi over a couple days. We expressed our concern to
Benoit, and he assured us that what we thought was a
15-psi pressure loss was really caused by the small
volume of the twin air shocks. He explained that the
length of the air pump hose and size of the pump
cylinder would cause an air loss when checking the air
pressure, thus we created an air loss when we went
looking for it. But if we hadn’t installed the pump to
check the pressure, there wouldn’t have been one. Either
way, it turned out to be a non-issue because we simply
set the pressure to our desired number on race day and
either went up or down from that number without worrying about what we thought was pressure loss.
Air shocks. We installed a rubber O-ring on the
exposed shock shafts to see if we were getting a full
10mm of bar-mount travel. The O-ring could be used as
an air-pressure indicator for different tracks. If the O-ring
wasn’t moving, we would lower the pressure—and
vice versa. We also had concerns about the exposed
aluminum shock shafts that rose above the triple clamps,
but Benoit assured us that the exposed parts had nothing
to do with the seals of the air shocks (all of which were
under the triple clamp).
Failsafe testing. We didn’t always tell test riders
that they were riding a bike with air triple clamps—and
in most cases, they didn’t notice them. Why not? Because
These are Ryan Dungey’s NK SFS air
triple clamps. Ryan has been using them
throughout the 2014 AMA Supercross
series. He loves them.