to have machined pistons and a lot
of different parts than production.
Showa’s A-Kit technology often trickles down to the production design
in ensuing years. As for Kayaba,
the PSF-1 A-Kit offers slightly more
valving adjustability. Kayaba distributes their Factory Kit fork through
Technical Touch (www.technical
touchusa.com) in the U.S. The forks
come with settings developed on the
Grand Prix circuit and are assembled
by KYB’s team of experts. Understand
that the fork valving may need to be
dialed in for your weight and skill
level. A re-valve job will cost in the
neighborhood of $250 and can be
done by any competent suspension
Other features. Kayaba’s Factory
Kit PSF-1 fork includes an air pump
and Schrader-valve extension. The
fork caps are machined and anodized
for a factory look. Black-anodized
billet axle brackets are more durable
than stock. And last, the forks come in
a foam-lined gun case.
MXA test riders are generally
pleased with the Kayaba PSF-1 kit’s
outfitted our project 2005 Yamaha
YZ125 with the KYB units. Keep in
mind that the 2005 YZ125 came with
Kayaba AOSS forks, not SSS forks.
The PSF-1 fork kit was a substantial
upgrade, with the benefit of shedding
almost 2 pounds. Our only qualm with
the fork was the same as any other
air fork—positive front-wheel traction
wasn’t always consistent. That sensation was very noticeable when the
front end became unweighted.
How much do the KYB Factory
Kit PSF-1 forks cost? $4500. For comparison, the going rate for a set
of production Kayaba PSF-1 forks
found on Craigslist or eBay can get
one-third of that. As to whether the
Factory Kit forks are worth the substantial price hike, it’s on a per-rider
basis. Faster riders looking for better
fork action should consider Kayaba’s
Factory Kit. The same goes for men
of a certain age who can splurge on
nice-looking forks, even if they don’t
notice the performance advantages.
The real question is whether you prefer air or instead favor conventional
spring forks. If air is your thing and
you’ve always wanted to try Kayaba
PSF-1 forks on your bike, specifically Yamaha, the Factory Kit is the
answer. Otherwise, scour the classifieds for older Kayaba KYB A-Kit coil-spring forks, or wait until they come
out with a new coil-spring version,
which we hear is in the works. ❏
KAYABA PSF-1 FACTORY KIT AIR FORKS
Generally speaking, there is great disparity between pro- duction and factory forks.
What comes standard off the showroom floor is part of an overall
package setup for the average Joe.
Factory equipment, on the other
hand, is best used in the hands of
the one-percenters—that is to say,
those who race at the highest level.
Fortunately, there is A-Kit suspension
for those desiring factory-type components, even if they’ll never qualify for
an AMA National.
Believe it or not, you can purchase the same type of forks that
Cooper Webb used to win the 250
National Championship. Thanks to
the AMA production rule, 250 Pro
racers aren’t allowed to run factory
suspension. This rule is intended to
level the playing field for privateers
by keeping costs down, thus A-Kit
suspension is available to anyone
willing to spend the money. A-Kit
isn’t cheap. Is it worth the dough?
That depends. Before answering that
question, it’s important to understand
the differences between production
forks and Kayaba’s PSF-1 (
first-generation Pneumatic Spring Fork) Factory
Coatings. The easiest way to discern A-Kit forks is by their uniquely
colored tubes. Kayaba specifically
uses a dark Kashima coating on the
fork stanchions for a deep golden
hue and a black DLC coating on
the fork legs. Kayaba also Kashima-coats the inner cylinders. What are
the advantages? Kashima coating
improves lubrication—reducing stic-tion and drag—on aluminum in sliding or piston movement without the
use of lubricant. The DLC acronym
stands for Diamond-Like Carbon and
does exactly what its name suggests.
The material shares similar properties of a diamond, which is known
for its hardness (and draining your
bank account when you’re in the
doghouse). DLC coatings are applied
to reduce abrasive wear and friction. For these reasons, the Kashima
coatings and DLC coatings on KYB’s
A-Kit forks are superior to many of
the production offerings. Note that
Kawasaki has been Kashima-coating
their suspension for years.
Internals. Kayaba and Showa
vary in their A-Kit fork offerings.