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MXA PRODUCT TEST: Pro Circuit Showa Works Suspension For The KTM 250SXF And KTM 450SXF

May 2, 2009
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   A kit that makes it possible to have the same works suspension on your KTM as Kawasaki and Honda factory riders have.

   $7409.00 (with triple clamps).

CONTACT? (951) 738-8050 or www.procircuit.com.

   If you read MXA’s 2009 450 Shootout, then you know that the MXA wrecking crew liked the 2009 KTM 450SXF a great deal. And, as was pointed out, one of the reasons that the orange bike didn’t win the shootout was nagging doubts about the KTM’s Dutch-built WP rear shock. So, when Pro Circuit started testing its exotic Showa Works suspension kit for KTMs, we were the first to sign up as test riders for the highly regarded titanium-nitride-coated A-kit components.

   The Showa forks feature 49mm tubes, which are 1mm larger than the KTM’s 48mm WP units, and use a titanium-nitride coating that is more durable and gives a much smoother stroke. The optional turquoise-nitride coating, used by Team Pro Circuit, offers an even smoother stroke and enhanced performance. Pro Circuit’s unique internal cartridge system incorporates a new, larger, Kashima-coated aluminum cartridge rod that is sealed and pressurized like a shock to provide a more effective feel and supple fork action. Axle lugs are CNC-machined for increased durability and performance.

   The Showa Works shock has a giant 18mm shock shaft that uses a check valve system to isolate the compression and rebound stroke for more control. The larger shaft also displaces more oil and complements the large, 28mm piston compression adjuster. The 50mm hard-anodized body is Kashima coated to reduce heat buildup. For the MXA wrecking crew, the ability to bolt on the same forks and shock that the Japanese race teams use was a chance to finally answer the no-link-versus-linkage question.

WHAT STANDS OUT? Here’s a list of things that stand out with the Pro Circuit/Showa Works KTM suspension.

   (1) Forks. The extra diameter and better metallurgy of the 49mm Showa fork legs keeps the forks from flexing in corners. The Showa Works forks come with sealed, pressurized, Kashima-coated, aluminum cartridge rods with much closer tolerances than the stock parts. There are CNC-machined axle lugs and tighter tolerances, and a unique internal cartridge system completes the package.

   (2) Shock. Showa’s Works shock has 28 clicks of rebound, four turns of high-speed compression and 26 clicks of low-speed compression adjustment. The shock’s internals are graced with a 28mm piston, LSV system and Kashima coatings. Suffice it to say that the Pro Circuit Showa works KTM shock offered much more tuneability than the stock WP unit.

   (3) Performance. First and foremost, you must understand that the Showa Works kit is just steel and aluminum. As it comes from the factory, it still has to be valved for your speed, weight and style. And that is the catch. The MXA wrecking crew spent three weeks testing various fork and shock settings (springs, damping and oil height) for our 2009 KTM 450SXF. There were no previous numbers for us to fall back on (save for some KTM 250SXF settings that Pro Circuit had worked on with Team KTM). In the end, our final valving and spring rates worked well with the KTM’s no-link suspension system. The bike tracked straighter, wiggled less and absorbed big and small hits with equal aplomb. The major benefits of Pro Circuit’s Showa-built Works suspension were in fluidity, lack of stiction, increased rigidity and adjustability. The forks and shock worked in harmony to soak up the chop to such an extent that the bike actually handled better in every situation. Link or no-link, excellent suspension components make a difference.

   (4) Setup. We think that every National-class KTM rider would be well-served to swap his WP components for Showa equipment. Not only is there a quality improvement, but the level of suspension support at the Nationals is worth considering.

   (5) Place of Manufacture. Pro Circuit Showa Works suspension is manufactured in Japan, but is assembled and valved in Corona, California (at Pro Circuit).

WHAT’S THE SQUAWK? The price is exorbitant. At over $7000, this is not a purchase that can be taken lightly, nor is it one that short-circuits the age-old conundrum that the suspension still has to be valved perfectly to work perfectly.

This is five-star suspension, but only for millionaires, National Pros and the status-conscious. For everyone else, you could buy an Ohlins, Fox or gold-plated rear shock for your KTM and have the WP forks revalved 24 times (and still have money left over).


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