WHAT IS IT? Instead of machined aluminum, ARC uses a more high-tech composite material for its folding levers.
WHAT’S IT COST? $69.95 (brake or clutch); $189.95 (RC-8 perch).
CONTACT? www.arclevers.com or (714) 543-0362.
WHAT STANDS OUT? Here’s a list of things that stand out with ARC’s composite levers.
(1) Development. ARC won’t reveal their secret recipe, but the composite is a nylon matrix material with an impact modifier to make it less brittle and carbon fiber fill to make it lighter. ARC experimented with 14 different mixtures of materials in search of the perfect degree of flexibility and crash resistance.
(2) Flex. To prove the strength of his new composite levers, ARC’s Bob Barnett hit his aluminum and composite levers with a two-by-four. The metal levers bent after one hit. The composite levers took 20 hits before breaking. If any piece of ARC equipment fails, you can send it back to them with 10 bucks for shipping, and they will repair or replace it.
(3) Breakage. We ran composite brake and clutch levers on our CRF250 and KX450F for months. Guess what? We broke them in the same spot as we would an aluminum lever. Did they break easier than if they were aluminum? Or did they last longer because they were composite? We don’t know, but what we do know is that there is no such thing as a lightweight motocross product that can’t be broken by the force of a cartwheeling motorcycle. The good news? For ten bucks we got replacement levers and were back in business. In fact, Ivan Tedesco was using ARC composite brake levers when he cartwheeled at the 2011 Anaheim Supercross.
(4) The fix. The moment we broke the ARC levers, they were back in the lab coming up with a new matrix compound. We had new levers in a week and have been running them ever since. No problems. The new levers are more flexible, which helps them resist blows and loads. When sitting still the MXA test riders could flex the levers, but once in motion no test rider noticed that the levers had any excess flex. The ARC composite levers were so flexible that most MXA test riders were nervous about the levers flexing while riding. No problem. None of our test riders could feel any flex?even though Bob Barnett says that the levers do flex during use.
(5) Feel. The composite levers are tackier than aluminum levers, but they also vibrate less. There is no difference in blade bend between aluminum and ARC levers.
WHAT’S THE SQUAWK? Two complaints: (1) Most folding levers have some extra bulk at the pivot. Some riders don’t like the thickness by their index finger. (2) You could break a lot of levers?and lose a lot of races?for the $69.95 cost of one ARC composite lever.
ARC’s composite levers flex where aluminum bends. The ARC levers are lighter and tricker without sacrificing function?plain and simple.