FORK WORKS: MX-TECH LUCKY SYSTEM
MX-Tech is an innovative suspension company based in Illinois. As a rule, MX-Tech tries to reinvent the wheel rather than fine tune its roundness. This is the company’s modus operandi, and we applaud MX-Tech for trying to disrupt the suspension market by introducing new concepts. We have had a relationship with MX-Tech owner Jeremy Wilkey since he was fresh out of college. Back in 2000, when the YZ250 two-stroke was the hot bike, we had all the big-name suspension companies come to SoCal to do a YZ250 suspension shootout. Nobody had ever heard of the then-new MX-Tech company, but the MXA wrecking crew crowned MX-Tech “the King of YZ250 Fork Fixes.”
Since that time, Jeremy has been grinding away, making a name for himself in the suspension world. Jeremy and his crew make the long trek out to California each year for us to test what they have been brewing up at the MX-Tech headquarters. This time around, they brought out more than we bargained for. There were four different bikes lined up for us to try, as well as multiple sets of suspension. Each bike had a new American-made National shock. This is a complete shock that MX-Tech sells for KTMs, Huskys, Kawasakis and Suzukis for $2400. It is more than a pound lighter than any of the OEM shocks.
We decided to focus our testing on the Rockstar Edition Husqvarna FC450 setup. The WP AER 48 air forks were turned into spring forks using MX-Tech’s Lucky system. Jeremy also brought out a pair of his MXT A48-R air forks so we could compare air versus springs.
We think the WP AER 48mm air forks are the best OEM air forks on the market. We can say that with confidence because, for 2019, all the Japanese manufacturers are back to coil-spring forks. KTMs and Huskys come with easy-to-use forks that work very well. WP’s 49mm AER air fork is better than most of the coil spring forks on the market; however, spring forks and air forks feel different on the track. The AER air forks, or any air forks for that matter, have a J-curve spring rate. This curve starts out linear, then begins to curve upward as the fork is compressed. When the fork gets close to 4 inches (100mm) from bottoming, the stiffness ramps up considerably. MX-Tech’s A48-R system calms down the J-curve. It makes an air spring feel more like a coil spring and is an option for air-fork racers who want a touch of the coil spring feel.
IF YOU’VE HAD IT WITH AIR FORKS, THE MX-TECH LUCKY SPRING SYSTEM HAS THAT DESIRABLE SPRING FEEL THAT CANNOT BE FOUND ON AIR FORKS. THE LUCKY SYSTEM IS A COMPETE FORK MAKEOVER. THE CENTERPIECE OF THE LUCKY SPRING TECHNOLOGY IS THE HUCK VALVE.
If, however, you have had it with air forks, the MX-Tech Lucky spring system has that desirable spring feel that cannot be found on air forks. The Lucky system is a compete fork makeover. The centerpiece of the Lucky spring technology is the Huck Valve. Standard bottoming control systems are limited to the multiple speeds and accelerations with which the fork moves. The Huck Valve incorporates a valving mechanism that manages high- and low-entry speeds. Essentially, the Huck Valve manages bottoming resistance no matter how fast or slow you are riding.
Worried about the weight gain of spring forks? MX-Tech’s Lucky system is approximately 3 pounds lighter than conventional spring forks and only a 1/2 pound heavier than air forks. MX-Tech achieved this by tirelessly seeking to trim weight off its proprietary parts. Jeremy told us they have a company declaration called the “War on Grams.” MX-Tech’s springs are not normal steel springs. The springs are made of high-strength steel that is processed for maximum stress relief. The result is a spring with less mass because less wire is needed for a given rate compared to a normal steel spring. This process makes the steel springs 25 to 30 percent lighter and puts them in the realm of titanium springs. MX-Tech also focused on reducing friction inside the forks with different coatings. By minimizing sliding surfaces, the Lucky fork mod is able to increase the traction and feel at the front wheel.
DURING TESTING, MXA’S TEST RIDERS WERE SPLIT BETWEEN MX-TECH AIR AND SPRING FORKS ON THE FC450. FASTER TEST RIDERS PREFERRED THE A48-R SYSTEM. THE BIKE RODE HIGHER IN THE STROKE AND HAD A FIRMER FEEL WITH THE AIR FORKS. VET RIDERS DIDN’T LIKE THE FIRM FEELING, ESPECIALLY IN ROUGH CHOP. THEY LOVED THE LUCKY COIL-SPRING SETUP.
During testing, MXA’s test riders were split between MX-Tech air and spring forks on the FC450. Faster test riders preferred the A48-R system. The bike rode higher in the stroke and had a firmer feel with the air forks. Vet riders didn’t like the firm feeling, especially in rough chop. They loved the Lucky coil-spring setup. The initial stroke of the Lucky mod was incredibly supple and soft. It absorbed square-edge bumps, was planted to the ground and didn’t chatter on the entrance to turns. Our test riders kept going softer, not because the forks were stiff, but because they were able to get away with the supple feel. The forks had an extremely linear progression, and the bottoming control was unrivaled. The softer our testers went, the more the Lucky system isolated the rider from the surface debris. The downside of going as soft as some of the test riders wanted to go was that eventually the fork dove into the stroke under heavy braking. For riders who positioned themselves in a forward riding position, the dive made them feel like they were going over the bars. The riders who used the attack position could run the compression further out, which made for a smooth, supple feel, even late in the day at the rough Glen Helen track.
For the average rider, the MX Tech Lucky spring-fork system will perform better than any air fork. It gives you more control and greater endurance on the bike. The feel reminded us of the WP Cone Valve forks, although you only have to spend $900 with MX-Tech to get that $3500 Cone Valve feel.