MOTOCROSS ACTION PRODUCT TEST: RACE TECH KTM TELESCOPIC COMPRESSION NEEDLE:
WHAT IS IT? Race Tech’s Telescopic Compression Needle is a performance modification for WP’s PDS shock (which comes stock on all KTMs). It is designed to provide a more progressive compression stroke.
WHAT’S IT COST? $119.99 (needle), $79.99 (TSPS T-handle tool), $110.00 (labor).
WHAT STANDS OUT? Here’s a list of things that stand out with Race Tech’s Telescopic Compression Needle.
(1) Idea. Race Tech feels that the standard compression needle in KTM’s WP shock comes into play much too late in the stroke. To change this, Race Tech designed a needle that extends when oil is forced through the center of the Telescopic Compression Needle. This creative idea brings the compression needle into play much sooner (and as the shock is compressed, the telescopic extension retracts). The taper of the Race Tech needle is more progressive. It is visibly fatter and more tapered than the stock WP needle.
(2) Installation. If you have the knowledge and tools to disassemble and reassemble your KTM’s WP shock, go for it. But most people will have to take/ship their shock to the shop. We had a Race Tech technician turn the wrenches on our 2010 KTM rear shock.
(3) Performance. Every MXA test rider could feel the difference with the Telescopic Compression Needle. It had the largest effect on how the WP shock worked under low shaft speed conditions (big bumps, rolling terrain and jumps). It was less pronounced at high shaft speeds. KTMs have always had an issue with high-load/low-speed compression situations. The WP shock tends to blow through its travel to the point of bottoming. With the Race Tech needle, this G-out effect was reduced, and travel was preserved for upcoming bumps and hard landings.
(4) Tuning. Because it’s firmer in the initial part of the shock’s stroke, we went a few clicks softer on low-speed compression and a quarter turn softer on the high-speed dial. Some test riders even ran a couple millimeters of additional race sag. Additionally, any major modification on one end always necessitates a change at the other. We increased compression on the forks a couple clicks to maintain balance.
(5) Target audience. Slower test riders preferred the stock compression needle. They liked the soft feel and full travel (and were willing to live with the occasional G-out). If you have been riding a KTM for a long time and are comfortable on it, the Race Tech Telescopic Compression Needle’s dramatic changes at low shaft speeds could require a little acclimation. The faster the test rider, the more he liked the Race Tech needle.
WHAT’S THE SQUAWK? Not all of our testers were happy with the feel of the shock with the Telescopic Compression Needle. Some felt that it was too harsh initially and brought the bike out of balance toward the front.
This was a four-star shock mod for fast riders, but a three-star mod for slower guys who thought it lost plushness. It holds the rear of the shock higher and fights G-outs.