Is This Wild Concept the Future of Motorcycle Suspension?

Motoinno's unusual setup promises ultimate two-wheeled handling

Motoinno Motorcycle Suspension System
The Motoinno motorcycle suspension system. Loz Blain/Gizmag

With the exception of BMW's Telelever system and low volume outliers like Confederate who build throwback Girder-style forks, the motorcycle world has been generally fixated on telescopic forks. This conventional setup uses oil-filled dampers that connect the front section of the frame to the wheel via a triple clamp, enabling shock absorption and tuneable ride characteristics.

An Australian company called Motorcycle Innovation ("Motoinno" for short-- see what they did there?) have created an unusual but promising suspension system that aims to "explore the potential of advanced two-wheeled in-line vehicle geometry in relation to current and future safety trends and requirements."

Following 16 years of development, the company has created their TS3-- Triangulated Steering and Suspension System-- with the intention of optimizing stability, compliance, and performance.

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All About Isolation

Motoinno Motorcycle Suspension
A closeup of the Motoinno's aluminum linkage. Loz Blain/Gizmag

The problem with traditional telescopic forks is that they flex and create slop, while their lack of isolation limits their control and their dive characteristics tend to change the suspension's dynamics during braking. 

Claiming to eliminate the issues of conventional hub-based steering setups (as found in the Bimota Tesi series of bikes), the Motoinno setup uses a parallelogram front suspension geometry that keeps the front wheel at the same angle. But despite that fixed position, the system's rake and trail can be adjusted, as well as its dive characteristics. Interestingly, the bike can even be set up to create negative dive (i.e., lift) upon braking. 

But the key differentiator about this setup, according to Gizmag's reporting, is that the stability gained by the system, especially under braking, enables it to maintain constant geometry. That predictability fosters greater confidence and control for the rider, and Motoinno says the system has enabled a second of time to be gained per corner on a racetrack when compared to a Suzuki GSX-R750's lap times.

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Bottom Line: In a Racer's Words

Motoinno Motorcycle Racing
Tracking the Motoinno suspension system. Motoinno

While this prototype bike, built around a '93 Ducati Super Sport 900 body, cost about a quarter million dollars to produce, the goal of the project is to enter Moto2 racing and prove their design on the racetrack.

In the meantime, here are some observations on the engineering from Isle of Man champion racer Cameron Donald:

"The bike amazingly feels quite conventional in the way it handles on the track, which is the biggest surprise to me. It's not what you'd expect, because it certainly doesn't look conventional. The way it turns into a corner, and the way it has some dive under brakes and whatnot, is actually very similar to a conventional forked motorcycle.

"I've had limited experience on center hub steered bikes, but what I saw as the big positive to this was the way that I could trail brake into the corner and hold a very tight line. You've still got an amount of dive, the way the boys have got it set up, but you can trail brake into the corner well past where you normally would on a conventional bike, and with a lot more brake pressure. That's something that will take some time to get used to, because it's so different to a conventional bike.

"It felt like it had good connection. In some of these hub steered bikes, with the amount of pivots and angles involved, you can lose that connection. There's none of that. The connection, the feel between the input to the handlebar and the response in the tire is very good.

"The big thing for me was how quick it gave me confidence, how much feel I had through the front tire, the connection between my input at the handlebars and the response from the tire was excellent, very much like a conventional motorbike. When you look at the amount of work in the linkage setup, you could easily think there'd be slop in there or you'd lose some feeling, but I didn't. It was very direct. That was a big positive.

"A race bike's the next step, to take it to that next level and push it harder and see how it responds. Like all bikes, the harder you push them, the more you learn about them, and that'll be the case with the TS3 as well."