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Shock Dyno: Damper Dynamometer

motorcycle shock dyno graph

Why use a shock Dynamometer?

A serious development of damping profiles, valving performance must be driven by a means of measuring and recording the performance of a shock or set of motorcycle forks. This is exactly where the shock Dynamometer comes in. Motorcycle suspension shocks or forks (dampers) make a force in opposition of movement based, primarily on shaft or wheel velocity and in some cases (like KTM/WP PDS system) by position. The prime measurement is the velocity vs. speed quotient in the range the suspension is used. This damping force is what produces both the feel and the performance that a rider uses and desires for their intended use.

As your motorcycles suspension is such an important part of your bike and its performance (also the riders enjoyment) it only makes sense to test them to be sure they are functioning correctly. The Shock Dynamometer is one of the only ways to document and learn about how your motorcycle suspension dampers work.

If you are wishing to re calibrate your shocks damping, it is imperative that you have before and after measurements to indicate the degree of changes made. Suspension engineers look at many subtleties to determine the proper function of your shock, things like column friction, hysteresis and mechanical friction.

What Is a Shock Dyno and how does it work?

A shock dynamometer is a machine specifically designed to test suspension damper elements like your motorcycle forks and shocks. While there are a number of ways these machines can work, they always move the shock or forks under test by compressing and extending them through a known stroke and speed while measuring things like the resistance to motion caused by the dampers force and friction and monitoring other factors like temperature.

The speeds that the suspension dampers are moved at are tied to the real world use and typical test speeds are 10 in/sec. for shocks and 22in/sec. for motorcycle forks. Some riding conditions may be higher than the test speeds but most are anomalies as opposed to tuned range. Supercross forks are an exception to this as the frequent landing from big jumps are critical to the bikes performance. Most riders will feel and notice the changes at speeds far below these high test speeds.

Forces are measured via a highly accurate and fast response load-cell and speeds and positions are measured via linear position sensors. Temperature and changes are measured via a non-contact I.R temperature probe. Specialized data capture cards and computer control with measurement recording and display capabilities round out the machines capabilities.

shock dyno graph motorcycles

This dyno plot shows the force vs. velocity (absolute) for a high-performance motorcycle fork. Maximum speed of the test is above 22 in/sec. with negative forces showing rebound and positive forces showing the compression. This is a full cycle test.

shock dyno graph bike

This dyno plot shows the same motorcycle fork as force vs. position.

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