Unsure About Air Fork Conversion Kits?
As with all shock absorbers, forks generally consists of two parts: a spring and a damper. The spring might be implemented with a steel coil or with compressed air in the case of the KYB PSF, Showa SFF TAC AIR and the WP AER.
Different springs have different attributes, especially spring rates. A cartridge makes up the front’s damping internals. It provides the feedback and performance behaviour. It is possible to exchange the complete original internals, including the top cap, with a compatible aftermarket system.
What are Coil-Sprung Forks?
Coil springs keep a steady spring rate during the course of their travel. However, this rate escalates with travel, making them more progressive. It is true to say all steel coil springs are progressive, the further they are compressed the stiffer they become but they become stiffer in a linear motion. When we talk progressive springs we mean variable rate springs that are wound with a progressive pitch. A spring that gets stiffer the further it's compressed sounds great, but the fact it is non linear in the rate increase makes the forks more unpredictable, especially in corners. We don’t use progressive pitch springs in forks very much for this reason.
What are Air Forks?
An air-sprung option is lighter than steel coils, and works by using the characteristics of compressed air to resist further compression. As the spring itself is provided by the compressed air rather than a coil of metal, it is much lighter – making their use extremely popular in MX applications where weight savings are very desirable. The downside of air forks is the manipulation of the air spring to try and match the linear characteristics of a coil spring. 2 and 3 chamber designs with top out springs, balance springs and the ability in some designs to change the air pressure in all 3 chambers makes the fork very complex to set up. The chambers have to be very strongly sealed from each other and the seals between the chambers are a great source of friction in a system where both breakaway and sliding friction are the enemy.
A Range of Performance Benefits
We’ve discovered the biggest benefit to the air fork is the weight savings that come with it. While the weight difference is an advantage, it doesn't outweigh the difference in performance. There are definitely a few other advantages to a coil spring setup as well.
Check out some of the other wins that come with a conversion of this kind:
- Reduced friction: Sealing the chambers of the air pressure required, resulting in a noticeable increase in friction. When these seals inevitably leak all fork performance is lost. By switching to a coil spring, you can expect a reduction in friction to more traditional levels, which enhances the absorption of small bumps along the way and how it feels to handle.
- Mitigate disaster: In the event that a seal blows or something internal were to fail, the air fork may lose pressure to the point that it loses travel. At the track, this might send you packing home much earlier than you bargained for. As an alternative, a failure on a trail ride may also leave you stranded miles from camp. But switching to a coil eliminates this risk, given the fork is designed to be held up by the spring instead of by (often unforgiving) air pressure.
- Steady action during a ride: An air fork builds pressure due to ambient temperature, altitude and heat – even when things seem to be going smoothly. This phenomenon can't be regulated and will lead to a harsher and often less compliant feel whilst riding. Using a coil, you can expect overall better handling that’s more consistent when compared to the feel of a air fork.
We have everything you need to fix your ride and improve your performance – including a range of Air Fork Conversions (Separate Function Fork Spring Conversions for Showa SFF TAC / WP AER) and ESA compatible kits.
Still have a burning question? For any further queries, get in touch with the Teknik team on (02) 4732 2626. We are open Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 5:30pm – so give us a yell.