The Tractive Story
TracTive Suspension B.V. was established June 1st 2010. Starting a suspension company in the middle of the Dutch Suspension Valley meant having to avoid being a dime a dozen. A novel and unconventional approach was needed. For TracTive, this meant focussing on its specialty, electronically controlled suspension systems. During their time at WP Suspension The TracTive Suspension team had been working on the first electronic suspension system in racing (APRILIA Biaggi) in the mid nineties, aftermarket (EDS) at the start of the new millennium followed by the OE ESAI/ESAII development for BMW till 2010.
Following TracTive's founding in 2010, TracTive Suspension soon became a development partner of BMW Motorrad A.G. with an official supplier number to work on future suspension solutions, a partnership that continues to this day. At this time the first engineering projects for Tenneco Monroe (for the Marzocchi brand, Tenneco now owns Ohlins) started. During this first year we developed shock absorbers for use in motorbikes and snowmobiles. Our first racing shock absorbers were used in harsh snowcross applications as the supplier of the Totaltek Ky brand.
In 2011, TracTive Suspension performed its first adventure endurance and ride-work tests in Africa with Touratech GmbH. This was additionally the year in which Tractive became the official Touratech Suspension supplier and was awarded the "Innovation Award 2011" for their "innovating research at the frontiers of science and technology." We also obtained the ISO9001:2008 certification. This is a prerequisite for development work for OEM like BMW and BRP. From the start, automotive quality elements like FMEA and PPAP were integrated in the Quality system. In 2012 TracTive got awarded its first patent (for the DDA valve). Additionally TracTive received the German Road approval, generally known as the “TUV”, but officially named the ABE for the Touratech Suspension motorbike absorbers. The cartridges would follow later. In the same year, TracTive Suspension became the first electronic shock absorber manufacturer to weather the gruelling conditions encountered by the snowmobiles at Lynx, Europe's snowmobile manufacturer in Rovaniemi, Finland. From 2013 onwards snowmobiles from BRP Lynx came equipped with TracTive Suspension Electronic Preload Adjusters. This was followed by Electronic Dampers and EPA systems in 2014.
Also in 2014, TracTive became the supplier of 949 Racing's private label Xida Gen2 dampers. 2014 also marked the year where DSC Sport and TracTive Suspension bundled their forces to manufacture many Plug and Play solutions for performance cars. This combined DSC Sport free-programmable suspension control units with TracTive Suspension DDA Valve equipped dampers. All described above lead the way for TracTive receiving the 2014 Rabobank Entrepreneur award. In 2014 TracTive additionally made the first electronic suspension systems for new vehicles for Canadian Bombardier Recreational Products BRP. They were developed with our electronic technologies inside the existing OE shocks. This has finally led to the production of valves for the suspension supplier of BRP. In the same year, TracTive started supplying the UK motorbike company CCM for the GP450. This cooperation lasted for different models until 2017. CCM was the first OE motorbike customer that trusted its suspension to TracTive Suspension (note one generation ago CCM was the first OE motorbike manufacturer trusting its suspension to WP suspension).
In 2016, TracTive introduced ActiveAir as an option for the Morelo motorhomes in cooperation with VB Airsuspension B.V. This was later continued for other brands and aftermarket. Combining VB Full Air ensures improved comfort, safety and cornering stability.
In 2017, the collaboration between the famous chassis expert Dallara and TracTive Suspension took shape in form of the Dallara Stradale, a formidable road-track car using all the Dallara knowhow. Dallara became Tractive's first OE customer for cars with both non-adjustable and three-way-adjustable dampers. The latter also possess electronic road/track-height adjustment.
January 2018 the subsidiary company Tractive DDA B.V. is founded to focus on large scale production of the DDA valve. During 2018 the production lines with a nominal capacity of 200.000 pcs annually have been audited and released by OEM BMW and BRP and respectively by 1st Tier VRM (known under the brand name Marzocchi) and Fox. Since 2018, the DDA Valve is produced to be used in the shock absorbers and front forks of the S1000RR, the famous BMW superbike top model.
In 2018, the first World Time Attack win was made by the RP968 with driver Barton Mawer. TTSuspension Australia (Dijon at TT Suspension in Prospect Sydney) was closely involved in getting the TracTive Suspension semi-active dampers working at optimal capacity to achieve the fastest possible laptime. Later, in 2019, the RP968 again with driver Barton Mawer won for the second year in a row and set an even faster lap. At around the same time in 2019 RUF GmbH decided to use TracTive Suspension for the RUF Anniversary CTR4.
The roots of Tractive: WP Suspension
The roots of TracTive Suspension can be found long before its actual establishment at WP Suspension in The Netherlands. In 1977, WP Suspension was founded by Wim Peters. Peters is an enthusiastic racer and, as a mechanical engineer, was always working on his motorbike's suspension. He sustained a heavy fall in 1975, and had to spend more than a year recuperating. This gave him plenty of time to work out his vision of suspension on off-road motors. He developed his own suspension and even designed his own spiral springs from special spring steel. These bare-metal springs had to be provided with a layer of lacquer. For this, Wim Peters looked to a close-by company that lacquered hospital beds. They could arrange the lacquering for a friendly price, but only had the colour white in stock. WP Suspension's well-known white colour originated here.
Peters' suspension worked so spectacularly well that his fellow-crossers soon wanted a similar suspension on their motorbikes. On this popularity the company “White Power Suspension” was founded in 1977, named for the shocks' characteristic white colour on the springs.
WP Suspension was off to a flying start, as Dutch racers were celebrating huge successes in these years. Men like Gerrit Wolsink (“The Flying Dentist”), Kees van der Ven, Dave Strijbos and John van den Berk hauled in one title after another with WP Suspension on their bikes.
WP Suspension’s big breakthrough arrived in 1983. KTM came knocking. From 1983 onwards, WP Suspension shocks became the standard suspension in KTM's off-road bikes. In that same year WP was the first company in the world to present the upside-down front fork. Nowadays upside-down forks are almost a standard technology, but in 1983 it was a world novelty. The fork was first mounted on the 500 cc KTM two-stroke. KTM readied 750 of these bikes to be sold in 1984. This amount quickly rose to 1750 bikes in that same year. The bike’s unexpected popularity was influenced more than a little by its fantastic suspension.
In the following years, WP Suspension continued to grow. Its first Motocross World Championship title was won in 1984 (by Heinz Kinigadner on a KTM). More than 200 rider- and team world championships would follow, conquered with WP Suspension.
WP Suspension did not limit itself to off-road motorcycles, and branched out into other divisions. Men like Toni Mand and Valentino Rossi used WP road race suspension.
Sport successes in the eighties solidified its reputation as a company with high-end shock absorbers. The founders of TracTive Suspension started in the eighties in different technical and racing functions and assisted in the growth of WP. WP remained KTM's sole supplier of shock absorbers for off-road vehicles, and started supplying BMW and Husaberg (among others) with a steady stream of high-quality shock absorbers.
The new century brought electronic suspension. WP Suspension was the first motorbike suspension company to introduce electronic suspension in aftermarket (EDSI) and OE (ESAI, ESAII). Serial production of these OE shock absorbers started in 2005. Helas, a couple of years later the parent company decided to move WP Suspension step for step close to the Austrian plant of KTM Motorcycles. In 2010 the future of the Dutch plant of WP Suspenion became more and more clear. Some of the core R&D engineers and managers decided to start Tractive Suspension to keep innovative suspension technologies alive in the Netherlands. And the rest is History …