2016 WP AER 48 Fork, Cone Valve Fork, and Trax Shock Press Introduction

WP Suspension On Japanese Bikes As Well?

WP Suspension is known for coming stock on KTM's for many years, but did you know that some European factory motocross race teams use WP A-kit suspension on their Japanese race bikes? Have you checked out the WP air fork that KTM/BTOSPORTS.com Andrew Short has been running on his race bike all throughout the 2015 season? WP invited us out to Pala Raceway to try their 2016 lineup of suspension that includes the new AER 48mm air fork, cone valve fork, and trax shock. WP had a 2016 Honda CRF450R, 2016 Kawasaki KX450F, 2016 Husqvarna FC 450, and a 2016 KTM 250 SX-F on hand to put the new suspenders to the test. After a day of testing we wanted to give you a quick first impression of what we thought of the new 2016 WP lineup. Look for more of in depth test of the WP cone valve fork and trax shock on the Honda CRF450R in an upcoming DR Tested. All of these 2016 WP products can be purchased at an authorized WP dealer and online at wpnorthamerica.com.

Photo by Sean Klinger
Photo by Sean Klinger

2016 Honda CRF450R:

The Honda comes standard with KYB suspension and doesn’t have tons of comfort in stock form. We rode the stock suspension first then switched to the WP cone valve fork and Trax shock after lunch. The stock KYB PSF 2 fork is harsh through the mid stroke and the shock is soft on high-speed compression (jump faces). With the WP cone valve fork and Trax shock installed the Honda became a different machine. The cone valve fork gave us increased comfort through the stroke and also gained front-end traction. Damping feeling was excellent and though the track didn’t get terribly rough, through braking bumps that were on the track, the fork felt more forgiving through the handlebars with the cone valve fork. The Trax shock was also a noticeable improvement to the rear end. Increased traction coming out of choppy corners and hitting steep jump faces the rear end didn’t blow through the stroke. The CRF450 is not the most stable machine at speeds, but with the WP suspension installed less twitchiness was felt on fast sections of the track.

Photo by Sean Klinger

2016 Kawasaki KX450F:

The Kawasaki comes standard with Showa suspension and is equipped with the SFF TAC air fork that is somewhat finicky to set up. It is the only air fork that we had bottom out on jump landings. It has more comfort through the mid stroke than the Honda fork, but blows through its end stroke too easily (even when air is added). The shock, though somewhat soft, has comfort when the track gets rough. After riding the stock Showa suspension the WP cone valve and Trax shock was installed. Although we felt a small difference in comfort in the front end it wasn’t as drastic of a difference as we felt on the Honda. The WP cone valve fork had more control at the beginning of the stroke and on de-cel. However not much was difference was noticed to the rear of the green machine on our first day of testing.

Photo by Sean Klinger
Photo by Sean Klinger

2016 Husqvarna FC450:

The WP suspension that comes standard on the Husky is somewhat soft and mushy. The 4CS fork will blow through the stroke and has very little damping control when the track gets rough. The shock is also too soft for anyone faster than intermediate speed. The AER 48mm air fork was installed on this model along with a trax shock and immediately we could tell a huge difference in control and action. When you ride KYB and Showa air forks you immediately notice how harsh the beginning of the stroke is on acceleration. When the WP AER fork is light in its stroke, it is very supple and has more movement than any other air fork on the market. In fact the whole fork moves more freely in the stroke than other air forks. It has a different feel to it when landing off jumps and on de-cel. The fork is somewhat soft feeling (like the 4CS) but has more front-end traction and increased bottoming resistance. Mid stroke comfort is similar to a spring fork and doesn’t have that mid-stroke harsh “air” feeling. It is a definite better fork than the current 4CS version that comes on the current Husky FC450. Out back the Trax shock has great damping feel and the rear of the bike has less side-to-side movement (under roll on throttle) than the standard WP shock.

Photo by Sean Klinger
Photo by Sean Klinger

2016 KTM 250 SX-F:

The cone valve and Trax shock was put on the little orange screamer and it quickly became our favorite set up of the day. The 250 SX-F had a dead feeling over braking bumps and always felt planted to the ground. The steering felt slightly heavier on initial lean into corners, but once we loosened the steering head up a little we had no issues with lean angles. The cone valve fork was extremely plush on small bumps and took bigger slap down hits much better than the standard 4CS. Plenty of damping was available in the fork, so you could get more aggressive and ride over the front of the bike. The trax shock gave the rear of the machine a firm feeling, but it wasn’t so firm that it beat you up around the track. “Balanced” is a great word to describe both ends of the KTM 250 SX-F (with the cone valve fork and Trax shock) that we tried.

Cutaway of the airside of the WP AER 48mm air fork.Photo by Sean Klinger
Cutaway of the damping side of the WP AER 48mm air fork.

The cone valve fork and Trax shock is basically WP's A-kit option for the consumer. Yes it is expensive, but if you are in the market for close-to-factory level suspension, it is considerably less money than the Showa A-kits that are available for the same machines. The cone valve fork costs $3150.00 (not including springs) and the Trax shock is $2200.00 (not including spring). Both are available for the current Honda, Kawasaki, Husqvarna, KTM, and Suzuki models. The AER 48mm air fork is available for all current KTM and Husqvarna motocross and off-road models and will run you $1999.00. We look forward to putting more time on the cone valve fork and Trax shock on our 2016 Honda CRF450R test bike in the upcoming weeks. Be on the look out for a further test review in the pages of Dirt Rider Magazine.