Ohlins now offering suspension ECU for the Multistrada S

Team OD Updated: May 01, 2013, 03:35 PM IST
At the EICMA show in Milan last year, Ohlins the suspension star revealed their new line of the active suspension kits. And these were not just OEM items being sold to manufacturers, the plan was to bring them to normal motorcycles as aftermarket parts as well. India is a relatively new motorcycle market so your first question could be, "Why the heck would I want to change my suspension at all?"

The answer is actually quite simple. Replacement suspension could be better for you. It might offer you better ride quality or, a better cornering platform depending on what you are looking for. Making a production motorcycle is a balancing game between regulatory requirements and between the requirements of a wide spread of users. For example, the same setting is intended for use by a rider weighing 110kg or a rider weighing just 55kg. Both will get an experience that works, but both will get less than the best possible experience because chances are, the design weight of the rider (as in the averaged weight of the rider the motorcycle was designed for) may be, say, 65kg. The way to get the best experience is aftermarket suspension - whether you change just the spring, just the damper, just the shims or the whole unit.

Suspension replacement can also help when you want to focus the role of the motorcycle. For instance, the Yamaha YZF-R15 is a delightful sportsbike but even a moderately quick racer will tell you that it is too softly sprung for ultimate track performance. That is the compromise that has been made which allows the bike to run respectably fast around a racetrack and still have the ride quality needed to keep street riders happy. Bring in a stiffer setup and you will get a bike that absolutely sings at the track. And that presumes that you will be willing to live with the harshness that will result on the road from the new suspension.

Back to Ohlins then. They have offered a range of replacement suspension for a while, but now Ohlins is getting ready to offer a semi-active suspension control ECU, in this case for the Ducati Multistrada.

What is active and semi-active suspension? Active suspension is the bees knees but extremely hard to implement. What it implies is a system (usually hydraulic or electromagnetic) that is under the control of a computer and which can actively alter the suspension - by loading the spring, changing damper characteristics and so forth. The computer reads data from the vehicle body, from the suspension movement and so forth and alters the suspension to active deliver the 'right' dynamic experience whether it be extreme absorption in an off-road vehicle or a flat attitude for a track-demon.

Semi-active suspension is roughly the same thing but the system can only alter the damping. This might seem restrictive but in practice is a huge asset and also is easier to design and manufacture and simpler to fix if it malfunctions compared to active suspension. The two simplest forms are solenoid valve actuated - as in a valve alters the flow of hydraulic fluid inside the damper to alter the damping characteristics, and the valve is operated by a solenoid that the computer controls. The other way, perhaps a little more famous in terms of branding is the Magnetorheological (as in magnetic resistance) suspension where metallic particles in the damping fluid react to changes in electromagnetic fields to alter the viscosity of the fluid leading to a change in damping character. The electromagnetic field is controlled by the computer.

In the case of the Multistrada S Ohlins is offering a new SCU (Suspension Control Unit) that will plug in and replace the current ECU under the seat. The S already has electronically adjustable suspension, but the ECU upgrade - derived from Ohlins' World Superbike programme - will upgrade that to semi-active suspension. The SCU is designed to work with the usual selection of modes. The selection of the modes will cause the SCU to automatically select the best settings for that mode. Ohlins also says that the SCU more or less double the suspensions adjustment range of the OEM items. The SCU is expected to cost around Euro 300.

Price (Ex-Delhi)
Starts Rs 20,39,233
Max Power(ps)
Max Torque(Nm)

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