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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
A couple of months ago Dan from Traxxion Dynamics offered a half-off deal on his company’s FZ-09 AK-20 cartridge fork kit to a few people on this site—provided they write a review and post it on fz09.org. I jumped at the chance, since I’m pretty unimpressed with the stock suspension (which I knew about before I bought the bike). I know a lot of 09 riders are fine with the stock suspension, which is OK. But for those who have a problem with it, it’s a source of daily annoyance on an otherwise great bike. I’ve put several rides on the reworked fork and it makes a pretty amazing difference. But first, some specs:

My Specs:
195 lbs. without gear
Type of riding: Quick but sane canyon riding all around the Malibu Mountains of Southern California
Experience level: 38 years of street riding, starting with about 5 years of roadracing (AMA Pro for one season!) and 9 years of streetbike testing for Motorcyclist magazine

My Bike:
Red FZ-09
Recent Dunlop Q-3 tires
Braided stainless front brake lines
HH front brake pads
Stoltec ECU reflash (worth it!)
Ermax low windscreen
Graves tail tidy
Stock rear shock (a Penske double-clicker is on order)

I wanted to make sure that the fork work was done correctly, so I took my forks off the bike and shipped them to Traxxion, so they could do the installation. In hindsight, it would have been smarter to have them ship me the kit and then get the kit installed locally. Shipping the entire fork was expensive with adequate insurance. Plus, the forks are hard to pack securely, and the total turnaround time with round trip shipping is pretty long. Traxxion did the work pretty promptly once they had the forks, though. BTW, you’re going to need a HUGE allen wrench to remove and replace the front axle on the FZ, so you might want to plan ahead. Even my local Sears didn’t carry one big enough.

Since most of the magic happens inside the forks, they look the same externally, except for tasteful AK-20 stickers and some nicely finished fork caps. The caps are taller than the stock caps, but clear the handlebars easily and don’t interfere with anything on the bike in stock form. The left fork cap has a silver allen hex that lets you adjust the low-speed compression damping. The right cap has a red hex allen that controls rebound. Bigger hex allens in both fork caps control preload.

Traxxion sets up the forks for your weight and riding style, complete with new springs, oil, oil level setting and all damping and preload settings. They include a sheet that shows all the custom specs for you, so if you get carried away with the adjustments, you can always return to the original settings.

As delivered, the Traxxion front end feels completely different than stock. It feels totally controlled, with much less dive under braking than the stock fork has. The new spring rate and preload feels really close to ideal for me. It’s quite a bit firmer than stock, which really reduces the front end dive, yet it’s running less preload, so it still responds really well to the little bumps. The suspension sag seems just about ideal. I haven’t changed any preload or damping settings so far, since there’s nothing about the front end that feels like it needs fixing. It just works. That’s pretty cool.

The difference in damping it the best part of the AK-20s. The stock fork is a classic example of cheap, unsophisticated internals. It’s harsh on sharp, sudden bumps, but allows too much floating movement on lower frequency rollers. It’s the worst of all worlds—at least for me. It makes the FZ feel a bit uncoordinated in the turns, with more harshness and imprecision than it should have. The AK-20s are totally different. The ride is much more compliant on sharp small bumps, so they’re not destabilizing. And the front end feels well settled on more rolling bumps. The bike tracks so much better now, and it’s easy to carve the line you want.

The new front end feels so good, it actually makes the stock shock more bearable. But I’ve got a Penske already on order, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the complete suspension re-work pans out.

There are starting to be more choices for how to fix the front end on the FZ. I haven’t ridden on the others, but the Traxxion AK-20s definitely are a huge improvement.

---Jeff
 

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I would love to get a set....I'm waiting for another 50% off....:)
 

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Thanks for the report. Glad to hear you like it. I, have the AKs & Penske double clicker on order from Dan. Can't wait for the improvement over stock.
 

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Good review. So what would the price be for us less fortunate fz-09 owners?
 

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I believe full retail is about $1000 for the ak20s but traxxion has special deals quite often so check with them directly.
 
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