Review: 950SE TracTive Shock by Touratech and Konflict Motorsports

Discussion in 'Dakar champion (950/990)' started by BajaDave, Jun 23, 2014.

  1. BajaDave

    BajaDave Crazy Bastard

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    My good friend and fellow Baja tour guide Dan North recently had new suspension put on his KTM 950 SE. Anyone who knows Dan knows that he takes great pride in having a bike that is customized with purposeful and well thought out upgrades, and doesn't skimp on quality stuff. In fact, he recently converted it to a fuel-injected 990 SE, and I’ll have to say it’s one hell of a well done conversion.

    He said he’d just had his forks re-valved and reworked, and in addition, he had installed on the rear of the hefty Super Enduro one of the brand new Touratech rear suspensions by TracTive. This brand new bit of kit includes separately adjustable low and high speed compression damping, rebound damping, and includes a remotely adjustable hydraulic preload adjuster as well. The work was performed by Alex Martens of Konflict Motorsports in Redmond, who I’m told re-suspended the bike in just a few hours’ time.

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    Dan asked if I’d like to join him on a test ride and help take some videos and pics of the test, and I told him I was in, so long as I can have a go on his big enduro as well and voice my opinion. Dan works with me on our Baja tours, and anything that makes his machine more trail worthy and --most importantly-- safer, is a welcome addition from my point of view. Sometimes we ride naked or very lightly loaded bikes, like on our fully supported tours. But other times, like when updating our Baja California Loop self-guided GPS tour, we carry quite a bit of extra weight in the form of camping gear and extended fuel supplies. A good quality, fully adjustable rear suspension including a remotely adjustable preload knob would be just the perfect upgrade for Dan’s bike that would help make it safer and more fun to ride, and also transition it from one style of ride to another easily.

    We decided to head out to the Tahuya state forest for this first test ride, where for this part of the test we would ride it empty and put the suspension through its paces on some pretty seriously rutted and whooped-out sections of two track and single track trails. For the most part, I would be following along on my YZ as Dan did the majority of the “testing”, while I would follow behind observing it all and grabbing a little video and getting some pics. Being his usual ride, he would be in a much better position than I to say whether this new shock makes a big enough difference to warrant the cost of the upgrade. I’ve ridden his bike a few times, but never really mashed it hard in rough stuff before, normally preferring a dual sport bike in the 650 class myself. Would this new suspension make me rethink that?

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    Right there near the parking area was a short section of moderate whoop-de-doos that we would try out first. Now, the 950 SE is not exactly a light bike, and I didn’t have visions of the big bike blitzing the whoops by any stretch. At least I wouldn’t be. But after seeing Dan plow over them at a good clip several times, he handed it over to me. The first thing I noticed as I rode out a bit and circled around the immediate riding area, before even hitting the first whoop, is that the suspension at both ends of the bike soaks up every little bump, rock and root on the ground like a sponge. It was buttery smooth over the little stuff, and I couldn’t wait to check it out more on the trails. As for the whoops, not being my own bike, I’m not really used to the handling of a bike this big, so I took a few passes, increasing my speed each time. I have to say, I was surprised by how well it soaked up the bumps, but at this early point I felt the reworked forks were doing a better job at damping the big bumps than the rear shock. No problem, as there was plenty of adjustment on the Touratech unit to work with. But before fiddling with it just for the whoops, we decided to take a trail ride to see how the settings as applied at delivery by Alex would work out.

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    I’m going to leave the rest to Dan to give you the details from his perspective as a long time rider of the 950SE. I’ll chime in as warranted or requested to give my thoughts, but I think Dan’s opinion is the one that most matters and the one that SE riders will most want to hear. I would like to add right now, that the route we ended up taking had a lengthy section of some of the nastiest, deepest, offset whoops I’ve ever ridden a bike over, and wouldn’t probably choose it to ride from a “fun” standpoint again. This prompted us to dial up the low speed compression and rebound several clicks and it made a dramatic improvement.

    I look forward to doing the next test with some gear loaded on the bike as it would be for an unsupported Baja ride and hitting some rough roads and trails, but right now it looks like this Touratech by TracTive unit is going to be up to the task. Stay tuned! And while this is a review of the rear shock, it should be remembered that it has to work in tandem with the forks to tame whatever you throw at the bike, and I have to say that Alex at Konflict Motorsports did a superb job on those. Suffice to say, he will be getting my 690 Enduro R forks to work his magic upon. But for now, I’m gonna pass the keyboard to Dan.

    David
    #1
  2. Dan950ser

    Dan950ser Two Wheeled Addict

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    Let me start out by saying that i have been struggling with the SE suspension for quite awhile and it has been frustrating to say the least. In stock form the forks reflected every sharp rock or bump in the road through the bars. While any high speed g out or cross rut would bottom the rear or send the backend sky high. I had a shop, which will remain nameless in this thread, revalve my suspension which helped on the sharp edges and small bumps but made the airs and hard hits even worse. So I was getting quite fed up with it at this point. In comes Alex from Konflict who, in calibration with TracTive and Touratech, is releasing the all new shock. Alex contacted me, knowing my frustration through previous conversations, and asked me to demo the rear shock and write a non-biased opinion on my experience. He would also work his magic on my forks for a complete new setup. Well, needless to say I jumped on the opportunity and headed to his shop, where in a matter of three hours my forks were resprung/revalved and the new shock was mounted up. Even on the slab ride home, I could instantly tell the difference in the plushness in the first part of the stroke.
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    As stated by Baja Dave, we started our testing at Tahuya on a nice little whoop section right out of the staging area. Before, on even these moderate whoops, my bike would've bottomed and thrashed all over the place. This was my first place to try and push this new setup and the difference in its ability to handle the whoops at speed was dramatic! The forks right out the box were perfect, but the rear shock did seem to spring back quite a bit, but I decided to head out to the trails for more testing before adjusting anything. Dave and I started on some two tracks which had two foot holes on either side for a section that seemed like it went on forever. Cycling the bikes suspension at this lower rate of speed, we decided to give it some clicks on the low speed and rebound. After a few more trial runs we ended up with four additional clicks on low speed and 8 more clicks on rebound, which made the rear end buttery on the big dig-outs and controlled the rear spring.
    Next we headed out for some true single track and dirt-bike trails. Before, on the tight stuff, the bike would scare me a little bit because if rhythm or balance is lost, dabbing a foot on the beast isn't the most fun thing even being 6'1". Now that feeling had completely left me and the setup had given me new confidence! The bike felt light and nimble like a smaller bike and I found myself carrying more speed through the trails than I ever had before. I found myself hitting big roots and rocks protruding from the trail on purpose just to try and find a flaw in the setup. It was like a whole new bike, and I already started to think how my 300 might be jealous at home in the shop, knowing that it might not be used quite as much anymore. I let Dave get on the bike and give it a try, as I wanted a second opinion. He was impressed with how the big girl acted, and we preceded to a creek crossing some miles up the trail for a photo op.
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    After this we looped back to the truck for some grub. When we got back to the staging area we each took another few runs at the whoops with the new settings. We both decided to crank up the remote preload adjuster, and ended up going 15 clicks more just to see how it acted with a lot of preload. It was time to head over to some bigger whoops and try and air the bike out to see how it handled it. When I was talking to Alex while setting up the bike, he told me to purposely beat the hell out of the shock, so I thought I'd comply. We started running the 990 through a section of large whoops repeatedly to try and bottom the unit and heat it up to where it would start to fatigue like the sorry excuse of a stock rear shock.
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    Well, I have to admit that the new suspension just ate it up for Dave and I, even at lower speeds where airing out the bike and landing flat it just soaked it up. There were a couple times my riding wasn't the greatest and I ended up riding the front wheel and it responded perfectly, saving my arse.
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    In conclusion, the bike was a whole new beast! It was confidence inspiring, and just felt safer and more fun everywhere. As Dave mentioned this was the bike in its naked setup, so to speak, and it thrived. My ending settings for this testing on the shock were 27 clicks on preload, 3 clicks on HS compression (which I will play with more when doing some Baja style high speed testing), 17 clicks on LS compression, and 12 clicks on rebound. All these were starting from full soft, and as mentioned earlier, Alex's work on the forks was magic right out of the gate and I haven't touched them so far. I will be testing the bike in the future, loaded up with all my camping gear and tools/spares. I will report back as soon as we make that journey. If you have any questions feel free to ask! I would like to thank Alex at Konflict Motorsports for making a great product and allowing me to be the guinea pig.
    #2
    dooby and Corsica101 like this.
  3. johnno950

    johnno950 Long timer

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    Terrific info/report gents,sort of looking for a upgrade for the suspension on my se in future.
    #3
  4. SpeedyR

    SpeedyR SE in the SE

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    any rough idea of costs? I love me some Ohlins but at the prices it'll be a while before I can afford that bling. I've got SPS that was on my SE when I bought it but riding harder and racing hare scrambles really brings out the limitations of the suspension of the SE.
    #4
  5. Dan950ser

    Dan950ser Two Wheeled Addict

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    The cost is $1795 I believe. Which is about $600 cheaper than an ohlins setup.
    #5
  6. pfdskipper

    pfdskipper Westside Trash Supporter

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    Nice write up and review of the new suspension. This sounds very interesting and I will be watching this as things go forward.

    I would be interested to hear some other SE pilots thoughts about the new product as well. Perhaps Konflict will do a road tour to the Southwest, land of many an SE ? Plenty of SE's down here to test this out. Maybe a head to head shoot-out with "other" set-ups known to wonder the deserts could be arranged?

    I had been contacted and asked to demo the new shock and was awaiting further news. Never heard back after my reply to the initial correspondence. :dunno

    I'm still willing :ear
    #6
  7. oldfuddy

    oldfuddy Long timer

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    i'm in :lurk
    #7
  8. Misery Goat

    Misery Goat Positating the negative Super Moderator

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    +1

    I have a new to me SE that has a rear shock that is still OEM and it just sucks..Not sure which way I'm going yet. I need to do something soon as it's not even fun to ride right now. :cry
    #8
  9. Dan950ser

    Dan950ser Two Wheeled Addict

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    Well sounds to me like one of these units needs to make it down to the southwest. Hopefully someone else can add to or do there own review to give even more feedback. I am going to go put the shock through the paces tomorrow for a second test.
    #9
  10. Konflict Motorsports

    Konflict Motorsports TUNER Supporter

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    Dave and Dan,
    Thank you for the input and review of our products and services, glad to hear you were able to go out and put the suspension through its paces in a variety of terrain, obstacles, as well as speeds.
    We are pretty familiar with Tahuya as its been one of our many testing grounds in the development of those settings, looks like you found some of the chopped up beat up sections.
    Looking forward to hear further review after your testing this week, make sure to push the limits, and put the suspension through its paces. :clap
    #10
    dooby likes this.
  11. Konflict Motorsports

    Konflict Motorsports TUNER Supporter

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    Thank you for asking! The rear shock comes in at $1795.00, the fork service Dan received was the KM2 fork revalve and proper springs for his weight.
    The KM2 package has a number of internal modifications above and beyond a standard shim shuffle, its been in development specifically for the bigger KTM's for well over a year and a half with testing done weekly.
    Feel free to ask any questions you might have.
    #11
  12. Konflict Motorsports

    Konflict Motorsports TUNER Supporter

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    We will be attending the KTM Adventure Rally in Taos this September on our way to the Baja Rally in Ensenada, we will have a handful of these there with us.
    It'd be great to organize a nice ride in the SW when we are passing through as well, love exploring and riding new area's! Maybe we could arrange something?
    #12
  13. pfdskipper

    pfdskipper Westside Trash Supporter

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    Absolutely.

    As your trip nears , and/or when you have some firm dates for your visit let us know. I'd be willing to help with mustering the locals for a "spirited ride". I'm sure there are some SE owners here who would like to check out your products first hand.
    #13
  14. Konflict Motorsports

    Konflict Motorsports TUNER Supporter

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    Sound great, will have a number of guys with us looking to ride anywhere we end up, will be on the road for over 3 weeks riding and working events.
    Looking forward to this, thanks!
    #14
  15. oldfuddy

    oldfuddy Long timer

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    Aug/Sept timeframe is good in the SW… still a little warm for some… but monsoons will have brought life to the Desert and traction will be at least "better" and dust a little lower than the months leading up to the monsoon season which is about ready to kick off any day now. If it rains the day of or the night prior to a ride…that's a bonus out here.
    #15
  16. armourbl

    armourbl Adventure Life

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    I don't have an SE, but I'd still be curious to see the video that was taken of the test.

    ben
    #16
  17. Konflict Motorsports

    Konflict Motorsports TUNER Supporter

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    There's nothing better than a loamy wet dirt day in the desert, I miss that a lot coming to the PNW from So-Cal. Crossing my fingers!
    #17
  18. Dan950ser

    Dan950ser Two Wheeled Addict

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    I'll try and get some more video today as well as edit some to post.
    #18
  19. JRod152

    JRod152 will work for tires

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    Likin' the feedback! I'm watching this closely.

    Any hints on the long travel option? 280mm?
    #19
  20. BajaDave

    BajaDave Crazy Bastard

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    Dan and I went out this last Wednesday to Capitol forest to try out the suspension with some weight on it. I didn't ride it as much this time, except for one gnarly last section just before the summit. I followed Dan on the YZ again, staying close enough behind to get some video but just far back enough to avoid a face full of roost. I was mostly successful.:lol3

    I put a short YouTube clip together that's at the bottom of this post.

    Anyhow, while I don't think it was as loaded as it would be for a week long Baja camping trip, he did manage to get some weight on it in his saddlebags, including a healthy load of ice and refreshments in one side!:1drink Somewhere in there is half a deep dish pizza, too!
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    I can tell you that from my perspective behind him on the trails, neither he nor the bike seemed burdened by the extra gear and weight, and in fact it appeared as though Dan was actually having a great time riding the loaded bike up the single track toward Capitol peak! While we didn't take the roughest route up, I've ridden with plenty of guys on 250s that didn't move at as good a clip as we were doing.

    The final ascent to the summit is on really nasty two track (actually there are no tracks, it's just wide). When we got to that point, I was really glad that I was the one riding the YZ250. If you've ever ridden up that bit on anything other than a dirt bike, you'll know what I'm talking about. But halfway up, Dan decided that I should get in on some of the fun as well. Oh my. If I could just get some forward momentum going, I figured I had a chance to make it to the top without destroying myself or Dan's bike. If anything, I think my apprehension about not having much saddle time (read: experience) on his big bike before trying this level of trail was the biggest detriment to me just rolling on more throttle and shooting straight up the trail. Had I been confident enough to do so, I think the suspension would have rewarded me with a triumphant wiz to the summit. But instead, I initiated a steady but medium-slow forward speed up the rocky route that didn't give me enough momentum to make it up and over a couple of the worst sections without coming to a stop and having to put a foot down, followed by getting the bike moving forward once again. But I did make it to the top without scratching his machine, which I don't feel I could have done with the old stock suspension. Or at least I wouldn't have tried to.

    I'll let Dan fill you in with his impressions on how the bike was with extra weight, as other than that last segment, he did all the riding on this day.
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    #20