Literbike Lust’s AK-20 fork treatment
Sometimes, you can get so involved in sorting out the issues you’re having with a new bike that you tend to forget about what’s going right. Our Literbike Lust GSXR1000 is a case in point. The unsung hero of this mad experiment has been the set of Traxxion Dynamics AK-20 cartridges that we crammed into our Gixxer’s forks on Day One of the project.
Imagine buying a wrecked bike in auction, travelling halfway across the country, rebuilding the machine on the spot and then taking it immediately to a racetrack. This is exactly what we did last December. We’d won a badly smashed 2008 GSXR1000 in a CrankyApe.com auction and were dying to ride it. The Gixxer was awaiting pickup at the Valdosta, Georgia branch of CrankyApe.com, just a few miles over the border from JenningsGP racetrack, in Florida. Rather than simply pick up our new project and haul it back to the frozen north, why not bring the parts we’d need, thrash the mangled beast back into working order and ride it while we were down there? Hey, we’re nothing if not overly ambitious…
Here at TrackdayMag.com, we’re confirmed suspension junkies. Once consumable items such as tires, brake pads, fluids and such have been attended to, we always consider suspension the first area of the bike to be upgraded. As the departure date for our trip loomed, it occurred to us that we’d been so focused on the repairs this bike would need that we hadn’t given a thought to its handling. At this point, we were running out of time. We needed a fork solution that would ship fast, install fast and work without question. The obvious answer was a set of Traxxion Dynamics AK-20 cartridges. The reason that these are so attractive is that they come fully assembled and are a complete replacement for your stock fork innards. Basically, everything inside your tubes gets tossed; replaced by Traxxion-manufactured components which boast superior fit, finish, materials and engineering to the OEM guts that they replace. This modification could almost be considered a “Stealth Fork Swap.” What you can see is the same but inside the tubes, your forks are 100% new and vastly improved. For the majority of applications, the AK-20 kit costs $999.95 and can easily be “dropped in” by the end user. A few machines (our 07-08 GSXR1000, for example) require that you send your forks in for this procedure. Certain motorcycles require an aftermarket fork cap, which can up the cost by $99.95 to $249.95.
Our Literbike Lust project represents a leap into the unknown for TrackdayMag.com. This insanely powerful motorcycle was selected specifically for use in evaluating the full range of Bazzaz electronics, including auto-tune and traction control. With all that to focus on, we needed to be able to take suspension out of the equation. Twice previously, we’d used Traxxion Dynamics AK-20 cartridge kits to modify our project bikes. Our first experience with the installation of these parts was in Editor Don Cook’s GSXR600. Using a simple, inexpensive collection of tools (See “Go Fork Yourself”) that we’d purchased from Traxxion Dynamics to help with the job and following their provided instructions, we successfully fitted this kit without the help of a suspension professional. It was satisfying to do the work ourselves and the on-track results were very impressive. Next, we opted for another set of AK-20 cartridges in our Red White and Buell racebike; a machine that never missed the podium and won more than 50% of the races in which it was entered. Because we were already completely convinced of this product’s ease of installation and outstanding racetrack performance, the Traxxion Dynamics solution was our obvious choice.
So how did the AK-20 components work on our Thousand? At first, only so-so; although we’ve got no one to blame for that but ourselves. Literbike Lust’s initial build, accomplished in just eight hours right there outside CrankyApe, was a major undertaking. We did this work immediately upon jumping out of a van after a thousand-mile drive, so it’s fair to say that fatigue and the sheer volume of the work load conspired against us. Lots of things about the finished machine weren’t perfect; with the installation and tuning of our cartridge kit falling into that category. It’s very much worth noting that while most machines allow for AK-20s to be easily installed by the purchaser, the 07-08 GSXR1000 application is specifically listed as an in-house install. Because of our time limitations on this trip, sending the forks back to Traxxion Dynamics would have been impossible. While the company’s technicians went out of their way to accommodate us so that we could do the assembly ourselves, there’s no doubt that they’d have been able to do a better job of this trickier-than-average installation in their shop than we could in a parking lot. With the bike spitting fuel-injection fault codes and changing its power delivery like a schizophrenic axe murderer every time it switched into or out of failsafe mode, we had more pressing issues on our minds during that first weekend at JenningsGP than the merely-average performance of our Gixxer’s forks
Back home, we had dyno expert Brian Conley of Valley Racing in Beecher, Illinois, sort out the mistakes we’d made when installing and calibrating the Bazzaz components. We fixed a few other mechanical and ergonomic issues, finally getting the bike to behave in a civilized enough fashion that we had time to even notice the forks. During our second outing at Putnam Park, we rechecked the sag and put a bit more effort into tuning the compression and rebound clickers. In short order, we had a very well behaved motorcycle. This was literally the first time we’d looked at our Gixxer’s suspension since the parking lot in Valdosta, where the components had been ice cold and freshly assembled. With the bike’s more pressing issues resolved, we’d finally taken the time to show our AK-20s some attention and were instantly rewarded with a great-handling set of forks. Several of our editors have ridden the machine since then and the consensus is that the Traxxion Dynamics-equipped forks are very, very good. Bottom line? The performance capability was there all along; we simply hadn’t invested the time required to find it.
Our third experience with Traxxion Dynamics AK-20 cartridge kits has once again shown us that they work beautifully and are simple to install and tune; making them an excellent value for the money and a great choice if you don’t have access to a qualified suspension builder. If there could be such a thing as a “No Brainer” when it comes to high-performance sportbike fork modifications, the AK-20 kit would be it!