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Noah Kepple Team Husqvarna. My perspective.

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As many of you know local rider Noah Kepple has been picked up by Husqvarna. He is contracted to race the 450FX in the 2019 Worcs series in the Pro 2 class starting this weekend and the 350FX in the 2019 Endurocross series. This is where the rubber hits the road and is a wonderful opportunity for Noah. First shot with one of the big manufacturers. This Sunday bout 11:30 will be his first race State Line Nevada.

We excitedly received the Husky's about three or four weeks ago and have been rolling through many variations of new to us suspension, under the gun to get a set up that works. Oops pun.

Anyhow the bike comes with the Aer WP air fork and the 50mm linkage rear shock. We also had a couple Trax shocks to test. After some testing we ended up converting the Aer to a WP spring conversion provided by Husky. We then installed valving quite similar to the Cone Valve forks and took it a step further with a new design we have been working on for about a 6 months. It was simply mush, so we did it again, mush and again, and again, and yes again.

Shock; Threw a re-valve at it and gave it a go. Showed promise but needed work. Threw on one of the Trax shocks and found it really far off. Tested for the heck of it a couple of the other team bikes with the Trax and even further off. Hmm the clock is ticking. ūüė≥ Noah decides to stick with the Oem shock so we go after it. Updated re-valve on two shocks, we install a bladder in one shock and keep the plastic reservoir piston in the other shock. Identical valving in both shocks. The reason we wanted to try the bladder is to see if they really have better compliance in initial hits and the added advantage of a measured 72cc's of additional shock fluid. The shock is getting very hot so more oil is more better.

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I have never tried to sell bladders as I never had a conclusive test and hearsay is just that. But a couple things have changed. A couple of my customers have had the WP plastic pistons fail and if that happens in a race it is game over. Is the bladder really more compliant? The suspension engineer I have worked with in the past was adamant that there is no difference, I listened. I even made an aluminum reservoir piston or two for the new bikes to alleviate failures for a couple racers.

Well Noah tests and the bladder and was a no brainer. Initial hit compliance is better, the shock has more oil, the plastic piston failure is not in the back of our minds. Bladder wins!

To all my customers that I stated the bladder is not an advantage I stand corrected. Now I am obligated with integrity to sell you bladder kits, while parting you with more of your money, for your own good.ūüėá

Well anyhow the reservoir was an improvement but shock still need work. Noah spent a few days riding with Taylor Robert and I get the call, the suspension is not where it needs to be. So here we are Wednesday before the race and the forks and shock are still not good. Not handling whoops and riding too low in the stroke. I asked point blank is it going to affect your race? Lots of hesitation and finally a no, it will be alright. In other words, it will affect his race, Noah is just being nice. I am up most the night but come up with new stacks. We have been going in the right direction kinda just gotta freeking get there already. So I work late Wed. as I have one last shot at getting Noah a bike that is competitive. Wednesday night I text Noah, I have one last set up for you, forks and shock. Noah goes out to McCains in the rain on Thursday and tests. I am waiting and waiting and at 2:06pm I text him (You try it?)

Response; "The answer is YES for everything. I can go fast on this fork. Could not bottom it out on this deep whooped out track. The shock is MUCH better! Not doing anything weird in really deep whoops. I am omitting much of the detail but he says the forks are going to be killer in the Glen Helen race and it corners like it is on rails. Well that is a HUGE weight off both our shoulders!!!

So this month we learned, tested, sweat, worried, even bled once when I stabbed myself with a dental tool. Ya I know life is hard :)

Worcs will have live timing online this weekend so keep tabs on our local boy. Noah Kepple #636

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FX450, FX350 and #696  BTW. and we need to talk , I'll hit you up soon. 3Brothers/SRT/ Husqvarna Team    5 rider team

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I've got an old bladder story but I think I told you that First year WP PDS 1998 KTM250EXC I had the full boat Ziggy- Factory Connection east coast hard enduro set up. PDS was weird and sometimes scary. The FC bladder kit along with better valve oil control changed the entire feel of the thing to a rock eating, great traction under power and great feel all around. Oh and that WP 50mm conventional fork was a good one once dialed in.

 I did a bladder Kit on 2004 TC450 Husky..(Sachs).but I don't think anything could make that bike really good.....sorry Varese it was a sort of lemon machine.

Have not had one since, best enduro suspension to date I think is still my KYB equipped 2011 TE310 (Black Head) fully race kitted (Race Tech/ZipTy Racing) with no bladder.

Yes we need to talk, my back is now ruined ( since Oct 2018) so I need to rethink my ergos and how to get back on the bike with a smooth groove more sedate set up once my discs calm down.

PS Gio smoked me in Tecate, I knew once he got the hang of the single track.......small excuse I was on the pain downfall not on my 100% game. I'll be baaack.

Let me know if I sidetracked this thread too much

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Robert I heard you got held up big at the Tecate enduro in a couple bottle necks. Your a hell of a rider But look at Gio now, he is pretty lean and peaking at 50 something.

Same race, Noah was in the lead by a minute and breaks a chain. Came up with Husky guys and they want riveted chains only.

Now that is what I call throwing a thread!

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Thread shifter.....I agree about the riveted chains for pro team guys. and here is our local hero 696 and all his faster than all of us team mates. Huskys are just some great looking machines. Nice white fork tubes on the 696 machine. Remind me I have a question for you. As for IDs I only know 696 Noah and 46 Dalton Shirey

 

 

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Update

The Worcs race at Buffalo Bills state line was a ruff one. Noah came into the pits 4th place Pro II class. The track got so rough the braking bumps were the size of supercross whoops. Noah was pretty beat up after this race. Rough track yes but the real reason was the suspension was not working well. Ended up 10th place in class.

Got into the suspension and found I made mistakes in the design. The ics spring was binding, and this was masking valving issues we did not even know we had.

We started testing again pretty much immediately and after fixing my ICS screw up the forks were mush yet again. After several rounds and days, Noah texts me and he was really frustrated. He did not know what to do. I have a dozen or more design ideas and directions in mind but time is again not on our side. While this was going on we needed a back up fork to use just in case.

Talked to WP and they stated that they have done no testing and therefore have no valving tips on the air fork with the their spring conversion. Really! it is a WP spring conversion. They said we should run the air fork. Priorities are priorities.

Well we have the fork getting close as of today. It is actually a bit too stiff so the hard part is done. So the one fork without the fork spring has 7 springs inside of it including the reb adjuster and top out springs. It is a concoction it is. Glen Helen this weekend for a 2hr mud fest. This should be interesting!  Good luck to ya Noah lets hope you can build on last weeks 10th place.

Dont know if I am boring you all. If so, no worries say the word and I will curb it.

Thanks, George

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I like the reports, as well as how you are working through this.  Sounds like you are close!

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I've been a "bladder" fan ever since i owned my first (and only) KTM.  put one in the Sachs shock on my old TE 450 also.  Will eventually put one on my new 501.

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Uncle Champ that is how I look at it. I learn every single day, and that is the fun part. I study at least a couple nights a week. What can get hard is when you have a guy like Noah counting on you and I will do anything not to let him down. We started a very different valving design last year and although once dialed it is better than anything Noah has ever ridden, it is about getting the proper set up for each type of fork. The last two years we started with WP closed chambers, then hit a home run with the open chambers. Then GasGas came along and it was Marzocchi closed chamber, that one was dialed in a week. Got lucky. Then the KYB SSS forks and already had a handle on those although we always improve with Noah's feedback. Now the AER. All through this we had no idea the WP cone valve fork has some distinct similarities to our old design and we are now taking that one to the next level.

I love this job!

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AER48!!! fill them with Helium and make them even lighter!!! They are very noticeably lighter than spring forks at near  4 lbs (2 per leg) Or at least use a nitrogen fill system to limit the pump up effect. I don't have that exact formula but it's a sort of temp feel ride type thing. For me ultimately I want near 10 bar-9.9 is good too, so it starts at @ 9.6 in the cold, but if its a more technical slow ride up from that....., in the heat its close so @ 9.9 .  The fork is brilliant but that air heat expansion thing is the biggest negative for tuning. It helps when they warm up to hit the open section bleeders, but you still have to respect the pressure rise in the closed section. But this is more for the folks here you and I have talked about this. for the pro the bottoming resistance is primo like the big air pillow that it is, with a great ramp up/rising rate as the pressure builds under compression.

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Just now gave them a set for Glen Helen. One race tomorrow and the big one on Sunday.

Noah has food poisoning. Laid up in bed.

I was afraid to  lighten the forks too much because I did not want to take it too far as it is race time. Almost a good thing it is a mud race as the suspension means less. After the weekend we can start really honing them in. We are looking for butter on top and massive bottoming resistance. That's all.

Robertaccio,

I do not think he will run the air fork. He wants consistency. As we talked about before we need a regulator to keep the fork on target. But that is quite involved and likely need an ecu to get it done. With that I think the fork would be here to stay.

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Qualifier race today at the Glen, Noah was not at his peak but made the race. Skipped practice altogether and got all the rest possible. 

Start of the race around the first turn Noah is 4th from last place. Worked his way up to 7th by the end of the hour. The suspension did not hold him back at all. Hate to say it but thank God for mud and we are in the big show tomorrow!

More soon!

 

 

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3rd place.

Congratulations NoahūüĎć

Came in right behind Andrew Short of MX fame.

Passed quite a number of riders to get to 3rd and ran down 2nd place to the tune of over a minute faster lap time, but lappers prevailed.  Proud of him!

We have some time before Lake Havasu race to get things sorted and come out swinging for the championship.

By the way he does not know I am spilling all this info, shhhhhhh.

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lake havasu….sand whoops for days,,,,loose sandy stuff for miles and wet sandy stuff to destroy all surfaces and bearings on your bike....its a bad one for private guys.

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