INSIDE OHLINS – AND THE PROTOTYPE DH FORK
Words/Photos/Video by Steven Jones
With the TTX damper now available in a range of sizes for most bikes, Dirt gets an exclusive tour of the one of the most prodigious damping specialists on two wheels.
Put yourself in Swedish shoes. When you stop and think, ninety percent of Moto GP riders are using your product then you must be doing something right. Add to that most of those racers are paying to get your parts on their bikes then that something must be pretty special indeed.
Before heading out to Sweden to take an exclusive look inside the famous Stockholm R&D department and mountainbike production unit I asked several suspension experts from rival brands just how good Ohlins were. The eyes said it all, the desire to be part of the coveted performance of the yellow and gold plain to see. A late afternoon flight took me out of T5 and was soon over some of the country’s 95,000 or more lakes.
Ohlins have been working with Specialized for several years now creating an OE (Original Equipment) damper for their Demo downhill bike, a product raced by the Wallner brothers of Sweden, American’s Brad Benedict and Mitch Ropelato and of course ‘The Kestrel’ Adam Brayton. But it’s a product that has not yet graced the rigs of top ten World Cup downhill bikes, both Gwin and Brosnan are paid by Fox and Rock Shox respectively to run their damping . Given the performance on offer this might seem surprising but their mountainbike model is quite the opposite to Moto GP, one where they have worked from race product, to aftermarket and then on to OE. I pushed them hard on when they were getting a top five racer but I simply got wry smiles.
Walking around its clear they’re not adding oil into their dampers with a can
Inside the plant the cleanliness is startling, it’s bright, with crisp lighting and an upbeat mood. You cannot help but think if the floors are this clean then the dampers will be immaculate examples. But it’s more than this, for the low numbers mean that consistency and precision are utmost. It seems that having been successful at many sports they really are attacking the mountainbike market in some fashion. Their TTX damper, once the preserve for Specialized’s Demo is now becoming available in a great range of sizes for many bikes.
Ohlins genuinely have an incredible product in the TTX, one that is simple to set up, offers great poise, silence and so far we have not had one reliability issue. Most recently we’ve bolted a TTX to a Specialized Enduro the bike being transformed to something with bigger intentions. So much so that the Fox 36 up front (our favourite enduro fork) felt instantly underpowered (almost anxious) compared to the firepower being delivered at the rear.The TTX delivers precision with equally good clarity to set up.
Inside Ohlins I was able to see how these units and others for a range of sports are assembled – the special blends of oil, the dynos, the temperature testing….but I’m guessing you just want to know about that fork don’t you? Well, it’s still in the developmental stage at the moment but seems destined to become available as a top end race product first and foremost. Whether it will become available as standard on a Demo for 2016 we don’t know but it would easily be the item to make the bike trump all others.
FOR AN EVEN CLOSER LOOK INTO OHLINS WATCH OUT THE FEATURE IN DIRT MAGAZINE COMING SOON
DAMPER PRICES – £600 for all coil TTX, £50 for any steel coil spring and £699 for the drop in Fox 40 cartridge.
AVAILABLE AT – WWW.OHLINS.COM TEL: 0208 391 3500