Fox Racing Shox have made an exclusive arrangement to use the gold-coloured Kashima Coat developed by the Miyaki Company of Japan on their forks.
The coating, which will make its consumer debut on Fox's 2011 aftermarket suspension line, has been used for years in the motorcycle and automotive industries, in suspension components and clutch and valve train assemblies, because of its low-friction and ultra-wear-resistance properties.
In the Kashima Coat process, lubricating molybdenum disulfide is deposited, via electrical induction, into the billions of micro-pores on the surface of hard-anodised aluminium.
This reduces friction when applied to fork stanchions and gives lightweight aluminium components a level of hardness and abrasion resistance four times tougher than standard hard-anodised aluminium.
Select Fox sponsored athletes tested and raced on suspension treated with Kashima Coat during 2009, including 2008 downhill world champion Gee Atherton and reigning four-cross world champion Jared Graves.
“Before we started using Kashima Coat, we’d been testing and racing on electrolysis nickel coated upper tubes during the past two seasons,” said Fox's mountain bike race manager, Mark Fitzsimmons. “Although the friction properties were decent, the nickel’s durability was not.
"The Kashima parts we raced maintained the low friction requirements we were after and exhibited excellent durability – a very rare combination to find at the World Cup level with its wet and muddy conditions.”
Beyond the obvious benefit of added durability, the significant decrease in friction provided a tangible increase in suspension performance. Athletes who tested and raced with the coated suspension reported an improved overall consistency and feel.
“When you're racing on the World Cup level, a huge percentage of races can be won or lost in the preparation of the bike – the seemingly small details that take the bike from good to excellent,” said Atherton.
“The Kashima coating made the forks so much more reactive to the small hits that I would normally feel on rough terrain. When the forks were skittering over tiny bumps they could soak up the impact much more quickly, without giving me so much feedback through the bars. That’s a huge advantage on long courses.”
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