Over the years, I’ve had a lot of amateur families ask me what modifications they should make to their kids’ bikes? Unfortunately, at the moment this sport costs an enormous amount of money so you definitely need to spend your money wisely. While some might opt for costly engine mods or even fancy graphics, both of which are never a bad idea, my answer is plain and simple, if you can, spend your money on suspension. Getting the best suspension possible on your bike is the best and easiest way to modify a modern-day dirt bike. Today’s dirt bikes are already very fast, and most come stock with quality components. Even when the bike comes out of its crate the suspension is better than it has ever been. However, as a rider’s speed gets higher and the demands of their bikes become greater, the entire suspension package will need to be upgraded and more importantly, catered to the rider’s weight, style and skill. Basically, the suspension settings that work for one rider may not work for the other. This is why you need to find the best upgrade to your suspension that you’re able to afford. This will not only drop your lap times but it will make your bike handle better, and most importantly, make it as safe to ride as possible.
There are many different suspension companies that do great work that can provide you with what you need. Recently, on a trip to the Anaheim SX, I was invited out to Murrieta, CA to visit the fine people at WP Suspension. For those of you who don’t know, WP Suspension is located in one of the coolest cul-de-sacs in North America as their office sits just a few doors down from Husqvarna Motorcycles USA and KTM USA. With all three housing not just their office space but also their factory team race shops, it’s not uncommon to see Jason Anderson, Marvin Musquin or some other famous motocross industry face at the shop. On the day I was there, Jess Pettis rolled up to WP to pick up a set of suspension, and retired factory rider Casey Lytle was out jogging. If you ever travel to California and want to run into a motocross celebrity, this street in Murrieta is the place to be.
Once inside the WP Suspension offices I was greeted by their friendly gentleman in charge of Sales and Marketing, Joey Mashchak. While I was at WP, Joey was my tour guide who walked me through their suspension shop. As you can imagine, from the moment I walked through the door and into the room where most of the suspension work is performed, it was as clean as an operating room, and the sweet smell of fresh suspension oil captured my senses. In the middle of the room were benches where the WP technicians were busy rebuilding suspension for all of the WP Suspension Team, including customers, factory supported riders, as well as suspension for R&D purposes. On the outside walls of the room were all of the testing dynos for both forks and shocks. During the explanation of the workings of each hi-tech dyno, one of the WP technicians came over, introduced himself and asked me how I liked my XACT Pro Forks and Shock last year. Since he has personally done the settings for me, he was curious for some feedback. That conversation really drove home the fact that the people at WP really care about what they’re trying to do, and whether it’s a normal, everyday consumer, or Dean Wilson and Jess Pettis, they want your suspension to be just right. As we continued my tour we ended up in a room where no cameras were allowed. This was of course the room where all of WP’s factory suspension is built and serviced. From the 52mm works forks to the new Trax shock that riders like Marvin Musquin, Cooper Webb, Jason Anderson and Zach Osborne run on their 450s, every item in this room was exotic.
At the end of the tour, we sat down to talk about WP’s new venture into Canada. Since shipping items like suspension and parts cross border is sometimes costly and complicated, WP has started operating in Canada, nested in the KTM Canada Facility in Chambly, QC, in order to serve both English and French Canadian Markets. Also, in British Columbia, Rider’s Edge in Vernon offers WP Suspension Servicing as well as WP Pro Components to their customers. With their proximity to hundreds of miles of off-road riding areas, most of Rider’s Edge customers are off-road and dual-purpose riders. In Calgary, Blackfoot Motosports needs no introduction to the Canadian motocross world as their multiple championships throughout the 2000s were the envy of every team in the paddock. These days, even though Blackfoot Motosports isn’t winning National Motocross Championships anymore, they’re still extremely busy and continue to support a number of riders. Blackfoot Motosports is also a WP Authorized Centre, and just in the last few months alone have been very busy with WP components. To get his thoughts on what it means to carry the WP Suspension flag in Canada, I reached out to Dean Thompson from Blackfoot Motosports in Calgary.
MXP: Hey Dean, it’s nice to catch up with you as it’s definitely been a while. Blackfoot Motosports is one of two WP Authorized Service Centres in Canada; can you talk to us about what exactly that means?
DT: No problem, Chris! This means that we’re able to sell and service WP Suspension instead of a Canadian consumer having to deal with shipping items across the border. Whether a rider wants to purchase a set of WP Pro Component Suspension like XACT Pro Forks and Shock or just get their stock KTM or Husqvarna suspension updated and serviced, they can send it to us here in Calgary.
MXP: I know that the stock WP Suspension like the AER Forks are great and can be catered to any rider quite easily. However, what would a rider be getting if they were to purchase a set of XACT Pro Suspension?
DT: There’s definitely a lot that comes with the WP XACT Pro Suspension like the Cone Valve Forks or Trax Shock. There’s the premium parts and lower tolerances inside the suspension, but also, it’s the amazing adjustability that you now have. For instance, obviously with the WP Trax Shock you get the best of the best. You have access to the same shock and the same settings that Dean Wilson is currently running. Not that you’d need those settings but we have that knowledge base to draw from for everyone. Even with the WP Link Shock we’re getting more adjustability out of it than we ever have on any other brand.
MXP: So, a Canadian consumer can contact Blackfoot and within a short amount of time they could have the same suspension on their bikes that Dean Wilson, Cole Thompson or Jess Pettis has on their bikes?
DT: Exactly! As I said, prior to there being Canadian WP Authorized Centres, we would’ve had to send everything to California, and while that worked, it was time consuming and carried the added cost of doing it that way.
MXP: We know you haven’t been up and running with this side of the business for too long but have you been busy. Are your happy with how it’s gone thus far?
DT: It’s been great so far, and I think it’s only going to get busier as we transition into spring and our Canadian riding season. With being a WP Authorized Centre, we can offer Canadian consumers something that no one else can. I mean, where else can you receive Pro Component parts and service done by a WP trained service department?
MXP: Thanks Dean. How would a rider get in touch with Blackfoot if they wanted to get some suspension work done?
DT: Good question! We actually just launched our new website: https://direct-suspension.com/ for all of our consumers. It’s really cold in Calgary right now but hopefully it will be an early spring and we all can get riding very soon.
There you have it! Canadian customers now have full access to not just the high-quality suspension upgrades but if you want to spend a little extra money you can have the exact same suspension that Dean Wilson and Jess Pettis are currently using. For more information on the product and services WP Suspension has to offer, you can visit their North American website at https://www.wp-suspension.com/en-us/