My fork adventure continued, as planned, when I decided that the day before Thanksgiving will be great for travel and took a two hour (120 miles, not 30 like what 2 hours of travel will get you in SoCal) trip to Hendersonville, NC, the home of Fast Bike Industries. As mentioned before, they are the official US distributors for both Andreani and Nitron. Nestled in the mountains, about 20 miles from Ashville, it's a really nice place to visit, in general.
FBI has a small store front, with an office space and a very clean and well equipped workshop in the back. It is clearly suspension focused. Displays in the store feature different Andreani and Nitron models. Definitely some drooling action resulted.
Upon my arrival, I met David -- the owner, Tige -- the head technician and Burch -- in charge of marketing and sales. All three are avid motorcyclists, as one can guess, with riding, racing and significant suspension related experience. David mentioned to me that he has just returned states side, after spending the second half of the season working on the American Racing KTM Moto2 team. As it goes, we quickly started exchanging motorcycling stories and experiences, although I had little to contribute, compared to the others...
At some point I had to let them go back to work, so I left my precious forks in their very capable hands and went to get breakfast and a cup of coffee in the picturesque town center with my lovely wife, who joined my on the trip.
Burch was kind enough to snap a few pics of the installation process, that I can use in my write-up.
The Andreani Misano Evo kit is an upgrade over the previous version, with better internal coating and upgraded caps. The price of the kit includes springs, selected for weight and riding type. Valving is based on a three-orifice design, which provides simplicity coupled with precise damping and easy to adjust action.
The caps -- the only parts that can be seen once they are installed, are not as beautiful as some of the competition, but they are not bad looking either. They definitely look better than the OEM. This wasn't a factor for me, because I was more interested in function over form.
As with other modern setups, one leg controls compression damping, while the other controls rebound. As can be expected both damping and spring pre-load is adjustable, with a pretty wide range. Preload uses a 17mm wrench/socket and the damping is controlled through with a 3mm allen on top.
Unfortunately, the amount of information available regarding these cartridges in the US is minimal. There is more info from European and Asian sources, where Andreani is more widely used.
David, who has a lot of installing, tuning and racing experience with these kits told me that he really believes that, for the price, there is nothing better in the market today. He also said that their real-time riding and racing performance, as he himself experienced both as a racer and a tuner, does not fall short of the Golden or the WP options, which cost about time and a half to double.
FBI did not raise the prices on the Evo version, although pricing from Andreani is a bit higher. At $595, springs included, it is a really very nice deal.
Here are a few pics side by side with the OEM internals.
The springs installed on the Andreani were chosen as 7.8 N/mm, about 10% heavier rate than the OEM, to better fit my fat a** (195# + gear). As can be seen, they are straight rate and not progressive.
Tige went quickly to work and replaced the cartridges.
The OEM cartridges went into the ultrasonic bath, for cleaning, and into the box for safe keeping.