A Look Into Cogent Dynamics Frist Class Suspension
A dual sport or adventure motorcycle is synonymous to the likes of those front-wheel-drive Jeep Patriots you see ‘wannabe’ adventurers rolling around in. The Jeep has all the looks, and the ‘wannabe’ driving it probably has a plethora of red plaid shirts & rolled-up blue jeans to go along with his charade. On the same road in life, the chances of the average adventure bike getting muddy or even scratched from off-road riding are about as likely as the guy with the plaid shirt taking his JEEP 4x4ing. He can’t, it’s not even possible. The Jeep would be just as well off with training wheels as it would be with a set of Mickey Thompson Baja Claws.
Your average dual sport bike is no different. The marketed rider in this category is likely just going to slip a pair of boot covers over his freshly shined office shoes so he can ride his bike to work. While he pulls up to his bank job, he's living the same “freedom-dreaming” lie as the guy parked next to him on the 2010 Shadow 1100 with 1500-miles on it. These bikes are being built for the average sum of their riders; that sum is not jumping over fallen logs on a fire road or taking the back route through the Congo. These bikes are built to keep costs at a minimum, provide a basic service, and keep the general public satisfied. Lucky for us, there is a growing market and growing demand for those of us who bought an adventure bike strictly based on the marketing pitch. The bike was pitched with the word “adventure” right in the title!
Enter one of the modern-day heroes who is servicing the adventure market and what it really stands for, Cogent Dynamics and Rick Tannenbaum. The man who wears that familiar red and blue superhero shirt with a large “S” on the front. Only here, his “S” really stands for “Suspension.”
Super Hero Suspension: Tell us more…
By now I’m sure you are either miffed I talked smack about your busy middle-management life that can’t afford to sway its attention too much more than weekend-riding, or you’re coming to terms with how the world views people who drive SUV’s and never leave the city. While you get a grip on that, let’s focus our attention back to our suspension superhero and what he really does. Like all awards ceremonies, it should also be noted that this hero has a side-kick, in the way of his wife, Joyce. For those of you who are married, I’m sure you already know that without some substantial support and team-work, there is nothing more than a one-sided floundering future.
What Rick and Joyce have achieved is sixteen-years of shock and suspension building expertise. The duo first got into the business in 2002 and was manufacturing their first shock by 2006, a shock that could rival that of anyone in the industry. The main objectives with a Cogent shock or suspension upgrade, are to improve your bikes overall performance and handling. These upgrades focus on a few key areas including; your personal safety when it comes to riding, preparedness to off-road or around the world adventures, and how to improve race times on the open track. With a mission statement that could not be more reflective of their personalities and ideals, and likely the only business mission statement, you’ll never forget no matter how many others you hear during your lifetime... “MOTORCYCLES ARE FUN!”
The SHOCKing Truth!
In case your school didn’t offer an automotive history class, I’ll give you the Coles notes version of a SHOCKing history. The shock was initially invented by Maurice Houdaille of France in 1907 and later became standard on the revolutionary Model A Ford. Then, in 1953 the shock absorber was created by Christian Bourcier de Carbon and brought to the marketplace as the “de Carbon hydraulic shock absorber.” This system is more commonly known as a damper, which controls the flow of oil and pressure etc., with the purpose of ensuring a smooth ride. De Carbons business was bouncing along smoothly, and in 1997 the company was bought up by Delphi Automotive PLC, otherwise known as Delphi. An Ireland based auto parts company based out of Dublin with worldwide distribution. Delphi is likely a name you are familiar with across a number of auto & bike parts.
When a standard shock is built, it is usually made for cost and simplicity, similar to that of the Emulsion shock design. In this commonly used design, the manufacturer places compressed gas inside the shock along with the oil. When you hit a bump, the shock compresses and the gas and oil mix together creating a kind of emulsifying oil foam. This continual mixing results in an inconsistency in how the damping system performs. The more it continually gets used, the worse it performs over the long-haul. A way around this for some manufacturers is to separate the gas from the oil with a bag that houses the gas inside of the dampers reservoir.
I’ll give you a second to think that over while I get the right people at Cogent Dynamics to explain what their product is designed to do inside most of their systems. As I’ve often been referred to as more beauty than brains, I’ll post the explanation exactly as Cogent says it so you know it’s expert information. “ …an internal reservoir that is in line with the main damper tube is used. At the top of this type of shock, there is a dividing element (Cogent Dynamics uses an aluminum piston with a special seal and low friction wear band) to keep the gas charge separated from the damper fluid. This is a big upgrade from the emulsion design shock. A potential disadvantage of any of the internal reservoir shocks is that added length is needed for the shocks’ design, and that length can exceed the room that some bikes have available. An external reservoir removes this problem allowing for more stoke and fluid volume as well as additional area to cool the damper.”
There you have it, a to-the-point explanation of why all shocks are not created equal.
Cookie Cutters Aren’t For Cogent
If you really want to, you can easily pick up aftermarket parts from almost anyone, anywhere. As long as you have a valid credit card, they will happily sell and ship you anything to just about anywhere in the world. Well, Rick likes to do things a bit differently. It’s more like you are rubbing a magic lamp and whatever your suspension desires are, Rick will bring them to life. First off, they want to know what you ride, where you plan to ride, and what kind of feel you want while riding. Then they get more intimate and ask questions about your weight, and if you are generally carrying a passenger or some type of luggage. Unlike your driver's license, you probably shouldn’t lie when answering Ricks questions. The more accurate the information, the more precise shock they will build to accommodate your most common riding needs. Could you imagine if, for the mere sticker price, you could call up KTM, let them know your measurements, average riding conditions, and they would simply design and build the bike to match that information! At Cogent, you can literally call up Rick and make this happen. They will then create a unit specifically for your needs and keep your information on file along with a serial number unique for your specific build.
Not only does Cogent have an incredible wealth of experience on their side, but they also employ the use of some high-tech ’shock-nolgy.’ I made that last word up, though I’m sure it won’t take long to become an industry standard expression. As part of the overall process to design the perfect set up for you, they place your shock into a “Spring Rater,” and it does just that. The Spring Rater can precisely rate your fork springs in Kilograms per millimeters of deflection, or Newtons per millimeter of deflection. They’ll then calculate your shock spring in pounds of force per inch of travel.
This precisely measured pre-testing process allows the experts to test them over a commonly known set of variables, ensuring that you get exactly what you are expecting. This also offers you a point in which to measure from if you choose to make further fine-tuning adjustments down the road. There is also a list of considerations that are likely to leave smoke billowing out of the ears of us mere mortals. If you are interested in running some of the numbers, or just trying to wrap your head around it all, check here. There is a more in-depth explanation and easy to read chart. If you really want to curl up next to the fire on a cold night and broaden your suspension knowledge, have a read over the importance of utilizing a shock Dynamometer, and what it can do to give you a complete look into your full suspension system.
More Than Just Adventure Bikes
With an effort to look after a broad-range of motorcycling enthusiasts, their expertise includes street bikes, adventure bikes, and race bikes as well. If a scrambler is more your style, you are trying to breathe some life back into a classic, or you enjoy gripping the track at break-neck speeds, Cogent can help you. Their system doesn’t necessarily start or finish with the rear end. They also know the front side and forks of your free-wheeling setup and can configure them to work alongside your rear shock as a full suspension system. Not just in their Cogent flagship, they can re-build, service, and repair a wide variety of brands like the popular Ohlins, WP, Penske, JRI, KYB, Showa, and other well-known companies.
They can also test and repair your electronic suspension systems if you happen to ride something a bit more high-tech than a KLR or DR650. Cogent uses vacuum bleeding and filling as specified in systems like KTM’s and Ohlins. They can also test for bent fork tubes and offer the correction. They do damper matching to ensure a regulated feel across both ends of the bike. Can implement optimized shim stacks whether your shocks are progressive, digressive, or linear. They offer customized valving to maximize longevity and decrease the maintenance on your bike. Overall, no matter what you ride, they can implement corrections and provide solutions to make your baby perform to its full potential. Even a manufactured shock can be delivered in the mail, and with a little help from your specified forum, you can likely do the install yourself. However, if you are not feeling entirely confident, you can ride your wheels directly to them, and they will do the work for you.
Like A Good Neighbor
I’m writing this from inside of an establishment with a very prominent corporate logo. I’m sure they have a very specified system of doing things and give off the feeling that no matter what I order, it will look exactly like the guy who is ordering the same thing behind me and the guy behind him. If I wanted something special, it’s not so much they wouldn’t want to make it for me, it’s more that they are not able to construct it for me. This particular establishment also gives off the feeling that if I ever had a problem, it would be dealt with via a manual, outlining what to do when problems arise from people like me. We live in a world built around the masses where the most common size is large, and the only way to personalize something is to add ketchup.
In stark contrast, Cogent will leave you feeling more like you are dealing with a good neighbor. You can have an actual voice to voice or face to face conversation with them that will leave you feeling like your bike is being treated like it’s their own. The repetitive comments and reviews online are so strikingly similar in response, it’s as though a warranty would not even be necessary. Comments like: “Call them up and talk to Rick, he’s a good guy,” notable references like Rick’s an “…excellent rider… teacher…good guy…sense of humor…all around nice guy…top notch…” will make you feel like you know the guy before you even look at their website.
Cogent is made in the USA which will allow you to bypass the Trump-tariffs of life, and knowing they are more approachable than a golden lab should leave you at ease. A $75.00 maintenance warranty is offered if you cover the cost of shipping, which will allow for worry-free, preventative maintenance. Sort out the sag in your Suzuki, eliminate the bounce in your Beamer, and sturdy up your set of Studebaker’s with the incredible shock-nolgy (yeah I used it twice), at Cogent Dynamics.