Ever since the motorcycle was invented, engineers have struggled with the ideal suspension arrangement. Unlike four wheeled vehicles where thee suspension is virtually always situated in the vertical plane, motorcycle suspension has to deal with lean angles when cornering plus huge forces pushing forward under braking, make it far less effective for its purpose.
One way to try and overcome this has been center-hub steering arrangements, but this creates issues of its own. Ducati however may have come up with a way to keep the feedback provided by the traditional fork arrangement while overcoming lateral forces when cornering.
Ducati has filed a patent which shows a traditional motorcycle wheel and fork arrangement but with three annular shock-absorbing elements made of what they describe as an elastically yielding material capable of absorbing the lateral stresses under cornering. These ‘mini’ shock absorbers could be made of rubber, polymer or a hybrid material with a honeycomb structure to absorb these forces.
These shock absorbers would act to absorb stresses that act on the wheel (and thus on the forks and frame of the bike) when leaning over in a corner. Thus, any irregularity in the round surface is potentially not transferred to your hands, avoiding or at least reducing the phenomenon of “chattering” all so common when riding on below average road surfaces. According to Ducati, this improves the rideability of a bike and hence its safety.
The patent application even goes on to state that such shock absorbers could even be installed on the rear wheel too.
It’s an interesting invention and actually comes across as one of those “why didn’t anyone think of that earlier?” ideas. Of course, it remains to be seen whether such an idea would actually work in the real world but according to Ducati, implementation of the idea would actually be relatively cheap and easy to install. Perhaps we’ll see mini shock-absorbers in the not too distance future.