The ISDE Champ’s Suspension Choice
Earlier this year, in the lead-up to the opening round of the 2018 Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC), KTM’s Daniel “Doogs” Milner was short-odds favourite to defend his coveted national number-one plate, but he was having issues with his suspension set-up. And in spite of winning his class and the Outright at the AORC’s opening two rounds in Queensland, Milner continued to struggle with the transition from WP’s 52mm Factory Fork to its 48mm Cone-Valve Fork. Clearly, the non-factory fork was good enough for race wins at a national level, but Miner still didn’t have the confidence to really push the limits aboard the KTM 500EXC-F he’d stepped up to for season 2018.
Enter Choice Suspension’s Anthony Giles, a renowned suspension tuner from Victoria that Milner (and a bunch of other top riders, such as Husqvarna’s Daniel Sanders) has worked with for years. And after a couple of days of intense testing, you guessed it; Gilesy got Milner’s suspension sorted. The KTM rider went on to post an unbeaten AORC season in the E3 class (and won nine of the 11 rounds Outright) and clinch his fifth A4DE Outright crown. Then, just a couple of weeks ago at the ISDE in Chile, Milner and Sanders both raced on Choice-tuned WP suspension to run 1-3 Outright and spearhead Australia’s Trophy Team win. Incredible!
Of course, none of this is meant to reflect badly on the Team KTM or Husqvarna technicians, who are some of the best in the business. But the story does serve to reinforce the value of a rider’s long-term relationship with a suspension tuner. That, and the fact that WP’s over-the-counter suspension components are capable of carrying riders to a world title.
Given that the ISDE result is a real feather in the cap for these riders and their suspension tuner, we contacted Choice Suspension’s hardworking Anthony Giles and asked him to put the down tools for a moment and reflect on the monumental achievement…
TM: How’s it feel to be the suspension tuner behind Daniel Milner and Daniel Sanders – two reigning AORC champs who just went 1-3 Outright at the ISDE in Chile and led Team Australia to the Trophy Team world title win?
AG: It’s an incredible result for Milner and Sanders and Team Australia. We also put a lot of work into the suspension set-up for other Team Australia ISDE representatives, Lyndon Snodgrass and Fraser Higlett. It’s very satisfying for me and all the guys at Choice Suspension too, because the result demonstrates that all our hard hours of testing and developing the bikes has paid off at the highest level in the sport. Being part of the success of the Australian team and Milner’s Outright win is brilliant. It confirms that we’ve been moving in the right direction, and that what we’re doing with suspension set-up gives riders the ability to beat the best in the world. Words can’t explain how amazing it feels for me personally.
“Being part of Milner’s Outright ISDE win confirms that we’ve been moving in the right direction, and that what we’re doing with suspension set-up gives riders the ability to beat the best in the world.”
It’s all about progression, right?
Totally. While the boys were over in Chile, I was on the suspension dyno testing new settings to keep progressing with the development. I am really looking forward to next year and see what improvements we can make. It’s a real honour that Australia’s KTM and Husky off-road teams appreciate the hard work the team here at Choice puts in, and the results we’ve achieved has enabled us to build a stronger and stronger alliance. The WP suspension that Milner and the team riders use is not special factory-only gear. We sell exactly the same WP fork and shock – the 48mm Cone-Valve Fork and Trax Shock Absorber – to regular customers over the counter. And now that Choice is an official WP Suspension Centre, we’re finding that a lot more customers – many of whom buy their bikes through Bolton Motorcycles, who we share premises with here in Kyneton – are realising the kind of handling gains this aftermarket WP suspension can give them.
You’ve actually been involved with setting up suspension for Miner and Sanders for a long time, right?
Yes, I have been working with both guys for many, many years now – kind of on and off because they have both had time racing overseas. But even when they were OS, we were still in close contact and we looked after tuning the suspension on their practice bikes they used while training back here in Australia.
“The WP suspension that Milner and our Team Australia riders use is not special factory-only gear. We sell exactly the same 48mm Cone-Valve Fork and Trax Shock Absorber over the counter.”
What’s the core ingredient of a good relationship between rider/racer and suspension tuner?
The secret to a good relationship between suspension tuner and rider is to be honest and open. Trust is a major ingredient as well; the rider must have trust in the tuner’s work and the tuner must have the same trust to understand the rider’s feedback. And obviously, communication goes a long way to understanding each other and moving forward systematically.
Pro guys such as Doogs and Chucky are generally able to give you accurate feedback about how a bike’s suspension is performing. But how do you go about dialling in the suspension to suit an average trailrider; someone’s who’s not so attuned to what his/her fork and shock is doing beneath them?
You’re not wrong about Doogs and Chucky; they can feel absolutely any change done to the bike. It’s one of the reasons they are on top of the world. They can make the bike suit their needs perfectly, which is a real credit to them. And it means they will keep improving and getting faster. Dialling the suspension in for the average trailrider is not as daunting as it sounds. Getting as much information from the rider as possible helps – the conditions they ride in, their ability, weight and riding style. Armed with that, we can sort it out, no worries. Because we do so much testing with riders at all levels each year on a wide range of models – and back it up with our suspension dyno testing – we are consistently able to get great results. We also offer an onsite tuning service with a fully equipped suspension truck. We supply a setting sheet that gives the rider hardpack settings, sand settings and mud settings so the rider can fine-tune it out on the trails and have the correct set-up. At the end of the day, most riders like a different feel so we need to get as much info out of them as possible to make the end result perfect.
“Dialling the suspension in for the average trailrider is all about getting as much information from the rider as possible – the conditions they ride in, their ability, weight and riding style.”
What does being made an Authorised WP Suspension Centre mean to Choice Suspension? And are many of your customers still unaware that WP forks and shocks now fit most modern-day dirt bike brands, European and Japanese brands alike?
We are very excited about being an authorised WP Suspension Centre. We have access to suspension settings happening all around the world, and we also have special tooling and flow meters for the Trax shocks to get them spot-on. WP is really leading the way now with what it offers, and it has fantastic product support and back-up. We stock plenty of common parts plus the factory forks and shocks, so we can get our customers back out on their bikes in no time. With WP’s KTM and Husky alliance, most people don’t understand that WP make aftermarket forks and shocks for most other brands as well, so it’s very exciting times ahead. We never stop learning and developing.