MORE ON SHIMANO?S DOWNHILL FORK
Kowa, the maker of Shimano’s prototype downhill fork that Haro-Lee Dungaree’s Mike King is riding this year, is a Japanese company. Not too surprising right? Well the coolest story I heard is that Kowa is just a few buildings down from Shimano’s Japan headquarters and Kowa is actually a computer chip maker specializing in time keeping electronics. The son of the president (I hear) is a big mountain bike nut so Kowa, with money and technological know-how in spades, decided to have a go at making a downhill suspension fork. Turns out the project netted what is supposedly the best production downhill fork anywhere on the market. While many fork makers tout how their forks are ?like? small motocross forks, people I know who have taken the Kowa/Shimano fork apart say it is identical inside to a top-shelf motocross fork?this is why it works so well. Of course this technology does have a price. The good-guy, I?m you?re best buddy in the industry deal from Kowa to an American buyer is a staggering $1800. That would put the cost at about $4000 to $5000 for a regular Joe to get the fork.
Apparently, Kowa wants to get into the American market and Shimano seemed like a good way. The big importer/parts maker can cut costs considerably and get the fork made in high numbers (if that is the plan). As far as the Shimano fork is concerned, it is basically a stock Kowa. I also heard Kowa has an upside down downhill fork that shatters any other offering. Hmmmm.