Serious Surron Fork Upgrade: The MX85 Conversion

The Stock e-moto Fork Debate

Good suspension on any dirt bike is critical to great handling. Unfortunately, the stock suspension that arrives with your brand new Surron, Talaria, or any e-moto for that matter, is less than ideal if you want to do anything more than commute on the road. Off road, the forks will leave you with a shuddering through your wrists, and quite simply it just doesn’t cut it. 

Of course, fork choice completely depends on what riding style you prefer. If you love trails through the woods and some smaller log-hops, then a good aftermarket, well-tuned mountain bike fork could be the answer you need. Check out this article here on Surron forks for in-depth details. Even if you want to take your Surron to the track, some higher-end forks will be sufficient, and there’s a good chance you’ll be perfectly happy. 

But… if you want to compete with ICE dirt bikes, push your e-moto beyond the limit, and trust your machine on a triple jump (even if you flat land), you’re going to need something that will handle some serious punishment. KTM 85 forks are the answer. This upgrade isn’t for the faint of heart. It isn’t cheap. You’re unleashing your electric dirt bike into a whole new category. 

MX Forks on a Surron: the Story

Like any great piece of engineering, necessity fast-tracks development. When Rusty, GritShift’s head of R&D, found he kept breaking and bending forks on his Segway X160, he knew he had to do something drastic. Rusty came up with the idea of using a KTM front end and stopping the mediocre mountain bike fork problems right then and there. He designed and developed the most robust, over-engineered conversion kit around, to swap a Surron front end for a KTM and in typical GritShift fashion, tested the heck out of it. 

Rusty at Red Bull TKO 2022. Photo by Roots Rocks and Mud

Who is Rusty? Read his bio here

So much so that he put it through the paces at the infamous Hard Enduro race called TKO. If you haven’t seen the Tennessee Knockout, jump onto YouTube to see what tough terrain guys and girls put their dirt bikes through! The MX fork upgrade worked a treat, allowing Rusty to finish the weekend with good results. 

Recently, Rusty and Heavy Hitter have released a new version of the MX 85 conversion kit featuring the latest round of improvements, making installation easier than ever.

MX Fork Conversion

How does a KTM front end end up on a Surron or Talaria? Well, prior to Rusty’s awesome work, it would have taken considerable fabrication knowledge, access to some expensive machines, and lots of trial and error! These days, you’ll only need two things…Firstly, to grab the Heavy Hitter Conversion Kit and secondly, to source a KTM 85 front end. We’ll look at the best places to source the front end in a sec, but for now, let’s look at how the conversion works. 

Without going into too much technical detail, let’s look at what is involved with the conversion. You’ll get really detailed instructions in the kit, but if you want knowledge before it arrives, check out this video

MX 85 Conversion

MX 85 Conversion Steps:

  • Remove the original front end including the handlebar, forks, brakes, and wheel
  • Remove the upper and lower bearing race
  • Press in the new races
  • Press the stem into the triple clamp
  • Press bearing onto the stem
  • Install the new KTM forks
  • Check everything and go for a test ride!
Rusty explains the steps to installing the MX 85 Conversion kit, along with some tips and tricks.

While the steps to take are relatively simple, a few places could snag you. This list will give you the heads up and keep you from delaying time on the track.

  • Removing the races: On some models, especially Talaria, you’ll find there will be nothing to use to lever the racers out of the steering tube. If you have access to a welder, the easiest way is to run a small bead of weld on the inside of the race to give you something to grab onto while you tap out the race. If not, a racer puller tool such as this can also be used. 
  • Pressing the steering tube into the triple clamp: The easiest way is to use a press. If you attempt to press the steering tube by other means, you’ll need to be careful not to damage the end or bend the tube. Alternative options are using a Steering Stem Bearing Installer tool such as this.
  • Pressing the bearing onto the steering tube: Again, the easiest way is to use a press. If you don’t have access to a press, a local bicycle or motorcycle shop should be happy to assist with this. 
Rusty explains the new conversion

Hot tip: If you want to run a 21” front wheel, you may need to add a drop crown. When the forks compress, the larger wheel size could hit the front fender on a standard crown.

Rusty explains the Drop crown

This upgrade works on both a stock Surron or Talaria or on pretty much any other e-moto when converting from an already upgraded mountain bike fork, such as the Fox 40s. The opposite also can occur if you find the MX conversion isn’t what you need right now. You may find you’ll need to purchase some new bearings for the mountain bike-style forks if you weren’t careful to remove them, but otherwise, it’s pretty straightforward to change. It will take you some time, however, so I wouldn’t be doing it often. 

Sourcing the Front End

When you need to find your KTM 85 fork, you have a few options. If you want to go all out, you can try to source a new KTM fork, but that will set you back quite a few bickies. Otherwise, a search on eBay will list a large range of pre-used KTM forks. You may even get lucky like Rusty did on one of his conversions and find a great deal on a never-been-used KTM fork. Remember, ICE dirt bike riders also upgrade and need to get some of the cost back! Just keep checking what’s new on the second-hand market, be patient and the right fork will come along. 

When you’re searching, you’ll probably notice a big price difference. The cheaper forks will likely be spring forks and usually go for around $800-$1200. The more pricey forks will likely be air forks and you’ll find them for around $1400-$2000, depending on the year. Check what comes with the forks – is it the complete front end, or do you need to also purchase wheels, rotor, bars, etc?

The biggest difference between spring and air forks would be the weight. It all comes down to personal preference when riding, and the funds. Rusty says, “I prefer spring forks for the feel and feedback on MX riding, and air forks for the lightweight on wood/enduro style riding.”

The MX Conversion

Such a dramatic upgrade is only for those who are serious about their riding. It is a major upgrade that completely changes the feel of your e-moto, bringing the feel closer to ICE dirtbikes. Gone are the bent forks that bottom out when hitting the triples. Or lost confidence in your e-moto if jumps and whoops don’t go to plan. 

If you love keeping it on the ground or taking your e-moto to the woods with minimal jumps, or you prefer the lighter e-moto feeling, then grab yourself a good quality mountain bike fork such as Fox 40s or EXT and chances are you’ll be perfectly happy. 

But remember the MX conversion possibilities are there for when you need them. Do you need GritShift’s kit to complete the conversion? No, but without it you will need a heap of fabrication knowledge and lots of spare time. The kit just makes things easier. Not to mention the in-depth instructions that come with the kit and, of course, the chance to talk to the man who designed it if you have any questions! Spend less time in your garage and more time hitting the jumps. This upgrade will turn your e-moto into a serious contender in off-road competitions. 

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