K-Tech Suspension UK
K-Tech Suspension specialises in manufacturing, servicing and supplying product to the motorcycle suspension industry. Based in Moira on the Leicestershire/Derbyshire border since 2009 and currently employing 15 full time and two part time staff. The facility includes a purpose-built assembly area for all of the K-Tech products, along with a service workshop, R&D facilities, warehousing and training centre ensuring that customers receive the best product with full service and support you would expect from a market leading suspension company. The location is also close to three road racing venues, three motocross tracks, two airports and four major cities within a twenty-five mile radius and is also situated conveniently for access to major roads North, South, East and West including the M1, M6, M42 and M69.
In late 2011 the company achieved ISO 9001 accreditation, a quality management system designed to help organisations to ensure that they meet the needs of customers and other stakeholders, while meeting statutory and regulatory requirements related to the product. ISO 9001 deals with the fundamentals of quality management systems, including the eight management principles on which that family of standards is based and deals with the requirements that organisations wishing to meet the standard have to fulfil. Third party certification bodies provide yearly independent confirmation that organisations meet the requirements of ISO 9001. Over a million organisations worldwide are independently certified, making ISO 9001 one of the most widely used management tools in the world today.
When current K-Tech directors Chris Taylor and Ken Summerton first spoke to each other, it was a telephone call from Ken to Chris in 1992 regarding suspension parts. Ken had heard that Chris had started a similar part-time business to himself, servicing Off-Road suspension units and called to see if he was interested in buying parts that he had sourced. Ken was trading under his Tru-Track name from a small workshop at home, which he had started in 1985 while holding down a full-time job as an aircraft engineer. Chris started his part-time business in 1992 after competing in Motocross events in the UK and Europe over the previous ten years, but was forced to give up due to financial and work commitments. Wanting to stay involved with the sport, he decided to use his engineering skills and offer them to fellow previous competitors. Ken endeavoured to source parts needed to carry out the work he was doing, as back then it was very difficult to source service parts for original equipment, unless you bought them from a main dealer, which were often expensive and not always available.
Over the next couple of years the two continued sourcing parts they needed and in 1994 found their current spring manufacturer, who was supplying springs to major European motorcycle suspension manufacturers. This was another product both Ken and Chris desperately needed and the first trip to the factory saw them buy a few boxes of springs between them. They soon realised this was another product sought after by other suspension companies that was easy to sell and they soon found themselves returning for more stock. It was the sales of those springs that led to the K-Tech brand being established in 1995, with these now being distributed from Chris’ premises in the East of England. It was also around this time Ken was asked by John Hackett of JHP Ducati,if he would work for his team within the British Superbike Championship gaining Ken valuable knowledge in the road racing paddock working with riders of the calibre of Sean Emmet, Kirk McCarthey and Troy Bayliss to name a few, who went on to perform on the world stage in different series.
In 1998 Chris had the option to take redundancy from his employment and decided to run his CTR Suspension business full time from his workshop at home. Meanwhile Ken carried on with his employment as an aircraft engineer. A change in Chris' personal circumstances in 2000 and the growth in the sales of parts saw him and his family move to the Midlands where Ken was based in 2001 and the two joined their businesses together with K-Tech becoming the registered limited company.
2001 saw the continued growth of the business under one roof, where they started producing front fork piston kits and flow control valves for 600cc Supersport and 1000cc Superstock machines, which had become popular race bikes. This was their first venture into manufacturing which taught them many lessons for the years ahead. The piston kits and flow control valves proved to be very successful and a big improvement over the original equipment fitted to the bikes being raced at this time and the successes lead to the idea of manufacturing a complete front fork cartridge later that year. 2001 also saw the purchase of a new race support vehicle that was used to support the British Superbike Championship.
2002 saw the introduction of the 25SSK front fork cartridge. Both Chris and Ken had met Gerrit Ten Kate of the Ten Kate Honda Racing Team in previous years and spoken to him on several occasions about making complete front fork internals for racing. This led to them supplying his team with the 25SSK product that year and French rider Fabien Foret won the World Supersport Championship using this product. Unfortunately due to a contract and financing from another European suspension manufacturer at the time, the team were not in a position to display the K-Tech brand. With the increase in demand for their product, they moved to bigger premises at the end of 2002 and employed more staff to handle the increase in product sales and services they were offering.
2003 saw the company settling into new premises double the size of the previous one and further production of the 20SSK piston kits and 25SSK cartridges, manufacturing of other small parts for the off-road market such as reservoir end caps. Spring adjuster collars and hydraulic bottoming systems were also being produced to support the growing servicing and modifying work being carried out in their workshops.
2004 saw a redesign of the pistons for the SSK piston kits and the introduction of the SSRK piston kits. These were designed for track use after working with riders competing at the race events and realising the need for a different design of piston to achieve the performance needed for racing.
2005 saw an opportunity for a complete racing fork using their current 25SSK cartridges. Other manufacturers had changed to closed cartridge systems virtually doubling the price of the product. The early systems of these were not so popular and the company had a lot of interest from customers asking if they had any used open cartridge forks for their superbikes. This led to the idea for their first front fork, the KTR-2. Unfortunately, due to the lack of resources and being unable to find reliable companies, the product did not get to market until 2007, when other products had also improved. Again, this was another manufacturing lesson for the company which has not been forgotten.
In 2006, growing success on the race tracks was achieved, with more riders starting to use their front fork products. This was due to the performance and their continued support at BSB and major road race events. The end of 2006 saw a re-design of the 25SSK cartridges with different designs and materials being used to improve the product.
2007 saw the launch of the KTR-2 and the 20DDS front fork cartridge on the drawing board. The company had decided to develop a pressurised front fork damping system to fit into original equipment front forks for Supersport and Superstock racing. The first designs were tested towards the end of the year with favourable results and further design changes were made for further development during the 2008 season.
In 2008 the pre-production 20DDS system was used to win the 2008 British Supersport Championship with Glen Richards riding a Triumph 675; it was one of the most successful years in BSB with riders winning five of the six major classes using K-Tech front fork products. With the success of the DDS product the company also patented the "Direct Damping System" to be installed in an original equipment front fork. Work also started on designing a front fork using the same system to offer superbike teams and riders. At the end of the year they had their first test with the 20DDS in the US with the American Honda Racing Team.
In 2009 20DDS front fork cartridges were available for purchase and the KTR-3 front fork became available. The Hydrex Honda team changed to this fork half way through the season, with their riders James Ellison and Stuart Easton finishing second and third in the Superbike Championship respectively. Work started on designing a rear shock absorber, as the company realised the reluctance from teams and riders, who didn't want to change brands, unless there was an option for the front and rear of the motorcycle. Riders using the 20DDS fork cartridges took three BSB championships that year, with the first tests of a 35DDS shock also taking place. Pre-production parts for the DDS were ordered at the end of the year and with the company now manufacturing more of its own products, it was necessary to move to bigger premises again. The current premises were found in October of that year with the move taking place over the Christmas shutdown 2009.
In 2010, pre-production units of the 35DDS were being offered to selected teams. The first big event for the product was in the USA at the Daytona 200, where Jake Zemke of the Michael Jordan Motorsports/National Guard team won both superbike races on his Suzuki GSXR1000. Other teams in BSB and national championships around the world also used the 35DDS product, which was assessed for durability and design before minor changes were made, ready for the product going to market in 2011. The KTR-3 front forks were also used that year by Ian Hutchinson on his Padgett’s Honda CBR1000RR Superbike in both the Superbike and Senior race at the Isle of Man TT races. Ian went on to win both Supersport races and the Superstock that week, making him the first rider in history to win all five solo races at the TT in the same week.
In 2011, the 35DDS was released and forecasted sales were quickly exceeded. Due to its ease of use and performing competitively against other brands, it proved popular with racers worldwide. Gino Rea riding his Intermoto Racing CBR600RR took his and K-Tech’s first World Supersport at Brno in the Czech Republic that year using 20DDS front fork cartridges and 35DDS rear shock absorber. 2011 also saw the company achieve ISO9001 accreditation.
In 2012, growth continued for K-Tech with its full range of products being sold and used around the world. The DDS product continues to sell well in many racing series around the world, winning championships in Europe, Australasia, North America and Scandinavia; it has also had great success in Road Race events such as the Northwest 200 in Northern Ireland, the famous Isle of Man TT races and the Macau GP. The spare parts side of the business also continues to grow, with quality aftermarket parts being offered at competitive prices and with good margins for dealers to work with. This is also a side of the business they intend to grow, especially in the Off-Road market where they are looking at other parts to manufacture.
THE FUTUREOur aim is to build the K-Tech brand to become the customer’s first choice for high quality performance suspension products synonymous with racing activities. Over the next three years K-Tech intend to increase their market share through a structured roll-out of appointed distributors, dealers and service centres in Europe, North America, Scandinavia, South America, South Africa, Australasia, Asia and the Middle East. This will be achieved through continued success of our products in the racing environment, with continual development of new products for new market places.
K-Tech plan to invest 10% of their annual turnover into the research and development of new products, production systems and marketing of the K-Tech brand and create strategic partnerships in each key country, with distributors whom we will assist to develop approved dealers and service centres.
We understand that some of the products we manufacture are complex performance products and that the end users expect first class sales and technical service. To ensure we can provide this consistently across all geographical markets, we aim to produce training modules for dealers, sales and technical staff. For all sales of high end suspension products, we intend that a record is sent back to our UK headquarters, so we know our end users and can keep in direct contact with them to monitor customer service and achieve product traceability.
MARKET POSITIONK-Tech is one of the fastest growing names for high performance motorcycle suspension products and continues to invest in the development of new products. To continue this impressive growth of the K-Tech brand we require enthusiastic dedicated distributors to appoint fully trained dealers in their territories, to assist this continual growth. K-Tech Suspension UK will support this with product, technical support, product training, promotional material, web marketing, product videos and media marketing campaigns.
K-Tech Suspension UK Ltd will not supply product or support to any unauthorised distributors or dealers.
MARKETINGK-Tech suspension’s full range of products are constantly being updated to meet the design changes from our in-house Research and Development department; our objective is to provide our distributors and dealers with product that generates showroom traffic all year round.
Our corporate website is designed to direct potential customers to find their nearest dealer and service centre via the dealer locator tab. To support this, there are a full range of banners, flags, signage, clothing and merchandising materials available to dealers, which will give a professional, attractive focus on all K-Tech products. As a member of the K-Tech network we encourage feedback from dealers on how well teams or their individuals are performing using the K-Tech products, so we can use this in our marketing news.
TECHNICAL SUPPORTK-Tech recognise that high performance suspension products require effective technical support. To give the distributor/dealer/service centre and most importantly the consumer the confidence to purchase K-Tech products, they will have full technical backup for any occasion. This will be provided through distributor/dealer/service centre product and technical training seminars. Dealers and service centres will be required to purchase any specialist tools to carry out this work and attend training seminars to be certified to service K-Tech suspension products. There will also be exclusive password protected online access to the K-Tech central technical libraries containing information for all products.