Suspension companies seem to have become a dime a dozen over the past decade, but despite the multitude of businesses offering re-valves and oil changes, there are still only a small handful of technicians trusted by the best riders in the sport to tune and finesse their race machines.
RG3, or Research Group Three, is one of the select few that can honestly (and proudly) say their stickers adorn factory bikes. So who uses RG3? Well, we’ll start the list off with Team Makita Suzuki’s Supercross Lites hopeful Broc Hepler, along with fellow Suzook pilots Travis Pastrana and Ryan Hughes (Team Suzuki Off-Road). Then there’s Nick Wey, who swears by RG3 components on his Team MDK Motorsports Honda CRF450R. As for teams, RG3 supports the Rockstar/Bill’s Pipes/Suzuki squad as well as the Motosport Outlet crew, and you’ll also see their Diamond Kit parts on the Team WBR Suzukis.
By now you’re probably getting the picture; RG3 is one of the most trusted names in the pro pits. But beyond just basic suspension services like re-valves and oil changes are a number of other products that the company brings to the table. Their most popular hard good, the patented Four-Post triple clamp, is a staple on nearly every bike in the TWMX test fleet, and their new linkage system is another must-have for riders serious about shaving seconds off their lap times.
TWMX recently drove by RG3’s busy Anaheim headquarters to see what all the hype is about. Since the head honcho (and president of the company) Rob Henricksen was out testing at the track, we instead chatted with Sales Manager Branden Wildvank to find out a little more info about this wildly popular, fast-growing suspension company. Here’s what Branden had to say:
Starting with the basics, how long has RG3 been around, and what does the company specialize in specifically?
RG3 has been around since 1998, and we specialize in suspension re-valving and more. Basically, our specialty is setting up bikes and suspension for individual riders, and for the tracks that these people ride on. We also make parts like triple clamps and links that assist the suspension in the overall handling of the bike.
Compared with many other suspension companies who have been around for much longer, you guys have seemed to make impressive headway, especially in the professional pits. Why is this, and what differentiates RG3 from other suspension shops in the motocross industry?
I believe that our success stems from the level of quality that we deliver, especially with suspension re-valves. In fact, we are so confident with our quality that we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee to customers, which means that if someone is not happy with their suspension performance after we’re done with it, they can bring it back to us and we will help them dial it in to their specific needs until they’re happy. As for the pros, we have a special technician at each and every race that deals with the individual teams and their needs, so we’re willing and able to offer the top level of quality on both ends, from the common consumer to the high-end race teams we support.
We’ve noticed that RG3 spends a lot of time with the Suzuki team, but we’ve been impressed with your setups on other brands as well. Does the shop specialize in one brand of suspension, or do you guys do it all?
No, we have valving scenarios that are designed to handle any rider and any bike out there, bar none. We’re a very broad company when it comes to different suspension brands, whether it’s Showa, Kayaba, or anything else. We can get any bike dialed in to the customer’s needs.
Beyond just suspension, RG3 has gone on to develop other important products like the Four-Post triple clamp. What brought that kind of development into the equation when you guys specialize in suspension?
Actually, the clamp was originally built and engineered to address the arm-pump issue, which is directly related to suspension. Our patented Four-Post triple clamp cannot be replicated—it uses a special, soft durometer rubber in each post in the bar mount, which means a lot less vibration to the rider’s hands and arms. That, in turn, helps reduce arm pump.
Okay, so next came the RG3 linkage set. What did you guys do to innovate these parts?
Our linkage system allows for a more linear curve in the travel of the shock, meaning that it makes the shock much less harsh in the mid-stroke of the shock than many stock setups are. In testing, we’ve found that by changing the shape of the links, we can offer riders much better traction to the rear wheel in sections like whoops and square-edged bumps. Basically, by eliminating the “step or harshness in the mid-stroke of the shock, we’ve reduced the tendency for the bike to swap back and forth.
How do innovative products like this come about? How does RG3 know that there is a problem with the stock setup?
It all comes about through testing and rider feedback. RG3 spends a ton of time on research and development, and we’re always at the track with our Supercross and motocross racers testing, so when there’s a problem with suspension on a bike, we know it as soon as it develops.
Has RG3 been surprised by the consumer demand for hard goods like clamps and linkage systems?
Not really, because once people take the time to learn about our triple clamps and what they do, how they reduce arm pump and everything, they usually never go back because there is nowhere else to get these benefits.
What is the ratio, then, of sales on hard parts like triple clamps and linkage versus suspension services, which is what RG3 originally set out doing?
Right now, I’d say it’s split right down the middle. We sell a lot of clamps, and we do a lot of suspension. They kind of work hand-in-hand and balance each other out, and we have a lot of customers that order both at the same time.
For newcomers to the sport, what benefits can a customer expect to reap from getting their suspension re-valved from a specialist like RG3?
What they can expect is a bike that is set up properly for their weight and riding ability, as well as for the track conditions that they typically ride on. A customer can also expect to go a lot faster on his or her bike when they get their suspension back, too, because it will be specifically set up to work for that person.
So if a customer wants his or her suspension rebuilt, what kind of a turnaround time can they expect from you guys?
These times always vary slightly depending on how busy the shop is at the moment, but for the most part we normally aim to have a customer’s suspension back to them within 7-10 days.
With all of the development that RG3 has contributed to the sport in such a small amount of time, what can we expect next from you guys?
Well, I’m not sure exactly what I am at liberty to talk about here, but I can tell you that Rob is a genius, and he’s got a lot of things in his head that we are now working on. There’s a lot more coming in the future besides just triple clamps and suspension, but you’ll just have to wait and see!
3164 E. LaPalma Avenue, Unit A
Anaheim, CA 92806