Short riders, don't worry; Showa's got you.
Japan’s Shōwa era lasted from December 25, 1926 until January 7, 1989. While it’s unlikely that the Showa EERA will last quite that long, this upcoming dynamic suspension technology is still promising. First introduced at EICMA 2018, Young Machine is now reporting that it should be in commercial production from 2021, according to Showa.
For the EICMA 2018 prototype presentation, Showa demonstrated its EERA Heightflex on a Honda Africa Twin—and since Honda and Showa have historically had such a close relationship, this made perfect sense. Now, at the Human and Car Technology Exhibition 2019 in Yokohama, Showa held its public unveiling of EERA Heightflex on a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE—which also makes total sense.
This electronically controlled variable damping system allows for automatic suspension damping adaptation while you’re on the road using its proprietary stroke sensor. Before you start your ride, you can dial in your preferred seat height more easily. Then the system uses a hydraulic pump to adjust spring pre-load as needed, according to the demands of the surface over which you’re currently traveling.
That part is all well and good, but it’s not particularly unique—plenty of high-end electronic suspension options are already on the market in Aprilia, Ducati, BMW, and Kawasaki flavors just to name a few. The part where it gets interesting is in the automatic adjustment of seat height during your ride, which could have big implications for us shorter riders.
Also, according to Showa, its sensor is more accurate than that of its rivals—but, I mean, most companies are going to make that claim, and they certainly can’t all be true at the same time. Another question I have is this: How does Showa itself grade EERA as compared to its own established BFF and BFRC technologies as utilized for the Kawasaki Racing Team in WSBK? Hopefully we'll get an answer to that in the not-too-distant future.
The video above is an early demonstration of the unit in action, so it’s possible that this will change (or even has already changed) before it goes into production. Until we get to see this in action, it remains an intriguing thing to look out for—but we’ll reserve judgment until more than just a prototype exists.