Cush Drives and Supermoto Wheels
Over the years we have fielded many calls and questions about cush drives and whether they are required for supermoto duty.
Some call them "puss drives", others believe that having one is a requirement for any motorcycle and without one your rear shock could break off and ram up the back of your motor and continue on upwards. Others are just plain skeptical and don't know what to believe. Still others could not give a hoot what they are or why you'd need one.
Cush drives are rubber dampening cushions that typically line where your wheel hub bolts to your sprocket. The idea is that adding a rubber bushing in between these two metal contact points will relieve stress torque on your parts. Large 600CC, 1000CC and 1200CC bikes almost always feature a cush drive in order to help the bike manage the heavy loads the rear drive train must endure under heavy power torque. Small sub-600 motorcycles rarely feature a cush drive, with the exception of factory KTM hubs in the 450, 525 range, etc.
I've been selling Supermoto and motocross wheels for the past 7 years and have yet to sell a wheel with cush drive for any bike under 600 CC. I've also yet to hear about any KTM or other bike owner talk about any adverse affects from not using a cush drive in supermoto. So, you might say, that's 7 years of real world product research, with hundreds of wheels still rolling around out there piloted by countless street riders, as well as pro racers like Micky Dymond, Travis Marks, Cary Hart and others, pounding on our wheels day in and day out.
Marchesini, Talon, DNA, Excel, Warp 9- all the most dominant wheels in Supermoto (and MotoCross) whether pro racing or every day commuting- and none of these manufacturers offer a cush drive on their KTM or any other wheels because it's unnecessary.
The common thing we here is a cush drive promotes transmission longevity and to that we say- Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Husqvarna, Aprilia all do not feature a cush drive and we do not believe there is anything inherently weak about the KTM transmission that would require it to have a cush drive, any more or less than a Honda CRF, Suzuki DRZ or Yamaha YZ.
The one thing we might go along with is that it's possible that a cush drive could promote chain longevity, but even the likelihood of that in a noticeable way hasn't really been proven over the years.
What we do find is that some motorcycle owners get influenced by rumors and discussion forums started by folks with little more experience in the mechanics of their bikes than having read their owners manual. The only thing we have to fall back on to this issue is the facts.