The Story Behind Fournales Suspensions

How an aerospace engineer created a new shocks and suspension technology that allows you to drive 100,000+ miles on velvet...

 

“Flying carpet effect.”

That’s what Pascal said to me when I asked him how he liked the new Fournales Suspensions he put on his motorcycle.

And that’s no coincidence: the Fournales Shocks and Suspensions are literally aircraft gear!

Hi I’m Jean-Pierre Fournales!

And let me tell you the story of how I developed the Fournales Air shocks and Suspensions.

Let’s go back to the beginning.

We’re in Toulouse, France, and the year is 1976.

I’m working as an engineer for the aerospace industry and my main project is designing the wings of the Concorde supersonic airliner.

But on the weekends I’m also… A motocross racer.

Look at this picture. That’s me!

 

Jean-Pierre Fournales - Motocross Pilot

 

You can see me riding a Bultaco motorcycle with the first series of customized shocks I designed myself.

See, at the time, I found that standard shocks with springs were too rigid and heavy for my use, and their reliability could sometimes be questionable.

This wasn’t ideal because when the shocks aren’t properly set up, your wheels cannot stick to the terrain and you lose precious time (plus they made my races an awfully uncomfortable experience.)

So I dreamt of one thing: having light and customizable shocks that would improve my times while making each run easier on my back.

It gave me the idea to adapt Concorde landing gear technology I was working on to bikes and cars!

That’s right!

To have literal aircraft gear on your vehicle!

Now you might think this is crazy, and I kind of thought so too!

But a few days and sleepless nights later, I created the first "mini airplane landing gear" for bikes, also known as the Fournales Air Shock Absorbing Suspension!

Without telling anybody I began to test it in races. And boy did it make a huge difference!

It felt like riding a mattress on wheels.

It was light, quick as lightning and comfortable.

I won many races thanks to the shocks alone. All the while keeping a healthy back.

Six months later, two pilots who were intrigued by my performances, asked me to equip their bikes with the air shocks.

A year later, they were crowned 1st and 2nd at the 1978 World Trials Championship with the Bultaco bikes that had my shocks!

You might know them: they’re Yrjö Vesterinen (left) and Martin Lampkin (right) who became legends of the sport. 

 

Yrjö Vesterinen and Martin Lampkin - Trial World Championship

 

When I saw how much of a difference this technology was making, I decided to dedicate my life to bring it to the drivers and riders like you.

And in 1979 I started my company, Fournales France, based in Toulouse, the pink city, with 1 mission: giving you better performance, comfort and safety during your long journeys on your Harley, Indian, Triumph or anything you love to drive.

While looking cool as hell.

Indian Scout with oleo-pneumatic suspensions 

But don’t let its design fool you.

Our air shock technology is much simpler to use than traditional spring shocks.

In fact, the main feature of our air shock technology is its customizability.

You can set up the air pressure according to your weight, load, height and use.

And you can go higher or lower than common spring shocks or even automatic suspensions.

Most of the time, they will not adapt to your precise need.

With the Air Shock technology – also known as the oleo-pneumatic technology – you can adjust the pressure to your exact need without having to change dozens of settings.

Adjusting the air pressure takes less than a minute.

Want a lower bike that will stick to the ground?
You can.

Want a higher bike because you’ve got suitcases or a passenger at the back?
You can.

But listen: I’m not saying our shocks are THE ABSOLUTE BEST in the world.

There are many great manufacturers out there that will provide you with trusty shocks and suspensions that will last you a long time. Some are much bigger than we are, and have tremendous production capabilities.

In fact, we’re a boutique family-owned business that started in the south of France

Jean Pierre Fournales - Test Machine for Fournales Suspensions 

We don’t have the means to produce hundreds of thousands of suspensions each year, especially as we make them custom. For your exact bike or car model.

And yet, we know that our suspensions work.
And we believe they work well.

I often see pilots coming to our factory with their shocks still intact after more than 100,000 miles.

They come just to make sure they still work fine. And they do!

That’s because we handcraft each of our suspensions with noble materials like steel, aluminum 7075, and customize it to your needs with aeronautical standards of quality. That’s our DNA.

Our shocks also come with a 2 year guarantee and can be refurbished as needed. Forever.

This means your future air shocks will last you a lifetime if you so desire and take care of them.

Then again, you don’t adapt to them. They adapt to you.

Today we produce air shocks and suspensions for bikes, but also for many different things.

Cars, to begin with.

In the 80's, Raoul Raymondis - who won multiple rally raids, such as the Baja, the Rallye de l'Atlas or some Paris-Dakar stages - was equipped with our suspension system.

Raoul Raymondis - Professional Pilot with Fournales Suspensions

More recently, we equipped André Korotkévitch’s “Koro” Hilux which ran the Tunisia Desert Challenge 2022 and Serge Mogno’s HDJ 80 which won the Dakar Classic of 2022.

And feature in many other rally-raid set ups.

Professional racers like our shocks because they can trust them.

A friend told me that after returning from the Dakar… the only parts left intact were the shocks!

Giving you solid, light, stylish and performance driven shocks.
That’s our mission.

But you will also find Fournales air shocks on planes like the Embraer ERJ-145 and on several ULM aircrafts.

We’ve also worked on sidecars, quad bikes, camper vans, trucks, planes, measurement systems, leg prothesis, cable cars... and basically anything that needs suspensions.

Snowboard World Championship with Fournales Leg Prothesis

Lately, I’ve been working on a suspension system that keeps the hydrogen and oxygen tanks of a rocket (I'm not allowed to talk publicly about) free of vibrations when fueling. 

They say suspensions are not rocket science.
Well, I believe they are.

You will find Fournales in operating rooms and Dams all over the world.

But still – we’re yet to be known worldwide by passionate pilots like you. People who would benefit from this air shock technology on their bike or car.

That’s why earlier this year I teamed up with Killian Carles, the co-founder of KJC Classics in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

I’ve been a friend with his grandfather for more than 40 years. He’s a young entrepreneur who imports and restores classic Land Rovers in the United States.

He’s full of energy, and something I like a lot: he cares about quality and performance just like me, and just like you.

Killian wanted every single Defender he restores to run on Fournales Suspensions because they’re great for off-roading and provide greater comfort during long trips.

He asked me if I had retailers in the US and when I said no, he couldn’t believe it.

He made me realize I needed to do something about it.

So we partnered together to make Fournales Suspensions available to the riding and driving community in the United States.

And today as I write these words, the wait is over.

Mechanic working on a motorcycle in Florida

We have settled in Florida, near Palm Beach, and now you can finally equip your Harley, Indian, Honda, Yamaha... but also Jeep, Toyota, Land Rover... with oleo-pneumatic suspensions that can last you a lifetime.

Click here to learn what makes our technology more durable, safer, and more effective.