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Keith, That is an outstanding question! I have serviced numerous Showa and Ohlins/Penske shocks and looking at the inside components shows a remarkably similar technology. Showa make very good suspension components so the reason the higher end products work better is mostly down to the specifics of valving and port configurations. There are differences in the seal heads and the sliding bushings as well as in the adjustment configurations (needles seats and back flow configuration. There are better showas and I think the higher end Showa that came on some of the “S” bikes were fairly good. Getting into the Ohlins and the Penske shocks, the cost of manufacture was not as much an issue and often times; bikes with those components were sprung and valved for the rider specifically. The custom set up suspension is where a fair portion of the performance comes from. I think Showa purposely “dumbs down” some of their components to create levels of price verses performance levels. I also suspect that Honda gets the best stuff. That is just my opinion! Some of the Show Honda dirt bike forks are like jewelry, very nice pieces with 25mm valves and the works.
 
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