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Suspension Upgrades


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Thinking about some off season bike work, on my 08 R6, and wondering about opinions on aftermarket suspension for both front and rear. I am a mid level in the "I" group for trackday riding and do not race. I have had my stock suspension setup checked by the Fastbike Industry rep while doing a day at Mid Ohio last summer, and that helped. But they were recommending some upgrades to the front internals, and a "better than stock" shock/spring for the rear. Is this just cause they sell the stuff, or is it really worth it in the long run.

Thanks for any opinions, and should add, that I have done several CSS schools so am going at the sport from that direction as well.

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Thinking about some off season bike work, on my 08 R6, and wondering about opinions on aftermarket suspension for both front and rear. I am a mid level in the "I" group for trackday riding and do not race. I have had my stock suspension setup checked by the Fastbike Industry rep while doing a day at Mid Ohio last summer, and that helped. But they were recommending some upgrades to the front internals, and a "better than stock" shock/spring for the rear. Is this just cause they sell the stuff, or is it really worth it in the long run.

Thanks for any opinions, and should add, that I have done several CSS schools so am going at the sport from that direction as well.

I would be wary of them and treat them as salesmen too!

 

I have some experience with upgrading my suspension as a road and track rider, so I should be in a position to give some feedback. If I had stock suspension, I would first start out by looking at the spring rates (front and back) and the preload. The shock/forks should not bottom or top out. My old YZF600R ("ThunderCat" here in Europe) would bottom out during braking. A swap to 10% stiffer springs from Ohlins fixed that problem for good.

From what I have heard about the front fork on the 08 R6 (I have the same model as you) it's a quite decent fork, although the high speed rebound damping adjustment is worthless - a marketing gimmick.

The OEM shock is quite good as well and many race on the stock shock. However, the damper oil may need servicing if the bike have gone many miles.

 

I have generally found that aftermarket (read: Ohlins) suspension bits have made my bikes feel more "planted" and giving me a feeling of better confidence in the bike, as well as a wider and finer range of compression/rebound tuning than the stock bits.

 

What did Fastbike Industry's want to upgrade the suspension for you as a rider? Wrong spring rates?

 

Be regards,

 

Kai

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I think you should upgrade...When you take a stock suspension to a suspension tuner at the track, he is basically taking your money or you are giving it away. I can't say the guy is being a thief because you basically told him to take your money when you took the stock bike to him for adjustment. If he is telling you to upgrade your suspension he is giving you sound advice.

I can tell you from experience that the 08 R6 has a very soft stock spring. I guess they thought school girls that weigh around 100 lbs would be the democraphic to shoot for when setting this bike up.:)

You could get buy with stiffer fork springs and be just fine...But I think the margin for error is quite small as compared to upgrade internals and the front is the most important part of the suspension.

One day you will be riding along at your favorite track cutting seconds off your lap times. Lets say that as you have become faster you have pushed the front springs closer and closer to the end of travel. You might not realize this until the day you squeeze the front brakes for a corner just a little harder and that's it....no more spring, no more suspension..you're done.

I use Ohlins internals, Paul, James, Lee, Ed, David Bill are all friends that use Ohlins internals. I don't know anyone that races that use stock internals. What ever you decide, enjoy yourself and be safe :)

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I am in no position to comment based upon my personal experience, but most "independant" experts will say don't waste your money on issues that doesn't bring problems. For instance, if your tyres wear in a bad way or your tyres are sliding or your suspension is bottoming after you have exhausted the variables of the stock suspension, it is time to seek help. Otherwise, it is better to spend the money on fuel, tyres and riding schools. Generally speaking, stock suspension will work well enough for the speed most of us can work up - provided body weight is that of a slight person.

 

If the springs are too soft, because you're too heavy for it, you can tell quite easily after setting sag to the correct level. If the bike hardly settles on the suspension with you off it, but compress to the correct value with you seated, the springs are too soft. Ideally, the bike alone will take up to about 1/2 -2/3 of the static sag with your body adding the final half to a third - as a rough guide.

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Thinking about some off season bike work, on my 08 R6, and wondering about opinions on aftermarket suspension for both front and rear. I am a mid level in the "I" group for trackday riding and do not race. I have had my stock suspension setup checked by the Fastbike Industry rep while doing a day at Mid Ohio last summer, and that helped. But they were recommending some upgrades to the front internals, and a "better than stock" shock/spring for the rear. Is this just cause they sell the stuff, or is it really worth it in the long run.

Thanks for any opinions, and should add, that I have done several CSS schools so am going at the sport from that direction as well.

I'm having my front springs replaced this week. On racetech's website there is a link to a calculator which you can get an idea of what they recommend vs stock. For my bike ('02 Honda CBR600F4i) the rear was near perfect for my weight but the front needs to go from .66kg/mm to .925, which is quite a bit stiffer. My front would dive during hard braking and so I was tending not to brake very hard. I did have a guy at my track adjust it this summer which helped but we got to the limits of what could be done quickly. So as a starting point you might look at racetech and see how different what you have is from what they recommend. Of course there's a lot more factors than spring rate, but it's something to look at.

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Thinking about some off season bike work, on my 08 R6, and wondering about opinions on aftermarket suspension for both front and rear. I am a mid level in the "I" group for trackday riding and do not race. I have had my stock suspension setup checked by the Fastbike Industry rep while doing a day at Mid Ohio last summer, and that helped. But they were recommending some upgrades to the front internals, and a "better than stock" shock/spring for the rear. Is this just cause they sell the stuff, or is it really worth it in the long run.

Thanks for any opinions, and should add, that I have done several CSS schools so am going at the sport from that direction as well.

 

Upgrading to Ohlins internals in front and an Elka rear shock improved my bike's handling considerably (2008 ZX6R). My bike felt a lot more planted, had better overall feel in the front, and I noticed that adjustments in the front made a much more significant difference than they had on the stock suspension. It certainly improved my cornering confidence, which is priceless. But, I am a lightweight rider and the stock suspension was set up for someone much heavier.

 

I DO distinctly remember asking Will (genius mechanic from California Superbike School) if I should upgrade my suspension - the FIRST time I asked him, he said "at the pace you are riding, it won't really matter". But, the NEXT time I asked him (an undisclosed number of schools later) he said "Yes, you should upgrade, at the pace you are riding it will really make a difference." HA!!! That was one of the real milestones for me in my riding - I finally was going fast enough to for Will to notice, and fast enough to make decent use of the bike's capabilities.

 

The tough part is finding someone you trust to set up the bike for you - I suggest using the online calculator for recommended spring size for your weight, then make sure your suspension person recommends something close. If it is way off, start asking questions, or get a second opinion.

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Thinking about some off season bike work, on my 08 R6, and wondering about opinions on aftermarket suspension for both front and rear. I am a mid level in the "I" group for trackday riding and do not race. I have had my stock suspension setup checked by the Fastbike Industry rep while doing a day at Mid Ohio last summer, and that helped. But they were recommending some upgrades to the front internals, and a "better than stock" shock/spring for the rear. Is this just cause they sell the stuff, or is it really worth it in the long run.

Thanks for any opinions, and should add, that I have done several CSS schools so am going at the sport from that direction as well.

 

Upgrading to Ohlins internals in front and an Elka rear shock improved my bike's handling considerably (2008 ZX6R). My bike felt a lot more planted, had better overall feel in the front, and I noticed that adjustments in the front made a much more significant difference than they had on the stock suspension. It certainly improved my cornering confidence, which is priceless. But, I am a lightweight rider and the stock suspension was set up for someone much heavier.

 

I DO distinctly remember asking Will (genius mechanic from California Superbike School) if I should upgrade my suspension - the FIRST time I asked him, he said "at the pace you are riding, it won't really matter". But, the NEXT time I asked him (an undisclosed number of schools later) he said "Yes, you should upgrade, at the pace you are riding it will really make a difference." HA!!! That was one of the real milestones for me in my riding - I finally was going fast enough to for Will to notice, and fast enough to make decent use of the bike's capabilities.

 

The tough part is finding someone you trust to set up the bike for you - I suggest using the online calculator for recommended spring size for your weight, then make sure your suspension person recommends something close. If it is way off, start asking questions, or get a second opinion.

 

Nice write up Hotfoot. How have you been?

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Thinking about some off season bike work, on my 08 R6, and wondering about opinions on aftermarket suspension for both front and rear. I am a mid level in the "I" group for trackday riding and do not race. I have had my stock suspension setup checked by the Fastbike Industry rep while doing a day at Mid Ohio last summer, and that helped. But they were recommending some upgrades to the front internals, and a "better than stock" shock/spring for the rear. Is this just cause they sell the stuff, or is it really worth it in the long run.

Thanks for any opinions, and should add, that I have done several CSS schools so am going at the sport from that direction as well.

 

Upgrading to Ohlins internals in front and an Elka rear shock improved my bike's handling considerably (2008 ZX6R). My bike felt a lot more planted, had better overall feel in the front, and I noticed that adjustments in the front made a much more significant difference than they had on the stock suspension. It certainly improved my cornering confidence, which is priceless. But, I am a lightweight rider and the stock suspension was set up for someone much heavier.

 

I DO distinctly remember asking Will (genius mechanic from California Superbike School) if I should upgrade my suspension - the FIRST time I asked him, he said "at the pace you are riding, it won't really matter". But, the NEXT time I asked him (an undisclosed number of schools later) he said "Yes, you should upgrade, at the pace you are riding it will really make a difference." HA!!! That was one of the real milestones for me in my riding - I finally was going fast enough to for Will to notice, and fast enough to make decent use of the bike's capabilities.

 

The tough part is finding someone you trust to set up the bike for you - I suggest using the online calculator for recommended spring size for your weight, then make sure your suspension person recommends something close. If it is way off, start asking questions, or get a second opinion.

 

Great write up there Hotfoot! B)

 

Bullet

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Nice write up Hotfoot. How have you been?

 

Thank you. :) I have been quite well, thanks, not riding as much as I'd like, but busy with plenty of other things. My new ride is a Moriwaki 250 and it is a whole new world, a great new challenge and all kinds of fun. Speaking of suspension, I was lucky enough to find a teenager who was just my size that wanted to move up to a 600 from the Moriwaki. We swapped bikes, he got my ZX6R, already set up for his size and weight, and I got the remarkable Moriwaki, set up just right for me. For once, we both got something back for all the upgrades we'd done to our bikes.

 

Life is good. :)

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