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Who's Done Suspension Work On Their Bike?


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How many of you have had suspension work done to your bike and if so what have you done?

 

I'm a big guy, about 250 and I ride a 2010 S1000rr. Even with all the preload cranked into the springs I still have 42 mm of sag in the front. Add to that the fact that I bottomed out my front end at VIR last season I decided to have my suspension worked on. I've decided on springs and valve work and I also think I'm going to have the rear done since I'm doing it.

 

What have you done to your suspension and how has it worked out for you?

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I have brought 3 bikes to the suspension gurus and did one myself.

 

On your sag problem. Stock springs are designed for a very light rider. Even most 180 pound American men often need spring replacement. With new springs you won't have any problem hitting the 30mm mark.

 

I have done business with Superbike Supsension for an R6 and my MV. Their prices were pretty decent. To respring and setup my R6 it was around $330. A full rebuild and springs on the rear of my MV it was $880.

 

I took my track R6 to Traxxion Dynamics. Full rebuild of the front forks and revalving as well as a full springs on the whole bike and a rear shock service and setup ran me $1100. They even put my Elka rear shock on the shock dyno to test it's operation and the suspension guy told me that my shock scored a lot better than some Ohlins units that he's seen.

 

On the bike I did myself it was my FZR400. New springs all the way around and a service of my Fox twin clicker. The FZR's have "shimmed" preload adjustment which was a lot of fun to figure out on my own and required opening the fork for adjustment. I spent around $300 servicing the Fox shock and a while getting the sag and some of the settings right. It's not as perfect of a job as a trained professional could have done adjustment wise but it's pretty competent on the track.

 

Hope this helps even though mostly I let the professionals do the hard work. :)

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I have a set of forks with racetech gold valves and springs;

It took three attempts to get the correct springs as their spring guide deal had the weight of the bike off by 50 pounds and even when I pointed that out to them they said it was only on the website not thier application guide. Then the replacement set they sent 4 days later didn't even fit in the tubes, so it was 9 days from the time I got the first set til the correct set actually arrived. The gold valves, well after installing them and they leaked I removed them and sanded the valve bodies flat with 800 grit on a steel flat plate, now they don't leak anymore. But I would certainly check for flatness on any of their bodies if installing again.

I would never go this route again! While they were appreciably better than the oe set up, it was not worth all that money and time and hassle compared to something that actually worked~ see below

 

Since, I have bought a set of Ak20's and it is night and day difference in how they work and the much more linear damping adjustment. Since it was only about $280 more out of pocket and actually significantly (hours) less work, I would call it a bargain.

 

In the rear, I revalved/resprung and refreshed an oe shock and it was far better than it was originally, but I also have a Penske 8983 that works even better yet that was about twice the cost. I use them differently as one is a two up set up and one is for solo so I can not directly compare feedback etc. But they both work well for their intended use, but the Penske is bling too...

 

If I was to start anew on this, buy the Penske and Ak20's and be done all at once with top notch stuff... or Ohlins or Ktech or something of known quality

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Oh. And as for the "how has it worked out for you" question. In every case suspension work has completely transformed the way the bike handled.

 

On my MV that had not been serviced in a while it took a bike that was normally a bit twitchy and difficult to ride fast into a bike that was rock solid everywhere and is now quite easy to ride fast on. For a while I had accepted that the grumpy and twitchy way the MV handled was just part of the perils of owning an exotic.

 

The R6 went from being quite vague feeling to being rock solid planted and very precise feeling.

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I have a set of forks with racetech gold valves and springs;

It took three attempts to get the correct springs as their spring guide deal had the weight of the bike off by 50 pounds and even when I pointed that out to them they said it was only on the website not thier application guide. Then the replacement set they sent 4 days later didn't even fit in the tubes, so it was 9 days from the time I got the first set til the correct set actually arrived. The gold valves, well after installing them and they leaked I removed them and sanded the valve bodies flat with 800 grit on a steel flat plate, now they don't leak anymore. But I would certainly check for flatness on any of their bodies if installing again.

I would never go this route again! While they were appreciably better than the oe set up, it was not worth all that money and time and hassle compared to something that actually worked~ see below

 

Sorry to hear your issues with Racetech. That probably explains why last year when I was wanting to get Gold Valves in my FZR my suspension guy that was going to do the work was trying his best to steer me over to an Ohlins product that was actually cheaper than the Gold Valves. Time of course was not in my favor that day and I ended up not being able to let him have the bike all day to do the work so I still have no valves.

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I've changed springs on, uh, 4 bikes now for the very same reason as you, warregl: bottoming out. the first time I did this was with my first sportsbike (a YZF600R "ThunderCat"). I purchased 2nd hand Ohlins springs/spacers and this completely transformed the handling of the bike. I went from bottoming out the fork all the time (deliberately or not) to just doing gently rolling stoppies :)

After a couple of years, I also replaced the then-worn out stock rear shock with an Ohlins unit. Just wow, such difference it made. Before changing the shock, it felt like the rear tire was just slightly greasy in all the corners. After it got the new Ohlins shock on, the bike was suddenly on rails :D

 

Since then, I've replaced springs on my R6 racebikes and my R1 roadbike. On the R6'es I've done this myself, but the preload on the R1 is so hard and the fork is rather complicated to work on, so I have taken it to a workshop to have them replace the spring.

 

My '08 R6 has Ohlins cartridges in it (installed by the original bike owner) but I clean & replace the oil in the forks myself. Last time, I even took the shim stacks apart and cleaned them as well. It was much easier than I had feared!

 

For the shocks (Ohlins on both bikes), I take them to a suspension guy who has the knowledge and tools to take them apart, clean/repair/refill oil and charge the Nitrogen.

 

I have never played with the valvings, and so far I don't drive so fast that I have had to pay attention to that. Maybe I've had a little more tyre wear, but at my level that's probably a good financial tradeoff.

 

I advice to anyone is to spend time on getting the suspension sorted out first thing, when they get a new bike - first the front and then the rear.

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...Stock springs are designed for a very light rider. Even most 180 pound American men often need spring replacement. With new springs you won't have any problem hitting the 30mm mark....

 

That's what I've been hearing. I got away with it for a while but my pace has picked up enough that all the coaches I have ridden with have said something about it. Time to suck it up and spend some money. Not that I'm opposed to that. I just want to be sure I'm spending it in the right place.

 

It's going to take a few weeks to get it torn down, shipped out and then reassembled but I'll let you all know how it goes.

 

Thanks for the input!

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I've modded the fork damper rods in a couple of my relics from the 1970s, but I will spare you the details since it has absolutely zero in common with current technology :D

 

I have an SV650, which is notorious for its bargain bin suspension. I did the usual low-cost upgrade, consisting of drilling out the damper rod holes, putting in emulators, stiffer springs for my weight, and heavier fork oil.

 

In the back, I swapped out the stock shock for a GSXR1000 shock (not quite like putting in an Ohlins, but a great $35 upgrade).

 

This was the minimum mod needed to make the SV650 handle acceptably, and a fun wrenching project. It was a tremendous improvement, but I'm sure that top-line components would make things even better.

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...Stock springs are designed for a very light rider. Even most 180 pound American men often need spring replacement. With new springs you won't have any problem hitting the 30mm mark....

 

That's what I've been hearing. I got away with it for a while but my pace has picked up enough that all the coaches I have ridden with have said something about it. Time to suck it up and spend some money. Not that I'm opposed to that. I just want to be sure I'm spending it in the right place.

 

It's going to take a few weeks to get it torn down, shipped out and then reassembled but I'll let you all know how it goes.

 

Thanks for the input!

 

 

Just an FYI. Traxxion Dynamics in Atlanta GA offers mail in service with pretty decent turn around. They also have a number of cartridge products for forks and other upgrades. I brought my R6 there in person but what impressed me is when I was there the suspension rebuild guy and warehouse guy were VERY conscientious about the UPS shipment when it arrived to get them out of the boxes quickly and get to work ASAP to try to get them out the door as soon as possible. On top of that you could do surgery or eat out of their rebuild area. Probably the cleanest work area I have ever seen.

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On my second bike, I had the suspension done to suit my weight (I am small and stock springs are typically are too stiff for me). I was amazed at the difference in the handling and in my confidence, so every bike I've owned since then has gone to a suspension shop to be set up with properly sized springs, valving, and rear shock.

 

I don't do the work myself but I have gotten good at dialing in the clickers and keeping good notes so I have a better idea of how to adjust my suspension for different tracks or to correct a handling problem.

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I race a Triumph Thruxton with RaceTech internals, A CBR1000RR with 30mm Ohlins fork internals and a Ohlins TTX shock. and a Yamaha R6 with 25mm Ohlins fork internals and a Ohlins TTX shock....None of this means very much if they are not set up correctly. The Ohlins 30mm kit is top of the line but it works better when the valve is modified and the shim stack is adjusted with loving experienced hands. The 25mm kit has been around for much longer and there is plenty of good set up data to make it work optimaly, if you take it to someone who has worked with the fast guys. I send my suspension components to Mike Fitzgerald "Thermosman" in Woodstock Georgia. He is a true craftsman.

 

The Thruxton has RaceTech forks and GAZI shocks....I have not had any issues with this suspension. It worked great as soon as I got the ride height adjusted.

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  • 2 weeks later...

On older bikes I've made a few tweaks, but my current one is also an SV650 and as said above, the stock suspension is pretty crude. Damper rod forks up front, I too have gone for stiffer springs and emulators, though I still find the rebound damping a bit limited. The OE springs aren't any good even for my miserable 140lb (naked) so they're worse than useless for anyone else. I've gone for progressive springs but am going to switch to linear ones later this year, but the change from stock made a big difference.

 

At the back I eventually raided the piggy bank for an Ohlins shock, which has transformed it. I'm not a very confident rider, but who cares how much extra grip I really have, it feels like I have a LOT more. As said above, the net result is a bike that seems to ride like a magic carpet over things. Even stock suspension can be set up well or badly, and the difference is pretty clear. Get it right and it's the best thing in the world, ever.

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