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Suspension School?


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I learned a fair bit by having a friend that does setups, basically an apprenticeship. After a while, I started doing baselines, then when on from there. I currently just "hang out" at a local race shop when I have the time. I read and research for hours and hours on different topics and when the race shop is doing the work, I connect the dots and ask questions. It's not ideal, but free. hahahahahahahaha

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It was his classes that got me wondering.350 bucks it seems....care to try Robert? :D:D

 

Something to consider in the future. At the moment I need to learn some of the basics before I would get a lot of benefit out learning from a guru like Dave. I have a feeling I would be totally lost in one of his classes. I have only tinkered with one suspension and that was out of need and desperation. :)

 

Max from Traxxion Dynamics has a book about suspension that I have been meaning to buy and read. Perhaps something to look at over the winter.

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The Superbike School ran a suspension class once, I went to that and loved it. I can't remember who the suspension guru teacher was, but he was an expert. We got technical info in class, then we went out and rode and went through a suspension adjustment checksheet to feel out all the changes when adjusting front compression, front rebound, rear compression, rear rebound in various combinations. It was hugely educational, but it was years ago and I don't know of any plans to do it again.

 

Dave Moss has a ton of online videos, really great stuff, shows photos of tire wear symptoms and all kinds of other info.

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Dave Moss is a guru in his own way. Some people say suspension tuning is as much art as science, and in my opinion Moss is more artist that scientist. Yes he will get your bike working great, but the technical explanation you will get about why it worked might be a little confusing. For example, in his videos he constantly claims that when you add spring preload to the forks you will likely need to add rebound damping as well because the preload has added "energy" to the springs and so you need to control that better. Right action (maybe), but wrong reasoning. I think he has actually been called out on his comments about preload because one of his videos has this soliloquy in it where he explains that sometimes he has to use "simpler ideas that riders can understand even if they are not exactly technically correct".

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I have heard him say some interesting things on Youtube that were opposite to what I have heard others recommend. There's always multiple ways of approaching problems and solving them. What's absolutely wrong for some is absolutely right for others.

 

When I first started learning about riding I looked at some information in absolute's as in correct vs incorrect. Over time I have found that it can't really work this way and having an open mind and embracing other ideas works better (at least for me). Watching someone do it "wrong" and getting great results is sometimes a quite compelling argument. :)

 

If you really stop for a moment and think about some of the science it's based on a lot of unknowns with a huge human variable inserted in there to further muck around with the results. For those areas artistry can really fill the gap.

 

If it works. It works. You never know if it will work for you unless you try it at least once. :)

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Catalyst Reaction is still a sponsor, and that is under Jim Williams. Our coach Mikey did work for Jim, and speaks very highly of him. We've also had good success with all the work they have done for us, as well as the people I know that have gone to them.

 

CF

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I have heard him say some interesting things on Youtube that were opposite to what I have heard others recommend. There's always multiple ways of approaching problems and solving them. What's absolutely wrong for some is absolutely right for others.

 

When I first started learning about riding I looked at some information in absolute's as in correct vs incorrect. Over time I have found that it can't really work this way and having an open mind and embracing other ideas works better (at least for me). Watching someone do it "wrong" and getting great results is sometimes a quite compelling argument. :)

 

If you really stop for a moment and think about some of the science it's based on a lot of unknowns with a huge human variable inserted in there to further muck around with the results. For those areas artistry can really fill the gap.

 

If it works. It works. You never know if it will work for you unless you try it at least once. :)

 

Im not so sure if you ride the same bike (near same handling and cog + near same level of mods) and same tires (same grip + profile+ damping/handling characteristics ) + is around the same weight as said person giving advice

" its art only if you don't understand it "

 

The most scientific way is still to have a control bike + a bike with one "mod" and see how it works, but its nigh impossible in the real world , hence the artistry to fill the temporary void

 

Im happy just with 2 to 3 points of reliable data points (usually provided by others) to map out and isolate the sweet spot in my suspension (and other) settings ~

 

PS. i would say its 50% intelligence and 50% luck that i get to have very accurate data/info on how to tune my bike using the least amt of effort and resources , i aint rich ... yet

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To be entirely fair if you are really basing this on science you would need to isolate the environmental conditions (temperature, humidity, wind) perfectly and have a rider that could give you the exact same lap each time. You would also need to make the test double blind with multiple test riders so that the rider's perception of the changes could be effectively isolated. Testing to that level is rather difficult. That's the bar in the scientific community. :)

 

The reality is most of these test are "good enough" but still have human factors involved. Because of the human factors alone there's a bit of "art" to this in my opinion at least. I have been wrong before though.

 

I think it would be an interesting experiment to have two identical bikes with identical suspensions and settings and paint the suspension on one a different color with a different manufacturer's logo on it. Have riders ride both bikes and see which one they like better. You might get some very interesting results based on the human factors and their perception of the "upgrade". :)

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Another thing to consider is the communication skills needed - both from the rider to communicate how the bike feels and the suspension tuner to be able to ask the right questions and be able to translate the answers into useful info.

 

I spent a little time with Will, the school mechanic, tuning the suspension and handling on one of my race bikes. It was a remarkably rewarding experience - Will was able to listen to my observations on the handling, make a few changes, and send me back out to ride, and in just a couple of sessions the bike felt MUCH better to me and my laptime dropped by a few seconds.

 

I was very impressed with how he could listen to my observations and know what to change, and he in turn was pleased with how specifically I could communicate what the bike was doing, it worked out really well.

 

As a comparison, I have also had the experience of taking a bike to a different suspension expert and having him not listen to a word I said and set up the bike for a completely different riding style that didn't work for me at all. I'm sure he was capable and knowledgeable but he neglected to consider my riding style, and the bike was stiff, unyielding and hard to steer - I think he set it up for someone who does very heavy trail braking with a ton of load on the front.

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Hotfoot. That's some great insight I have never really considered myself. Different riding styles require different setups. Of all of the times I have had suspension setup work done nobody has ever asked me anything about my riding style or skill set. That's almost as important as your weight in riding gear.

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Going through coach training I've learned a lot about how set-up affects bikes differently. I've been surprised by just how different the different coach bikes can feel/handle. They're exactly the same bikes but the full-time coaches who ride them most often set them up for their own preferences. It can make a huge difference, especially if your size and/or riding style is different from the coach who set up the bike. There are a couple I feel incredibly comfortable and confident on, and that makes it easy to run really fast laps or focus on the student. Then there are a couple others I prefer to avoid. I have to try to adapt my riding style to make the bike work for me. For example, one is set up in a manner that makes it want to keep leaning in to a corner after I've finished steering it, forcing me to hold a little pressure on the outside bar when I'm riding at a slower pace. The other solution for that bike when I'm riding it is to trail brake in then get on the throttle much harder, but that's not always an option depending on my student. It works great for the coach who set it up, but not so much for me.

 

I've also learned that tire profiles can play a significant part in this. If a tire has gotten flat on a side from being at that same lean angle a lot, it can make a bike feel like it wants to stand up or fall in to the corner at other lean angles, even with good throttle control and being relaxed on the bars. If you have a bike that does this, the first thing I recommend doing is checking/changing the tire(s). You could chase a lot of adjustments in your suspension without being able to fix that problem and ending up really frustrated.

 

Cheers,

Benny

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To be entirely fair if you are really basing this on science you would need to isolate the environmental conditions (temperature, humidity, wind) perfectly and have a rider that could give you the exact same lap each time. You would also need to make the test double blind with multiple test riders so that the rider's perception of the changes could be effectively isolated. Testing to that level is rather difficult. That's the bar in the scientific community. :)

 

The reality is most of these test are "good enough" but still have human factors involved. Because of the human factors alone there's a bit of "art" to this in my opinion at least. I have been wrong before though.

 

I think it would be an interesting experiment to have two identical bikes with identical suspensions and settings and paint the suspension on one a different color with a different manufacturer's logo on it. Have riders ride both bikes and see which one they like better. You might get some very interesting results based on the human factors and their perception of the "upgrade". :)

If the tuner can scientifically assess AND word it down + make an app ... who would need a tuner? the tuner will be without a job...

 

you get what I mean.

 

Human factors are... also a huge variable, every monkey is built different LOL. (different COG, differnt limb lengths and different styles)

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Going through coach training I've learned a lot about how set-up affects bikes differently. I've been surprised by just how different the different coach bikes can feel/handle. They're exactly the same bikes but the full-time coaches who ride them most often set them up for their own preferences. It can make a huge difference, especially if your size and/or riding style is different from the coach who set up the bike. There are a couple I feel incredibly comfortable and confident on, and that makes it easy to run really fast laps or focus on the student. Then there are a couple others I prefer to avoid. I have to try to adapt my riding style to make the bike work for me. For example, one is set up in a manner that makes it want to keep leaning in to a corner after I've finished steering it, forcing me to hold a little pressure on the outside bar when I'm riding at a slower pace. The other solution for that bike when I'm riding it is to trail brake in then get on the throttle much harder, but that's not always an option depending on my student. It works great for the coach who set it up, but not so much for me.

 

I've also learned that tire profiles can play a significant part in this. If a tire has gotten flat on a side from being at that same lean angle a lot, it can make a bike feel like it wants to stand up or fall in to the corner at other lean angles, even with good throttle control and being relaxed on the bars. If you have a bike that does this, the first thing I recommend doing is checking/changing the tire(s). You could chase a lot of adjustments in your suspension without being able to fix that problem and ending up really frustrated.

 

Cheers,

Benny

at the expense of sounding like a cheapo ... (i prefer to word it as financially efficient ) , I just plain copy what works (the settings) for me using someone else's bike and reverse engineer / setup it if its better than my current setup .

 

Perks of helping out at the shop and test riding some of the bikes i guess...

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