Suspension time



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Thread: Suspension time

  1. #1

    Suspension time

    I know almost nothing about suspension except that it's time to refresh mine. Bike is a 2011 V-Strom 650 with around 130,000km. Rear shock is stock with nothing done to it. Forks have Sonic Springs in them (10w, 0.90 springs installed around 100,000km ago) and I also have a fork brace.

    When riding 2up, the bike now bottoms out quite easily. When riding solo it's ok for commuting, but if I turn it up a notch for some happy cornering, then I feel those bumps and the bike is certainly less stable than a few years ago. I really notice it when riding twisty roads and following others who have nicer bikes than me. While my bike is getting older, and looks a little banged up, it runs very well (by my standards) and does everything I ask it to (except go faster). If I don't get a new bike, I can see myself easily taking this bike past 200k.

    I'm looking for the bike to feel really planted in the corners, over bumps and dips. I also want the bike to be really comfortable and not bottom out for my wife when she's on the back.

    I know about Accelerated Technologies in Buckhorn, and am thinking about using their services, but they are so far away and I do not know of other places locally (Mississauga is where I'm at). Also not sure if I should just refresh my stock suspension or go for something new. Remote adjustment is not something I know much about - all I care about is that the bike handles well (ie 2up traveling or solo twisty madness).

    Although I'm a mechanical noob, I have the service manual and a good set of tools. I think I could swap the rear shock out ok. I'm not sure if I would mess up a fork removal & reinstall though. I'm definitely better with plants, but am learning to do more on the bike.

    I could remove my rear shock and get it refreshed, but then I'd be bikeless for a while - best if a GTA place could do this over the winter.
    I could drop my bike off to Accelerated have have both the front and rear done, but then I'd be bikeless for a while and $$$.
    I could buy a used stock shock off ebay or something and have that refreshed, so I'm not bikeless and less $$.
    I could buy a new and better rear shock like Elka or Progressive etc and install it myself and have a shop properly set it up (I think)...
    Not sure what to do about the forks because of my mechanical prowess (or lack thereof). Maybe it just needs an oil refresh? No clue.

    Since the bike is getting older (I do still like it), I want to upgrade / improve the suspension without dropping too much coin.

    Thoughts / Suggestions?
    Thanks!
    The Big Map of Ontario's Best Roads.

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  2. #2
    RockerGuy's Avatar
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    Re: Suspension time

    Suspension requires alot of guess & test unless you know what you're doing. I don't think you can ship your suspension out to have it tuned because it needs to be tuned for your bike & weight.

    If I were you I'd set a higher preload & go from there. Just ensure you document your stock settings before making adjustments
    “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money.” ―Margaret Thatcher

  3. #3

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    Re: Suspension time

    Try Speedworx in Markham. I've had great experiences there, they evaluate your requirements then set things up for your riding style. Prices are very reasonable too.

  4. #4

    Re: Suspension time

    Thanks.
    Forgot about Speedworx. I buy my tires from them and they seem really nice.
    The Big Map of Ontario's Best Roads.

    https://www.mixcloud.com/shanekingsley/ - House music, Drum'nBass and Downtempo mixed sets

  5. #5
    Baggsy's Avatar
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    Re: Suspension time

    I see two choices. Have someone who knows what they're doing set it for you, or use your own free labour to do so.

    I had a Toronto shop that didn't specialize in suspension, install an Intiminator kit into my K9 Wee, and the suspension feels as though they installed a rod where the spring should be. There is almost no give at all. Since I didn't know any better myself, I've been living with it up until now. It's possible they've used the wrong oil weight for the kit, and installed all of the shims, but I have to take the forks off to take a look. It's been said that it isn't as difficult as it looks. But I'll try and get some locals to take a look after I'm done.

    As mentioned above, document the current settings. They go through adjusting the existing settings in Cutekill's Lee Parks courses.
    Last edited by Baggsy; 10-26-2017 at 12:02 AM.
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  6. #6
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    Re: Suspension time

    With the mileage on that bike, it will almost certainly benefit from a thorough disassemble and refresh.

    How are the steering head bearings? Have they ever been changed? If not, they're probably either toast, or on their last legs. (I've got a steering head bearing replacement job coming up.)

    You have to take the front end apart to get to the steering head bearings. At that point, you might as well change the fork oil. With 100,000 km on the fork oil ... it will be black, stinky, and nasty. The springs won't wear out, leave them alone.

    Have you ever inspected, cleaned, and re-greased any of the bearings in the rear suspension linkage including the swingarm pivot bearings? Probably not. Most people never think about it. I've had one of those bearings seize because water got in past the seal and that was because the factory put barely any grease in there. Doing this before it gets to that point should be minimal in parts but it's some labour. You can do this yourself if you can get the rear of the bike off the ground and supported independently of the suspension. If your bike has a center stand, that'll work. I have to hang mine from the ceiling using tie-down straps.

    I guarantee that your rear shock is shot. I don't know if the stock shock in that bike is rebuildable. Most original-equipment shocks on anything short of premium sport bikes are either not rebuildable (sealed - welded shut - can't be taken apart non-destructively) or aren't worth rebuilding, either because replacement parts aren't available or aren't any better than stock or because the stock shock has designed-in limitations.

    My street FZR400 has a Penske shock that I bought through Pro 6 Cycle. It was made to order based on my weight and what I was using the bike for. It seems to work well, and they're rebuildable. https://www.penskeshocks.com/

    My race FZR400 has a Fox Twin Clicker shock which hasn't been supported by Fox for about 15 years and it's got issues. It's at a point where I have to make a decision between buying aftermarket-aftermarket (!) replacement internal parts and having someone not familiar with them take a guess at revalving it using parts meant for something else, or getting another Penske. Ohlins isn't an option; not available. Adapting a shock that's really meant for some other bike but which might coincidentally have the same length, doesn't seem like a good recipe for having the correct valving in it.

  7. #7

    Re: Suspension time


  8. #8

    Re: Suspension time

    I talked to John for a while when I visited his shop on a ride 2 years ago. I'm pretty sure he said my shock can be rebuilt. I'll call him.

    My steering head bearings are on their way out too. It's not horrible, but I do feel a slight decel wobble if I take my hands off the bars. I can see the value in doing all of it in one go and will get the tapered bearings for that. I've read up on that job and it looks a little beyond my current capabilities.

    I replaced my swingarm in the spring, because the swingarm bearings were shot and there was a lot of movement there. Also had the wheel bearings replaced. I have not ever had the rear suspension linkage cleaned or regreased.

    I have a center stand and a lift in my garage, so I am happy to take that on. I would like to learn and do as much as I can, but not at the expense of having it done well, so I usually read up on what is involved and then decide if it's within or beyond my comfort level.

    Thanks!
    The Big Map of Ontario's Best Roads.

    https://www.mixcloud.com/shanekingsley/ - House music, Drum'nBass and Downtempo mixed sets

  9. #9

    Re: Suspension time

    What I'd do -

    Take the shock out, send it to John for refresh. Reinstall when you get back. Then set up.

    Adrian - Ace Moto Tech is also a wicked source.

    Between John and Adrian I'm not sure who is better to learn **** from. Both explain stuff in such a logical manner I can't help but learn.

  10. #10

    Re: Suspension time

    Thanks - Adrian's shop is probably the closest to me out of everything and I've been wanting to go for a visit.
    The Big Map of Ontario's Best Roads.

    https://www.mixcloud.com/shanekingsley/ - House music, Drum'nBass and Downtempo mixed sets

  11. #11
    Rob Star's Avatar
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    Re: Suspension time

    Pro6 and Riders Choice are also worth mentioning. They have techs who can do a simple service and refresh on your shocks with confidence.

  12. #12

    Re: Suspension time

    Quote Originally Posted by shanekingsley View Post
    Thanks - Adrian's shop is probably the closest to me out of everything and I've been wanting to go for a visit.

    Good choice. Say hello for me

  13. #13
    boyoboy's Avatar
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    Re: Suspension time

    Quote Originally Posted by Baggsy View Post
    I see two choices. Have someone who knows what they're doing set it for you, or use your own free labour to do so.

    I had a Toronto shop that didn't specialize in suspension, install an Intiminator kit into my K9 Wee, and the suspension feels as though they installed a rod where the spring should be. There is almost no give at all. Since I didn't know any better myself, I've been living with it up until now. It's possible they've used the wrong oil weight for the kit, and installed all of the shims, but I have to take the forks off to take a look. It's been said that it isn't as difficult as it looks. But I'll try and get some locals to take a look after I'm done.

    As mentioned above, document the current settings. They go through adjusting the existing settings in Cutekill's Lee Parks courses.
    Sounds to me like you have too much fork oil level. Too much oil will reduce the air volume available to compress, as the fork compresses. Can make the fork feel "locked". Check with your aftermarket fork kit manufacturer and adjust the oil level to their recommended spec. You do not have to remove the forks to set the oil level. A stand that lifts from the steering stem is your friend. The level is measured with the fork springs out and the forks completely bottomed - the measurement is from the oil in fork tube to the top of the fork tube. Conversely, the op poster may have a fork oil level too low - which can cause a soft and bottoming fork.

    interesting fork set up info here http://www.racetech.com/VehicleSearch check with the manufacturer for your specific "intimitator kit" on oil level and shim settings for suggested settings and check yours. Your forks should be working much better than stock.

    Your stock spring rate was about .65 - you now have .90 springs. Off the top of my head, a .90 spring rate is better suited to a roadracer than a street bike....I would have immediately returned the bike to the shop that "fixed" your forks, and demand they set it up properly.
    Last edited by boyoboy; 11-01-2017 at 12:23 PM.
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  14. #14
    matt365's Avatar
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    Re: Suspension time

    Brian is pretty much spot on. If you need some help changing fork oil, inspecting and re-greasing the linkage bearings; come up to Georgetown and we can do it together. I'll walk you through everything.

    That shock is done. I would find a low mileage stock shock on e-bay. Run the new one, or send the new to you shock to Sherrard to have the spring swapped to one for your weight.



    Sent from my SGH-I747M using Tapatalk
    Last edited by matt365; 11-01-2017 at 07:52 PM.

  15. #15

    Re: Suspension time

    Thanks for the offer Matt. I just may take you up on that, because I want to learn this stuff as much as possible. I also have a fair bit of tools and a bench, just maybe not as many tools as you.

    I'm going to go over to Adrian's anyways and talk to him about stuff. My bike is good - just needs to be updated with a few things and I can ride it for another 100k at least. Regardless of what I do, this has to be sorted out before spring of next year.
    The Big Map of Ontario's Best Roads.

    https://www.mixcloud.com/shanekingsley/ - House music, Drum'nBass and Downtempo mixed sets

  16. #16

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    Re: Suspension time

    At 130km the rear shock is dead about 3 times over and dampening will be pogo stick like. I'm not certain rebuilding an OEM is worth it. Does it have both preload and dampening adjustment? If not, go Progressive or some other aftermarket shock. Changing a shock is dead easy and then you need a helper to assist with setting the proper sag. You can also set the sag for 2 up riding and take note of the setting so you can leave the shock on just rider sag setting and then adjust for 2 when necessary. You can definitely do this yourself.

    The front fork spring at .9 can be checked by referencing RaceTech's webpage. If the rate is good you should check length to see if the spring is worn out and needs to be replaced. At 130km you probably want to dissemble and check all the internal bushings and you might as well change the seals while everything is open. This is more involved then bolting on and adjusting a rear shock, but is still pretty basic stuff. The steering head bearings might be a bit of a challenge re special tools required + setting the load on the bearings.

    I think you're going to be unpleasantly surprised to see what a shop will charge for a front and rear rebuild and enhancement job. I know 2 guys from the ST forum who paid over $2,500 for a new high performance shock and a total rebuild + new springs + re valving + tapered steering head bearings for the front end. Both people said it completely transformed the bike (ST1300) and greatly improved ride and cornering ability.

    Once you sort out what you are going to do I'd be interesting in seeing the options you selected and the final cost.
    PS

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  17. #17

  18. #18

    Re: Suspension time

    Thanks for the additional info.
    It turns out the 2013 model of my bike has a shock that will fit on my bike.

    I was able to find one from a neighbour with only 1000km on it for $150, so I bought it. It's also an improved shock over the 2011 model, so I'm happy and this saves me a lot of time running around getting shock rebuilt.

    I will do the front forks this winter and yes, the steering bearings do require a special tool besides myself.
    The Big Map of Ontario's Best Roads.

    https://www.mixcloud.com/shanekingsley/ - House music, Drum'nBass and Downtempo mixed sets

  19. #19
    matt365's Avatar
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    Re: Suspension time

    Quote Originally Posted by shanekingsley View Post

    I will do the front forks this winter and yes, the steering bearings do require a special tool besides myself.
    I can show you how to swap them, no special tools required. Use the old bearing race, cut a relief in it with a grinder, and use that to drive in the new races.

    If you get the parts on order, i can show you how to change the fork seals; you might as well change the fork bushings when you are in there as well.

    Pm me.





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  20. #20

    Re: Suspension time

    Quote Originally Posted by matt365 View Post
    Pm me
    Thanks and will do. I'll have some free time starting in December and throughout the winter.
    The Big Map of Ontario's Best Roads.

    https://www.mixcloud.com/shanekingsley/ - House music, Drum'nBass and Downtempo mixed sets

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