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Anyone elses suspension seem to stiff for them?

Old 12-19-2006, 03:42 PM
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Anyone elses suspension seem to stiff for them?

I've put around 300 miles on my bike so far, and I never realized how stiff the suspension is until I took a friend for a ride on it. Even with her little ~110lb body on the back, it made it ride much smoother and seemed easier to handle. Is it normal for the VTR's suspension to be abnormally stiff? I'm not using this for track use (yet) and would rather have a comfy suspension ride for moderate hard use on the back roads. I'm not the smallest guy out of the bunch either, being about 6 feet and around 220 pounds.

Do the adjusters on top of the forks make a noticeable difference? (I assume they are for rebound only?) I was really wanting to tinker with it but didn't because knowing myself I'd screw something up! :-D Thanks guys.
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Old 12-19-2006, 05:45 PM
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It's actually abnormally SOFT. I think you're the first person I've seen complain about it being too stiff. Japanese sportbikes are setup for, you guessed it, Japanese sized people.

With a passenger my handling falls off tremendously. Because of that I haven't had my wife on there for almost 5 years now (or anyone else either, for you dirty minded). Are you sure your bike hasn't been modified (read: resprung) for a really heavy rider?
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Old 12-19-2006, 05:58 PM
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The SH is setup not just soft, but VERY soft. You really are the first I've ever heard complain about harsh/hard supension, and a better feel 2 up.

If you bought the bike used, I'm assuming whoever owned it before you did some suspension modifications.
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Old 12-19-2006, 06:10 PM
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Keep in mind that the average rider probably has 2/3 of his/her weight on the front of the bike. The rear end is purposely oversprung to accomodate both rider and passenger. Honda HAS to do it this way for fear of the bike bottoming out and handling like crap. The best solution is to buy a shock sprung for your weight and put a sticker on the tail that says "NO FAT CHICKS" or "WEIGHT LIMIT: 120 LBS". The front is undersprung, I will agree.
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Old 12-19-2006, 09:08 PM
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Odd...maybe its just the horrible Penn. back roads? Stiff to the point of like....my feet bounce off the footpegs on bumps!!

I have no idea who previously owned it, but theres no way this set up is stock. The adjusters on top of the forks are right in the middle. Is there any easily distinguseable markings that would indicate that the suspension has been set up differently? Sorry for all the newbie 'tard questions!
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Old 12-19-2006, 09:12 PM
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Yeah, the back is way to stiff for me. The spring is perfect enough, being set up for a 160 lb rider, but the compression damping is just so stiff. My butt flies all over the place when I ride. Plus I have an excuse for still having my chicken strips. Well, that and the fact I'm still riding on stock tires...
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Old 12-19-2006, 09:30 PM
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Otto, can you snap a pic of your shock and post it?
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Old 12-19-2006, 09:32 PM
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wow... stock it was terribly soft. I upgraded to .95kg fork springs and a rear shock and it's stiff and I wouldn't have it any other way
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Old 12-20-2006, 02:14 AM
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It is worth remembering here that a soft spring will give a very harsh action to the suspension, thus giving an incorrect impression that it is too stiff, when exactly the opposite is true. This is partly due to the fact that he spring is compressed too far under bike and body weight, and cannot handle bumps. So when you hit one you get a big hit, and you think it is too hard.

The VTR is undersprung and feels harsh because it is too soft, not too hard.

Sound like a fair explanation guys?

I think this may be your problem Otto. I can't explain it being better with a pillion though.
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Old 12-20-2006, 06:50 AM
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Its also a matter of spring rates vs. damping characteristics. I also found the stock rear shock to be very noncompliant - any sharp bumps would be transmitted directly to the seat (and then of course to the soft front springs). It overemphasizes the problems in the front suspension to the point of confusion, at least on street riding over real world bumps.
I was amazed when I picked up a used Penske shock - even with a stiffer spring the ride was nite and day improved in terms of being able to actually respond to road irregularities in addition to providing better handling on smooth flat (track) surfaces. As much as we rave about putting on different front end suspensions, I think the single best modifications I made were stiffer front springs and a new rear shock (that didn't stop me from switching to a RC51 front end, but that has more to do with obsessive behavior on my part)

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Old 12-20-2006, 06:53 AM
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Obsessive Behavior? Around here?
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Old 12-20-2006, 08:35 AM
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I have always heard that the front springs were much too soft but that the rear spring was too stiff. Having upgraded my fork springs, I wouldn't mind going to a slightly softer rear spring (for my weight, 170 lbs)
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Old 12-20-2006, 01:00 PM
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stock shock is far from being too stiff. if you upgrade to stiffer fronts you need a better/stiffer rear... otherwise it won't be balanced
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Old 12-20-2006, 02:24 PM
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I think the stock rear shock is too stiff.... I weight in the 170-180 range (dependant on crappy food and beer consumption) and couldn't even set the rear sag properly untill I got an aftermarket shock. The stocker barely moved (just a few millimeters) when I got on the bike, and that was at the lowest/softest setting clip on the shock.
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Old 12-20-2006, 04:05 PM
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Well at 250lbs my hawk always squated with my fat ***!
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Old 12-20-2006, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by SlowHAWK View Post
I think the stock rear shock is too stiff.... I weight in the 170-180 range (dependant on crappy food and beer consumption) and couldn't even set the rear sag properly untill I got an aftermarket shock. The stocker barely moved (just a few millimeters) when I got on the bike, and that was at the lowest/softest setting clip on the shock.
That's what mine does. I had a friend of mine whos within 10 pounds of me. He sat on it and the suspension hardly moved at all. Oh well, I got all winter to round off the rough edges. :-D
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Old 12-20-2006, 08:28 PM
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The rear shock is oversprung for most anyone....even my fat 225# ***.
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Old 12-20-2006, 09:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Hawkrider View Post
The rear shock is oversprung for most anyone....even my fat 225# ***.

That is interesting you say that Greg, as my local Racetech guy told me that the spring is good for a 85-90kg rider (187-198 pounds I think) and when I set up my sag etc, I was able to set properly for my 85KG. I had the valving done of course, and springs for the front, but not the rear spring.

I did the preload properly too, with static sag, and my weight etc, and it was within range. I have a 98 model.
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Old 12-20-2006, 10:55 PM
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Ahh, I think I may know the problem here then. Maybe the preload on the stock spring is too high. That would explain the reason nobody can get good sag numbers with the stock shock. Anyway I went to RT website. You're right, they claim the stock spring is good for 187#.
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Old 12-21-2006, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Hawkrider View Post
Ahh, I think I may know the problem here then. Maybe the preload on the stock spring is too high. That would explain the reason nobody can get good sag numbers with the stock shock. Anyway I went to RT website. You're right, they claim the stock spring is good for 187#.
Hmmmmmmm......... my changed valving wouldn't effect the preload though would it? (thinking,,,thinking...) I don't see how it could. My spring could be a bit saggy though compared to a new one due to its mileage (77000 KM 48000 miles approx)

I was careful to do my preload properly, and it came up within spec. I don't have the numbers handy, but I did some mathematics to get the right figures before I set it up. So I would have thought that if your weight was 85-90kg you would be able to get it pretty close.

Here is the article I wrote a while ago for the Australian VTR forum I am a member of (ozfirestorm.com.au). Let me know if you disagree with any of this:

G'day everyone, I shall try and keep this as brief as possible, as suspension has been done to death already.

I have done some research to see if all the speculation about VTR suspension has any merit. I have also used a test bike (Blazes' standard 2004 model - my suspension has full Race Tech internals) to check some data and come up with some findings of my own.

No-one reading this will have suspension that suits them if it is stock, as the springs are unbalanced from front to rear by a large margin. This covers all models, not just older ones.

The front springs will be ok for your 13 year old sister. Provided she hasn't had lunch yet. They are that light. You would need to be less than 70kg to be close I think. The rear spring will be ok if you are around 75 - 90 maybe. Obviously we cannot be both, so springs are no good.

Doing some static & laden sag tests with Blaze who is 85kg, we found that the rear spring was fine, and the front we could not get within cooee. We wound the front preload in fully, and I don't mean to the last ring, I mean until it bottomed out, and it was still out of range. Not even close.

So front springs will need to be replaced for most of us, and if you are a lightweight, then the rear will be too stiff, so you lose both ways. See your friendly suspension guru for further assistance.

When my forks and shock were done the result was new springs in the front and standard spring for the rear. I weigh 82kg, so this backs up my experiments I think.

Everyone knows the valving is no good. Get it fixed too when you next get the suspension serviced.

OK, assuming you now have that all done and are approaching suspension nirvana, all that is left to do is set up the laden and unladen sag. Most stuff you will read quotes measurements for bikes we don't own, and makes the assumption that you have more suspension travel at the front than the rear, as most bikes are like this. Guess what!!! VTR's are different, they have more travel at the rear. So here are the specs you need for our beloved bikes, to save you doing the calculations. I have worked them out specifically for us! For those that don't know, these figures are a percentage of your suspension travel. Generally 25-25% for laden sag and 10-20% unladen.

Suspension changed for 2001 models it seems, so hear are the front and rear travel specs:

Up to 2000 models. Front 109mm rear 124 mm
2001 models onwards. Front 119mm rear 124mm.

Loaded sag for up to 2000 models:
Front 25-38mm
Rear 30-43mm

Loaded sag for 2001 models onwards:
Front 30-41mm
Rear 30-43mm

Static sag will be the same for all models, or so close it doesn't matter, so I have kept it the same:

Front 20-30mm
Rear 0-10mm

So there you go, all you need I reckon. Let me know if I have left anything out and I will amend the post.

Cheers,
Shayne
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Old 12-21-2006, 02:49 PM
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Shayne, there may be some differences between US and non-US models. I'm going to my suspension shop tomorrow. I'll bring the shock along and have the spring measured. I'm pretty sure they have that capability. That should settle this once and for all.
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Old 12-21-2006, 05:44 PM
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My stock spring was way SOFT. I had almost all of the preload dialed-in before my sag numbers were correct. I'm ~220lbs (ok, 225lbs) and have since switched to a heavier rate Hyperpro spring.
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Old 12-21-2006, 06:04 PM
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I weigh @ 210 lbs and I've had good results with Hyperpro springs front and rear with Racetech compression valving. The progressively wound springs work very well and smooth out a variety of real world road conditions.
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Old 12-21-2006, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Hawkrider View Post
Shayne, there may be some differences between US and non-US models. I'm going to my suspension shop tomorrow. I'll bring the shock along and have the spring measured. I'm pretty sure they have that capability. That should settle this once and for all.
You could be right Greg, it is possible, although not that I am aware of. The distances for suspension travel that I mentioned in my last post were taken from a few different sources on the internet to ensure they were accurate, and every spec was the same.

It is possible the spring rates are different though, and I am assuming that is what you are referring to. Be interesting to find out.
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Old 12-21-2006, 08:26 PM
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Well, I couldn't find my stock shock. I looked everywhere. Must've got lost in the move, or in the bottom of a box of pots and pans or something. Sorry. I'll take you're word for this and concede.
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