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Setting up the stock suspension

Old 04-30-2013, 08:23 PM
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Setting up the stock suspension

I have a 1998 SH and would like to setup the stock suspension for spirited street riding. I don't want to invest in any upgrades and do understand that there is a return on investment. I weigh about 135lbs without gear and probably about 15lbs more with. What is the optimal setup for slightly spirited street riding? I understand the forks are soft so I should increase the preload. For all the stock adjustment, I just can't seem to get comfortable with the front end feel. My other bikes seem to give so much more feedback. Any advise to the suspension newbie would be appreciated. My rear preload should be on the softer side? I will not use this bike for two-up ever. What about rebound/compression???
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Old 04-30-2013, 09:40 PM
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I weigh 170#s stock and I finally cranked up the preload on the forks all the way and the rebound too. It certainly helped and doesn't feel harsh, for me it was not enough and will be doing some upgrades. Start there and attack your favorite roads to check progress.
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Old 04-30-2013, 09:43 PM
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A famous quote from King Kenny Roberts "When you have a thousand combinations to the perfect set up, 999 of them are wrong"

Before anyone decides to break out their tools and start turning their "Clickers" they should have a basic understanding of what they are doing. As in what the differences between a compression adjustment and a rebound adjustment. They need to understand that one effects the other, that they are under the effects of temperature and altitude. That improper spring rates negate most damping adjustments. Etc.

I am all for any rider to learn this black art. The problem is that in terms of "adjustable" motorcycles they are fairly basic in terms of what you can achieve with the factory delivered components. I mean they are already in a fixed range that may or may not suit the rider and their intended type of use.

So I will not further boor you nice folks with technical jargon or blanket analogies but leave you with the "Mantra" of street bikes suspension set up.

Start in this order.

1. Proper spring rate and pre load

Factory bikes are delivered with springs designed for a broad user spectrum. Japanese bikes are mostly over sprung on the rear to allow the operator to carry a passenger. While the front is normally aimed at a rider under 170 LBS.

Springs have one job. To support the mass of the bike. They do this with the tensile strength of the spring itself. This is arrived at with the actual dia. of the "wire" the spring is constructed of and the hardness of said material. Properly calculated a spring should allow the tuner the ability to set the preload to achieve the sag dimension desired.(Amount of actual compression the spring takes with the bike and rider on it) That brings the next step.

2.Geometry

Set up requires the tuner to have the correct geometry to maximize the chassis factory designed envelope. Sag settings and ride height will determine stability , agility and traction. Ride height front and rear have separate effects in all three categories. Too far in either direction the bike is difficult to ride and therefore lessen riders confidence.

3.Damping.

The 3rd and final field is the one that has the most variables. If the tuner has arrived here after sorting the first 2 phases discussed above this final detail allows the fine tuning needed to sharpen the bike for any given variable (Ambient temperature, altitude, surface conditions, and even pace)

A bike that has been thoroughly sorted responds very well to small adjustments in the hydraulic side of its equation (rebound, and compression) If the first two parts are not addressed a tuner has very little chance of making any comprehensive change with just the "clickers"
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Old 05-01-2013, 06:37 PM
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Hmm...maybe I should just put everything back to stock the way it was delivered and see how it feels
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Old 05-02-2013, 01:52 AM
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Originally Posted by bostonhawk View Post
Hmm...maybe I should just put everything back to stock the way it was delivered and see how it feels
If you crank the front all the way to the hardest, and the rear all the way to the softest, then you are close to ballpark with your weight... Then fiddle with the settings a little...

It's still going to be undersprung in the front, and oversprung in the rear... Set/check sag... There are good guides on youtube...
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Old 05-03-2013, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Tweety View Post
If you crank the front all the way to the hardest, and the rear all the way to the softest, then you are close to ballpark with your weight...
Listen to Tweety, if you try to set sag, you'll find his advice spot on. The fork springs are very easy to replace and one of thee best bang-for-the-buck upgrades. It would be worth the money spent so reconsider your original statement if your hawk is going to be a keeper. A local forum member may even be willing to swap em out for you for a small token of appreciation (case of beer).
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Old 05-03-2013, 07:47 AM
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Cranking up the preload will stiffen the forks and give you more feedback, but it also will raise front end ht so make it turn in slower.

I put a thread on here a couple time on how to add spacers to the front but at your wt it may be less needed. (I weight 210 w/no gear)

You should search on how to put the spacer (big cut washer) on the rear shock mount. This will quicken the steering and transfer wt forward. More like a sportbike.

You biggest issue will be that the stock rear spring is way too stiff for you. Take all the preload off it (if there is any).

Also, this bike is hyper sensative to tires. Brands, types, pressure and wear. When I got my bike it handled like a pig. The stock front tire looke fine but replacing it made it a new bike.
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Old 05-03-2013, 07:52 AM
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Thanks for all the advice. I need to fiddle with the rear as well - I don't think I changed it from the person I bought it. The tires are very good - Michelin Pilot Power in the back and Pilot Pure in the front with good tread. Besides preload in the rear, should I play with anything else?
I haven't decided if I will keep my SH or not. It is fun, but I have other bikes which I like overall more as a package and find it difficult to invest in all of them. For most of the riding (city and suburbs), the SH is overkill probably...I love the motor and I like the looks, but everything else is not great. My VFR is probably a better package overall, but the motor is different.
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Old 05-03-2013, 03:44 PM
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Honestly, don't expect much out of the stock suspension. Just cranking or un-cranking the preload won't really help much because the springs are less than half the problem. My suggestion is to do the best you can until you can afford upgrades.
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Old 05-10-2013, 07:44 PM
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Ok, so I softened the preload in the rear all the way and took the bike for a late night ride. Definitely feels better! I am surprised because I went from the stock "2" setting to 1. I am much happier with the feel. Now, I need to tweek with the front end some. The motor is a torque monster! I do need to improve maintain the brakes - change fluid and put rear pads
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Old 05-11-2013, 04:57 AM
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I think you will find this is a placebo effect that will quickly wear off. There isn't much good about the stock suspension and no amount fiddling with the external adjustments will correct the problems contained within. Sorry!
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Old 05-11-2013, 05:18 AM
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let's help this guy....

But if all the preloads are max'd the wrong way, you will notice an improvement if you set them correctly.
Adjust your fork preload all the way in to the top most line. This pic shows it all the way soft which isn't what you want.
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Old 05-11-2013, 05:25 AM
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Improvement? Yes

Good? No

I guess that was my point. Sure, the adjustments do something but they will never get your bike to handle well. It is the internal parts that cause the problems so they need replaced. This transforms the VTR into a completely different machine!
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Old 05-11-2013, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by JamieDaugherty View Post
Improvement? Yes

Good? No

I guess that was my point. Sure, the adjustments do something but they will never get your bike to handle well. It is the internal parts that cause the problems so they need replaced. This transforms the VTR into a completely different machine!
Wolverine and Jamie, thanks for the comments. I do have the fork adjustments the right way and Jamie, I do see your point. I have a 2007 VFR and I also have a Monster 696 that I bought for the "wife" ;-). Since my wife was not riding the Monster I wanted to get a Ducati 848 instead of the Monster - she didn't approve selling the Monster. I came across a SH that was inexpensive and needed a little fixing and snagged it as an ADDITIONAL bike. So....you are probably right that if I want to get the suspension really to work I need to change the internals. But, I am also not sure how long I will keep the SH or how much money I want to put into it considering it is a 15 year old bike. Since there is some adjust-ability and I am a smaller guy, I wanted to maximize what I can get out of the stock 15 year old suspension.
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