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Thread: Suspension fine tunning guide

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    I found my cheat sheet for tuning the suspension.
    After you have set your bike to the factory suggested setting and you feel like the bike missing something in the suspension this will help.

    Front wheel chatters entering a corner, the problem disappearing as soon as you let the brakes off or when power is applied.
    The fork is working too low in its travel.

    Apply more preload
    Change to a harder spring
    Reduce oil level if a tie wrap on the fork tube indicates a lot of stroke is unused
    Check fork friction (stiction)
    Rear ride height is too high - possibly too much spring preload. Reduce ride height.

    Front wheel skips during heavy braking
    Forks are bottoming out

    Increase spring stiffness
    Lower oil level if a lot of stroke remains

    Front end feels vague mid corner
    Poor damping control

    Insufficient rebound damping - increase
    If suspension feels harsh it may be too much rebound or compression damping - reduce

    Front end loses grip exiting corners
    Insufficent spring compliance or damping control

    Increase front rebound damping
    Reduce front spring preload
    Increase rear compression damping or spring rate

    Unfortunately the rear shock set-up affects the behavior of the front end in some circumstances, so there is often no easy answer to a particular handling problem. The most important thing to remember is never change more than one thing at a time .... Always test the bike after any change in the setup to see what affect it has. And make sure you note down your original settings, so if it all goes haywire you can start again from scratch.

    Preload controls ride height. It does not make the suspension harder or softer. What it does do though is alter the angle of the steering, which affects turning speed, and it also changes the weight distribution, which can affect front/rear grip.

    Front Preload:
    Increase it to put more weight on rear to get better rear traction, or stop the bike diving on the brakes. Too much will cause slow turning and possible front lock ups on braking.
    Decrease it to get more feel from front tyre in corner. Puts more weight on front which increases front traction. Too little will cause dive bombing.

    Rear Preload:
    Increase it to quicken the steering. Too much will cause loss of traction as bike skips over dips in road, and can make the bike generally unstable.
    Decrease it to improve stability. Too little and the bike will be slower turning and it will squat when you accelerate, leading to tank slappers.

    Compression damping:
    This affects the speed at which the shock can compress, under accelerating (rear) or braking (front), and also when riding over bumps. High speed damping usually operated by blowing the shim stack, allowing quick release of oil to compensate for a sudden shock like a pot-hole. Low speed damping controlled by the shims, allowing very subtle oil flow according to suspension loads.

    Front Compression:
    Increasing will remove some of the dive under heavy braking. Also it will increase the feedback and soak up small bumps better. Too much will cause instability, a rough ride, and it will reduce the grip available at the front.
    Decreasing will smooth the ride. Too little will cause excessive front tyre loading and can have the bike standing up on the brakes mid corner.

    Rear Compression:
    Increase to make the bike run true and hold a line around a corner. Too much and the bike could launch you into space after a bump, and the rear tyre will lose traction on undulations.
    Decrease compression to smoothen the ride. Too little will allow the bike to squat under power and run wide in corners.

    Rebound damping:
    This affects the speed at which a shock rebounds, which allows the wheel to return to the ground after hitting a bump.

    Front Rebound:
    Increase the damping to help the bike hold a line, and help front stability. Too much will gradually jack the front down as each bump compresses the front further and further. Also it will cause loss of feel and a tendency for the front to wash-out.
    Decrease to help the front react to bumps, and to keep it in contact with the tarmac. Too little will decrease front stability.

    Rear Rebound:
    Increasing will help to stop the rear bouncing around, and the front "pushing" in corners. To much will cause front end shake and overwork the rear tyre.
    Decreasing will smoothen the ride on a bumpy road, and decrease the rears tendency to step out on a bumpy corner. Too little rebound will cause running wide on corners.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Great post! Here is a little more help with a aggressive riding suspension chart.

    Click here

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2009
    This is great info guys +1 to both of you. I myself just set it to the factory specs and delt with it. I will for sure try some of this out. I am sure this will help alot of other guyys out as well so that we can enjoy our buells the way they are ment to be enjoyed.

  4. #4
    Great post.

    Saving it for the summer

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    This is just the thing I was looking for.

    This topic has been a total mystery to me, this thread has really helped.

    Now to give it a try!

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Well, I dont like being negative but that is how all great debates are started....

    I do agree with some of what is posted in this write up, but it shocks me coming from you gator (and your motocross expierence) that you would suggest the factory settings for a starting point????

    My take: Your starting point for a suspension set-up should alwas be checking your tires for excessive or abnormal wear, and proper pressure front and rear (even when fine tuning).

    After you have verified that tires are in good condition, and pressure is accurate (remember it is different from hot to cold) then the second step in suspension tuning is to set your static sag. This will ensure that the motorcycle geometry is correct for your weight including your typical riding gear, jacket, helmet, gloves ect...

    This process deserves a write-up of its own and will require the help of two friends.. or one that is very flexible :D

    after that is done your preload should be set and need no further adjustment. all fine tuning can be done with a combination of compression and dampening settings that work for you and is mostly going to be sorted out by your prefrence or riding style within reason ( you wont be setting your dampening valves to full closed or any thing rediculous)

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    This post is great, but is also incomplete without a discussion of changing fork oil weight for heavier riders. Over about 175 lbs, going with 10w oil rather than 5 can make a big difference. The manual spec's Type E, which (I believe) is 5W.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Thx for all the info guys

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2009
    i just now got done with adjusting the preloads finally, and now i have all this to look forward to!

    mainly that throttle side was a paint to be able to cram a wrench in there!

    gotta do some more riding with preload set up right and test out to see if i need to do any of this fancier stuff ;)

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Adjusted my suspension today in accordance with the owner's manual. Now the bike rides and handles like a dream even more!! When I rode it home from the dealership, it already felt great but now I see how tuning the suspension to your weight really makes a difference!

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