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manuel

Suspension is getting an upgrade (UPDATE - installed!)

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manuel
I have to say it...peer pressure works. It's the theme of this section of this forum - experienced riders say that the first thing that needs to be done is the suspension, as it will yield the most notable benefit and it looks like it's one of the few aspects where Yamaha decided to cut the costs. In a way that's great, since getting rid the stock suspension is not going to make one feel bad about replacing it.
You'll say that I am a new rider and what the heck do I know? After all, when did I have the chance to explore the limits of the stock setup? And that will be correct. But, even in my ignorance I noticed the brake dive and the crashing over those sharp ridges that go across the entire street and feel like vicious, pointy, visible only when close, speed bumps (those that seem to be the result of the crazy temperature swings that we get to enjoy up here for the best part of the year). And I have also noticed, in my quest of ridding my tires of those shameful chicken strips, that if the road is not perfect, the bike feels not very confidence inspiring when leaned. And again, I have also noticed (maybe also because of improperly applying the brakes) that the rear unloads so fast that, if you are not careful, you can lock it quite easily.
I am about 180 pounds (a bit above the target audience of the stock suspension, if my memory serves me well) and I admit: I don't know any better. But as it turns, spending the long, cold winter evenings reading on the topic gives you ideas. Ideas that, if properly presented to the better half, can quickly turn into bank account damaging activity :) So now, or whenever the 3 ft of snow decorating my front yard will decide to melt away, I'll get to know better. How do I know? Well, here are my arguments:- fork damper rod kit together with weight-appropriate linear springs and RaceTech emulators, courtesy of Traxxion (Dan is the best!)- Ohlins S46DR1 (YA 419), DeCarbon design, rebound adjustable and with weight-appropriate linear spring.
Based on the green level of experience I decided that the AK cartridge setup cannot be justified in my case. The same goes for the rear - any double (or more) adjustability would probably go unused to potential. I hope I will be correct in my desire to stay balanced front and rear, get something that will provide clear, measurable benefits and stay on the reasonable side of spending.
You may ask why couldn't I wait for the Elka design that the good gents running this forum are trying to help with - first of all, my timing always seems off (from the same angle, why didn't I benefit from the initial 25% Traxxion discount when it was offered- well, back then I had very little idea what that message was about - literally, and I was firmly under the impression that all was great, nothing like that was needed) and second, I found a good price for the Ohlins unit so I went for it.
Here is the mandatory blurry picture of the goodies, sitting comfortably on the futon in my office:  Ex2Nuz0.jpgI will attempt to install the shock myself, but I am unsure about the forks - there is something dark, scary about the forks upgrade that I can't explain...I know I have the instructions and I know that youtube is my friend but I am bit leery of experimenting with that - thoughts?
It is unfortunate that there will be a long wait until I get to see these in action, but it's all good. Work will keep me busy and the kids and the forum will keep me entertained...or is it the other way around :) ?
P.S. I got the Akra Carbon as well, but I will bore you all with that in the appropriate section. Valentine has been very good with me this year (starting to believe that Valentine is somehow related to Valentino. Rossi, that is :))
 
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kamalv
Cool. Hopefully the upgrades boost your enjoyment and experience.
 
I got the damper rod kit as well. Haven't opened it yet. The Racetech emulators, do they come standard with the kit? I remember Dan said it comes with emulators, but I didn't ask much more about it. Forgive my ignorance, new at this suspension business as well.
 
I was gonna send in my rear shock for re-valve and get it off tomorrow. But this Ohlins one you purchased, could you let us know the price of it please. If it is not too far off revalve price, might just get that. Thanks.

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manuel
The upgraded damper rod kit would not work without the emulators, so yes, you would have them included. The damper rods included in the package have larger holes than the stock rods - this way, the damping moves from the primitive oil flow through the damper rod holes to the emulator - by design that is more capable to work around the limitations of the damper rod suspension.
 
Technically you could get just the emulators, but you would have to drill larger holes in your rods. By making it a package, Traxxion are making it easier for us.
 
I was considering getting just the weight appropriate springs for the front, but the price difference is not that big and I think this has better potential.
 
The shock is available through any Ohlins dealer - Traxxion are one of them :)

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kamalv
Hey man, thanks for the reply. I guess I will take a look at the Ohlins before I take the shock off tomorrow.

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craig9080
Manuel,
 
Don't be put off my the forks. I learned a few things along the way and here are the nuggets for you before you make the same mistakes as me:
 
* Get a long 8mm hex driver and hook it up to an impact (elec or air) to get the damn bolt out of the bottom of the lower receiver...I wasted a few hours...days of my life trying to do this one manually.
 
* The shock comes apart pretty easy, if you ever need to use force separating the upper and lower you are doing something wrong. (also, a vise with non-marring jaws is nice, but not required)
 
* Just get a fork oil level gauge, they are $25 and make that part idiot proof.
 
* triple tree stands that work perfectly for our bikes are rare...like I only know affirmatively that pitbull makes the appropriate pin. If you don't want to spend the money that's fine, just be smart on how you suspend the bike.
 
* The shock cap is a PITA if you don't have that vise, and it is easily scratched. Consider a non-marring jawed vise for this one and a shiny (non-impact) socket.
 
* Make sure to protect the seals when you put them on, drape a plastic bag over the top of the inner tube and lube it up before you slip the new seals on.
 
 
AGAIN: Nothing in this process needs to be forces, even the "slide hammer" portion of separating the inner from outer tube is easy.
 
PM if you need any help and I will get back to you as quickly as I can.
 
P.S. Wicked jealous on the ohlins rear, you need to let me know how that works out.
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manuel
Thank you sir for the guide and for the support offer!
You are giving me hope. I will try to tackle it once it warms up a bit (-22C around here and the garage feels like a freezer).
 
As far as the shock goes, I have to say it looks the part - I will see if it performs the same way. What gives me hope is that it's an Ohlins and it seems that it has all the bits in place to perform. Plus is customized for my weight. Again, theory will be tested when the riding season will start.

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gtmn
fork is easy like an hour or 2 tops of work if you prep
you need a fast enough impact to get the allen bolt out of the bottom of the fork
and you will need a seal driver and a way to measure the oil if you got that your all good
its really not that bad
 
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pantheraleo
I have gotta ask a question here...
 
What % of you guys have actually experienced a suspension issue prior to getting it remedied? I found the stock shock soft and bouncy on preload setting 3. When I adjusted it to 7, its much better.
 
I'm 6'2 and 210, so I'm not small. I don't have many miles on the 07 just yet, but I don't see a major issue with the stock suspension so far. What is the compression? Anyone know it? It feels like maybe its .8 kg/mm or so to me. The front feels like it needs a bit of damping, but the springs don't seem that soft. I don't see them bottoming on hard braking, nor in sharp hard turns. I think a thicker oil may be all the front forks may need. It is too soon for me to tell.
 
Don't get me wrong...if I decide the stock is inadequate, I will upgrade in a heartbeat. But that will be a decision based on actual problems I experience.

O judgment! Thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me.
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause...till it come back to me.

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Cruizin
Just keep riding it and sooner or later it will become apparent, or not. Suspension is totally different for every rider.
 
@manuel Your bike is gonna rip with that set up, and the ride will be so smooth. You will notice yourself going faster in the twisties after this setup is complete and that rear shock is gonna be sweet!
 
 
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manuel
@pantheraleo, I am not trying to say that my decision to upgrade was based exclusively on the forum input. That only helped consolidate my decision. At the end of the day, riding style, budget and expectations will dictate what one needs/wants. My approach was simple - go out and ride and see for myself. And it became apparent. Coupled with some reading, it's easy to explains the facts from the field. For sure it works and for sure you can find workarounds for its shortcomings. But that does not change the fact that the design is pretty basic and that, for relatively cheap, you can get some options that have, at least in theory in my case at this point, better potential.
@admin, thanks for the comment - I surely hope so :). Winter, begone!

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gtmn
im 240 with gear when braking the front would pancake and rear was soft but set at highest preload it held up the weight but then would pogo quite a bit
I have a little over 900 miles and fork was done as it snowed so I have not ridden yet so cant speak but can speculate
will do a rear shock or rebuild very soon

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pantheraleo
im 240 with gear when braking the front would pancake and rear was soft but set at highest preload it held up the weight but then would pogo quite a bit I have a little over 900 miles and fork was done as it snowed so I have not ridden yet so cant speak but can speculate
will do a rear shock or rebuild very soon
I appreciate that information. I have limited experience on the bike due to the insufferable weather of late...there are 8 freaking inches of snow on the ground and temps in the 20's for the week. Sigh.
 
Perhaps I will see this too. Maybe our weight difference or riding style is why yours pancakes and mine has not (yet). I found the opposite to be true with preload on the rear shock, BTW. When I dialed up the preload, the 'pogo' went away (although the bumps were a bit harder).
 
In any case, thank you for the specific feedback. I'm just trying to get a grasp on what others are seeing.
 
Cheers.

O judgment! Thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me.
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause...till it come back to me.

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FZRDR
To the OP, Manuel, Good for you  taking the time effort to make your bike handle the way you want!
 
 
Pantheraleo,
Have you had to make any panic maneuvers? (Before the snow fall)
have you tried to round a bend that has less than ideal asphalt? (Pot holes, cement)
What other moto's have you ridden to be able to compare suspension to?
I won't try to convince you or anyone else of an upgrade on suspension.
 
What I will tell you is Stock suspension on the FZ is weak.  I weigh quite a bit less than you. Im 185 in full gear. The first five minutes of owning this bike I could tell the suspension was where Yamaha cut corners. I had just traded in my CBR1000RR and the ride home, due to suspension, was not confidence inspiring on the FZ. Not talking HP, suspension here.
Again not trying to convince Ya.  My first upgrade was a set of new fork internals, sent them to Traxxion Dynamics to install their AK-20s.  I then installed a Penske rear shock and what a difference in handling.  Night and Day, period.
To ME , just my opinion,money well spent.  In fact it Allows me to ride and react to traffic if need be all while inspiring my confidence to safely ride the way I want.  Again not trying to convince Ya of an upgrade.....just stating my opinion since I upgraded back in December and have had two months to enjoy the new susp setup, riding here in Florida.
Enjoy your FZ, I know I do!
 
 
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pantheraleo
To the OP, Manuel, Good for you  taking the time effort to make your bike handle the way you want! 
 
Pantheraleo,
Have you had to make any panic maneuvers? (Before the snow fall)
have you tried to round a bend that has less than ideal asphalt? (Pot holes, cement)
What other moto's have you ridden to be able to compare suspension to?
I won't try to convince you or anyone else of an upgrade on suspension.
 
What I will tell you is Stock suspension on the FZ is weak.  I weigh quite a bit less than you. Im 185 in full gear. The first five minutes of owning this bike I could tell the suspension was where Yamaha cut corners. I had just traded in my CBR1000RR and the ride home, due to suspension, was not confidence inspiring on the FZ. Not talking HP, suspension here.
Again not trying to convince Ya.  My first upgrade was a set of new fork internals, sent them to Traxxion Dynamics to install their AK-20s.  I then installed a Penske rear shock and what a difference in handling.  Night and Day, period.
To ME , just my opinion,money well spent.  In fact it Allows me to ride and react to traffic if need be all while inspiring my confidence to safely ride the way I want.  Again not trying to convince Ya of an upgrade.....just stating my opinion since I upgraded back in December and have had two months to enjoy the new susp setup, riding here in Florida.
Enjoy your FZ, I know I do!
 

My previous bike was (still have it) a Suzuki GS500. I upgraded both front and rear suspension on that bike due to how it handled. I will do the same with my FZ if I think it will improve the ride.
 
I did some simulation emergency braking on my first ride. It did dip, perhaps heavily, but didn't bottom out. I already noted that the stock shock was bouncy at preload 3, but is noticeably better at 7. I haven't cornered and hit a bad patch of road yet...
 
My initial impression is that the front is stiffer than the rear. So I would likely upgrade the rear shock if anything. Admittedly, that's on limited riding and my view could change.

O judgment! Thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me.
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause...till it come back to me.

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manuel
To the OP, Manuel, Good for you  taking the time effort to make your bike handle the way you want! 

Thanks! I have never ridden anything better so I have no comparison base - as mentioned, my decision was based on:- my [limited] experience - first time crashing over the bumps and not getting up on the pegs was actually painful. There was also a right turn at partial lean when I hit a ripple in the pavement and literally felt the front sliding. And when the gentleman riding a gold Challenger cut in front of me and I had to hit the brakes hard (while holding my line and progressively applying the front and the rear brakes - just like in the book) - it took very little effort to lock the rear - bike felt like riding on butter...- my reading on the our particular suspension type - the antiquated damper rod.- the reviewers and the fellow members' opinion that the suspension needs work When you factor in the cost (forum discount is the cherry on top), it's not bad at all...there are exhausts out there that cost more than this (I chose to do both, but that's another story).
For me it was an easy choice. And I am sure I will not regret it. Bike is here to stay, might as well make it mine :)
 

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FZRDR
Manuel, curious to read your thoughts on how your bike handles after your suspension is installed and set up for you! Perhaps a write up as I did.
 
 
 
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manuel
Oh, for sure, but you guys have to be really patient :)
 
We're still under 3 ft. of snow up here and more is falling as we speak. Temperatures have been between -21C and -10C (-4 to 14F) on a daily base for the last couple months or so.
 
We're talking mid to end of April - temperatures and road conditions considered.
I know, it sucks.

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FZRDR
Sorry to hear of that harsh weather. I imagine how difficult it is to wait to test out your upgrades!
To all our riding brothers and sisters up north,  hope it's over soon.

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pattonme
It's kinda funny when people make a fuss over how much suspension upgrades cost in light of the bike costing north of 6 grand. Sure, for your hard-earned money damn Yamaha for putting complete and utter shite on this bike. You don't have to spring for the AK kit but for ~same money as the Emulators you can get something VASTLY superior. I did 3 bikes with Emulators before I gave up in disgust and went full-on cartridge.
 
The shock, well, get the Penske 'sport' model shock if nothing else. Until you've ridden with proper suspension you don't know what you're missing. No, you don't need to spend Ohlins money to benefit. I don't have shock dimensions handy but if someone knows the dimensions of the clevis, eyelet length and I can find the OEM spring rate, one can come up with a list of rebuildable sport-bike OEM shocks that are close enough to use.
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pattonme
* Get a long 8mm hex driver and hook it up to an impact (elec or air) to get the damn bolt out of the bottom of the lower receiver...
 
I've done dozens of fork disassembles. Get a ratcheting strap, put fork in vise by the brake caliper mount ears. Tighten it a healthy amount. THEN apply the impact wrench (HF electric in 1/2" works rather well) or if you use hand tools, try to 'snap' the bolt in one quick motion. If it just spins (you'll feel the drag) just stop. Take the setup to someone with an impact wrench and it'll come right off.
 

* The shock comes apart pretty easy, if you ever need to use force separating the upper and lower you are doing something wrong.
 
People forget the snap-ring that sits under the dust cover but over the fork seal. If you keep banging the 2 halves apart with the snap ring still in place you will regret it!
 
It's hard to get a good grip on the shiny inner tube but I use standard PVC pipe of approximate diameter, split down the sides works pretty good and you'll tear up the PVC and not the tube. Another is to line said PVC with rubber sheeting or old bicycle tires or whatever.
 
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manuel
General Patton sir, I like your posts :). But I am committed already to gold valves (my timing, eh?) and I am hoping that they will bring at least a marginal improvement for my 100% street riding. And the money I spent on the Ohlins was a bit less than the entry level Penske, so I still believe that it still counts as good value.
 
I am not judging the cost of the upgrade by comparing it to the cost of bike (easy to get drawn into that, though), I am just factoring in my skills and my intended use. I am okay with the package (hmm, that sounds wrong :))). That elusive test ride will tell.

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manuel
Update: Ohlins is now in. Got it in about 2 weeks ago, just at the beginning of our riding season up here. Couple observations on the install and on how it feels:
- install is kind of straightforward. The 2 bolts holding it in place seemed thread-locked (no, they were not over-torqued, they just seemed seized - something I have noticed with all the bolts I've been tinkering with so far...)
- supporting the bike for this exercise is a bit tricky - in my situation, because the exhaust was also lined-up for replacement, I decided to remove the stock exhaust first and support the bike from the frame cross member (do I call that correctly?) that's hidden beneath it - I used a hydraulic jack and a jack stand with hockey pucks on them (because Canada, eh). It worked beautifully, bike was supremely stable and no scratches.
- left the preload as shipped (spring is weight appropriate) and configured the rebound as a baseline, per instructions, at 14 clicks from fully closed. Will try and ride a bit like that before I start playing with it - I am taking it easier now (not only the roads are in relatively bad shape, but bike and I need to get reacquainted after such a long break - sadly)
- ride feels firmer, not in a bad way, but as in more controlled. It is amazing, even for me, how planted the rear feels compared to the jumpy, busy front. Sharper bumps are felt, but somehow muted (I guess, damper at work here!) and you feel the rear wheel more in touch with the ground than before. I've taken the bike once out with the old shock on, just to ensure I have fresh impressions for comparison sake. Improved confidence is the keyword here.
Other notes:
- forks will follow sometime next week (no time yet, but it's all good - the gorgeous weather had me and the kids pedaling a lot lately and that feels great). In a way, it's good, because I want to feel the incremental upgrade over the "hybrid" (new shock, "old" forks)...will post here my amateurish thoughts and findings.
- it feels like the shock is significantly lighter than the stock, even though the stock is smaller. Steel vs. aluminum, I guess. No problem with that.
 
 
 
 
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manuel
Update [HASH]2: forks got their fix in. I was right to be afraid of them (unlike some of you fine gentlemen, I am not that mechanically skilled  8-) ). Well, I was fortunate enough to find a great shop (recommended on a local motorcycling forum) relatively close to home and boy, they delivered! Adrian, the owner (who is well versed in the suspension black art) had only nice things to say about Traxxion. I have also used the knowledge shared in the suspension section to ask about the bushing sizing issue and about the lack of a washer under the fork cap - the bushings were fine, but the washer was missing so he added a pair for me - nice. He was also nice to take pictures along the way (bonus!) so I am sharing them with you:
Before surgery:rFYwCwJ.jpg
During:oP4ZCCB.jpg
Measuring:nUGHhyz.jpg
Measuring again:wCs9fvp.jpg
GVEsxNbkG3Q.jpgPrecision oil filling:G1mnunY.jpg
Going in:EiXZqsj.jpg
Newly added washer:4TNClo4.jpg
Capping it (don't drool too much over that torque wrench):TYInsVJ.jpg4B3Jqcv.jpg
I have only nice things to say about the shop and the owner - his attention to detail is probably obvious from the pictures he took for me! He even gave me some hints on how to put back things together and ensure all is lined up nicely. Very happy and relieved. If moderators are ok, I will share his details in the Canadian section so that any local members can benefit from his quality services.
Ok, so after putting everything back together and after checking all bolts for the 15th time, I went for a ride - first thing I noticed was the significantly reduced brake dive - nice. The front feels firmer now, but it's not harsh. The forks are not as "agitated" as before - smaller bumps are soaked in nicely and the harsher ones are felt, but there is transition there, not just crashing. I deliberately stayed on the seat over some nasty ridges (I used to lift on the pegs on that road section) and butt did not complain at all. Not sure if it's placebo, but it also feels more stable now, more predictable. Steering seems also a bit quicker, but again, might be placebo.
All I can say is that I like it - it's working for me. The combined effect of the Ohlins in the back and the GVEs in the front is not only noticeable, but confidence inspiring and comfortable. Well worth the money.
 
 
 
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