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databyter

Wierd Feeling Suspension After 1st Breakin Service

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databyter
I am having a bit of a problem at the moment, in that ever since I did the break-in service at the dealership the suspension feels really unstable and broken to me. I have no idea what they did and need to call them up in the morning. It feels like my rear suspension no longer has a full range or something. It feels unstable in turns now wheras before I LIKED the suspension that everyone else says is sub par. It was EVEN from front to back and soft over bumps and I could lean steep and well and both tires felt planted. Now since I picked it up tonight after hours at the dealer it feels like the rear end is NOT planted around turns and I am scared to lean now. Even on the highway at speed it seemed a bit iffy in back. I actually pulled over to see if they forgot to tighten the axle bolt.
My theories so far.
 
1. they overtightened the chain.
2. They tightened the chain using only one side of the adjustment bolts instead of both (i.e. rear wheel is not in alignment).
3. The mechanic drives a Harley but secretly knows it sucks cuz it can't do wheelies, so he test drove mine on 1 tire most of the time and landed too hard.
4. The tech thought he would do me a favor and change all the settings and distances to his preference and weight without asking me.
5. They switched my shock out with their FZ-07's shock that had no nitrogen charge.
 
Seriously though, what the F could have messed up HANDLING during a basic breakin service? Or is it just a coincidence, and my cheap stock rear shock is just breaking in and the default setting is no longer adequate?
 
It just feels wierd, but maybe it's all in my mind.
 

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YZEtc
Theory No. 1 is likely.
Measure your chain slack as shown in your Owner's Manual.
Most motorcycle mechanics I know and have known over the years will not measure chain slack, but will just tighten it until it looks good to them, which is too tight.In fact, I believe that most could look at the slack on a properly-adjusted drive chain and pronounce it too loose.
 
I'd also check your rear shock spring preload setting to see if that has been moved off of the standard setting, too.
This is also in your Owner's Manual.

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databyter
Theory No. 1 is likely. Measure your chain slack as shown in your Owner's Manual.
Most motorcycle mechanics I know and have known over the years will not measure chain slack, but will just tighten it until it looks good to them, which is too tight.In fact, I believe that most could look at the slack on a properly-adjusted drive chain and pronounce it too loose.
 
I'd also check your rear shock spring preload setting to see if that has been moved off of the standard setting, too.
This is also in your Owner's Manual.
I checked the slack last night but it was in the dark with a flaslight in one hand and tape and chain pull with the other. It looks to be just over 2" which is on the tight side but in tolerance and likely the chain will loosen up some more. Also checked the shock and it's at the 3rd notch which is default.
Strangely enough it's not that the suspension is too soft but just like it is already bottomed to my weight before I sit down whereas before it had lift and resistance and sat higher before I got on it and it seemed like it had more range and resistance. Now it seems like I would imagine it would feel like after riding the Denali highway for a few weeks. Worn out. But perhaps I am just being hyper critical because I was looking for any difference in the motor (not the suspension tho) and may be noticing the breakin of a lousy strut.
By the way the dealer was not going to do a throttle body sync and I asked them to since it was in the book and they were basically charging me for it regardless. How much crap do they have to take apart to get to that. Perhaps I should have kept my mouth shut.
Anyway, I'm looking for a good motorcycle mechanic in San Diego area that is not just outta school or whatever that I can go to when I have issues with the bike. The dealer is ok for most stuff but I really don't think service beyond basic maintenance is thier thing. And I want to do BASIC maintenance myself. For fueling and suspension I need a guru.

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rotaryryan24
If the seat seams to sit lower maybe they took it upon themselves to adjust the preload on the rear shock. If the bike feels unstable maybe they didn't align the rear wheel properly after they adjusted the chain. What part of San Diego are you from, I wouldn't mind taking a look at it. I'm about 45 minutes east of El Cajon.
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Guru
What @yzetc says makes sense. They might have over tightened the chain and misaligned the rear wheel while doing this. Good luck with finding a guru ;)  and let us know when you find out what's wrong, I am really curious.

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databyter
I've been working a lot of hours and a lot of overtime. Tomorrow I start VERY early and will get off in the early afternoon. That will give me an opportunity to go out to a few nearby practice roads I rode last week and get a real before/after comparison and see if it's just in my mind. My commutes haven't been terrible but it just seems like the suspension is unbalanced unless I put myself more forward and up against the tank or a more aggressive tucked in posture. If I just sit comfortably in the middle of the seat the bike almost feels like a back-heavy cruiser now, which is the feeling I bought this bike to avoid.
I'm thinking depending on what I find out tomorrow, that I might adjust the bars to be a bit more forward, and add some preload to the rear shock. I'll likely just upgrade it since everyone says it's weak. But until yesterday, I was loving the suspension to be honest. Maybe it was just the newness and now I'm feeling the real deal.
But here is another thought. I told you guys the chain was right on the tight end of the tolerance. Maybe that was AFTER my 25 mile ride home from the dealer, as my chain stretched from the stress of going over bumps at 70 MPH and scaring the shit out of me with a very strange feeling. Hopefully if that is the case it didn't damage the bike. Next time I'm gonna do this stuff myself. Every time I try to do the right thing and have professionals work on my stuff I end up having problems. I'm purchasing a shop manual, some stands, and a new tool set.

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YZEtc
Good point.
Check tire pressure often.Who knows - maybe the shop inflated to 42 psi.

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databyter
I hadn't thought to check that. I figure that they would know better, then again...

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databyter
If the seat seams to sit lower maybe they took it upon themselves to adjust the preload on the rear shock. If the bike feels unstable maybe they didn't align the rear wheel properly after they adjusted the chain. What part of San Diego are you from, I wouldn't mind taking a look at it. I'm about 45 minutes east of El Cajon.
By the way, I meant to respond the other day but I got distracted. That's a very kind offer, and just the kind of ride I'd like to do, but I'm not quite there yet and I'm in an overtime burst at work while they are offering. But one of these days. I'm not 100 percent confident of my riding yet and didn't get a chance to double check my suspension on those known roads today as it was just barely sprinkling when I was driving home and I decided to take a well needed nap instead. 
I bought a shop manual today for 35 bucks and I'm looking at stands n stuff. I'd like to really get to know my bike and have that confidence of knowing that I did it and did it right.
 
Just out of curiousity, what's your experience level, riding, and working on bikes?
 
Databyter

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rotaryryan24
If the seat seams to sit lower maybe they took it upon themselves to adjust the preload on the rear shock. If the bike feels unstable maybe they didn't align the rear wheel properly after they adjusted the chain. What part of San Diego are you from, I wouldn't mind taking a look at it. I'm about 45 minutes east of El Cajon.
By the way, I meant to respond the other day but I got distracted. That's a very kind offer, and just the kind of ride I'd like to do, but I'm not quite there yet and I'm in an overtime burst at work while they are offering. But one of these days. I'm not 100 percent confident of my riding yet and didn't get a chance to double check my suspension on those known roads today as it was just barely sprinkling when I was driving home and I decided to take a well needed nap instead. 
I bought a shop manual today for 35 bucks and I'm looking at stands n stuff. I'd like to really get to know my bike and have that confidence of knowing that I did it and did it right.
 
Just out of curiousity, what's your experience level, riding, and working on bikes?
 
Databyter
 
 
As far as riding skills go I feel extremely comfortable piloting anything on two wheel, I grew up riding and racing dirt bikes. My first major solo on-road ride was on a sportser from San Diego to Laughlin when I was 14 (my dad was a pretty hard core biker). I continued my off road racing though my twentys. So I had to learn to be my own mechanic and have learned many different skill sets. Engine rebuilds to lacing spokes and just about everything in between.
I wasn't trying to get you as a customer or anything like that, just willing to help.
 
Me personally i don't have any trust for mechanics at dealers, cycle or automotive.
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databyter
Since the bike feels better every day I think the tight chain diagnosis was the correct one. It seems different bikes have different methods for tightening. Weight on while checking, weight off while checking. All those swingarms don't work the same way, and I'd argue a horizontal rear shock is not the norm either. I'm guessing some mechanics just use the same habitual methodology on every bike regardless of the suspension geometry or the service manual. It seems no harm done. If I ever get a day off I'm going to take a closer look and get a buddy to help me stress the suspension and see how the tight end of the chain tolerance affects it. My guess is that it's really close under weight to the chain being involved.
 
The good thing is that I'm learning. And I haven't had as many issues after the first few days tho I wonder if my chain being stretched prematurely like that could possibly affect it's life or breakage potential. Databyter

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Guru
I am glad that you have (probably) figured out what was wrong. It is a fact that the new chain on the FZ stretches a lot when it's new and needs quite a bit of adjustment. But I still can't imagine that a too tight chain has that much influence on road manners and feel. And if so, it would be obvious to see.
I usually do a visual check when I go riding and use the tip of my boot to see how much slack I have. If it moves an inch or so up and down I know there is nothing dramatically wrong.
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databyter
It felt great riding home today. The fun is back. The rear end feels pretty good even though I really don't trust it or myself yet.

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YZEtc
When the swingarm moves upward through it's arc, the distance from the front sprocket to rear sprocket increased until the front sprocket center, swingarm pivot, and rear sprocket center are aligned, which is the chain's tightest point.
If the chain were too tight, it will effect how the suspension moves by hindering movement.
This is the reason why a certain slack amount is required.

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databyter
I checked my rear wheel alignment today using the gradualted notches on each side of the swingarm.
 
It was the first chance I've really had bright daylight and not been working because they are kinda hard to see.
 
Well, it's a bit off. How accurate a rule of thumb is this, because my rear end still feels a little squirly even when going straight sometimes.
 
On the other hand they are just notches, not God. Good for comparison for sure, but should I assume that I need to completely re-align the rear wheel from scratch (and how) and if so would both notches being the same be good enough?
 
I also attempted to measure the distance from the axle to the swingarm pivots on both sides and that is off as well by an unknown quantity. Unknown because I am estimating the center of the pivot and the axle by eye. However it seems significant and consistant that my rear seems to go to the left and needs to be aligned better.
 
Also I noticed that it looked like the tech used plyers and not a wrench on my locknut and chewed it up a little. I expect better for 180 bucks, especially since I had to ASK them to do many of the things that are supposed to be done in a first maintenance, like the throttle body sync, which they said was fine, but thanks at least for checking it, since that is part of what the $180 covers.
 
I can't wait until I get my stands and can depend on my own work.

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Lusiphur
Yes
Do this yourself
 
Get a good rear wheel stand.
Get the rear wheel in the air
 
Loosen the Axle bolts
Loosen the bolts that align the wheel
 
Then align the wheel and when the notches on both sides are even, and the chain slack is correct
tighten the nuts for the axle.
 
 
 
 
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databyter
Yes Do this yourself
 
Get a good rear wheel stand.
Get the rear wheel in the air
 
Loosen the Axle bolts
Loosen the bolts that align the wheel
 
Then align the wheel and when the notches on both sides are even, and the chain slack is correct
tighten the nuts for the axle.
 
 
 

Thanks for your answer :) . I'm really pissed off that I have to do ANYTHING since my bike rode like a damn dream before I brought it for adjustment by the "experts". I edited my post above because it had too much of that anger and sarcasm in it, and a few exaggerations and assumptions. I tried to stick to the facts on my edit. I may try the string approach when my stand is delivered but in the meantime I can probably adjust the notches closer together with just the side stand (guessing). 

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Lusiphur
It's real easy and a rear stand is a good investment.
and think of it this way,
You can not do a worse job than what the dealership did
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bmwpowere36m3
I checked my rear wheel alignment today using the gradualted notches on each side of the swingarm.  
It was the first chance I've really had bright daylight and not been working because they are kinda hard to see.
 
Well, it's a bit off. How accurate a rule of thumb is this, because my rear end still feels a little squirly even when going straight sometimes.
 
On the other hand they are just notches, not God. Good for comparison for sure, but should I assume that I need to completely re-align the rear wheel from scratch (and how) and if so would both notches being the same be good enough?
 
I also attempted to measure the distance from the axle to the swingarm pivots on both sides and that is off as well by an unknown quantity. Unknown because I am estimating the center of the pivot and the axle by eye. However it seems significant and consistant that my rear seems to go to the left and needs to be aligned better.
 
Also I noticed that it looked like the tech used plyers and not a wrench on my locknut and chewed it up a little. I expect better for 180 bucks, especially since I had to ASK them to do many of the things that are supposed to be done in a first maintenance, like the throttle body sync, which they said was fine, but thanks at least for checking it, since that is part of what the $180 covers.
 
I can't wait until I get my stands and can depend on my own work.
Depends… I aligned my rear wheel via the "string method", double checked with a Motion Pro Chain alignment tool and the marks don't line up (side-to-side); they are about 1/2 a hash mark off.  Measuring from the swingarm pivot to axle is another method, but you must keep the tape/measuring device perpendicular to the pivot/axle and/or parallel to the wheel.  This can be difficult because the axle is much wider than the swingarm pivot and the swingarm is not symmetrical itself. 
Initially my marks where lined up and I didn't notice any weird behavior or pulling… so start with them lined up and go from there.
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Guest Ralph
Just check the castings that you align with the marks are straight
they tend to twist slightly giving a wrong alignment.
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