Motorcycle handling like a pogo stick with a broken spring? Don't know your prebound from your depression? You need to learn your bike's language and find out just
what your suspension is trying to tell you
HAVE YOU LOOKED at the suspension on a modern bike recently? It has adjustability, and lots of it. And that's a problem.
Trouble is, how many of us can honestly put our hands up and say we know what all those various adjusters actually do? Not many, I bet. But that doesn't stop fiddling fingers.
With so much adjustment within such easy reach it's not hard to get it all wrong and turn a good handling bike into a dodgy shopping trolley. But, on the flip side, it's also fairly easy to turn a bike that doesn't handle well into one that does. And while there are various suspension guides printed these shouldn't be rigidly adhered to, because what works for one person may not suit your style, ability, weight or the use you're putting the bike to. Suspension needs to be individually tailored.
So rather than simply try and tell you what your suspension does and how it does it, we devised a series of tests to help describe what badly set-up suspension feels like. Each test was done without the riders - Niall and myself - knowing what had been adjusted, and the comments printed with each adjustment are simply a description of what the bike felt like compared to the standard suspension settings. In each case one variable was altered to either its maximum or minimum setting, while the rest of the bike was left on standard settings. Neither Niall nor myself knew what had been adjusted and we didn't confer until after the test was finished.
If you're fiddling with your suspension the most important thing is not to change too many things at one time, and always make notes as you go. Ideally change only one thing at a time, then ride the bike along a familiar stretch of road to see if it has been made better or worse. Only then should you try altering something else. And finally, if all else fails, get your owner's manual out and put everything back to standard settings. They are often the best compromise.
Niall "Through the faster corners the back end didn't feel in control. The tyre slid a bit, not enough to really let go, but there was definite movement, almost like the tyre had gone off."
Jon "The back felt awful, turning into slower corners I really had to force the thing to turn with loads of pressure on the bars, and it kept running wide and wobbling mid corner."
What's actually happening: With no compression damping there's less slowing the shock's tendency to squat down, so it starts working against the spring quicker. This makes the bike sit down low at the back, which in turn slows down the steering.
Minimum compression damping on the forks
Niall "The bike felt really high at the front. It was okay on the brakes but exiting corners it ran wide and wandered about."
Jon "The steering was really slow, like turning though treacle. Going around the Melbourne Loop was terrifying; shut the throttle mid-corner and it wobbled like crazy. I had no confidence in what the front was doing, and like before was really having to force it to turn."
What's actually happening: Again, there's nothing to help support the compression of the fork spring so the bike sits lower at the front under load, putting weight forward and adversely affecting the handling.
Click here for motorcycle suspension tuning page two.
Become a fan of Visordown
Follow us on twitter
Other Immediate Media Sites
Our eCommerce Platform
© Immediate Media Company Ltd 2012. This website is owned and published by Immediate Media Company Limited. www.immediatemedia.co.uk