Get the Perfect Fast-road Set-up

Set your springy bits, go bastard-fast

Chris Pike is John McGuinness’ chief chassis technician: “Knowing the road you’re going to ride is a good start. If you can’t avoid the bumps and ruts, the best you can do is set your bike up to cope with them. We put progressive, road-biased linkages back in the suspension on our race bikes. They offer a softer stroke over small bumps but can handle big compressions at the bottom of the stroke. Start with the smallest, cheapest things you can play with; tyre pressures and chain tension. Both have an effect on your ride. Pressures should be within the recommended range from the tyre manufacturer. Drop a couple of psi to increase the size of your contact patches, giving more grip, but don’t take it too far as the tyre could spin on the rim and that’s bad. Chain tension needs to be checked for tight spots and correct tension for normal road riding. There are no fancy secret to chains; lube them, check them, trust them.

If you told me you were going to ride a 100mph lap of the TT on a completely standard 600 sportsbike, the only thing I’d do is check there was enough fuel in it. Standard suspension and settings will suit 95% of riders out there. If you were going to go quicker I would look at slightly softer springs in the forks, but with a little more of the standard fork oil to reduce the air gap in the top of the fork, 60cc usually. Start with compression damping and preload and up them in stages until you’re comfortable. Make notes.

If you mess everything up the simplest thing to do is put everything back to the base factory setting and start again. The worst thing you can do is tweak and turn everything in one go. Stick to small adjustments and test each one on the same stretch of road. Finally, as fast as you may be, I’ve tested everything, seen everything and tried lots of weird stuff. In my opinion there is only one reason for replacing modern standard sportsbike suspension: and that’s bragging rights.”