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The aim was to keep is simple and easy.
The practical guide differs from others that I have seen in that it details a simple step by step process in a structured order to follow.
The prime aim is to get you making adjustments and learning....and becoming your own setup expert..
I started modifying and playing with suspension in race cars in the 1980's culminating in a multiple championship winning 500 kg race car based on a unique combination of suspension systems. I then moved on to karts and built a race winning chassis the driver could adjust via two levers while driving. A couple of years ago I invented the unique Scalpel Valve retrofit for damper rod forks. Scalpel valves are step forward over valve emulators offering shim control for BOTH rebound and compression damping adjustment. Scalpel valves are now being used by a growing number of top echelon racers in New Zealand.
However good suspension is less about the technology and design and far more about the individual rider set up. And achieving a good setup is a much simpler process than most riders first think.
Just about everything I had learned about race car suspension proved almost immediately and embarrassing invalid when applied to motorbikes and I went thru a fairly steep learning curve (I am still learning). I found a wealth of really good information available on the internet (hidden amongst the usual junk) .....and sadly also found most of this being misunderstood and misapplied, by road riders and racers alike. I got into race bike suspension and setup a few years ago when I was invited to assist on a race team who were frustrated with the lack of setup guidance from their suspension supplier and had heard of some of the work I had been doing on my own race bike and customers road bikes and were attracted to my simple step x step processes.
There you go mate, she’ll be right…
No doubt you have encountered riders who have never adjusted the suspension on their bike since the day they purchased it. This is a bit like buying a radio and never turning the dial to see if it was perfectly on the station or even if there are other stations they might prefer listening to.
Often a rider who has purchased upgraded suspension will tell me “I haven’t changed the compression or rebound settings from the adjustment settings that the suspension ‘guru’ set."
Just as most car radios have a station tuning dial, your bike has rebound damping (and often compression) adjustment ‘dials’….. and just like your radio’s dial these dials allow you to tune to the sweet spot. Tuning your car radio to the sweet spot is easy. You turn the dial until you can hear the station. At first you hear the station indistinctly and with static and you continue to turn the dial until the radio becomes clear and then you continue to turn the dial further to see if reception gets even clearer…. And you continue further until the sound deteriorates. With the knowledge just gained, you can now turn the dial back to the midpoint Goldilocks’ sweet spot where you perceived it sounded clearest. Adjusting your rebound and compression adjusters is exactly like this. They are there for you to dial in your suspension to suit you and the way you ride.
If you have never tuned your bikes suspension to suit you then you probably don't know what you are missing. If you haven’t experimented with adjusting your suspension then how do you know it is as good as it can be?
Keith Code (author of Twist of the Wrist and founder of the California Superbike School) claims that you only have 10 pounds of attention to spend at any one time while riding a bike. If you spend 2 pounds on your brakes and 5 pounds on your throttle control and 3 pounds on dealing with bumps bucking your bike about going into a corner, then you only have 2 pounds left to manage all the other factors required to corner perfectly.
A bike with poorly tuned suspension is always more hectic to ride. A well-tuned suspension system that suits you, allows you to ride your bike faster with more consistently as well as providing you a greater safety margin, more confidence and the sensation of having more time to make other decisions.
A bike with finely tuned suspension, where the front and rear suspension works in unison, soaking up the bumps, providing maximum tyre traction and road surface and adhesion feedback is a truly beautiful thing!
No magic numbers.
There are no magic numbers that any suspension tuner can provide you. It’s simply not possible for a suspension guru to hand you a new shock or modified front forks and tell you how many clicks of rebound and compression are going to work for you.
No one rides like you do, and they don't ride the roads you ride at your pace. No one else’s set up will be correct for you.
Yes, a suspension builder can get you in the ball park with your suspension spring rate, but it is impossible for anyone to tell you exactly what spring rate you need and precisely how many clicks of rebound and compression damping you need. Anyone who claims they can do this is either intentionally misleading you ....or is deluded.
Whenever you get a new bike or install new suspension components, you will need to take the time to dial in your suspension to suit YOU.
This procedure described in my step x step guide is one that I have found the fastest, simplest and most fool proof method for setting up motorcycles. I use the step x step procedure to set up every new bike I ride.