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Old 10-27-2013, 04:03 PM   #1
PastRedline OP
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Location: Fremont, CA, USA
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New Suspension - Very Worth It

I posted previously about buying some new suspension for an F8GS and wondering whether it would be worth the (considerable) cost. My decision was accelerated by forks that kinda stopped working - they acted like rebound and compression damping were both set to "near infinite".

After putting the new stuff in, having it tuned by a suspension guy, a weekend camping in the national forest, a good road ride on some mountain roads, and an afternoon at a dirt bike park, I feel like I can now offer a review.

Quite Simply - Do it. I'm no hero on a motorcycle and I didn't want to just buy bling for the sake of burning money. However, this is very possibly the best thing I've done to any motorcycle. The level of suckage of the stock suspension becomes much clearer once you have good stuff on.

The forks (installed for the camping trip, with the stock rear shock still on) make the front end much more planted. No more wander, no more feeling like the front end is wobbling/disappearing over little ruts, etc in the road. Off-road, suddenly I wasn't bottoming - I could look much further ahead, like I've always wanted to because each and every rock or rut didn't unseat the bike.

Once I got the shock put on and tuned, it was like another magical transformation. Suddenly, the "noise level" in my head is significantly turned down. Although you can tell when a road gets really bumpy, it just doesn't seem to matter - the bike sails right over it without having to put in any corrections. Surface imperfections don't change your line.

Off-road, the transformation is similar - a significant reduction in noise level. However, there were two things of note offroad - 1) slow speed manuevering (turning the bike around) is much harder - with proper springs, the bike sits higher, so I can now only tip-toe and 2) maybe because I'm going faster over whoops, etc - I'm still hitting my centerstand when I pick up the pace. It's a horrible bang :-)

Overall, I highly recommend the gear I picked up. The biggest downside is simply price.

Background (for reference):
I weigh 195lbs without gear. The GS is my first offroad bike, but that hasn't stopped me from going most places a large dirt bike will go (with the scratches/broken parts to prove it :) ). I've put about 16K miles on the bike in a year and a half with about 50% of that on the dirt, including some relatively hardcore stuff at dirt bike parks, jeep trails, etc. (Not just forest roads) I have about 50K miles total in the past 4 or so years, on a variety of bikes.
Forks: Traxxion AK-20's with .7kg/mm springs
Shock: Yacugar Piggyback 3-way adjustable with hydraulic preload. (Bought through Ted @ Beemershop, who did all the specs for the order based on a conversation about weights, riding style, etc)
I also threw in a Grade 12.9 upper shock bolt from BestRest (my stock bolt was ever so slightly bent) and a fresh lower shock bolt from BMW ($20. Those thieves :))

Hope this helps somebody else who has been frustrated with their bike, or just considering new suspension.

Happy Trails,

-Kyle
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Old 10-27-2013, 04:23 PM   #2
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Don't be surprised if you start going twice as fast when the trail turns rough!
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Old 10-27-2013, 04:30 PM   #3
Pangit
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I have done similar and agree its the best performance / safety upgrade for your MC, particularly the 800GS who's stock suspension is so poor in the first place. Having an honest suspension shop to assist is also a great help, but watch out for the con men. Enjoy
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Old 10-27-2013, 04:36 PM   #4
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All I can do is agree........... And say I told you so


Wait till you go for a steering damper, the next best thing. There's nothing like hitting that 6"deep sand at 45 mph and NOT loosing it.
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Old 10-27-2013, 04:46 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by machinebuilder View Post
All I can do is agree........... And say I told you so


Wait till you go for a steering damper, the next best thing. There's nothing like hitting that 6"deep sand at 45 mph and NOT loosing it.
And which one did you go for?
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Old 10-27-2013, 04:59 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by machinebuilder View Post
Wait till you go for a steering damper, the next best thing.
I actually have the Scotts Damper. Have had it since very early on because once I put TKC's on, the bike was a little scary at 80+ in wind, with the handlebars shaking back and forth. I had a pretty significant swap-out at speed in sand at a dirt bike park - the damper was really neat - the only way I can explain it is that it slowed time down enough for me to regain control of the bike.

One interesting thing about the suspension now being set up - I have the Scotts low speed adjuster turned much further out on the street (one full turn - 8 clicks - out, which they say is basically the lowest setting) - I don't need it nearly as much because the front feels much more planted at speed.

BTW: Highly recommend Scotts. Their customer service is phenomenal. Truly above and beyond.

-Kyle
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Old 10-27-2013, 05:02 PM   #7
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...but watch out for the con men.
Indeed. Suspension feels like such a "black art" to me, that I could see getting really rolled. I went with recommendations from my riding buddies, who have been very successful with this guy. At first, I was leery, but after the final setup, I really feel like he's a top-notch guy. And the way the bike behaved while riding told the final story :-)

-Kyle
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Old 10-27-2013, 07:14 PM   #8
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Suspension...always...no really..ALWAYS the first dollars spent on a bike..ALWAYS.
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Old 10-28-2013, 02:35 AM   #9
machinebuilder
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And which one did you go for?

I've got the Scotts.

I keep it close to their reccomendation for the setting, I did turn it up a couple clicks when I was on a lot of nasty dried up ruts.
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Old 10-28-2013, 04:45 PM   #10
Snowy
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The following is purely a friendly piss take:

Oh Kyle,

How could you? There's nothing wrong with the suspension. In fact, many have argued long and loud that they have conquered foreign lands, with pillions, and piles of kit. They rode like men possessed, and scraped knees, on dirt and on asphalt. They did it all on standard suspension and it was great.

Regards,


Snowy.







P.S - the best thing you can do with the standard stuff is bin it. The fact that at your weight, that you can near double the front end spring rate to make it rideable speaks volumes. Having the stock spring rate with proper compression and rebound control in longer travel makes a huge difference too.

But saying so makes you wrong. It's just how forums work. It's like a rule.
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Old 10-28-2013, 07:13 PM   #11
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The fact that at your weight, that you can near double the front end spring rate to make it rideable speaks volumes.

gotta agree..

when i found out the new springs that were on their way to me were .71 (to replace the stock .44), i was a tad worried... thats one hell of a difference... surely that gonna be so damn stiff it wont even move...!?

worry pretty quickly removed... its freakin awesome...!

.
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Old 10-29-2013, 02:22 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Snowy View Post
Oh Kyle,

How could you? There's nothing wrong with the suspension. In fact, many have argued long and loud that they have conquered foreign lands, with pillions, and piles of kit. They rode like men possessed, and scraped knees, on dirt and on asphalt. They did it all on standard suspension and it was great.

Regards,

Snowy.
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Old 10-29-2013, 03:57 PM   #13
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In all seriousness

What you will find is the spring rates are increased dramatically because a higher spring rate has, as a function of the way a coil spring works, higher inherent damping characteristics.

This means that a higher spring rate will naturally self dampen at a higher rate than a soft one. To an extent.

So in a bike with an underdamped front end that has no adjustment, you would tend to go to a much higher spring rate with little or no preload, for the same oil grade. It's a trade off because there is no hydraulic damping as such, well kind of, but not as a dirt bike rider knows it.

With some of the complete replacement forks, like my Showas, the low speed, high speed damping, plus the rebound valving, all help control the relatively low spring rate. There are a multitude of set up options. The Showas came off a bike designed to flick out of a hairpin, accelerate 30~45 feet and pull a 90 foot jump. On the donor bike they are stiff for what we want. Really stiff. They are stiffer than the stock F800 spring rate, with almost an extra half as much travel. They are almost perfect as they are.

For trail riding I had the high speed valving modified - increased damping. This allows me to run a much faster (less damped) low speed damping, and still have some anti bottom out for big hits. So it will run the front end over rocks 200mm high and not punch you off line, but still give control if you g - out, or land off a jump.

Assisting the anti bottom out, the oil level in the fork can be adjusted in height. The higher the oil level, the higher the remaining air in the fork gets compressed as you bottom out. This has the effect of stiffening the spring rate as you bottom.

Using standard dirt bike set up, I aimed for 1/3 of the total travel as rider sag, which also puts me back in the ball park of standard front end set up. With the relatively low spring rate I ended up with 85mm of loaded sag - rider and pillion.

Is the spring rate too low, given it's only 0.46? For pure road riding it's softer than I prefer. But for rocky fire trails it's better than any front end on any bike I've ridden. So it's a trade off.

I can stiffen the front end by adjusting the low speed compression. I run it low anyway - out of approx 22 clicks of adjustment, I run it for trail riding at 7 clicks up from the least amount of compression damping.

For road riding I run it 6 clicks stiffer than that.

As a reference, in road setup it's stiffer than it was with 0.55 Ohlins springs in the standard front, and works better over any surface than the standard front end did with the 0.55 and 10 wt oil.

With an extra ~80mm of travel you rarely see anything close to bottoming out. Especially as the last part of the travel has a non linear damping and spring rate.

I am tempted to go to a 0.50, but feel I would lose the advantage the lighter spring has over rocks and tree roots. I've done that on one of my 650's and on the other 650 I went to a 0.55. The difference is that the lighter spring rate works much better on trail chop, and the heavier will launch off jumps like a 250, and land just as well. I don't really plan to jump that much, although my wife would dispute this.

The low speed compression adjustment is actually tied in with the high speed damping circuit, so as you slow down (more damping) the low speed, you slow down the high speed. This means you can adjust for a weekend of choppy rock strewn trails and ride smooth over the top of anything under a foot high, or you can dial it up firmer and launch off jumps like a smaller dirt bike.

The Ohlins rear is light years ahead of the standard rear, and where that shows up most prominently is hard braking on uneven surfaces, or rocky surfaces, with ABS on. Standard it would go straight to ABS intervention at the blink of an eye. Now I have far more control off road with ABS on, to the point that I rarely ever switch it off. The proof of this came to me when riding with one of the inmates (PPiA), him mounted on his rally prepped Sherco 450, and giving him a good run for his money.

That was proof positive for me. I came away from the ride thinking "how in the fuck did I do that and not die trying?" It's simple...top end quality motoX suspension, properly set up for that type of riding.

It is, quite simply, a revelation compared to a showroom example. Until someone with a standard bike rides one like this, they will continue to humbug the claims.

As you make changes you will learn to ride the bike to your limit with the new suspension. Then you start thinking..."what if..." I love the "What if..." moments. Think outside the box. Go nuts. You only live once, why let something like cheesy suspension detract from your experience?

Have you seen some of the aftermarket stuff they make for the Showa forks....oh yeah baby. I can keep perfecting this front end for years to come. Every year when I have t serviced I can make incremental changes, and add new kits etc. That fact that so many bikes are raced off road in so many formats with this front end means it is future proofed.
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Old 11-15-2013, 09:17 AM   #14
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Ohlins BM303 and Front End on 2013 F8

VERY satisfied with both on and off road. Completely different bike.
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