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Honda Motorcycle and Offroad Suspension Set-up

By Nick Dole

1. General
Getting your suspension dialled in for your riding style is one of your first priority’s when you take your new bike out on the track. However, it is an on going process. What worked today might not suit the next track conditions you encounter next week. Therefore, you have to take on the role of test rider yourself and learn to identify problem areas. Never stop testing and thinking about what your bike is doing. Here are some practical tips for making your bike as good as it can be, stock or modified.

Spring Rates
There is again no way a manufacturer can know what you weigh. The “average” target weight for a full size motorcycle is a 75kg rider. Therefore, if you have a MX or current technology enduro bike, chances are the spring rates will be close for you. Of course, you will need to check and adjust your sag to be sure. There are some expectations. If you ride in sand or mud a lot, you might want to do heavier springs. Pro class riders on four strokes will go for stiffer rates, as will x-treme jumpers.

Often I will call a client on Monday after a race to see how he (or she) went. Occasionally I am met with the response of “it was too soft” or “it was to stiff” my next question is “What clicker position did you start out at and where did you end up? Did the adjustments you made help?”

“I DIDN’T TOUCH THEM, I LEFT THEM RIGHT WHERE YOU PUT THEM” Anyone who knows a suspension tuner will realise how much this drives them nuts. Please adjust your clickers yourself. One adjustment at a time so you know what it is doing. Keep a note of where you started form, so if you get lost you can go back. Read your owners manual, it’s full of good stuff. Here is some more information that may help both revalved and standard suspension.

Wash your bike after every ride so you can inspect the fork chrome tubes for knicks or scratches that will lead to seal failure. For upside down forks keep the chrome tubes free of dry mud that the dust scrapers will not be able to dislodge. For the shock, lift the bump stop up periodically with a screwdriver and wash under the bump stop. This is a common area where shock shaft corrosion starts. If the flap that protects the shock becomes damaged, replace it or the roost off the rear wheel will damage the shaft.

2- Fork Adjustments
Compression (C) clicker or adjuster is usually at the base of the fork; sometimes covered by a rubber plug, just flick it out with a screwdriver. (Compression clicker is on top for SHOWA twin chamber forks.

Rebound (R) is the top clicker for all forks other than twin chamber forks

Clickers, check the clicker settings are at the suggested positions. If in doubt, 10C and 10R is a good place to start. After riding, raise the front wheel off the ground and release the air that builds up in the forks.

Triple clamps; Wipe the clamps out with a solvent, they must be clean and oil free. Use a “scotchbrite” pad if you need to remove any hard deposits. Feel the steering head bearings while you are at it do they move freely?

Axle; Check the axle for any nicks or burrs. NEVER HIT YOU AXLE WITH ANYTHING HARDER THAN BRASS OR PLASTIC. If your axle cannot centre in the axle foot, you will have a harsh feeling fork that you cannot remedy with clicker adjustment. Install the forks and torque the triple clamps to manufacturers specification. Over tightening will cause binding in the upper tubes.

Set the fork projection through the top clamps to the stock position. If you have a projection preference and have not changed fork settings, set it to your previous figure. Lubricate the axle with thin oil or WD40, run it through the feet and wheel bearings to ensure it is smooth. Install the wheel and the axle, but leave the pinch bolts loose. After all the other assembly, work is done, drop the bike off the stand, hold on the front brake and “pump” the forks several times to centre the axle and the fork legs. Tighten the pinch bolts with the bike still sitting on the ground. THIS STEP IS CRITICAL.

The remainder of this article covers Fork tuning specifics, motorcycle suspension problem solving, suspension shock adjustments and shocking tuning. The full article can be obtained by contacting Teknik Racing owner Nick Dole through their website www.teknikracing.com.


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