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Larger new rider, questions about suspension

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by bigDan, Aug 20, 2012.

  1. Hi all I'm just after some advice on my GS500 in regards to the suspension and if it may hinder my improvement as a rider if I don't upgrade it. As my username implies I'm on the larger side (6'4" and 130kgs) I've had the bike for a little over a month and clocked up about 4000km, I don't feel uncomfortable on the bike but given how soft the front fork springs are I find they bottom out very easily and the rear feels a bit spongy as well.

    I've looked into some possible upgrades and I'm wondering if its worth spending money on a bike I plan to upgrade in less than 12 months when I get my R licence. Will sticking with the soft suspension ingrain any bad habits? Is it going to significantly hold back my progress? Is it as simple as taking it a little easier when cornering, especially on bumpy roads and then enjoying the step up to a more capable/suitable bike in a year?

    Like all new riders I'm obviously keen to improve my skills, am I better off at this stage just focusing on the basics and building confidence or would upgrading the suspension be a useful step to help me improve my cornering technique? Or am I completely overthinking things?

    Any suggestions will be much appreciated
  2. My 2c and be aware I'm a conservative rider on the whole.

    Keep the GS. Save the cash that you'd lose upgrading now & then when off restrictions so you can get something really shiny when you come off the restricted license.

    I would say to focus on your technique and riding skills rather than trying to reach the limits of the bike. (If you're regularly bottoming out the front suspension then that's definitely something to be aware of, but how are you doing that? Is this under extreme braking, or ordinary riding conditions? If the latter definitely talk to someone about it - maybe changing the fork oil would help there??) But given you're new to riding, I'd be aiming for control (especially at slower speeds and braking), smoothness, and precision in terms of operating the machine.

    And I'd be focusing on (for want of a better term) rider intelligence. Visual skills, environment scanning and hazard detection. Cornering lines, surface evaluation, decision making. Improve your understanding of how a motorcycle works: what affects tyre grip, and what can you do about it; what is the role of the different brakes mid corner? on a straight?; what is the correct gear to be in in any given situation? What are the different ways that a rider can provide input to the bike, and which should you use when?

    Basically if you work on becoming the best rider you can be, then not only will you get more enjoyment out of your GS, but you'll be better placed to enjoy your Z1000 once you're off restrictions :)
  3. Wise words by the_blacke he knows of what he speaks. However you are a big bloke and if it was me I'd spend a few bucks on stiffening up the suspension a bit. Might be easier to concentrate on the skills mentioned if you arent wallowing about.
    Each to their own, nice bike the GS500 by the way.
  4. Concur that if the front end is wallowing, that isn't good. I didn't focus too much on that since I'm of a similar robustness to the OP and had a '09 GS500 as my first bike and didn't notice too much of an issue with mine. It certainly didn't provide much feedback, but I didn't have it bottoming out particularly.
  5. Thanks for the advice the_blacke, front suspension 'bottoming out' probably wasn't the best description, its not happening all the time like it may have read. Under harder braking the front end does compress quite a bit, but isn't completely bottoming out. I'm far from reaching the limits of the bike and wouldn't say its 'wallowing' about. Might stick with concentrating on the skills improvement for now and look forward bikes like the z1000 you mention or a speed triple.

    BTW I like your use of the term robustness, sounds much better than fat bastard.

    Its a tough call, sink money into a bike I'll be selling once off restrictions or continue learning and improving with the soft suspension as is, for now I think the tightarse in me is winning out.
  6. as a minimum, get someone to help you make sure that what little adjustments you can make on the bike are set up correctly. I think it's only rear preload but us more robust people need to change that from the factory setting anyway - we're not 70kg Japanese are we?
  7. Yep rear pre-load is all that can be adjusted, I've increased it from the factory setting to better suit me.
  8. I'm only 74kg and my '09 GS500F used to "knock" the front suspension on certain bumps and at odd times when braking (felt like it was bottoming out). I never bothered to change the springs but I did opt for a heavier grade of oil in the forks. A cheap upgrade, still didn't stop it completely but it was certainly less pronounced.
  9. I had same issue when I was test riding when I was testing the brakes - squeezed the lever fairly hard and the front felt like it bounced off the road nearly... ****ing scary. My GS has that problem solved (GSXR thou forks - thanks Miraz :D) but you can do what one friend of mine did and replace the fork oil and springs.. Parts and labour it only cost him $300 and it was a dramatic improvement according to him
  10. Put a cable tie on the fork nice and tight down low and that will give you an accurate measure of fork travel.Riding around the problem could make you a smoother rider,but not if its bottoming a lot.That has the potential to help lock a front brake.
  11. The gs500 is notorious for having very soft front spring's, at your body weight I am not suprised it is bottoming out a bit, I am around 110kgs & mine did it on entering my driveway a few times & once when heavily braking (not emergency, just heavily)..

    I got replacement front springs for mine from Sonic Springs in the US, they have a calculator you can use the get the ones that suit you best, I think a workshop charged me $40-$50 to replace the springs (possibly more if the oil gets changed)..


    Once I replaced them the front felt so much better, I haden't really realised how much front end dive I was getting under brakes, great upgrade for this bike IMHO..
    • Like Like x 2
  12. If you can get new springs in for a few hundred they are worth it. If its a lot more, then just ride around it, until you get your next bike.

    A lighter rider with lighter springs is better than a heavier rider with heavier springs, I try to use it to incentivise myself to keep my weight down (sometimes with mixed results).
  13. Thanks for all the advice from everyone, I'm now thinking that if I can upgrade the front springs and fork oil for only around $300 it will be a worthwhile upgrade, less front end dive under heavy braking and larger bumps will definitely be more confidence inspiring.
  14. I think the Sonic Springs can be delivered for around $100, install shouldn't be too expensive, I reckon you could get away with around half of the $300 you are floating as an acceptable price..
  15. Yeah if you're doing the work yourself new springs+oil should be under the $150 mark. If paying someone else to fit them then it should really only require an hour of labour.

    Definitely worth the money IMO. It'll make the bike a lot more enjoyable to ride and this will certainly make it a lot easier to hone your skills. It'll also give you a better understanding of just how important suspension is to a bike, which is an important thing to consider when upgrading.
  16. I've ordered the springs from Sonicsprings, 118.00 inc. shipping, I plan on installing them myself and I'll change the fork oil while I'm at it. Looking at the options for rear shock DIY now, seems an R6 shock is an easy and decent improvement, evilbay US has quite a few, should be able to get the front and back upgraded for under $300. Thanks again guys for the suggestions and help everyone
  17. What spring rating did you end up getting, did you use their calculator suggestion?
  18. I'm a fat bugger... most lighter I've owned bikes I've changed the suspension to suit me. The bikes I haven't altered have been heavy ones like my Moto Guzzi tourer and the Harley.

    Changing the suspension has always made a big difference and I've never spent big bucks doing it.

    Highly recommended for the more... well built riders amongst us :)
  19. For 'aggresive street riding' the calculator on the site recommended 1.0kg/mm for my weight, for 'normal street' riding the calculator recommended 0.95 kg/mm. I went with the 1.0 after playing around with the figures as I was on the cusp of needing 1.0 anyway for 'normal street riding'.
  20. Yeah I went to the site & put in your & the bike details & got the .95 when I selected normal street riding, not a bad idea to go a little higher if you were right on the edge of the .95 being suitable, honestly, even if you don't end up doing it yourself, it shouldn't cost much, would take most mechanics less than 30 minutes to do..

    Keep us up to date on how you go...