Welcome to Netrider ... Connecting Riders!

Interested in talking motorbikes with a terrific community of riders?
Signup (it's quick and free) to join the discussions and access the full suite of tools and information that Netrider has to offer.

Suspension upgrade report (Wilbers & Adreani components)

Discussion in 'Modifications and Projects' at netrider.net.au started by [FLUX], Oct 16, 2007.

  1. Picked up the bike today from getting a full suspension overhaul, which was done by Greg at ASR.



    Let me start by saying that after a LOT of messing around with the settings on the stock forks and rear shock, that I had finally settled on something that was working quite well. Overall, I was fairly happy with it. The front end was performing very well for the rather aggressive riding that I do, and the rear which had given me the most grief was working functionally and doing a decent job, but any serious undulations were unsettling it. On rougher roads, the stock steering damper seemed to be struggling to keep things under control, and I was mega-paranoid about the stock steering damper bolts coming loose and potentially locking the steering head.

    Okay, so what went into the bike?

    Wilbers 643 QS rear shock
    Wilbers fork springs 9.5kg linear rate (stock items were measured at 8.9kg)
    Wilbers 5W fork oil
    Andreani fork valves
    Wilbers (HyperPro) Steering Damper

    I'll post some pictures later. Bike needs a wash after yesterday's ride. All the bugs were out in force. I was cleaning the visor every 30 minutes. I'm digressing though.

    So how is the bike handling I hear you ask? Absolutely freaking amazing is the answer. The stock suspension was decent, but unless you experience it for yourself, it's really hard to appreciate just how much better it can get. "Tracking like on rails" is a phrase that gets bandied about too freely IMO, so instead I'll focus on the discernible differences between stock and modified for fast road riding.

    Hitting a series of rippling bumps mid-corner would have the stock suspension getting skittish. It'll handle it, but you need to slow down as the bike will want to run wider. Backing off the compression and/or rebound to deal with it just makes the bike want to wallow at speed, so you can't do that. With the new fork valving, the suspension is immensely more supple, and yet firm, at the same time. Hitting the same series of bumps (yes - I rode over a particular problematic corner I was using for reference here) and you can feel the suspension working hard over the bumps, but the bike just stays tracking true. It didn't move an inch off my chosen line, and the feedback was far less jarring through the bars. I could stay on the throttle and know that the bike was going to go where I wanted it to. Hitting harsh bumps (yes - had a few reference corners here, plus an entire section of bumpy road) and rather than caning the gonads, you can hear the wheels go thuck-thuck over the bump, definitely feel it working, but the bike remained completely composed, settled and controlled.

    As for the rear shock, I can't sing its praises well enough. It works so perfectly at turning bumps into smoothly tracked road while keeping the bike under control, it's just sublime. I still need to dial it in a touch from the settings I picked it up with. It feels like the rebound is 1 click too high with the rear struggling for traction over undulations at full throttle and a faint tendency to run a little wide under power out of corners. The high/low speed compression damping is spot on though, and kept the bike firmly under control across some terrible quality roads.

    On the smoother roads, the difference is not as vast. The bike definitely feels more settled. It's like having all the benefits of a softer stock suspension setting with a plush ride, and all the benefits of a stiffer suspension setting with a firmly controlled ride, but all together at once. Where the difference on smoother roads comes in is that it all feels like a lot less work. I was throwing the bike into corners and just feeling like it was easy, rather than wrestling with the bike in ways that I had learned to accept. Over a particularly nasty undulation into a corner entry, the stock suspension would tie itself in knots, despite being set firm, and start pogoing and weaving, whereas with the new setup it just tracked true, gave a slight wiggle, and promptly settled in time to tip it into the corner.

    Sorry for the long winded post. I'm just trying to emphasise what the differences are, and how they're perceived to the rider, and where the benefits lie. You could be perfectly happy with the stock suspension once you get it setup well and never want for more, and that's fine. There is, however, quite a deal more than can be done to really take it to the next sublime level of near perfection.
     
     Top
  2. Some pictures of the rear shock + damper unit

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
     Top
  3. hey stew, after reading your description of the rough roads....how has a harder settings helped or was the upgrade mainly to help stop the front end from wallow at tip in??

    cheer stewy
     
     Top
  4. Great to read about the shock. Got a call from Greg yesterday telling me that the 641 is delivered and awaiting fitment.

    Nice looking bike Stew :)
     
     Top
  5. Well, before it was more of a compromise. Let's be clear and state that the 675's stock rear shock unit is pretty average. You'd get the rebound damping set right, correctly controlling wallow over mid-corner undulations, but then the compression damping would be too firm. So I'd back that off a touch, only to find that the rebound damping had been affected and it'd wallow again. So I'd bump up the rebound damping again, and the compression damping would be fine over undulations (low speed damping) but would be harsh over sharp bumps (high speed damping). Now the stock unit doesn't have separate high/low speed adjusters, I'm just describing how it behaved. I'd then back off the spring preload to soften the harshness, allowing me to back off the rebound and compression, only to find that it'd wallow, and then I bumped up the rebound again, which also impacted the compression damping, but finally I was at a "happy compromise" with the stock rear unit. It no longer wallowed and weaved over undulations, it kept the rear in contact with the ground, and rode over sharp bumps at lean well enough to remain in control, albeit with a somewhat harsh action that got worse the more it was compressed. When extended (after coming over a rise) though, it acted like it was under-damped and weave. It was all about finding a comfortable middle ground, and watching the road carefully and predicting how the bike would react and adjusting what I was doing to suit.

    Now it's more compliant. It'll hit a harsh bump and you won't feel that it's harsh. It allows the tyres to very quickly react to harshness, and then it feels like it applies a firm controlled damping to avoid any wallowing or pitching. The low-speed damping is more controlled, allowing the bike to settle quickly without any pitching, which basically means that the suspension is firmly damping out any pogoing after undulations and bumps.

    With the stock suspension, the bike would leap off the sharp bump and then wobble a touch while it settled. You might say that the damping was too hard, but if it was, then it wouldn't wobble and wallow after the bump. In essence, the high-speed damping was too hard, and the low-speed too soft, with no fine middle-ground. You can ride around the problems to a fair extent by being smoother with the turn-in, but you can't adjust for rises and falls in the road surface without simply going slower.

    The new suspension controls all of that. It offers the plushness of a softer setting that takes the sharp edges off bumps, but once the bike starts moving about because of said bumps, the bike doesn't pogo about as you would normally expect with a soft suspension setting.

    This is not to say that it's perfect and you can go totally nuts over any road surface. You still feel bumps and shocks, but it just feels like everything is a half to a third as severe as it was before, with the follow on benefit that the tyres remain in good contact with the road surface, and the bike remains balanced.
     
     Top
  6. How much does upgrading the suspension cost? Its probably one of the best modifications you can do to your motorcycle
     
     Top
  7. It sure is. A greater benefit in real terms for most bikes than any engine power-up mods. Better suspension will allow you to get the existing power to the ground earlier and stronger, something which simply having more power doesn't help with. Better suspension will get you through the corners quicker, something which more power doesn't help with. On rougher roads, better suspension will allow you to stay on the throttle longer and more strongly, while more power would just overwhelm the stock suspension. In fact, about the only thing that more power helps with is in a smooth straight line between corners, and then you have to hope that the distance between corners is long enough to make up for all the time lost in and out of the corners.

    If you're prepared to pull the forks and shocks off yourself and fit them again yourself, you can get a basic fork revalving done for around $500, with top quality fork valves costing around $200 more. If the rear shock is a serviceable item, around $300-400, otherwise more like $500-600 to replace the non-serviceable parts. Add around $150-200 in labour for each end that you don't pull-off/fit yourself.

    A full rear shock replacement will run anywhere from $800-2000 for the unit, and maybe more for the big-name stuff, but be aware that you're usually just paying for a name above the $2000 mark.

    You can get a full fork internal cartridge replacement costing anywhere from $800-1500 for both forks, depending on the quality of the unit. Beyond that you're looking at a full fork replacement which gets real expensive (>$2500 for starters). Don't know how much. Never priced it, never really cared as that's only required to be competitive in the highest levels of modified racing, and from what I'm told, we're talking about pretty small advantages over quality revalving in most modern fork bodies.
     
     Top
  8. It's always fascinating to read your opinions on this stuff... I wonder if I'd even notice the difference apart from to say "this handles great," "that feels harsh" or "felt wallowy when I went to get right up it."

    I must learn to read suspension better one of these days.
     
     Top
  9. I'll second your comment about a quality shock offering a plusher ride yet with more control.

    When I changed the Sachs on the Tuono for the Ohlins (OEM Aprilia) the difference was amazing. You hit a bump, feel it, but instead of getting shot out of the seat, the suspension just takes the bump, compresses and then settles perfectly. With the Sachs, you'd hit a bump, get thrown out of the seat and then wallow down the road. So they managed to make a harshly suspended bike that wallowed.
     
     Top
  10. My next modification will be suspension for sure. Just gotta learn a bit more about it and how it works so I dont get ripped off.
     
     Top
  11. Where are you located?

    There are lots of places that can help you, some who will screw you. All of them have their own way of doing something, so what one says might be different from another, but often they achieve the same end.
     
     Top
  12. Dandenong area, know any good places nearby. I want to find out what I can have done for under $1000 on a 98 900RR
     
     Top
  13. Front/Rear/Both?

    You'll struggle for front and rear for that money, but it's enough for one or the other.

    ASR are by reputation good. He is located in Dromana and seems to be a no BS kind of guy. Give him a call and discuss, outline your budget, needs and requirements and I am positive you'll have a solution pretty soon.
     
     Top
  14. I think I will have to learn a bit more and test out more settings before I spend more money on suspension. I got new stock forks start of this year which would be a bit of a waste.

    I have the front and rear set pretty hard which is sharp and accurate and a little less forgiving than the previous soft settings the bike had when i got it. I find it turns and leans over quicker but hitting bumps while turning/leaning can be scary. Also when hitting bumps the bike moves around a lot, with the harder settings i am learning to let the bike straighten itself out.
     
     Top
  15. Great write-up!

    I'll be upgrading the suspension on my GSR sometime soon, once I've saved up for it!

    Cartridge emulator + springs and valves for the forks, $700ish
    Wilbers 642 rear shock, which has rebound as well as high/low damping settings, $1400ish

    At the moment I've dialed in the settings as best as I can with the stock suspension, it's not too bad, but definately an improvement over the stock settings. The springs are definately too light, as I'd need 9.5kg linear rate springs to suit my weight.

    It's a quite a bit of coin to pour into the bike, but given I ride the thing everyday and everywhere, anything that improves comfort on various levels is definately worth it.
     
     Top
  16. I think I've finished dialling in the suspension to suit my taste, and a trip up the favorite twisties today was very inspiring. Roads were damp in patches, so here I was, taking it easy so I thought, and then my knee comes down a few times without even feeling like I'm going hard.

    Scratching my head, thinking WTF? This 675 sits fairly high and is narrow, and getting the knee down on the old R1 was a snap in comparison to the trek down to the ground on the Daytona. To make it a little more surprising for me, the bike is sitting on average around 5mm higher than stock, with the front being raised to cure the geometry nervousness.

    I'm sure I remembered getting thrown around before on some of the bumpier road sections I normally ride, but aside from the odd moderate jolt, and a bit of movement here and there, it was like every bump was 1/3rd the size of what it was before. Really nasty series of large bumps and dips will get the bike moving around, but it always feels in control.

    Threw it as hard as I dared through one horribly bumpy corner that I knew used to upset the bike heaps, and I came out the other side wondering what the fuss used to be about?

    During today's ride I started getting that feeling of oneness with the bike, and inside my helmet superlatives were dribbling from my mouth. I was laughing, excited, relaxed, at ease, and just plain having fun. In short, everything just started to flow again in a way that I haven't felt since riding the R1.

    Am now one seriously happy camper! :grin:
     
     Top