Installing Racetech Springs with Gold Valve Emulators on 650 - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 19 Old 03-05-2014, 05:14 PM Thread Starter
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Installing Racetech Springs with Gold Valve Emulators on 650

Well today it's all done and complete. I'm sure some of you were following the issues I had all along and I thank all of you whom responded with ideas about what could be happening. I want to thank Blair at SVRacing Parts for sending me the suspension and for answering numerous phone calls and emails that I had regarding this very needed upgrade. Also Rich Desmond for the advice through PM's that eventually was the solution.

So I start out buy saying I was very hesitant to do this job by myself, but I also wanted to do it by myself just to become more familiar with the parts of my bike and how it all fits together and works. So with Blair talking me off the cliff and telling me he has directions on how to do it and that it wouldn't be a big deal I ordered the suspension.

So I read over his directions many times and I have no idea how I missed the do not remove the dust caps, oil seal etc to take shocks completely apart but I did and took everything out of the shocks and separated the upper and lower fork tubes. In reality all I needed to do was to remove the shocks from the bike and take off the fork top cap and everything would come out the top of the fork when you dump out the oil. Everything you need to do when you replace your Stock springs with the Race Tech springs can be done by just removing the top cap.

Once your top cap is removed pour out old oil from the top by pumping your shock up and down. This will dump out the old oil, your metal spacer sleeve, a washer then your spring. Following that the Dampner will come out followed by your top out spring.. Let me also say that your damper is held in by a 6mm Allen head screw that is accessed from the bottom of your fork. Once you take that out more oil will come out then the dampner and topout spring will fall out the top. Also the 6mm allen head bolt that comes out the bottom of the forks has a copper crush washer on it. Probably should replace since you are already this far but I did not. Also when the Dampner is out the instuctions state to enlarge the 2 holes in each dampner to 7/16". Then clean them up so there is no burs or anything.

This is a photo of the holes you will be enlarging.


So here is where I ran into my problems. Reassembly of the forks. First off when I went to reinstall the forks there is a sleeve of some sort on the top fork tube that must be seated into the lower fork tube. The Suzuki shop manual calls for a special tool to seat this. I did not have it and the local shop wanted $80 just to join the tubes together. That wasn't gonna happen. So I improvised, actually found another person that seated it this way by searching the web. Basically I lubed the fork and sleeve with fork oil and places 2 large Flat head screw driver on the washer on opposing sides of the forks. Basically I would tap one screwdriver and the opposing one would keep the other from popping up. Then I would hit the other screwdriver then back and forth until I could feel it was seated. After that I put in the oil seal by gently using the flat head screw driver and pressed it in all around until it was far enough down that I could get the wire retainer clip installed. After that I just pressed the dust cap down.

Here is a photo of what the upper and lower fork tubes look like separated.


Problems and issues:
1. The first time I didn't pay attention to how everything came apart. And since I separated the forks I forgot that the dampner does not go in until the fork are put back together. So the first time I put them back together I installed the dampner spring at the lower leg of the fork followed by the dampner then I used the 6mm allen bolt to secure it then I put the upper and lower fork legs together. (In reality the correct way to do this is to put the upper and lower fork tubes together first then drop in the top out spring (Short 3" or so spring) then the dampner on top of that and then secure the dampner with the 6mm allen bolt).

That was just the start of my issues. I figured this out after Rich told me the top out spring was not installed properly. This was easy to figure out cause I could tip the forks back and forth and hear the spring moving up and down the dampner.

So remember. Do no separate fork legs when changing out your stock springs for the Racetech springs. Everything your need to do can be done from removing the top cap and lower allen bolts only

Next step and issues.
So now I have all my inner parts out of the fork tubes. On the directions it says to measure the stock spring, washer and metal tube spacer. Once you get that measurement you need to then measure your length of your new RaceTech stuff. Emulator, Racetech Spring (It's shorter than the stock spring) Washer and then determine what length you are going to need to cut your Metal Spacer to. With all the RaceTech stuff it should be the exact same length as the stock stuff.
Here is a photo of the Racetech Emulator, Spring, washer and Metal spacer.


Issues and Problems:
Here is the next step that I must not have read correctly. After the Uppers and lower for tubes were installed correctly that shouldn't have been taken apart in the first place I dropped in the Top out spring then the Dampner and secured with the 6mm Allen. This is all correct. The next part here is where I screwed up. I thought the instructions said to add oil to the forks without the springs and emulator. KEY mistake here is I put in the oil and filled it up to 140mm mark front the top of the fork to the top of the oil with it compressed then dropped in the emulater, spring, washer, spacer. (do not do this). The Emulator needs to be seated properly then add the oil to the fork tube up to the 140mm from top of fork tube while compressed all the way. The spring only gets dropped into the oil after the oil is at it's proper height. 140mm from the oil to the top of the fork tube while it's compressed....

Issues and problems....
Hope you all are learning from my mistakes here but here was another critical one. Because I filled with oil before having emulator in when I dropped in the emulator it must have somehow went in cockeyed and didn't seat properly. When I put the spring on top of the emulator it didn't correct the position of the emulator it staying in cockeyed. So when I put in my washer on top of my spring then the spacer it looked like this before I put on my top cap. Mind you this is gap is with fork tube fully extended. This is what I had to compress to get the top cap to thread.

Photo of gap with improperly seated Emulator

Believe me when I tell you that this gap amount was nearly impossible to compress to thread the top cap on. I had my son hold the fork tube and turn it as I put all my 250lbs on the top cap and pressed down until he could get it to thread. My hands have permanent indentions from this. OUCH....

So with the Top Cap installed on the improperly seated Emulator I decided to put a Zip tie around the fork tube and compress the shock by hand and see how far the shock would go down. This is my result


Having thought this was correct and that the bike was heavier than I and would compress it further I decided to put the bike all back together and ride it and see what it does. So I put the forks back in and reassemble the bike and go for a ride. At about 20mph I grab the front brakes only in a straight line and basically lock up my front brakes for a second and take a look at my zip tie. It hadn't moved even an inch. Well I figures something was wrong so I got back on the forum here and got some more good advice from Rich. He told me that the Preload was way to much and that the emulator was probably not seated properly.

So I woke up the next morning anxious to go figure out what was going on and why I wasn't getting any movement out of my shock. I realize that I have to pull the Wheel again, Front Fender, Brakes etc. But now I can do all this with my eyes closed and maybe took me 10 minutes to get both shocks out and onto the ground. (Remember before all this I was scared to death to take all this stuff off. Oh ya and did I mention the first time putting the bike on the jack the bike ended up on its side and the jack handle punched a hole through my wall. Not good. But I ended up securing the bike with jack stands all the other times without issues) Don't just use a jack stand. It's not secure enough. hahaha..

So forks are out of the bike, top caps removed oil dumped. Spacer, washer, spring and emulator removed.

This time with oil removed from fork I drop in Emulator first. Look down fork tube with flashlight and see the Emulator is seated correctly. I add oil to the 140mm mark from top of oil to top of upper fork tube. After the correct amount of oil is in I drop in the spring, followed by the washer then the spacer. What I see is this. Which is a completely different measurement than the time before with the Emulator installed incorrectly. This is what it should look like before putting on the top cap.



So this time I was able to put the top cap on by myself with only a little resistance. Also when I compress the tube by hand with everything done correctly I could compress it this far.


Huge difference between this and the last time with everything installed wrong.

So after everything I did wrong I finally got it all installed back onto the bike and went for another ride. This time at 20mph in a straight line doing a quick front wheel skid I get this result.



I would say that looks a ton better than the travel before.

After I look back on it now I really think I could do this entire job from start to finish now in under a 2 hours with disassembly and reassembly easily. I'm glad I got to do it myself as it's always good to know the inner workings of different parts of your bike incase you ever have to do a roadside repair. I have no doubt this will be a significant improvement over stock. Now I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new Elka rear shock..

Last edited by lacofdfireman; 03-05-2014 at 05:22 PM.
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post #2 of 19 Old 03-05-2014, 05:30 PM
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Thumbs up https://www.stromtrooper.com/suspension-tire-tech/173265-installing-racetech-springs-g

Awesome work Dave; This is an awesome write up and your fork travel looks really good now,

Enjoy the ride, and best regards,
Blair
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post #3 of 19 Old 03-05-2014, 07:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lacofdfireman View Post
...So now I have all my inner parts out of the fork tubes. On the directions it says to measure the stock spring, washer and metal tube spacer. Once you get that measurement you need to then measure your length of your new RaceTech stuff. Emulator, Racetech Spring (It's shorter than the stock spring) Washer and then determine what length you are going to need to cut your Metal Spacer to. With all the RaceTech stuff it should be the exact same length as the stock stuff...
Nope. Very common mistake, but you do NOT want the total stack height to be the same as stock. Because the stock springs are so soft they are setup with a lot of preload to keep the sag within reason. With better springs, if you keep the stack height the same you'll have too much preload for the new rate, too little sag, and consequently a ride that will be harsher than it has to be.
You want the spring to be compressed about 15mm when you have the fork cap installed and the preload adjuster set in the middle. From your second "gap" photo I'd guess your spacer is still about 15mm too long. It looks like it's close to flush with the top of the fork tube, it should be recessed down about 20-22mm.

Rich Desmond
'07 DL650, '01 DR-Z400S, '99 SV650 (race bike), '80 GS1000S, '85 RZ350, '08 Ducati 848

Last edited by RichDesmond; 03-05-2014 at 07:14 PM.
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post #4 of 19 Old 03-05-2014, 08:26 PM
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Rich, won't threading the fork cap in compress the springs the distance of the threads? Or am I missing something?

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post #5 of 19 Old 03-05-2014, 09:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trapperdog View Post
Rich, won't threading the fork cap in compress the springs the distance of the threads? Or am I missing something?
If the bottom of the cap is "just" touching the top of the spacer at the point of thread engagement, then yes, that's how much the spring will be compressed. Typically that gives you about 8-10mm, not quite enough.
The problem he has is that the even in that second pic he has to compress the spring quite a bit before the threads engage, so he has that much preload plus the depth of the threads, and that's too much.

Rich Desmond
'07 DL650, '01 DR-Z400S, '99 SV650 (race bike), '80 GS1000S, '85 RZ350, '08 Ducati 848
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post #6 of 19 Old 03-05-2014, 10:01 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Rich. Unfortunately I now nothing about suspension. I was just following the directions given to me by Blair which I assumed was right. Does it make any difference that I am 250lbs. Does this change the preload needed. Or is it the same for everyone? If it's the same for everyone your saying I need to cut my spacer and make it shorter correct? Also is the 140mm correct for my weight? How does the fork fluid height play a roll in all of this?

Just curious about all of this because from the looks of my fork travel after everything was redone it seems like it is using up almost all of the forks travel which is what you want correct?

Also on top of the fork caps where should you start with messing with your preload adjustment?` What setting? All the way in or all the way out or half way?
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post #7 of 19 Old 03-05-2014, 10:10 PM Thread Starter
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I've also read that you can use Schedule 40 PVC pipe for your spacer instead of the metal tube. Is that true?
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post #8 of 19 Old 03-05-2014, 10:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lacofdfireman View Post
Thanks Rich. Unfortunately I now nothing about suspension. I was just following the directions given to me by Blair which I assumed was right. Does it make any difference that I am 250lbs. Does this change the preload needed. Or is it the same for everyone? If it's the same for everyone your saying I need to cut my spacer and make it shorter correct? Also is the 140mm correct for my weight? How does the fork fluid height play a roll in all of this?

Just curious about all of this because from the looks of my fork travel after everything was redone it seems like it is using up almost all of the forks travel which is what you want correct?

Also on top of the fork caps where should you start with messing with your preload adjustment?` What setting? All the way in or all the way out or half way?
During the disassembly/reassembly process have the preload adjuster all the way out, it makes it less likely that you'll strip the fork cap threads.
After you get it all put back together put the preload adjuster in the middle and measure your sag:

SonicSprings.com

Stroms have a little more travel than most street bikes, so 40mm of total sag is good.

If the spring is correct for your weight and riding style the amount of static preload should be about the same regardless of rider weight. It's a rare case where 15mm won't get you very close to the correct sag.

Measure your sag before you do anything else.

Rich Desmond
'07 DL650, '01 DR-Z400S, '99 SV650 (race bike), '80 GS1000S, '85 RZ350, '08 Ducati 848
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post #9 of 19 Old 03-05-2014, 10:19 PM Thread Starter
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Will my sag change on the front shock once I swap out my rear shock to the Elka when it gets here in about a week. Should I wait or is it something I should do now?
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post #10 of 19 Old 03-05-2014, 11:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichDesmond View Post
If the bottom of the cap is "just" touching the top of the spacer at the point of thread engagement, then yes, that's how much the spring will be compressed. Typically that gives you about 8-10mm, not quite enough.
The problem he has is that the even in that second pic he has to compress the spring quite a bit before the threads engage, so he has that much preload plus the depth of the threads, and that's too much.
Got it, now I see where you're coming from

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