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Okay – Let’s get the disclaimers out of the way first – I am not a trained suspension technician. But I did almost flunk out of engineering at the University of MD in 1972 after spending far more time smoking reefer than studying. I am a nerd who loves to spend his farkeling pennies on suspension upgrades instead of loud exhaust systems and ECU re-flashes.
In spite of all the glowing reviews of the bike, I haven’t been too impressed with the new 2014 V-Strom suspension. It’s better than the 1st generation, but I find the rear wallows too much, especially with panniers, and both front and rear beat you up on rough pavement and gravel roads. Playing with the suspension adjustment clickers didn’t seem to get me what I wanted. So, having some dollars available, I set about upgrading the bike’s boingers.
The first call was to Penske Racing Shocks in Reading PA. I’ve dealt with them and various other Penske companies before and every time it has been very satisfactory. They did not have a shock adapted to the 2014 Vee, but were very interested in using my bike to develop one. They offered me a discount for using my bike as a mule, so I jumped on the opportunity. :hurray: A few days later, I picked up my bike with a new 8987 triple adjustable Penske shock. Mike Himmelsbach gave me a great tour of their facility where they build shocks for Nascar, Indy car, AMA, short track, off road, Formula One (Including world champions McLaren-Mercedes), and basically anything else in the world that gets raced. The place is as clean, well-lighted, and organized as a hospital operating room.
Taking the bike home for some sag measurements, I ended up wanting a heavier spring and 10mm more length. It only took them three days total including shipping both ways and all the modifications were done at no extra charge.
I took it out a few days later when it finally got above freezing for a test ride. Holy sh*t, I suddenly feel like I’m competent. The damping is the best I’ve ever felt. It’s not plush, but it’s at least as comfortable as the stock shock. It keeps the bike stable and supremely planted. Nothing knocks it off line or causes the slightest hint of a wobble. Potholes, mid-corner bumps, and pavement patches are easily absorbed by the viscous perfection of the Penske. The clickers are dialed in pretty well before the shock leaves Penske, so I tend to make small changes and they are usually to reduce compression damping a bit to increase comfort. The adjustments really do change the damping, so don't get crazy and dial everything to eleven.
My take on dealing with Penske is: This shock is built by a company that focuses on racing. The components are all machined in the USA and are super high quality. Riding it is not like floating on a cloud, you definitely can feel the road surface. Rider comfort is good but not great. The main focus is on motorcycle control and chassis stability. The bike feels really stable, and seems to come alive at speed. If you have poor impulse control it might even encourage you to speed, :yikes: which could be dangerous or expensive (so behave yourself!). I do enjoy the flow of riding well on challenging roads, and this thing is light years ahead of Japanese price point adventure bike suspension. IMHO, there is a difference between suspension with a lot of features and suspension done well, and I’d rather have the latter.

The upgraded rear suspension seemed to bring the focus to the front of the bike, where the forks are better than the stock rear shock, but seem to fall down on sharp impacts – transmitting some pretty sharp jolts. After a couple phone calls, my forks were on their way to Rick Tannenbaum at Cogent Dynamics. It has taken him a few days to tear them down and analyze the damping circuits. There is good news and bad news. The good news is that the stock springs and damping rates aren’t bad for smooth pavement, and the forks have nice big 25mm cartridges. The bad news is that the springs are progressive, tapered and odd sized. The damping is done by a single valve body / shim stack through which oil flows in both suction and compression to provide damping. High end forks have separate valve bodies and shim stacks for compression and rebound, and the oil always flows through these circuits in compression to avoid cavitation. Also the stock compression adjuster doesn’t actually change damping. The damping curves on a shock dyno were identical at both full soft and full hard settings.
At the present, we are waiting 2 weeks for Rick to get custom wound straight rate straight springs to replace the stockers. He will also machine adaptors to replace the single valve body with a high performance double valve setup, separating the compression and rebound circuits. This would be the over the top program, costing $500 +/-. He says he can also modify and re-shim the stock valve body for far less money, and still improve the forks quite a bit. Here’s his latest communication concerning the fork upgrades:

Henry,

We completed the valving and dyno testing yesterday. We manufactured additional parts to fully replace the rebound piston as well (no photo yet). I am super happy with the results, we have not only the damping rates we were looking for but a far superior level or adjustability as well. If we had the springs, we could ship the forks back to you today.

Just to put some perspective on it, at a fork velocity of 20 inches/second, your stock fork was adjustable from about 28 lbs. to 30 lbs. of force. After the rework, we now had an adjustment range of 18 lbs. to over 70 lbs. of force. This adjustability is on top of a full redesign of the damping curves, rebound and compression. I am excited by the prospect of the performance.

Rick

Pictures of the stock valve body (short) and the Cogent Dynamics replacement.


I’ll try to update this report and post a few more pictures after I get the forks back and get a couple rides in. I realize that few riders are interested in spending this much time and money upgrading the suspension on a mid-level bike, but I’ve always found that a really comfortable seat and suspension work pay huge dividends by not beating you up on long rides.
Sorry to ramble on but suspension does fascinate me…

Hank

P.S. If you waded through all this and are still reading, you might want to think about getting a life….
 

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Excellent! I was actually thinking of calling Penske and Cogent...so you beat me to it! I'm 100% with you on your evaluation of the stock setup. The rear needs much more rebound damping (and a stronger spring for me), and the front has too much high speed compression damping. Keep us updated!
 

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thanks for the post.
I'm guessing at 180lbs the fork springs (even though progressive) are OK for me even if oil flows are not exactly ideal.
The rear? ..... I'll certainly use this info when I visit my suspension guy to try to find a rear shock with 30mm more travel to match my raised ride height. Might as well get it all done at once
 

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Discussion Starter #4
thanks for the post.
I'm guessing at 180lbs the fork springs (even though progressive) are OK for me even if oil flows are not exactly ideal.
The rear? ..... I'll certainly use this info when I visit my suspension guy to try to find a rear shock with 30mm more travel to match my raised ride height. Might as well get it all done at once
You will only need about 12mm more shock length due to the shock linkage. The shock extends about 2.5" while the rear wheel travels 6.3", so u need to account for the multiplication factor.
 

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thanks for the post.
I'm guessing at 180lbs the fork springs (even though progressive) are OK for me even if oil flows are not exactly ideal.
The rear? ..... I'll certainly use this info when I visit my suspension guy to try to find a rear shock with 30mm more travel to match my raised ride height. Might as well get it all done at once
How did you raise your rear ride height? If you raised it by changing the shock links, you don't need to change the shock piston travel. If you did it by installing a significantly longer spring, then yes you might need a longer travel shock.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
How did you raise your rear ride height? If you raised it by changing the shock links, you don't need to change the shock piston travel. If you did it by installing a significantly longer spring, then yes you might need a longer travel shock.
I installed a shock about 10mm longer than stock using the stock linkage. You can change travel and ride height either by changing shock length or linkage arm length. Changing spring length does nothing unless the actual length of the shock absorber changes.
 

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I installed a shock about 10mm longer than stock using the stock linkage. You can change travel and ride height either by changing shock length or linkage arm length. Changing spring length does nothing unless the actual length of the shock absorber changes.
All depends on the spring rate and load, but I agree it's not the right way to change ride height. By the way, I was asking alfie how HE raised his ride height.
 

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Hank, I have had Rick at Cogent Dynamics do the front and rear on my Wee and he hit it out of the park a grand slam home run. I can't wait until he gets you dialed in then I can get him to do mine, I can see needing some re-valving in the front end. I don't know about the rear end yet, I still have the Trail wings on. I hate to build a suspension system based around such a worthless tire.
 

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Any one else look into suspension changes?

I too was looking to raise my seat height, a) to make a more comfy couch, and b) maybe knock a few mm off the trail and improve the street manners of the front wheel.

The 10mm longer shock sounds llike what I need, thanks farmer hank for the multiplication factor.
 

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this thread is exactly what i was looking for. I was going to contact cogent but the penske thing is great...never would have thought about them...thanks. Keep the info coming please.
 

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Thanks for the post, Hank!

I would be interested in hearing how it all works when you are done with the front as well.

Some questions:

How much do you weigh?

Why did you want to raise the bike?

What kind of load do you usually put on the bike? (I saw your mention of sidecases.)

What kind of rider are you? (Sporty, aggressive*, touring, twisters, easy gravel, hard offload, etc)

How do you/will you be using the bike?

What did you ride before?

..Tom
 

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Hanks last activity was April of 2015, so looks like y'all are on your own.
 

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I even sent Hank a PM last year about his conclusions Didn't answer? Last I heard the hawks and crows got him while posing as a scare crow.
 

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I've contacted Race tech to see what they recommend for my weight and type of riding. Their network of service centers is of major appeal as the last time I tried servicing inverted forks I realized I don't want to do it anymore! I got Dirtworks in Tacoma to install springs and valves in my Dirtbike a few years back. They did a great job, at a very reasonable price.

I'm also impressed with the efforts RT has made educating the riding community about suspension and riding techniques.

Their web tools are also better than any other suspension shop I have found, but still not great. It indicates that my fork springs need ~50% more force than stock! Not sure what increase in rear spring rate is recommended.

I'm mapping out two options, 1. Gold valve forks and reservoir shock, or 2. just fork springs and floating piston rear shock (no external reservoir, hence no compression damping adjustment).

I've asked them to recommend the maximum increase in shock length instead of disassembling the V2 and filling out their extensive Swing arm geometry form. Basically it looks to me like anything more than 15mm will increase the swingarm angle excessively.
 

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I went the Cogent way with the front end of my DL1000A. They will give you the correct setup for your weight, use & riding style!

I now have a setup that I can dial in the sag to exactly where it needs to be. The upgraded valving allows me so much more flexibility to be able to trim the front end to my liking (I like a little less rebound and slightly more compression trim) I now have a front end that is plush over the small sharp hits but not mushy! After riding the Cogent setup for a while you tend to forget how compliant it is until you jump back on a stock DL again.
I can't recommend Cogent (Rick & Todd) enough, they know there stuff and what's more have fantastic customer service & back up (something that is getting harder to find these days).
Cogent also do a rear shock for the DL now as well (at the time I set my bike up this option was not available). For me the Cogent spring & valving has transformed the front end of the DL. (I also run a aftermarket rear shock which compliments to front end).

Some of us are happy with the stock suspension but if you have ridden a bike with a well setup aftermarket suspension you certainly feel the difference. Is it worth the $$, only you can answer that one.

P.S removing the front forks is pretty straight forward (30 minutes) to enable them to be freighted.
 

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Cogent gives me pause. Their web page includes the Africa Twin but no DL1000, doesn't inspire confidence.

I read somewhere that most bikes are in sprung for 160 LB riders. Add 50 lbs for me, then 40 for all of its expensive jewelry. I'll be loaded for camping about 25%, and that's another 70 lbs with side cases, fully loaded.

I'd like to raise the seat but the effect on the swing arm angle might get dramatic. The thing already wheelies too easily!
Making me want to ride. End this icy drizzle!
 

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..
I read somewhere that most bikes are in sprung for 160 LB riders. Add 50 lbs for me, then 40 for all of its expensive jewelry. I'll be loaded for camping about 25%, and that's another 70 lbs with side cases, fully loaded.
...
I am sure that was true for the stock suspension of my 2006 DL650, a little less true for my 2012 DL650, and not true for my 2015 DL1000. It really doesn't feel very undersprung to me (245 lbs.) Could things be improved, I'm sure, but I don't feel the overwhelming need for it that I did on my 2006 DL650.

..Tom
 
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