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Discussion Starter #1
Over the winter I upgraded my suspension with an Elka shock and Ricor Intiminators in the forks along with the required 5w fluid and stock springs. I dialed in the shock pretty easily and am happy with it, but I notice the Ricors made the forks feel rigid and stiff over small dips and undulations in the road. They seem to do well on bumpy, rough pavement, but fairly smooth roads were very aggravating so I took them out after a 1000 miles and refilled the forks with 10w fluid, even using the oem Showa ss8 fluid. Not much improvement so I drained and refilled with Showa 5w fluid since it feels like it's over dampened. Still not much improvement, I've taken the fork brace off just in case it's causing binding.

At this point I have no idea what to do. Since I am/was running the stock set up I feel maybe the fork is not functioning right due to worn bushings? Maybe? The bike has 32k miles, and until this the fork worked fine. I've adjusted preload to both extremes to see if it changes anything but it doesn't. Any suspension experts have any ideas? At this point I'd be supremely happy if I can get the fork to function like stock.
 

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Over the winter I upgraded my suspension with an Elka shock and Ricor Intiminators in the forks along with the required 5w fluid and stock springs. I dialed in the shock pretty easily and am happy with it, but I notice the Ricors made the forks feel rigid and stiff over small dips and undulations in the road. They seem to do well on bumpy, rough pavement, but fairly smooth roads were very aggravating so I took them out after a 1000 miles and refilled the forks with 10w fluid, even using the oem Showa ss8 fluid. Not much improvement so I drained and refilled with Showa 5w fluid since it feels like it's over dampened. Still not much improvement, I've taken the fork brace off just in case it's causing binding.

At this point I have no idea what to do. Since I am/was running the stock set up I feel maybe the fork is not functioning right due to worn bushings? Maybe? The bike has 32k miles, and until this the fork worked fine. I've adjusted preload to both extremes to see if it changes anything but it doesn't. Any suspension experts have any ideas? At this point I'd be supremely happy if I can get the fork to function like stock.
What's your oil height set to? Did you completely drain the old oil? (forks off the bike and inverted?)

Better springs will help a lot, IMO.
 

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That's a characteristic of the Ricor Intiminators. Running 2.5 wt oil will reduce it, or you can have someone drill a 1mm bleed hole. (Note - it can't be done with a hand held drill, it's seriously tough to do without breaking a bit even with a lathe).

Personally, I got used to it, it did soften up after a couple of weeks anyway and the ability to laugh at the really big ones made it a net win for me anyway. After a year I don't even notice it anymore.

I'd suggest trying the 2.5wt oil first as the easy way to reduce the harshness and wait a couple of weeks worth of riding before doing anything more.

Pete
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Thanks Rich and Pete for your response.

Oil Height is 145mm. Yes, I took the forks off, inverted and pumped out oil.

The Ricors are gone, I'm getting the problem with stock springs and 5w oil. I was thinking of going to 2.5w but it seems like something else is wrong since I didn't have the problem running 10w oil before the Ricor install. I think I was getting used to it until I rode my buddies '02 Concours who just went to a heavier spring and 15w oil, it was very plush. He also noticed the problem with my front end when he rode my Strom.
 

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a couple points:

1) first ensure things are installed correctly and there is no binding on the system - support your bike securely and fully so that the front wheel is in the air, then take off the fork caps, preload spacer and lift the wheel fully up and down so stanchion travels up and down through its full 140mm range. Observe its operation - should be smooth with no obvious binds anywhere.

2) we are assuming you have the bike since new and there is no unkown things done to the bike.

3) Sometime too little damping can feel like harshness - check your spring is appropriate for your weight.

have a look at this thread, if you are still wanting to work with Intiminator:
http://www.stromtrooper.com/suspension-tire-tech/76643-intiminator-summary-mods-make-work-great.html
 

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Thanks Rich and Pete for your response.

Oil Height is 145mm. Yes, I took the forks off, inverted and pumped out oil.

The Ricors are gone, I'm getting the problem with stock springs and 5w oil. I was thinking of going to 2.5w but it seems like something else is wrong since I didn't have the problem running 10w oil before the Ricor install. I think I was getting used to it until I rode my buddies '02 Concours who just went to a heavier spring and 15w oil, it was very plush. He also noticed the problem with my front end when he rode my Strom.
The Intiminators need much lighter oil than stock to work properly.

All the cartridge emulators take over both rebound and compression damping, but for that to work you either need to drill holes to make the existing dampers ineffective, or run with very light oil.

Gold Valves you have to drill, Intiminators you just drop in AND run light oil. They recommend 5wt as the maximum, but 2.5 is probably better if you aren't thrashing the suspension.

Pete
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Here's an update to where I'm at and I'm completely baffled.

I've removed the Ricors and am running the stock springs with 5w fluid at 150mm.

I reinstalled the stock rear shock just in case it was throwing off my perception.

Loosened up and retightened front end according to manual and removed the fork brace. Forks move smoothly through stroke without springs, and move easily and smoothly with springs installed, no trace of binding or stiffness.

So it's back to a stock set up except for the lighter fluid at a lower level, but it rides like it has a spring for a 350lb person. The fairing and bars bounce up and down over small bumps while the forks remain rigid. BTW, I'm 215lbs ready to ride, the bike has 33k miles and rode fine for the first 30k miles, at this point the only thing I can think of is new bushings. I searched extensively here and can't find any mention of this problem on a stock set up. My buddy rode it yesterday and confirmed I'm not imagining it. Has anybody replaced bushings periodically??
 

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easy?

your problem is so well described, and you have elimiated some variables - it should be easy to solve. Are all the factory fluid (fork oil) openings present in the fork internals ? And are they the right size and number and location? Becasue if not - the fluid flow - or lack of - may make the shock much stiffer than intended with a fluid installed and rolling over a real bump (as opposed to no fluid installed).
 

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Here's an update to where I'm at and I'm completely baffled.

I've removed the Ricors and am running the stock springs with 5w fluid at 150mm.

I reinstalled the stock rear shock just in case it was throwing off my perception.

Loosened up and retightened front end according to manual and removed the fork brace. Forks move smoothly through stroke without springs, and move easily and smoothly with springs installed, no trace of binding or stiffness.

So it's back to a stock set up except for the lighter fluid at a lower level, but it rides like it has a spring for a 350lb person. The fairing and bars bounce up and down over small bumps while the forks remain rigid. BTW, I'm 215lbs ready to ride, the bike has 33k miles and rode fine for the first 30k miles, at this point the only thing I can think of is new bushings. I searched extensively here and can't find any mention of this problem on a stock set up. My buddy rode it yesterday and confirmed I'm not imagining it. Has anybody replaced bushings periodically??
Worn bushings just make the front feel unstable, not harsh.

Pete
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Worn bushings just make the front feel unstable, not harsh.

Pete
OK, that's the info I was looking for, thanks.

Kiwi, I haven't taken the fork apart, so the damper rod holes haven't been altered.

Yes, fluid is set with forks compressed. Sag is set at 40mm with 2 of the 5 lines showing on preload adjuster, but I've experimented with both extremes, fully in and out.

This is maddening because there is not really anything that fails on a fork that causes this problem, it's simple technology.
 

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As Ace said, sometimes too little damping can feel harsh. My suggestion would be to wrap a zip tie tightly around the fork tube and push it all the way down to the seal then ride over the bumps that feel so harsh and actually see how much travel you are using, you might be surprised at how far the fork is traveling.
 

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damper rod holes etc

I meant - maybe they were not drilled right by Suzuki
 

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Yes to zip tie to monitor travel.... Just so we are all on the same page... U have Ella shock on rear, front is completely stock incl spring, except u changed fork oil to a 5w variety.

But your weight at least with stock spring and 5wt - the front fork sounds too soft
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I've been running the zip tie for a few weeks I'm getting 115mm (4.5'') of movement in the forks, so it is moving but it takes a strong hit to do so. Yes, the spring/oil set up should be too soft for me, but the fork doesn't compress over road undulations and very small bumps, which seems to suggest there's too much (low speed?) compression dampening, which doesn't make much sense. I want to go to a heavier spring even though it seem wrong to do so, but at this point I may give Sonic a call.

I pulled out the Elka and reinstalled the stock shock. I'm running stock fork springs, 5wt oil at 150mm, and 40mm preload.

Kiwi, I believe the holes are OK, this is a recent development.

Obviously I'm no suspension expert, I'm just trying to educate myself and appreciate and welcome all this advice.
 

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Changing the suspension at one end can change the feel at the other end. You put the stock shock back on, so the shock wasn't the problem.

Worn fork bushings can stick, release, stick, release. Mine were worn down to the metal due to the previous owner incorrectly installing the fork brace.* It is no problem to replace them. A long 6 mm hex key removes the bolt that holds the damper rod in place and lets the fork come apart. You could renew the oil seal while you're in there, or do it later. The damper rod bolt can be spun out with an impact wrench, or put the spring and spring cap back in place to help hold the damper rod from turning while you remove the bolt by hand. (I'd drain the oil first to minimize the mess.)

You could also change the ports in the damper rod as ACE has described--it worked well for me with Intiminators. Drilling the spindle of the Intiminator with a #60 drill bit is very close to his 1 mm. Yes, very tiny drill bit, very easy to break. I also changed the shims on the Intiminator to get the feel I liked. I'm using 5 wt. fork oil.


*The fork lower tubes are an imprecise casting. The fork brace is precisely machined. The brace is snug on most sets of forks, but on a very few it is too tight. If hammered on it will force the forks out of alignment and cause the rapid bushing wear. A telephone call to Richland Rick got me the method to make the brace fit my forks.
 

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for tubes parallel

are the fork tubes dead parallel - as in - using a smallish piece of plate glass laid on them to check

(FYI - plate glass ain't cheap)
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Changing the suspension at one end can change the feel at the other end. You put the stock shock back on, so the shock wasn't the problem.

Worn fork bushings can stick, release, stick, release. Mine were worn down to the metal due to the previous owner incorrectly installing the fork brace.* It is no problem to replace them. A long 6 mm hex key removes the bolt that holds the damper rod in place and lets the fork come apart. You could renew the oil seal while you're in there, or do it later. The damper rod bolt can be spun out with an impact wrench, or put the spring and spring cap back in place to help hold the damper rod from turning while you remove the bolt by hand. (I'd drain the oil first to minimize the mess.)

You could also change the ports in the damper rod as ACE has described--it worked well for me with Intiminators. Drilling the spindle of the Intiminator with a #60 drill bit is very close to his 1 mm. Yes, very tiny drill bit, very easy to break. I also changed the shims on the Intiminator to get the feel I liked. I'm using 5 wt. fork oil.


*The fork lower tubes are an imprecise casting. The fork brace is precisely machined. The brace is snug on most sets of forks, but on a very few it is too tight. If hammered on it will force the forks out of alignment and cause the rapid bushing wear. A telephone call to Richland Rick got me the method to make the brace fit my forks.
If this is true about worn bushings sticking it might make sense that mine are the cause of the problem. When I did my first fork fluid change over the winter at 30k miles the fluid in one leg came out red, but the other came out grey and metallic. I immediately thought bushing wear and the fork brace. I think I need to start with new bushings and getting it back to stock condition. I am aware of this problem with forkbraces, my Superbrace does seem to fit well, when unscrewed it just falls off, I don't feel it's binding, but I could be wrong.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
UPDATE: Problem solved!! I finally got around to installing new bushings and seals, it rides great, nice and smooth, like new. The bushings must have really been bad because it feels like I've just done a major suspension upgrade even though I'm running the stock fork spring and 5w oil along with the stock shock. I have an Elka and .85w fork springs sitting in the garage, but I'm in no rush to install them since the bike is riding so good. BTW other than the harsh ride, the forks didn't have some of the typical symptoms of worn bushings. They slid smoothly by hand with no spring, with no play or looseness.
 

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UPDATE: Problem solved!! I finally got around to installing new bushings and seals, it rides great, nice and smooth, like new. The bushings must have really been bad because it feels like I've just done a major suspension upgrade even though I'm running the stock fork spring and 5w oil along with the stock shock. I have an Elka and .85w fork springs sitting in the garage, but I'm in no rush to install them since the bike is riding so good. BTW other than the harsh ride, the forks didn't have some of the typical symptoms of worn bushings. They slid smoothly by hand with no spring, with no play or looseness.
That's great news! Thanks for following up.
 
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