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Discussion Starter #1
Just bought an 07' wee to replace my totaled 08. I never screwed with the forks or rear shock on my 08, however, on the 07 the previous owner stated he placed a heavier weight oil in the forks which makes the forks feel more rigid.
For riding dual track paths and fire roads / trails, what would be the best inexpensive setup? I realize that everything cost something. Was perfectly happy with how the 08 rode on these roads and the 07 I haven't really taken too much into the dirt and gravel yet, but the few times I have had it in similar areas, the front fork just feels like if I hit something too hard it's going to do more harm then good. Lighter weight fork oil? Different fork springs? Suggestions for the rear shock?

Inexpensive will be my first route to remedy and make sure that it's setup right. If that doesn't work then dumping more money may be my next route.
Any suggestions are welcome.
Thanks,
Joe
 

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Fork Spring make a big difference alone.

Race Tech Gold Valves.
Elka Shock. Premium quality.
 

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Things to think about:

1- What kind of springs are in your fork tubes? Has the previous owner changed them from the OEM progressive style, or has he installed "straight" springs?

2- If new springs have been installed, what is their weight? You can check this if there is written documentation that the previous owner provided or, place the bike on its centerstand, jack the front end off of the floor, (do you have a skidplate?), remove all preload on the springs, remove fork caps, fish any washers, spacers and springs out of the fork tube. Often there is a mark etched on one end of the spring that will tell you the weight of the spring.

3- Next, you will want to weigh yourself with all of your gear on. Also weigh your luggage and make a decent estimate on the weight of extras that have been added to the motorcycle; luggage racks, cases, skidplate, crashbars, etc.

4- Determine the predominate type of riding you do, (what type of surfaces), and at what level you feel comfortable riding.

5- Armed with the above information, you can head to any spring dealer and properly match a front end suspension system specifically to you.

I like Sonic Springs. They are a straight wound spring.

Here is a link to their spring rate calculator: Spring Rate Calculator.

Here is a link to Sonic's Tech articles: Tech Articles.

Your cheapest route is to determine what is currently in your forks now and to see if it matches to your weight and riding style. What's there may be right on and you needn't spend a nickel more.

From there, new springs and oil matched to your weight will cost you about $100 if you do the work yourself. There is a tutorial in the "How To" section of this forum.

I recommend adding a forkbrace at some point. Prices vary as to which manufacturer you choose. I have a Superbrace installed on my bike. I believe it cost me about $150. Worth it!!!!

You could also add Gold Valve emulators which will also cost you about $150 if you do the work yourself. Some riders love them. For the riding I do, I wish I didn't spend the money on them.

For a rear shock, you may want to look at Hyperpro. I have a Hyperpro #460 installed in my bike. It is a very good quality shock with a 5 year warranty. It is basic and simple. No "do-dads" that can cost a fortune. The shock cost me $614 with shipping. I installed it myself. There is a tutorial on how to do this in the "How To" section.

Hope this helps.

Barry B.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I tried the calculator thing to get an idea of what I'm needing / looking for, however it seems more street oriented then anything. Throughout the week I commute to work, 80 miles both ways. During the weekend I put on typically another 300 to 600, trying to stick to dirt and gravel roads as much as possible. Obviously, a majority of my riding is pavement then...if I had to guess probably 70-80 paved, and the other gravel, dirt dual track or fire road trails, ford crossings, etc.

I've never ridden an actual dual sport (drz, klr, etc.) so I don't know if the shocks are suppose to feel rigid like they currently do, or "squishy" or something inbetween. In an ideal world money no object, I could go ahead and pay some shop to do some custom work. Would prefer to do some slight minor changes before hand to see if I can get it there without having to do the spendy stuff.

The current fork springs are the stock springs. The only thing that was changed was the oil weight itself, which added the more rigid feel. When I've taken it off road so far, it doesn't feel horrible, but it does feel like something is going to break a bit more easily if I hit a large rock, etc. too hard, rather then just taking the impact and bouncing off. On my 08, it trampled over those things like they were nothing and while it wasn't the greatest for when I came to stop on the street (it would really compress the front fork), the feeling it gave me off on the dirt was fantastic. It ran over the stuff without making me feel like I was bouncing off of it. Is the suspension suppose to compress like that on the fork and rear for doing "dual purpose" style riding?

I am currently loaded on "farkles"...have the givi bags, nelson rigg bags, tank bag, engine guards, skidplate, and the list could probably fill this page. I have not done the fork brace, but was looking into that as a possible next buy after the suspension stuff. It's also half tempting to just buy a drz and call it a day, however, most of my trail style riding is at least 3hrs, if not more from home. Am not one to trailer bikes (have had an actual motorcycle trailer for the past 4yrs. that cost way too much and have only used it to take trash to the dump..nothing more. Needless to say that's going to be sold this year.).

Again..the strom is the first bike I've owned that I actually took on fire roads and such, so I'm an idiot when it comes to this stuff. Am also basing my concern off of the 08 strom compared to the 07 that I currently have. For all I know, the suspension, oil weight, etc. on the current may be exactly where it needs to be.

Based off of the above, any further recommendations? If I go with the progressive or sonicsprings, any recommendation on which to get, stiffer, etc. Or does the oil effect that moreso? Can I change the weight of the oil in my current forks back to the stock setup, or not a good idea for numerous reason?
 

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To give you a baseline:

My riding is somewhat similar. I commute 8 miles each way to work everyday. The roads can be pretty rough.

On the weekends, I will log in 800 to 1,000 miles once the season really gets going. It's a mixed bag of road surfaces. Like you, I am looking for backroads / dirt roads.

I weigh about 185 lbs with all of my gear on.

I have about 70 lbs of luggage, racks, crashbars, skidplate, etc, bolted or welded to my bike.

My "focused" riding is on dirt / potholed rough roads.

I had an e-mail dialog with Rich Desmond the owner of Sonic Springs and a member of this site. I gave him my "specifics" as well as what I (honestly) felt my riding level was and also where I wanted the perfomance of the bike's suspension focused.

His suggestion was 90wt springs with 12wt oil, (50/50 mix of 15wt and 10wt). It has been a perfect setup for me. I have added Gold Valve emulators, which only help to dampen hard landings from wheelies........

I added the Superbrace forkbrace before the suspension upgrades.

I am currently at 15wt oil, (did this when I added the emulators), but will be dropping back to 12 wt when I carve out the time to make the swap, (like on a really stormy weekend.).

B.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Sent an email to sonic springs...so hopefully, with my info. he'll be able to figure something out for me as well. Thanks for the suggestions on that along with the other stuff. My weight is a bit uh...well I'm fatter then you. So, I obviously needed to get my own configuration. Have a friend that has a company that does suspension on race bikes, but he's very touch and go when it comes to the "off-road" stuff and what exactly is needed. The thought is, I'll do the research and he'll do the install.;)

What exactly does the fork brace do to help with the suspension and so forth? Like I said, I'm relatively new to understanding the suspension, etc of off-road riding, even though I've taken the wee on some single track, and even a mx course, along with the numerous fire roads, fords, etc. over the past year and a half.
 

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Sag and travel

The idea of suspension is to allow wheels to ride over bumps, and keep the tires in contact with the road surface, rather than bottoming out and transmitting the force to the bike (and you). Heavier fork oil 'slows down' suspension action, good up to a point, but carried too far allows the tire to lose contact with the ground on rough surfaces, definitely bad. Some of the stated sites and manuals give the proper suspension sag. If you can't achieve that with the stock springs, then you need stronger springs. The fork brace won't help suspension travel, but it makes the front wheel less susceptible to deflecting when you hit an obstacle (rock, tree root, etc.). I'm guessing that if you put on stiff enough springs to keep the bike from bottoming when riding over rough terrain that it's gonna feel awfully stiff on pavement. The bikes just don't have enough suspension travel for serious off-roading, especially considering the weight.
 

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What exactly does the fork brace do to help with the suspension and so forth?
Here is a Simulation of a fork brace in use.

Everyone that has installed one, raves about the enhancement of the performance of the front end of the bike.

I have echoed those raves.

B.
 

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Off road

To give you a baseline:

My riding is somewhat similar. I commute 8 miles each way to work everyday. The roads can be pretty rough.

On the weekends, I will log in 800 to 1,000 miles once the season really gets going. It's a mixed bag of road surfaces. Like you, I am looking for backroads / dirt roads.

I weigh about 185 lbs with all of my gear on.

I have about 70 lbs of luggage, racks, crashbars, skidplate, etc, bolted or welded to my bike.

My "focused" riding is on dirt / potholed rough roads
I had an e-mail dialog with Rich Desmond the owner of Sonic Springs and a member of this site. I gave him my "specifics" as well as what I (honestly) felt my riding level was and also where I wanted the perfomance of the bike's suspension focused.

His suggestion was 90wt springs with 12wt oil, (50/50 mix of 15wt and 10wt). It has been a perfect setup for me. I have added Gold Valve emulators, which only help to dampen hard landings from wheelies........

I added the Superbrace forkbrace before the suspension upgrades.

I am currently at 15wt oil, (did this when I added the emulators), but will be dropping back to 12 wt when I carve out the time to make the swap, (like on a really stormy weekend.).

B.
Balck Lab ,

Do you remember your first reaction to the change in front springs/oil ?
Less break dive ? hard off road ? softer / harder ride ? etc ?
I have a leaking seal and thought I might just change it all up.
Did you raise or lower the position of the tubes ? I heard that 15 mm makes some differences.

Thanks.
Vinny
 

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Balck Lab ,

Do you remember your first reaction to the change in front springs/oil ?
Less break dive ? hard off road ? softer / harder ride ? etc ?
I have a leaking seal and thought I might just change it all up.
Did you raise or lower the position of the tubes ? I heard that 15 mm makes some differences.

Thanks.
Vinny
An accurate word would be, "astonished".

I was astonished at the increased performance of the bike. The changes provided me with a brand new bike to grow with; my riding skills increasing.

I did not change the height of my fork tubes.

Here is a tutorial on replacing fork seals: Fork Tube Replacement Seals
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Did a fork oil change. Found the write up about what was put into the forks from the previous owner. 20wt. and the dampers were fully compressed. Not impressed. Then found out from the local dealer (who I'm good friends with the owner of) that the stock oil wt. is 5wt., even though suzuki tries to hide that from people so they only offer a part number. Since my previous 08 was stock and I enjoyed that ride, however, didn't care for the nose dive at stops, I bounced the oil up to 10wt. Took the bike out for a short jaunt and the oil change alone made a significant difference. Some give at stops, but no dive and the rigidity is nice and am happy with the amount of compression when going over divets and what not on dirt / gravel. Going to ride it like this for awhile to see if I notice anything else I want to change or if I'm just going to stick with what I've got now.

Have learned that your best bet is to do the inexpensive alternatives before investing hundreds of dollars into a major upgrade. There is a lot you can do just by doing oil mixtures. Pain in the butt compared to going out and just purchasing a gold valve emulator, but far less money spent then doing that too. If I get that picky about it then I'll fork over the money..for now I'm still going to toy with the oil mixtures before going to change out springs. That's my next venture if this one doesn't work. Then my alternative will be the gold valve. I can only suggest that others try the same if money is an issue and time isn't. A lot of trial and error, but if you write the stuff you do down and figure out the science to it all, you can pretty much get the bike where you want it without dropping $300 or more dollars on parts alone.
 

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You are on the right track that you should be on. Change the oil first. Then springs. Go with a fork brace before Gold Valves.

BTW, to properly adjust or "tune" Gold Valves, they have to be removed from the fork tube to do it. More trial and error.....
 

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Discussion Starter #15
You are on the right track that you should be on. Change the oil first. Then springs. Go with a fork brace before Gold Valves.

BTW, to properly adjust or "tune" Gold Valves, they have to be removed from the fork tube to do it. More trial and error.....

It's actually pretty funny. My little brother is into making his own beer, and my dad is into making his own wine. I'm all the time hearing about how they're mixing stuff, writing down what works and doesn't and so forth. Always said to them, why spend so much time on something like that when you can just buy it tasting good and be done. Now I'm doing the same crap with the forks on my bike, of course I'm not the one consuming the oily beverage - that's the bike;)

thought the gold valves were suppose to make the fine tuning easier, no?

Took the bike out again today for a quick 50 miles before having to head to the rents for easter dinner and the egg hunt for my son. Felt a whole lot better..so I may just step into the fork brace as the next item (although the front fender from touratech is screaming my name and has been for the past year or so). Once I polish off these tourance tires the tkc's will be up for grabs too.
 

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thought the gold valves were suppose to make the fine tuning easier, no?
Gold Valves do allow you to fine tune the front end.

Not necessarily that they make it easy.

That said, it is not that messy or difficult a job to do. It just takes some time. Some riders feel strongly that the valves are a necessity and they are passionate about them and their performance.

I've ridden with them and I have ridden without them. With the kind of riding that I do, for me, I wished I had spent the money elsewhere. In no way am I saying that the valves are "bad" or aren't worth the money or effort to tune them in! I am just voicing my opinion based upon my finances and riding.

But, if you do install them, here is how to adjust them:

1- Place bike on centerstand.

2- Jack up front end of the bike so that the front wheel is off of the ground. (I use a floor jack with a block of wood between the head of the jack and the underside of my skidplate.).

3- Back off all preload on your front forks.

(I did one fork at a time.)

4- Remove fork cap.

5- Fish out spring spacer.

6- Fish out any washers between the spring and the spacer.

7- Fish out spring. (Do this slowly and in a "twisting" motion so that fork oil can spiral down the spring and back into the fork tube.).

8- Set the spring aside in a clean container.

(I do this so that any excess fork oil can drain into the clean container. When you are ready to reassemble the fork, you can dump any excess oil back into your fork tube. This is why I do one tube at a time so that I can keep track of any excess oil from a given fork tube. I use a measuring cup. I had hardly any excess oil drain off of the spring.)

Race Tech recommends using a set of "mechanical fingers" to remove the Gold Valve for adjustment. I don't have that tool here at home. I didn't want to spend the $$ on buying a set. Plus, I didn't want the fork oil to ooze into the "stalk" of the fingers and when at "rest", continue to drain. I used a length of oxy/acy welding rod with a very small "barb" I bent onto one end. I slid the welding rod down the tube and once I made contact with the valve, I gave the rod a gentle "twist" and the barb fetched up into one of the holes in the top of the valve. I pulled the valve out of tube.

If you try a magnet, you will find that it tries to stick to the fork tube on its way down before touching the steel, preload screw.

9- Fish the Gold Valve slowly out of the tube. Let the excess oil drain back into the fork tube before removing the valve totally from the tube.

Before I made my adjustment, I "zero-ed out" the preload on the valve. You do this by backing off the preload screw, (4mm), until the preload spring just touches the head of the valve. Once you are there, you are at zero preload. Now, turn the preload screw, (Use a 4mm allen wrench and you HAVE to hold the nylock nut on the bottom with a wrench to keep it from spinning.), two full turns. You are now at the factory setting of "2 turns" of preload.

10- Make your adjustment to the Gold Valve.

I am set at "one and one half turns" from "zero".

11- Reassemble.

NOTE: I have found that, one of my Sonic Springs has only one end of the spring that will slip down the tube and over the valve. If I flip the spring over it does not sit right in the tube. I suspect that one end was "tweaked" slightly during its factory cutting.

If you do go the Gold Valve route, take your time and dry fit everything BEFORE you get to the step of adding fork oil. It can become a mess if things don't fit and you have to yard everything back out of the tube..........covered with fork oil.

That's how I learned about the "tweaked" spring.

I tend to learn things the hard way.

B.
 
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