Fork Gaitors: A Word Of Caution, (A Couple Of Photos) - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 23 Old 03-26-2010, 09:42 AM Thread Starter
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Fork Gaitors: A Word Of Caution, (A Couple Of Photos)

For the past two seasons, (2008 and 2009), I have had rubber fork gaitors mounted to the front forks of my bike. I like them from the standpoint of the protection they provide to the forks and seals.

But I have learned, they significantly reduce the suspension performance of my bike due to my style of riding.

Last year, as I was riding the Route du Nord, (250 miles of dirt road between The James Bay Road and Chiboumagau), I thought my motorcycle was going to completely vibrate apart!

Scott and I were trying to move at a fast clip. The Route du Nord is a fairly well maintained road, (we passed two road graders working the "kinks" out of the dirt surface), but there are some nasty "washboard" sections. Scott on his big GSA BMW, with his cantilever front end suspension, could cruise smoothly across the rough stuff. I on the other hand, spent most of my time standing up on my footpegs, trying to keep my teeth from rattling out of my head! One casualty that did occur was that my GPS sheared right off of its base, (However, I do need to mention, at that time, there were already about 50,000 miles of abuse on that GPS base).


Still, I felt something was wrong. It felt like I was getting "short changed" on my suspension.

This past winter, while doing this year's bike modifications, (The full build thread is HERE), I decided to do some research on the issue.

I jacked up the front end of my motorcycle and removed my fork caps. Using a ratcheting strap, I pulled up the front wheel just as far as I could go; compressing the fork gaitors just as much as I could. This is what I saw.


Next, I dropped my forks, pulled the fork gaitors off of the fork tubes and shoved the forks back up; again, compressing the forks as much as I could. This is what I saw.


I then took a ride on the bike, with an electrical zip tie wrapped around one fork tube. I rode on a fairly rough, dirt road, at a fast clip, intentionally hitting potholes; trying to recreate the Route du Nord experience.

I didn't take a photograph, but my dust wipers left the zip tie just under 1" below the bottom fork clamp.

I calculate, by having the fork gaitors mounted, I end up losing about 1 1/4" of fork travel. That could have helped me out a lot on the Route du Nord.

I have sinced removed my fork gaitors from my bike. I need the extra travel.

Food for thought.

Thanks,

Barry

2007 DL-650 (I gave away in 2012 with 111,000 + miles)
"A word grows to a thought; a thought to an idea; an idea to an act. All the pieces are put together, and the whole is yours."
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"You can talk about doing a thing until everyone finally talks you out of it, or you can actually do the thing"
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Last edited by Black Lab; 03-26-2010 at 10:40 AM.
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post #2 of 23 Old 03-26-2010, 09:51 AM
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My gaiters are protecting the ABS brake line junction under the triple clamp.:mrgreen:
How much, if any, are your forks extended above the triple clamp?

Pat- 2007 DL650A was ridden to all 48 contiguous states. I didn't quite make it to 17,000 miles on the 2012 DL650A.
Nicknames I use to lessen typing, Vee = 2002-2012 DL1000s. Vee2=2014-2016 DL1000s. Wee = 2004-2011 DL650s. Glee = 2012-2016 DL650s
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post #3 of 23 Old 03-26-2010, 10:01 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greywolf View Post
My gaiters are protecting the ABS brake line junction under the triple clamp.:mrgreen:
How much, if any, are your forks extended above the triple clamp?
1/2".

So, I am losing even more travel. But, I think my measurements are relative. With the forks slid up 1/2" and the fork gaitors installed and removed during my measurements, I lose about 1 1/4" of travel.

(There is more coming in the 2010 Bike Modifications thread. This excersise was fender related. I am writing that up now and will post it shortly.).

2007 DL-650 (I gave away in 2012 with 111,000 + miles)
"A word grows to a thought; a thought to an idea; an idea to an act. All the pieces are put together, and the whole is yours."
1942, Beryl Markham: "West With the Night"
"You can talk about doing a thing until everyone finally talks you out of it, or you can actually do the thing"
James Baldwin "Across Islands and Oceans"

Last edited by Black Lab; 03-26-2010 at 10:43 AM.
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post #4 of 23 Old 03-26-2010, 06:27 PM
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Do your forks actually compress that much with the springs in them and the air pocket at the top of the oil? It would be interesting to put a threaded rod through the spring, fender washers & nuts on each end, and compress the spring to measure its compressed length. Figure this length above the damper rod to the spacer and see how much compression is possible not counting the effect of the air cushion.

One consideration with the fork gaiters...they can hold heat in. The hydraulic dampers in the forks convert the kinetic energy of the bouncing front wheel into heat energy*. That's how they do their damping. If the heat is trapped in the dampers the oil will thin and less damping is the result. Could this be happening to you?

*"...energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it can only be transformed from one state to another."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservation_of_energy

"Older people who are reasonable, good-tempered, and gracious will bear aging well. Those who are mean-spirited and irritable will be unhappy at every period of their lives.

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post #5 of 23 Old 03-26-2010, 07:07 PM
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The suspension action pumps air in and out. If they were air tight, the compression stroke would blow them up.

Pat- 2007 DL650A was ridden to all 48 contiguous states. I didn't quite make it to 17,000 miles on the 2012 DL650A.
Nicknames I use to lessen typing, Vee = 2002-2012 DL1000s. Vee2=2014-2016 DL1000s. Wee = 2004-2011 DL650s. Glee = 2012-2016 DL650s
See https://www.stromtrooper.com/general-...nicknames.html

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post #6 of 23 Old 03-26-2010, 08:24 PM
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I don't use gaiters for all the reasons stated so far that have negative resullts. This is what I came up with. What it is, is a piece of a mud flap (rubber about 1/8 to 3/16' thick) riveted to the inside surface of the "BAT EARS" on the front fender. You have to take the fender off to rivet them on, but it's easier than putting gaiters on. No it will not protect the shocks in very muddy areas with other bikes spraying your bike. Yes it will protect your shocks from any debris that come at them from the front of the bike. (about 200 degrees of coverage) They allow the shocks to cool, they do not restrict their travel and they do not ever rub on the shocks.

ADVENTURE, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
The destination, can be the journey! Honest Bob

Last edited by honest bob; 03-26-2010 at 08:26 PM. Reason: changed text
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post #7 of 23 Old 03-26-2010, 08:33 PM
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Can I nominate Honest Bob for some kind of Penny Tech award? Fork Flaps. What a good idea!

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post #8 of 23 Old 03-27-2010, 08:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boondocker View Post
Can I nominate Honest Bob for some kind of Penny Tech award? Fork Flaps. What a good idea!
Can we hold the Award Ceremonies in Las Vegas?

ADVENTURE, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
The destination, can be the journey! Honest Bob
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post #9 of 23 Old 03-27-2010, 08:24 AM
 
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Perhaps I am thinking at it the wrong way, but I would have said that the rough ride you experienced was due to harsh high speed compression damping rather than travel. How much travel do we really use over washboard?

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post #10 of 23 Old 03-27-2010, 09:03 AM Thread Starter
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If readers go back and read my original post, I explained that, I "re-created" the situation, WITHOUT the fork gaiters installed and with a electrical zip tie strapped to my fork tube. The tubes compressed over the rough terrain that I was riding on; leaving the zip tie at its "highest" point of compression. That point is ABOVE the point where my forks are fully compressed with the fork gaiters installed.

The result of the above clearly has informed me that, fork gaiters are not for me and the kind of riding that I encounter. My forks have been definitely bottoming out against my fork gaiters; restricting the distance I COULD have without the fork gaiters installed.

In 2008, I changed from the OEM front fork setup, to .90 Sonic Springs and 12.5w fork oil. I have also tried 10w and 15w. Again because of the "softer" ride that I want to deal with some of the rough terrain I ride on, (And, it is not just all dirt! Have you ever ridden on Maine's roads during the early Spring months? Lots of frost heaves.), in 2009, I added Race Tech Gold Valve Emulators. For 2010, I have the original Suzuki fork springs installed, 10w fork oil and the emulators. It is a nice soft setup up for my needs.

The addition of the fork gaiters compromises that setup. I have removed them for the mentioned reasons.

B.

2007 DL-650 (I gave away in 2012 with 111,000 + miles)
"A word grows to a thought; a thought to an idea; an idea to an act. All the pieces are put together, and the whole is yours."
1942, Beryl Markham: "West With the Night"
"You can talk about doing a thing until everyone finally talks you out of it, or you can actually do the thing"
James Baldwin "Across Islands and Oceans"
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