How to: Replace your bike’s shock
If your rear suspension’s lost its sparkle it may be time to replace it. Here’s how
Find out what you’re getting into
Whether you want to upgrade the budget shock on a new bike, or replace a worn out one on an older machine, fitting an aftermarket monoshock is something any DIY mechanic can do. But before you start, check the specific removal procedure for your bike in a workshop manual. In theory it’s a straightforward job but many bikes require components, like the sidepanels, airbox, ECU and battery, to be removed.
Choose your support
If your bike has a centrestand then you’re in luck, as it’s the ideal solution for securing the bike while you carry out this task. Stands that lift the bike from the swingarm pivot, such as an Abba stand, are also perfect for the job. If not, you will need to jack the bike up from the middle using a trolley jack and a block of wood, then use ratchet straps and a cable tie around the front brake lever to keep it stable and secure.
Start the strip down
In the case of our XT660, the procedure starts with the sidepanels being removed, followed by the battery and various electrical components. There are also a lot of fasteners that need to be removed; the XT has a selection of 10mm bolts and clips that all play a part in securing the airbox and undertray. Be sure to lay out all the parts that you remove in a logical order.
Whip out the wheel
Removing the rear wheel will make it easier to raise and lower the swingarm, which will give you room to manoeuvre. As you remove the rear wheel take care that the wheel spacers do not randomly fall out and you know which goes which side. Undo and remove the bolts that attach any rising rate ‘dog bone’ linkages.
Time to get greasy
Check the condition of any seals or rubber bushes around the mounting bolts. Any damaged items need to be replaced with fresh original parts. The mounting bolts can be cleaned up with degreaser and wire wool and then coated with fresh grease ready for installation. Do the same with any other linkage bolts that have been removed.
Tighten, torque then check
Tighten all the bolts and then torque up to the value in the manual. The new shock should now be secure, but you must double check your work before you ride. Take the bike off its stand and check the action and movement of the shock by pushing the back end down firmly. There should be smooth compression and return with no binding or clunking sounds. Refit all items and panels and then take the bike for a test ride.
Wriggle and remove
Undo the nut from the bolt that secures the top of the shock to the frame, but do not remove it at this stage. Undo the nut at the bottom of the shock, then tap out the top bolt. It helps if you have a friend to take the weight of the swingarm as this allows the bolt to come out more easily. Raise and lower the swingarm to help the shock wriggle free.
Slide in the new shock
Do a quick visual check to ensure that the replacement shock has the same mounting points as the stock item, and that the holes are the same diameter as the originals. Wriggle the new shock into place and line up the top mounting hole first and slide the bolt in. You may need to move the swingarm up and down to line up the holes.