Sus­pen­sion set-up

O O O O O Own­ing O Fix­ing O Ad­vice O Kit test­ing O Tech These sim­ple steps will im­prove your bike’s han­dling – and it won’t cost a penny

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1Write ev­ery­thing down

Be­fore you start ad­just­ing, the best thing to do is to make notes of all your sus­pen­sion set­tings as they stand – that way, if you feel that you’ve made the bike worse you can go al­ways go back to your pre­vi­ous set­tings . You man­ual will also have the factory set­tings. Re­bound and com­pres­sion fig­ures are usu­ally noted as how many turns or clicks (it varies bike-to-bike) from fully in.

2Front rider sag

The po­si­tion the sus­pen­sion sits in re­la­tion to the top of the stroke is called sag. For bikes with 120mm of travel, you want around 40mm of rider sag. To mea­sure this, put the bike in a chock or have a mate hold it steady. Use a ca­ble-tie, com­press the forks, let them set­tle and push the ca­ble tie up to the outer dust seal. Get off, and take the weight off the front to ex­tend the forks. The sag is the dis­tance it’s trav­elled.

3Ad­just­ing the front preload

To reach to that rule-of-thumb 40mm fig­ure, you may need to ad­just the preload. On this R1, you ad­just it via the 14mm blue an­odised ad­juster on the fork top. To raise the ride height (which will re­duce the sag fig­ure), wind the ad­juster in. To in­crease sag, wind the ad­juster out. Please note, on some forks, such as early Showa BPF, the ad­justers are at the bot­tom.

4Ad­just­ing your front com­pres­sion

Your com­pres­sion damp­ing helps con­trol the rate that the fork com­presses over bumps and when the bike is un­der load, such as dur­ing brak­ing. If you feel the front dives too quickly on the brakes you’d in­crease the com­pres­sion damp­ing. If you wanted more move­ment, you’d re­duce the com­pres­sion damp­ing. Re­duc­ing it can im­prove ride qual­ity.

6Rear rider sag

The shock needs to be in the cor­rect ball­park to work best. Aim for 30-35mm of rider sag . Use two ref­er­ence points. We took one point on the edge of the swingarm and one on the bot­tom of the R1 sticker on the tail piece. Mea­sure with the sus­pen­sion topped-out and then with a rider on, and ad­just the preload un­til you get the re­quired num­bers.

8High/low-speed com­pres­sion

If you have a mod­ern sports­bike or an af­ter­mar­ket shock, you may have high and low-speed com­pres­sion damp­ing. This sep­a­rates low-speed move­ments of the shock with high-speed move­ments – such as when you hit a bump. The idea is to have com­pres­sion that is stiff enough to sup­port the bike, while still de­liv­er­ing good ride qual­ity. Ad­just low-speed to af­fect sup­port in a cor­ner and high-speed for bump is­sues.

5Ad­just­ing your front re­bound

This con­trols how quickly the fork set­tles back after it’s been com­pressed. If the bike feels ‘loose’ on the brakes at the front or wal­lows too much you’ll need more re­bound. A good rule of thumb is to com­press the front end by bounc­ing it. If the forks don’t set­tle straight away you may need more re­bound. Dial in the same set­tings to both fork legs.

7Ad­just­ing your rear re­bound

This con­trols the speed that the shock ex­tends after it has com­pressed. If the bike feels wal­lowy in cor­ners, wind­ing in some re­bound can help. But if the bike packs down over un­du­la­tions in a cor­ner or feels harsh over bumps, re­duc­ing the rear re­bound damp­ing could help, too. The ad­juster is at the bot­tom of the shock.

9One step at a time

The best way to find out what the changes do is to try the bike in re­peat­able con­di­tions, such as a track­day. Al­ter one as­pect at a time, pay at­ten­tion to how the bike feels, and make notes. It isn’t a bad idea to get a base set-up from a sus­pen­sion spe­cial­ist and then work from there. Please re­mem­ber to build up your pace slowly – your bike will feel dif­fer­ent with each change and may need some get­ting used to.

I’ve bar­relled the top­box and pan­nier locks so they can all be op­er­ated by the ig­ni­tion key. De­pend­ing on your ex­pe­ri­ence, fac­tor in around 30 min­utes to one hour.

Span­ner for front preload Span­ner for rear preload Tape mea­sure Flat-blade screw­driver Ca­ble-tie Set­ting your bike up can im­prove its han­dling and pro­long tyre life

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