Putting the squeeze on the Scrambler’s soft suspension

Motorcyclist - - Garage - —Ari Hen­ning

there comes a point in ev­ery own­er­ship ex­pe­ri­ence where you be­gin to no­tice your bike’s suspension ac­tion. What I’ve no­ticed with the Scrambler is that it feels harsh over sharpedged bumps—think pave­ment lips, pot­holes, or speed bumps— but still strokes ex­ces­sively un­der heavy loads or over big­ger hits. Imag­ine hard ac­cel­er­a­tion or brak­ing, mid-cor­ner dips, or any num­ber of ob­sta­cles you might en­counter while scram­bling off road. Those char­ac­ter­is­tics are clas­sic ex­am­ples of too-soft springs with too much preload. All that preload means it takes a lot of force to ini­ti­ate move­ment, but the suspension still strokes a lot over big hits be­cause the over­all rates are too low for the rider’s weight.

The first step in fix­ing things is slid­ing in the proper springs. With Race Tech’s help ( the cor­rect coils were se­lected for my 175-pound weight. Com­pared to the stock springs the rec­om­mended rates are sig­nif­i­cantly stiffer, but to achieve the de­sired rider sag called for a lit­tle more than half the preload that had been com­press­ing the orig­i­nal coils. The re­sult? Bet­ter small-bump com­pli­ance and slightly plusher ac­tion at the top of the stroke, plus bet­ter over­all sup­port and con­trol while ac­cel­er­at­ing, brak­ing, and cor­ner­ing.

Cost-wise, this was a very eco­nom­i­cal up­grade. The springs were just shy of $250 and wouldn’t be hard to swap out at home if you have a shock-spring compressor and a way to sup­port a suspension-less bike. If you want to pay Race Tech to do the work it’ll run you an­other $215, but that in­cludes a full fork re­build with new seals and oil. That’s quite a bit cheaper than the $1,400 or so that an af­ter­mar­ket shock and car­tridge kit would cost, and that price doesn’t in­clude in­stal­la­tion.

True, the work I had done doesn’t add ad­justa­bil­ity or ad­dress the lack of com­pres­sion damp­ing (in the fork) and re­bound damp­ing (in the shock) like cus­tom suspension parts would, but the ride qual­ity and han­dling are bet­ter. And if I want to get even more per­for­mance out of the fork by im­prov­ing the damp­ing, Race Tech’s own Gold Valve Emu­la­tor is only $170.

wrist Ari Hen­ning

msrp (2017) $13,000

miles 1,547

mpg 39 mods Fork and shock springs

up­date 3 wrist Ari Hen­ning

msrp (2015) $5,499

miles 3,738

mpg N/A

mods Coolant ther­mome­ter

up­date 14

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