Back to basics
When you’re upgrading a shock you might as well fettle the linkage and swingarm too
Fitting a new monoshock and refreshing the linkage. If you’re going to it, do it right
WANT TO MAKE your bike go better? The answer doesn’t always lie, as is often assumed, in tuning the engine. A suspension upgrade can deliver more, pound for pound, than a fortune dropped on expensive engine tuning work.
My Yamaha Fazer 600 is a genius little bike but like so many of its generation and type, the suspension was budget and soft then, and has become no less so with time.
Main culprit is the shock. It feels OK at the start of a ride but after a few miles any damping offered by the watery oil disappears taking handling along with it. There are many aftermarket shocks to choose from. One of our favourite brands is Nitron – they’re pretty much peerless in terms of value. The Nitron R1 shock we’re fitting boasts a brilliant spec for its £438 price tag and is built to suit the bike, the weight of the rider and their style of riding. It comes with preload and damping adjustment as well as a ride-height adjuster.
Of course for the shock to deliver its full potential the linkage and swingarm must have good bearings, properly greased. So rather than drop the shock straight in, we’ll strip the linkage and remove the swingarm for some overdue maintenance.
1 Breaker, breaker
Loosen the swingarm spindle, shock and linkage bolts. Don’t remove any yet. The Fazer has a centre stand so there’s no need to support the bike under the engine.
2 Quick clean
Remove the rear wheel and anything in the way, for example the chainguard. Get the worst of the grease and grit off the linkage and shock bolts prior to removal.
3 Get it undone
Double check that the bike is securely supported then get the bolts undone. Use Plus Gas on seized ones. Now remove the original shock and chuck it in the skip.
4 Pivot points
This swingarm bolt had obviously never been undone before. That’s why we had to use the breaker bar in Step 1. Remove the bolt then lift out the swingarm.
5 Bush doctor
The grease on the swingarm bush is manky and contaminated with moisture. Clean it off and inspect the surface for heavy pitting. A little marking is fine.
6 Bearing inspection
Clean out the bearings with penetrating oil and compressed air if you have access to it. Check their condition and feel for grittiness. Replace if required.
7 Grease it
Having cleaned out the swingarm bearings, treat them to a generous dose of fresh grease. We favour Silkolene Pro RG2, a motorcycle specific product.
8 Linkage out
Now we can turn our attentions to the linkage itself. These exposed assemblies are very prone to attracting and retaining road dirt. Consequently the bearings suffer.
9 Battered bush
Here’s what happens when maintenance is neglected. The undergreased needle rollers have started to pit the bush. It will just about pass for re-use.
10 The build up
The linkage is going back in with bearings cleaned and greased as per those of the swingarm. Check the condition of any seals prior to refitting too.
11 Right order
Hang the new shock from its top bolt then fit the swingarm, remembering to work the chain over it and drop the shock through it before refitting the bolts.
12 Shock result
Tighten the shock, swingarm and linkage bolts, double checking that they’re all done. Refit the wheel, adjust the chain, pump the brake up and go test the shock.
Smile and the world smiles with you. That’s what Alan believes