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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

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