Shock springs some sur­prises

Sus­pen­sion up­grade jig­gery-pok­ery leads to a raft of other changes. All of them good

Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - On our Bench - CON­TACT Ma­chine Mart ma­chine­ Mark’s Mo­tor­cy­cle Parts marksmo­tor­cy­

ajor run­ning gear up­grade time for Gary’s 1986 Suzuki GSX1100EF, mov­ing the wheels and brakes on a gen­er­a­tion, and the shock a decade or three.

He’s like a kid at Christ­mas as he un­boxes the Shock Fac­tory unit sup­plied by UK dis­trib­u­tor, Mark’s Mo­tor­cy­cle Parts. The £510 SU064RH monoshock is so fancy it even has its own se­rial num­ber. There’s a ride height ad­juster and sep­a­rate an­odised knobs to twid­dle for re­bound and com­pres­sion. It’s a work of art, all the more so when viewed along­side the sorry stock shock.

We have a bit of a game get­ting the orig­i­nal shock out. It’s times like these when we’re grate­ful to have a hy­draulic bike bench. The one that graces Gary’s garage is a Clarke CML3. We’re long past the days of grov­el­ling around on a cold con­crete floor when we’re work­ing on bikes. If you’re se­ri­ous about work­ing on your own ma­chines a bench is a must. At just un­der £500 this one rep­re­sents de­cent value.

The big­gest is­sue in re­mov­ing the old shock is the re­mote ad­juster. Fig­ur­ing that the whole unit is scrap any­how, Gary has lit­tle com­punc­tion in sim­ply cut­ting its con­nec­tions to save time strip­ping too much off the back-end of the bike. Plus he’s ex­cited to get the Shock Fac­tory damper in there. We get the top eye­let bolted in then en­counter a prob­lem as we try to get the bot­tom one to line up with the link­age. The shock won’t come back far enough. At this point Gary re­calls why we might be hav­ing an is­sue. “I spec­i­fied a longer shock,” he says, “that and the shoul­dered eye­let on the new shock have made it foul the top link­age.” Oh. So we do have to strip the bike a lit­tle fur­ther than an­tic­i­pated to get the top link­age out for a lit­tle mod­i­fi­ca­tion with the elec­tric file. The blame might lie with us but when we re­ported back to Mark’s Mo­tor­cy­cle Parts he talked to the Shock Fac­tory who are mod­i­fy­ing the de­sign a lit­tle so there will be no risk of the is­sue aris­ing else­where. That’s proper ser­vice for you.

Pleased with our ef­forts so far, we turn our at­ten­tions to the wheels. Gary has more Suzuki parts than your av­er­age breaker’s yard and he has a win­ning com­bi­na­tion in mind. The rear wheel will be re­placed with one from a GSX-R750K and the front will be ousted in favour of one from an early Ban­dit 600. This will al­low him to fit a 120/70 17 front tyre –

the orig­i­nal wheel is an ‘of-its-time’ 16-incher – and a 160/60 17 rear. Front calipers will be Nissin four-pots from a Ban­dit 12. Gary had en­ter­tained the no­tion of us­ing a GSX-R1100K rear wheel but there was no way its width, and tall sprocket car­rier, were go­ing to al­low ev­ery­thing to fit in. How­ever the 750 wheel mated to a GS500 sprocket car­rier will do the job. The caliper car­rier/wheel spacer will have to be ma­chined down a lit­tle and a spacer turned to go on the left side. The only down­side is need­ing to go to a 530 chain as 630 rear sprock­ets aren’t avail­able for the GS car­rier, con­sign­ing a nearly new 630 to the bin and emp­ty­ing G’s wal­let not only for a 530 chain but a new pair of sprock­ets too. Still – a small price to pay to be able to fit mod­ern rub­ber. The GSX will of­fer whole new lev­els of han­dling, all the more so with the new Shock Fac­tory damper fit­ted.

Turn­ing our at­ten­tions to the front-end, things go a lit­tle eas­ier. Af­ter some ex­per­i­men­ta­tion with a hand­ful of spac­ers from G’s bot­tom­less spares pit, we es­tab­lish the thick­nesses re­quired to cen­tralise the Ban­dit 600 wheel. We will also need to make spac­ers to move the Nissin four-pis­ton calipers in­wards to cen­tralise them on the discs.

Given that Gary orig­i­nally bought the GSX to break, it’s quite some re­prieve for the old knocker. Will it ri­val the Katana for its place in his af­fec­tions? To hear Gary talk about it, you’d think it just might.


The jolly grey giant with his jolly nice shock

Very smart an­odised knobs for fid­dling with

1986 v 2018. No con­test. Tech­ni­cal knock­out.

Trans­fixed by a left­hand side­panel

The old sil­ver fox in his den. Match­ing glasses too

More top hats and what­nots than Royal Ascot

Four-pots will need spac­ing-in to cen­tre on discs

GSX-R750K rear wheel ups the rub­ber game

Shock’s top link re­ceived at­ten­tion of elec­tric file

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