Shock springs some surprises
Suspension upgrade jiggery-pokery leads to a raft of other changes. All of them good
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 DOWNSIDE IS NEEDING TO GO TO A 530 CHAIN, CONSIGNING A NEARLY NEW 630 TO THE BIN AND EMPTYING G’S WALLET FOR A 530 AND A NEW PAIR OF SPROCKETS TOO
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