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Worthwhile suspension mods??

14682 Views 45 Replies 30 Participants Last post by  Grappelli
Upgrades? What di you mean upgrades?

Japanese I-4s are perfect out-of-the-box, remember?
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I recommend you modify your suspension by adding a drag bar. That way you will avoid the dreaded wheelie at all costs. Tucking the front or highsiding are minor incidents compared to the utter indignity of being seen doing a wheelie. Go for the drag bars dude!
Read the latest "Sport Rider." All your answers and then some are in there.
C'mon guys! Can't SOMEONE help the "Sausage King" here?
BIR huh, I thought the "Sausage King" was from Chicago?! I'm sure we've traveled the same lonely roads in MN, maybe even bumped into eachother on the roads unknowingly. Anyway, yeah I thought that the R1 was a god or something, perfect out of the box?? Perhaps it's you that needs new suspenders??
How much do you weigh? If it is between 150 and 175 lbs or so, then your suspension is probably pretty close.

Either way, I'd think about rider software before bike hardware. Consider top notch track schools, like Freddie Spencer, Kevin Schwantz, American Supercamp. You will be better able to handle what you have and what you upgrade to.

If you must work on the bike, send the stock stuff to Lindeman Engineering, Race Tech, etc. Look at how fast Hacking goes on his R6 with stock-based forks.

I dun't have any experience with aftermarket wheels, but Pilot Race tires definitely feel different than Pilot Sports. Better when hot, horrible when cold or wet.
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Sounds like you're suffering from newbie track bike addiction. I should know, because I'm in almost the exact same scenario myself.

Certainly all the items you're talking about will help the bike. But based on similar converations with 20-year track vets, I'd say (in general ... don't know about w/R1s) go for the front end first. Everyone seems to love their RT / Lindemann's set-ups, and that's where you'll get the confidence to carry more cornering speed. Ohlin's are too perfect not to love, and mags provide important weight reduction, but $1000 of fork work will get you through the corners quicker for the buck.

But do yourself a favor ... step back, take a breath, and double-check your bank account. A new pair of race compound tires are a helluva lot cheaper than anything else on your wish list and should give you loads more confidence / handling / traction. IMO, the Pilot Sports blow, but I saw God with the Pilot Race's I put on my F3.

Or, you could drop $3,500 on the other goodies, and look like the shiznit in the paddock, only to get smoked (in the corners) by guys who can ride the wheels off their stock SV650's or ratted-out '95 900RRs.
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BBD and Sean Alexander are the guys I'd defer to on this in the end. I see that BBD has already weighed in but here's my .02 worth.

For the occasional track day stock suspension is probably fine for the first 10K miles provided you are able to set your static sag correctly. If you weigh more than 190lbs you may not be able to accomplish this (at least in the front forks) without some shims. After that if the spring rates are working for you I wouldn't worry about it too much. Try changing the fork oil to a heavier weight if you need to and make sure that you work with your damping settings until the bike does what it's supposed to.

You can easily change your springs and revalve shocks - relatively inexpensive upgrades, but I wouldn't worry about this for a while if the bike is new unless something just doesn't work. R1's are pretty good right out of the box so you should be fine.

Any of the newer generation of super sticky street/track tires will be an improvement over your Pilot Sports. It's not just the tread, it's the sidewalls and belt construction too. If you can afford it, a set of track tires is the way to go (make sure to get DOT legals though). Then you can use longer wearing tires for street use. Be sure that you pay attention to the tire profile (Dunlops, for instance are triangular and steer more quickly than rounder profile Pilot's). Does your R1 have a 190 rear? Try a 180 for track use if it does.

If you are going to get into club racing you will quickly run out of headroom massaging stock components. When you start looking into the cost of racing shocks, forks, tires for the weekend, etc. you will cry real tears.

Hope that answers your question. Philosophically I completely agree with BBD: spend as little money as you can on stuff until you have to. Knowledge is power and that's what I'd go after. Instructors at many track schools ride completely stock OEM's and will blow your doors off.

If you are having clearance problems try leaning off a little more. It's better to scrape a knee puck than a peg. After that peg exhaust canisters and fairings come pretty quickly on OEM's.

Good luck and have fun!
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You might want to check out this before you mod: click here
Quite frankly in my position, the full cost of one of those schools would be as much or more than suspension work. Plus there is a CRA-racer-run trackday trackschool that I could do here (although nowhere near the level of Spencer or Schwanz, obviously, but also nowhere near the cost.)

Anyway, I weigh 185 (with no gear.) I've been told by others that the stock rear spring is for riders up to 150-160. The bike squats a lot coming out of corners in low gear. I've talked to some racers with their dialed suspenders and they claim that they glide through turn 1 (super high speed, basically as fast as you can go) and feel nothing. I definitely feel something.
Thanks, I know I can hang off a bit more to improve my lean angle. Just this last time at the track on Monday I started to realize the correct body position going into the corner in order to hang off correctly.

I don't want to go nuts here, I am not chomping at the bit to drop $3000 unless I got multiple knowledgeable opinions that that's what I should do. Clearly that's not the case. I would like to have RaceTech do my forks and shock, and since my bike has over 12k on it, the rear shock could most likely use an overhaul anyway (I hear that the stock R1 shock doesn't stay perfect for long.)

I am most likely going to get a set of race compound for my next (or perhaps the one after that) trackday (and yes, a 180 rear----I've never seen anybody use 190 race rubber.)

Thanks for your input,

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You're probably right, perhaps I will just throw on a set of race tires and see what happens. That should tell me if I really want/need suspension work (although I'll probably RaceTech my forks this winter anyway.)

I thought the Pilot Sports work amazingly well for street tires. Perhaps I'm just slow. But then again I was easily the fastest guy in the novice group. Some people out there are going so slow I wonder why they dropped $140 to ride on a track.

I never have run across the guy with the SV or ratted-out 900 that is faster. Not yet, anyway. I don't mean to toot my own horn, but beep beep. LOL j/k

Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but after conversations with a couple racers, they have me thinking that riding on the (somewhat bumpy BIR) track should feel like gliding on a cushion of air with properly dialed suspension. I'm dreaming of hitting turns 7 and 8 with the stutter bumps at the apexes at full lean and not feeling anything. Maybe they're exaggerating this.
I don't think I ever said that.....and if I did I didn't mean it.....LOL
Pictures are worth a thousand words

Or maybe a few bucks at least.....

Perhaps these pictures of the Sausage King on the track will give the people here a vague idea of how I'm riding at the track (keep in mind this is only my second time so go easy on the comments.)
Re: Pictures are worth a thousand words

If you are going to have the front treated to a Race Tech overhaul, great. One option for the rear is to send your stock unit to Lindeminn Engineering and have them rebuild it. My coworker picked up a used shock off ebay, and had it sent directly to them.

They revalved it with an Ohlins valve body, polish the piston and install a heavier spring to fit his body weight. The differences were well worth the $300 total cost. Your options are available, it is up to you to choose with your research and your wallet.
Schools are too expensive? What are you talking about? Keith Code is about $435 if I remember, and Schwanz was only a bit more than that. You're talking about sending your forks out for custom valving and springs, replacing with full ohlins, or getting magnezium rims. All of those things are at or above the $500 mark. Set your sag, play with your damping a little, and maybe get yourself some new springs for your weight. Then do the schools, and after that, when you're REALLY running into suspension limitations, consider the big dollar upgrades.
On a (slightly) related topic, I've just upgraded the suspension on a KLR that I'm touring Mexico and Central America on with Progressive's offerings for the bike. (Shock and Springs, total under $500). I'm 265lbs and the difference is amazing. Just don't listen to them when they say use a 2" spacer for the front springs. Use an extra 1/4" or 1/2" depending on how big you are. It makes all the difference. It's firmed up the weak front end amazingly. They say it "may" damage the springs long term. At $70 for a pair, it's worth it the risk!
Don't do it..... after two track days there's no need to blow money on suspension yet. I run an '01 R1 at willow springs on stock suspension and it and it works good enough for now. (I weigh 200lbs with gear on. Just get race tires and read up on how to dial in your stock suspension. You will be able to get it to work quite well once you start to understand how it all works. But most importantly, practice, practice, practice.... it will help you get faster better than new parts will. Once you get within 5 to 8 seconds per lap as the fastest club racers on that track then go for it you'll be ready.
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