Let's talk SUSPENSIONS!

Let's talk SUSPENSIONS!

Suspensions are a world of their own.

If I would finish the article with that sentence alone, I believe some riders would applaud, accept the mic drop, and move along. Still, that won't cut it for many, so we will be talking about motorcycle suspensions today.

There are many articles and videos out there about how to tune suspensions, so I wont be going over any of that, and keeping on topic for this Let's Talk Gear Series, we will be debating more practical topics.

Mainly, we will be focusing on why suspensions are essential, what you may have to gain from having some work done to yours, and what marketing tricks you are being fed that may be costing you more money than you should be spending.

 

WHY SUSPENSIONS MATTER

Motorcycle suspensions do more than just soak up terrain irregularities.

Contrary to what a surprisingly large number of riders believe, suspensions allow you to put power on the ground, and more importantly than that, they allow you to control that power.

If I already lost you, go into your memory and think, what happens when you push the throttle hard? Your rear end wants to squat and your front to lift.

What happens when you brake hard in the front? Your front wants to dive and your rear to lift.

A well balanced and tuned suspension will allow you to not only mitigate those movements but also adjust them to your riding style and needs.

 

Lets talk suspensions
Reference: picture from rideexpeditions.com


In the same token, let's imagine a very rocky road.

I'm not saying that a well-tuned suspension will make a gnarly track any more accessible and comfortable, but it will eliminate several issues.

If you go down our imaginary track with a poor suspension setup, you will be fighting the terrain, and the bike. 

If you go down the same route with an adequately tuned setup, you will be fighting the terrain alone, making your experience more enjoyable, safer, and potentially faster.

 

STOP BEING FOOLED

If you are not a suspension connoisseur, chances are you are being fooled when buying your new bike.

I don't mean fooled by the brands that oh their majority insist on selling bikes with little to no suspension tunning possibilities from stock; I mean fooled when buying second hand.

More often than not, you will see a used bike described as having "a suspension prepared by (enter suspension preparator name)" in the attempt of proving that that is the best suspension you can purchase.

Now I ask you, what is the difference between that sentence and a brand saying that their suspensions were prepared to race, travel, or do any other activity they designed their bike for?

The answer is absolutely nothing. 

 

lets talk suspensions
Reference: picture from advrider.com

If you get a suspension tuned for anyone other than yourself, it's pointless to pay extra for it, regardless of who worked on them, and to what purpose.

I'll even go a step further. Let's assume I weigh 90kg (200 pounds), and I'm looking at an ad for a used bike or used suspension where the previous owner has the same weight.

I could easily feel tempted by his statement that his suspension already had work done; after all, we have the same weight, so it will already be an improvement over OEM settings.

Although logical and up to a certain extent fair, that line of thinking does not see the full picture. 

A good preparator will adjust your suspension for your riding weight and your riding style, and that is where things get tricky.

The chances of you finding a used suspension from a rider with the exact same riding weight, riding style, and type of terrain preferences as you are slim. Knowing this, avoid getting drained out a few more bucks for something that will most likely add absolutely nothing to your riding.

Suspensions are as unique as condoms, if they could be re-used. So make sure you get one that fits you and your needs, and if you are getting a used one, ignore what the previous owner did with it.

 

AHHHH THE BIG BRANDS!

It's hard not to get excited by big names such as WP, Ohlins, SHOWA, and many more, but on its own, that means diddly.

Reviewers, both professional and amateur alike, will tend to talk about suspension performance, and with so many sharing their opinions, it's easy to find common grounds. 

The suspension is too soft, too hard, dives under hard braking... the list of complaints can be endless, but what lacks on the large majority of reviews is letting us know the reviewer's weight and riding style. In the same token, brands also like to omit the rider's data used to set up the factory's suspension to start with.

You will be amazed at how well most OEM suspensions perform when tunned for you, regardless if we are talking about a brand new 2021 model or one from 20 years ago.

This being, before you get super excited thinking about upgrading your full suspension to a big aftermarket name, consider giving yours a tune. 


lets talk suspensions
Reference: picture from advpulse.com

Between a few hundred dollars tune that will most likely suit most riders, and a couple thousand on an aftermarket upgrade, that will still require a tune on top of that, the math should become clear, fast.

In summary, trying to copy your friend's setup, or paying extra for big names can build up your ego, but it will do absolutely nothing positive for your ride.

Upgrading should result from an ever-improving skill set and not an expensive attempt to flex towards people who are not riding your bike for you.

Think smart, think cheap, do the steps, and upgrade only when you feel you reached your current suspension's maximum ability.

This will allow you to grow with the bike, improve your skillset, and save precious fuel money along the way.

 

lets talk suspensions


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