In this month’s continuing series of motorcycle suspensions, we’ve brought you a list of suspension resources in John Burns’ Suspension Buyer’s Guide. E-i-C Kevin Duke followed that up with some tips and tricks for Adjusting Motorcycle Suspension, and most recently, Tom Roderick provided a list of companies who specialize in making the front of your bike work as well as possible in his Fork Buyer’s Guide.
Of course, a proper fork for your motorcycle is only half of the equation, so here we bring you the Shock Buyer’s Guide. The list herein is but a small selection of the myriad of options to make the rear of your motorcycle handle at its best, but if you’ve been wondering what options you have for the shock on your cruiser, tourer, sportbike, adventure bike, or even scooter, give the companies below a jingle. You might be pleasantly surprised how a proper shock will transform your ride.
If you’re a racer, trackday ace, or even just a fast street rider, before making the decision to replace your shock entirely, give Ed Sorbo at Lindemann Engineering a call. Sure he’ll sell you a Penske shock, which are great pieces in their own right, but sometimes LE can modify your stock shock to levels you didn’t know were possible. How do I know? LE modified the shock on a Kawasaki Ninja 250 I raced a few years ago, adding a remote reservoir and working his magic with the internals. The bike was completely transformed. Original proprietor Jim Lindemann has unfortunately left us, but the business is in good hands with Sorbo at the helm. If they can transform a Ninja 250, then odds are good they can cure whatever ails the shock on your bike.
Whatever you ride, sportbike to cruiser, twin shocks or one, odds are Traxxion Dynamics carries a high-performance shock to suit your application. It should go without saying TD has plenty of shock options for sportbikes, but TD has also done extensive research and development for a wide variety of bikes, including Goldwings, Harley-Davidsons Adventure bikes, and even mountain bikes! They carry plenty of top brands like Penske, Bitubo and Ohlins, but also feature their own in-house brand many riders all over the country have sworn by.
Another excellent resource when looking to improve your suspension, Race Tech has the knowledge and hardware to make virtually any bike handle better. For the budget conscience rider, Race Tech offers Gold Valve shock kits that are installed directly into your existing shock body and comes with valving charts and shims to allow a custom setup for the individual and their riding style. For more hardcore riders, Race Tech also offers its G3-S custom shock, its “premier rear suspension solution.” Each billet aluminum G3-S features personalized valving for the bike, rider and riding style, plus hi-performance springs also selected specifically for the customer. Both the G3-S and Gold Valve kits are made in the USA and come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Progressive Suspension’s specialty is making Harley-Davidsons handle better, but Progressive also has rear (and front) solutions for certain metric bikes and a few dual-sports. Going back to Harley’s though, check out Progressive’s Air Dragger shocks for all late model touring bikes (above). The machined aluminum chamber is combined with velocity sensitive, multi-stage valving and an internal progressive rate coil spring, all wrapped in a trick chrome body. Powered by a compressor hidden in a saddlebag, the kit provides up to two inches of height adjustment at the push of a button, all for $489.00. This is just one of several different shock options. Check out the Progressive Suspension website to see its complete lineup of shocks.
Pro Circuit is a name likely familiar with the off-road set. With over 20 years tuning clickers for dirt riders, Pro Circuit still prefers to modify stock suspensions for the majority of its riders. For certain bikes, PC offers piston and shock kits to help improve the damping in standard KYB and WP suspensions. However, if you don’t see your dirt bike listed as one of the several on the site, give PC a call and odds are they can get you squared away with the custom tuning experience.
K-Tech is a UK brand gaining more and more recognition globally thanks to the race wins and championships its earning in the British Superbike series, AMA, Canadian Superbike, and German IDM series, just to name a few. Its flagship shock, the 35DDS, is available for most current sportbikes and features what K-Tech calls its Direct Damping System. All 35DDS shocks come with 32 clicks of rebound and compression adjustment, and a unique 16-click bypass valve for low speed damping adjustment. All parts are CNC machined and feature hard anodizing on all aluminum parts. It’s adjustable for length, with hydraulic spring preload adjustment. K-Tech doesn’t just do sportbikes though – it has rear suspension systems for a wide array of bikes, including cruisers and off-road vehicles. For American readers, visit www.OrientExpress.com to see what K-Tech offerings are available for your bike.
Specializing in sportbike and dual-sport suspensions, Elka is a Canadian suspension company also gaining recognition in the industry. Its top-of-the-line Stage 4 shock is hand built, to ensure valving and spring rates are specific for the bike model, rider weight, linkage ratio, and type of track. The shocks feature high- and low-speed compression adjustability to provide squat and traction control during hard acceleration. The Stage 4+HYD also features a remote hydraulic preload adjuster for quick fine tuning – an especially handy feature if your bike’s preload is normally hard to reach. Check out the Elka Suspension website to see if there’s a shock for your bike.
If Works Shocks doesn’t have a shock for your bike, odds are it’s not a bike worth modifying. Works claims to have applications for most dual-shock American, European and Japanese street bikes dating back to the 1950s! The Steel Tracker line (seen above) is the most cost-effective option and are made to order. They are great for vintage bikes or baggers where the chrome will either tarnish the bike’s classic looks or be hidden by the bag anyway. Each comes with Single-, Dual- or Triple-Rate springs depending on application, length and load. From there, the customer has the option of choosing chrome springs, threaded preload, and a remote reservoir. Of course, Works has many more options for virtually all of today’s modern bikes, too. Click the link above for more information.
Instantly recognizable by its purple springs, Hyperpro shocks are some of the best in the business. Hailing from the Netherlands, Hyperpro offers five different shocks ranging in price and performance. Its Type 463 fully adjustable shock is the company’s latest offering, incorporating the latest in shock technology. Apart from having rebound and high/low speed compression damping adjustment, the shock length can also be adjusted to suit the bike and rider. An optional hydraulic preload adjuster is also available. All Hyperpro shocks feature a radial piston, 7075 T6 aircraft aluminum construction, an Anti-Block system using a separate pressure valve to prevent hydraulic lock, and progressive or linear springs depending on customer request. The completely modular system also means you have the ability to replace every part should your needs change in the future. Check out the Hyperpro website for more information.
Possibly the most trusted name in motorcycle suspension, Ohlins has built quite the reputation as being the premier suspension specialist throughout the world. It also helps when almost the entire MotoGP paddock uses your components. It goes without saying that Ohlins has a wide variety of shocks to fit a wide variety of motorcycles – Ohlins claims it can offer “more than 300 different shock absorber models…” each specifically built for one specific model. To give you a scope of how many options Ohlins provides for its shocks, the fitment page on the Ohlins website lists two tube designs (monoshock or twin), five piston diameters, seven shock types, and 11 adjustment features. Luckily, you don’t have to decide which system is right on your own; the fitment guide will help you pick what’s right for your particular model. Visit the Ohlins website via the link above for more information.