Jim Lindemann was a genius in the suspension business who saw opportunity where others didn’t – by improving upon the suspension a motorcycle came with from the factory. Many moons ago, when Kawasaki Ninja 250s were littering race tracks as a fun and inexpensive way of getting into racing, competitors were replacing their shocks with aftermarket pieces. Lindemann, in keeping with the inexpensive nature of the class, modified a stock shock and gave it adjustable rebound and compression circuits, along with a remote reservoir to house the pressurized fluid, all for less than the aftermarket shocks on the market at the time. The result? I set a lap record around Willow Springs Raceway using that shock on a Ninja 250 (that was beaten a lap later by another racer).
Update: Production has resumed on LiveWire, after tests confirmed a “non-standard” condition was a singular occurrence. The bikes may now again be charged using any method previously available. Below is the statement, direct from Harley-Davidson Motor Company:
[Frequent MO readers will know that our friend, Thai Long Ly, is not a man of few words. Consequently, we should’ve known what we were getting into when he offered to write up his experience with Tuono modifications. Still, we never expected an 8,400-word opus. So, we decided to break the story into easier to digest pieces. Here is Part 1 for your reading enjoyment. – Ed.]
Lots of motorcycles now come with the full complement of adjusters on their suspension. However, even the most basic bike will let you, at the very least, adjust the rear preload. Let’s take a look at how you can set your bike’s suspension sag to get the most out of their damping capabilities.
All motorcycles come with suspension, and some of those components have settings that the riders themselves can adjust. That’s great if you know what you’re doing. Some bikes have a wide variety of settings for the rider to fiddle with. Again, if you know what you’re doing, the extra adjustments are a huge benefit. However, with the increase in adjustments available, the number of wrong combinations of settings also increases.
Every human body comes in its own unique shape and size, but all motorcycles of a particular model are exactly the same when they roll off the assembly line. Unless you’re remarkably lucky, some aspect of your motorcycle’s dimensions will be less than optimum to suit your body type and riding style. Fortunately, you can take steps to customize your motorcycle’s fit to your dimensions and the type of riding you do. While some of these suggestions require altering or replacing parts, many can radically alter your riding experience for the better with only basic tools and a little elbow grease. Take a look at the photo below to see how changing the handlebar-to-seat and the peg-to-seat dimensions can alter the angles – and the comfort – of the rider’s appendages.
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.
I honestly thought Yamaha’s 1993 GTS1000 heralded the beginning of the end of telescopic fork front suspension. Yet here we are, 22 years later and besides BMW’s Telelever and Duolever technology (and the Bimota Tesi… -Ed.), the telescopic fork remains de rigueur for motorcycle front ends.
Comprehending how suspension works has been described as a black art, but the basic principles are actually fairly easy to understand. Yet an astonishingly small percentage of riders ever touch any of the knobs, screws, valves or nuts that adjust the suspension of their motorcycles.
We’ve oft complained about the lack of travel in the stock rear suspension of Harley-Davidsons. Maybe we ride a little faster than we should, pushing the American cruisers and tourers beyond their intended performance parameters. Still, even if we didn’t, the 2.1 inches of travel in the twin shocks of H-D’s Dyna models is a minimalist approach to functional suspension.