Light Rider? Disabled? Want a Softer Ride? - Triumph Forum: Triumph Rat Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-12-2019, 07:51 AM Thread Starter
Supersport 600
Main Motorcycle: Hinckley Bonneville (Carb
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Light Rider? Disabled? Want a Softer Ride?

If like myself, you find regular motorcycle suspension too harsh, finding a compromise between comfort and handling is a wilderness and a minefield. I have the additional problem of light weight so I knew springs would have to change. There are so many makes of aftermarket equipment for so many different purposes, it is better to seek baseline figures to help make the right changes. That said, manuals and manufacturers seldom give out any figures. But it need not be so complicated.

Assuming you have already exhausted attempts to back off damping and preload, even ruined your tyres by running them soft, you are probably contemplating after-market products. First you need to identify whether the springs are too hard, or if it is bottoming out (springs too soft or damping not firm enough) or if the damping is too firm - even with it adjusted right back.

I started by adjusting my rear shocks and found it wasnít enough. Whilst I researched what to do, I changed the fork oil for a lighter grade - in this case 5 sae (on the 04 Bonneville it should be 10 sae). It was slightly softer, so I reduced the quantity by 25%. That has taken the punch out of front end road shocks. I had been about to order progressive springs, but in the light of this progress, another reduction in oil quantity or if possible sae might get me there. I should point out that I donít potter about the lanes. The throttle is there for a reason and I work engine/box, suspension and brakes hard.

For the average weight (10 stones or more?) rider, progressive springs can provide the answer - for me perhaps also, assuming the softness they provide is for sudden impact, they could be the final move after trying less/lighter oil. We should not perhaps go too far along that route to avoid mechanical failure. But certainly in this case and probably many similar, the damping is the problem. This isnít the first bike Iíve softened (itís harder with twin shocs) - my SV650 S was much improved with a 97 GSXR mono-shoc. It has a softer spring and plush damping - with no adverse effect when I was practising for the TT (in my head, stupid. It held the road and was in fact less prone to skip/hop/judder.

Any bike does not know Iím there weight-wise. I should further note for certain readers, my condition is not simply a Ďdisabilityí. It causes joint pain and this becomes unbearable if Iím jolted around. Anyone in my position knows that understanding is short even where sympathy might exist. ĎJust break the new shocs in over some bumpy ground for about 100 milesí, someone said. Theyíd missed the point. I did get round it after asking if anyone knew an over-size rider to break them in for me. Bricks in panniers - tada, the suspension was tamed. I recommend min 2 bricks per pannier.

Getting back to the rear shocs, the prices of replacements were beyond my budget, until I found Tec shocs. Their own page reviews glowed, but these are often written two minutes after the postie dropped them off. I couldnít find anything more - until after Iíd bought a pair. Meanwhile, I rang and emailed a few questions and was satisfied. Yes they could supply softer springs and yes they did adjustable damping gas shocs for £150. It was some time later I found rather divisive comment on the Rat Triumph site. It was from another shoc business so I took it with a pinch of salt.

They are indeed a poor fit onto the shafts. That is a quality control aspect that Tec need to sort. Tight but not interference surely? Otherwise problems might arise. Anyway, as per instructions I prepared the shafts and sleeves for a better fit. They still had to be drifted gently with soft wood. Bearing in mind the gentle arch of a swing arm, there should surely be some pivot rather than flex of the rubber mount, but thatís minutiea for another time.

Even with everything on softer settings, they were too harsh. They had been supplied with just 35 psi (theyíll take up to 60) as the supplier knew I was a lighter rider. Unless you have a proper air shoc pump, donít try letting a few psi out of the Schrader valves - it cost me £30 to get them re-gassed cos my tyre gauge just let all the gas out in a second or less. Anyway, Shock Tec in Rotherham backed the psi off to 1 bar for me (about 15 psi). With four bricks in the panniers it is much more rideable. Just need to see how things go as they break inÖ

NB, Tec assure me the correct air pump will be OK and a nitro-air mix wasn't a problem.

There is obviously more to get into and Iíll submit a report later. But this should at least get the delicate/lighter rider into some useful thinking and action.

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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-25-2019, 04:58 AM Thread Starter
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Disabled Soft Ride Part Two

PART TWO, Disabled Rider, Softer Ride

Having no experience of setting up gas (air) shocks I had tried letting a smidge out with my tyre pressure gauge. The bloke who quoted me about a fiver to re-gas them charged 30 quid - the price I pay for ignorance. I asked him to put 10 psi in, which it turns out isn't enough. At least he assured me air might be OK - and George Milburn at Tec confirmed this. Both were helpful, although (having been in business for myself most of my life) one might find it hard to put your case when there's no room to get a word in past their agenda; when dealing with business people, think business. When dealing with the public, be omniscient

As the Tec shocks have not yet collapsed - after a two-up outing that bottomed out madly prior to getting the pump, I have no reason to examine anything but my own inexperience. But the 10 lbs was not enough. To return to the re-gas man at Shock Tech in Rotherham, until I got it right - at 30 quid a chuck - would equate to me having paid a couple of hundred or more for the units in the first place.

I next researched air shock pumps, having wasted 4 quid on a Halfords tyre pump. Several plastic items with gauges calibrated in 5lb units are available for less than 20 quid. Cycling forums suggest these are neither accurate nor robust enough - and I'd agree. Not least since the one I ordered did a nose-dive onto my concrete garage floor as I un-packed it. Ahem, anyway - I opted for a metal one, by Alpha Moto, up to 60lbs (my shocks run between 5 and 65lbs psi), with an air release button and graduated in lbs/bar (not groupings thereof).

I had had to have a few days off as my back was shattered, so waiting for Amazon to send the pump that was 'available in the United Kingdom' - which does NOT mean it is already there, didn't matter too much. It was cutting it fine to our biking holiday though. Frolicking nuisance salespeak should say 'will post to'. I meanwhile compensated with a lot of pre-load and some damping. But it was bottoming still. Park it up, wait for the pump...

When it arrived, I put in an additional 10 lbs psi and went on my test route. This encounters speed bumps (see punish everyone rather than catch a crook) first - and they no longer pounded my bony posterior. At the next lay-by, which comes before the country road takes a country turn for the worse, I stop to add another 5lbs. And so on up to 50lbs (per side). I am now at a point where I've backed the dampers off to 1st position and am ready to ease back the preload.

So I will now check the sag. Yes I should have done that first - this is about experience and I'm not going to pretend I'm some know-it-all. I looked at monoshock forums to see what psi etc they were using - to give me a figure (or two figures) by dividing their suggestions by two. Sag is the amount the suspension compresses - partly under the load of the bike, partly by rider and any pillion/additional load. It is measured by subtracting one measurement against another. Rather than complicate this rambling passage, the MCN page offers a straight-forwards explanation. As I'm sure do others but they get to the point without some HI, I'm a twat video for two hours...

Yesterday's ride - which descended as usual into some mad back lane speeding - left a back-ache but nothing like the nastiness I've endured. So I'm making progress. PS, the Tec shocks are fitted with softer springs. They are only 5mm shorter than stock. I'm not short in the leg - but I prefer a low centre of gravity. Taller bikes with engines in the clouds make low speed manouevres (garage, traffic lights with pillion....) scary. I nearly lost it recently with a pillion so I have to get round that.

A word on FORKS while I think on. The front seemed to be bottoming so I added 40 ccs of 5 sae to each leg. This still allows the same travel (I use the cable tie method to measure) and has made the front rather too firm. So I'll take out about 20 ccs per leg, which will equate to about 6/8ths of recommended quantity.

PS, the yokes are dropped by 10mm. That equates to 5mm below stock for faster steering and a lower centre of gravity.

Once the back end issues are done, I shall look at progressive springs, maybe even some adjustable canisters - maybe shmaybe even upside downies or other replacements - so long as I retain spoked wheels. You have to draw a line somewhere...

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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-25-2019, 08:23 AM
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interesting read, I don't have the skill / time to type a thesis.!
Like you I have the tec shocks, lighter springs, with a good pump. And may now try a litte more psi in the back.
At the front, progressive springs, yes lighter oil, and the yss emulators.
These emulators for me made a massive improvement,
It was as though all the roads that I used to bump along had been re-surfaced and now smooth.
A bit of tweeking with front pre-load and I'm now pleased with the results.
OK not modern day sportsbike set-up but good for a limited budget.
ATB..
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-25-2019, 08:46 AM Thread Starter
Supersport 600
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Soft Ride esence

Quote:
Originally Posted by BonnieJon View Post
interesting read, I don't have the skill / time to type a thesis.!
Like you I have the tec shocks, lighter springs, with a good pump. And may now try a litte more psi in the back.
At the front, progressive springs, yes lighter oil, and the yss emulators.
These emulators for me made a massive improvement,
It was as though all the roads that I used to bump along had been re-surfaced and now smooth.
A bit of tweeking with front pre-load and I'm now pleased with the results.
OK not modern day sportsbike set-up but good for a limited budget.
ATB..
Hi Bonniejon

Thanks for the reply. You managed very succinctly to explain what can be done; and made me a shopping list. I shall certainly look into the emulators and progressive springs. Actually I found a local spring maker who said he could temper them to suit me personally. I should try to find him again and ask for a quote...

As you say, these are not sports bike settings but our objectives are different: perhaps more important. Hopefully some person needing to find a way to keep riding will stumble across this.

I'd certainly thought as much was possible but with a tight budget and slightly tighter partner it was hard to justify my experimentation. And neither do I have the tech savvy, even if I wrote professionally at one time, to simply go ahead and fix it. Actually, until Tec shocks came along, the only other options I knew of were perhaps to fit a drain plug to the existing shocks and use lighter oil (try finding out what SAE is in standard ones!); or to try some Marzoccis.

Did a 59 Les Paul help in any way?

Alex

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