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View Full Version : Results of suspension upgrade on the VFR 800's


Tourmeister
06-15-2003, 11:21 PM
Howdy,

:tab Well, when I had my 01 VFR in the shop for its' 32K service I broke down and had Race Tech springs installed up front and an Ohlins rear shock installed in the rear. I chose to forgoe the cartridges in the forks due to cost and the fact that I think the stock damping characteristics of the VFR front end are pretty good. Patrick at Motorcycles Unlimited got me setup for a great price and helped me dial in the settings. The next day I left for a week of riding in Arkansas, a great place to test out the suspension.

:tab We rode really fast sweepers and really really tight switchbacks all week. I was riding solo with a GIVI 50 liter topcase stuffed to capacity and then some. About 95% of the time, the bike felt great. Ocassionally the front end felt like it could use a little more damping, particularly on rebound. The rear was incredible. Once I got the compression and rebound set right it was superstable when railing through the corners. This was definitely money well spent!

:tab Money spent trying to gain a few extra horsepower or torque is much better spent on better suspension. Having the better suspension will give you much greater confidence in the bike to handle the undulations of the pavement, hold its line and to keep the tires in contact with the road. This will make you a lot faster and smoother than squeezing a few more HP out of your engine. Don't get me wrong, Power Commanders and pipes are great if you want to smooth out the engine's power delivery and throttle snatchiness. It made a world of difference on our 98 VFR.

:tab I ran out of money so the 98 only got the front end done. Hopefully, in the not too distant future we can get the Ohlins installed on the rear and that bike will be darn near perfect! Well except for the fact that it's my wife's bike and not mine :roll:

scratch
06-16-2003, 11:10 AM
What made you decide to go with Ohlins? I know their suspension parts are supposed to be the best, but did you consider something a little less expensive, like a Fox shock? Since you decided to go top shelf, did you compare Ohlins with Penske?

Hood Ornament
06-16-2003, 11:50 AM
Penske stuff is a notch better then the Ohlins. It's much easier to service yourself, changing springs is a breeze, for racing it's the only shock I'll go with. For the street. The Ohlins is my choice. The remote preload is a great feature. Toss some luggage on the bike, add a little more preload. Toss a chick on the back, at a little more preload. It's cheaper then the Penske. The Fox is also a good street use shock, but it's not nearly as easy to adjust as the Ohlins. Of course, it's a couple hunddred dollars cheaper.

Tourmeister
06-16-2003, 01:28 PM
did you compare Ohlins with Penske?


:tab What Hood said ;-) I wanted the easy adjustability since I have either luggage or a passenger on the bike so often. One of our friends has been getting into the whole motorcycle thing and she has been riding pillion with me now quite regularly.

:tab We're working on her to get her into an MSF class, but her confidence may be an issue. I'm sure she can do it, it is just a question of whether or not she thinks she can do it. Then there is the whole issue of getting her a bike... She doesn't make wads of cash and is on a tight budget. I wonder if I might be able to make a plea to the online community for donations and get enough to get her a good old bike for less than $2K? Hmmm...

:tab Oh yeah, the guy that did the work for me made me a great deal and that also had a part in the decision to go with Ohlins.

buck000
06-16-2003, 02:49 PM
Toss a chick on the back, at a little more preload.

Speak more of this chick-tossing, as a happily married male, but a male nonetheless, I think details would be, er, invigorating.... :twisted:

scratch
06-16-2003, 03:20 PM
Thanks for the insight. My suspension still feels fine with only 8,500 miles on the bike, but when it's time for service, I'm going to consider an upgrade rather than re-building the shock. Cartridge emulators up front would be nice too. It's only money, right? :shock: :wink:

hillcountry
06-17-2003, 01:04 PM
For those of you that didn't follow my "what mod" saga, I had the racetech springs and emulators put into my Sprint ST. At first I really didn't appreciate it, but after I started playing with the preload, the bike is much nicer to ride....more solid feeling in the turns. If I can tell the difference (less than two years riding), I imagine that it would be great for someone that actually knew what they were doing :-D

Bill

Tourmeister
06-17-2003, 02:28 PM
If I can tell the difference (less than two years riding), I imagine that it would be great for someone that actually knew what they were doing

If you are just putzing along, you may not really notice the difference. Although, I have noticed that my bike seems smoother over the normal pavement irregularities and seams. But when you get into fun mode on the bike, the difference becomes more readily apparent I think. This is especially true in cornering. The bike just does not feel as vague and unsure. It is like riding on rails. I can really get a good feel for what the front end of the bike is doing and how the tire is reacting to the road. Of course, having a light touch on the grips really helps in this regard as well. Getting stiff armed keeps you from really knowing what is going on up front and actually makes the bike handle worse.

scratch
06-17-2003, 04:55 PM
For those of you that didn't follow my "what mod" saga, I had the racetech springs and emulators put into my Sprint ST. At first I really didn't appreciate it, but after I started playing with the preload, the bike is much nicer to ride....more solid feeling in the turns. If I can tell the difference (less than two years riding), I imagine that it would be great for someone that actually knew what they were doing :-D

Bill

Hey Bill - I looked back at your post about that, and was wondering what Lone Star charged you for the installation and 12k service? Also, did you have any valves out of spec?

hillcountry
06-17-2003, 10:28 PM
The guys at lone star were great. They worked on the bike the entire day. The 12k service (along with oil -- expensive Mobile 1, plugs, filters, etc.) came out to about $385 (no valves out of spec) and they charged me two hours labor for the springs and emulators. It came out to just over $500 for everything (that's why I put the gloves back). It seems a little pricey, but compared to some service I had done locally (new tires), I think that I got a bargain. By the way, I get some Avon 49/50s and I'm still undecided about them. Without going into a long story (and avoiding the oncoming rush of high blood pressure when I think about it), I got them instead of the D220's that I had put on hold. I had scrubbed the Dunlops edge to edge and I feel like I'm getting over farther with the Avons, but I still have about 1/4-1/2 inch chicken stripes on each side. Maybe they just have a different profile or something.

After going through a brief (thank goodness) "speed" phase (it wasn't "fun" unless I was in tripple digits), I've really tried to focus on technique and cornering, so the "stiff armed" days are finally long gone (my overall times are actually faster now under much more controlled riding). As far as appreciating the suspension difference, I compare it to scotch. I can really taste (and appreciate) the difference between a 10 year old and 15 year old, and I can taste the difference (when I can afford a glass) of 20 year old, but I don't appreciate the taste enough to spend the extra (unless someone else is buying :wink: ).

Bill

scratch
06-18-2003, 10:34 AM
Thanks for the details Bill. A guy I've been riding with recently put a set of Avon ST tires on his Sprint and really likes them; I might have to try a set next time. The price you paid for the service sounds pretty fair to me - the main thing is that the tech. does the job right, and I've heard only good things about Lone Star on that account.

Entreri
08-29-2003, 08:26 PM
I'm hoping Lone Star is a place I can come to here in Austin!

I have had a 2001 VFR for about 2 months now, and am enjoying every minute of it. The only mods I've made so far are a RAM Mount for my GPS and a power commander.

I really wasn't in the market for a PowerCommander, but when I saw one on sale for less than half of it's value ($145) and I knew I was going to get one sooner or later, I got it a bit sooner. :)

I'm not a good enough rider to make use of all of the VFR's power (rode 9 months before getting the VFR) and would love to learn how to correctly setup the suspension on the bike for me someday! But it's really hard to know what's right, when you've never experienced it before...

Someday... Someday...

Tourmeister
08-29-2003, 09:07 PM
Howdy,

:tab The stock suspension is not bad, it's just not that great either. With the stock components, there really is not much to setup other than the sag. Sag is the amount that the suspension compresses when you sit on the bike with all of your normal riding gear. Ideally, it should be somewhere around 1/4 to 1/3 of the total travel. This is controlled by adjusting the spring preload on the forks and rear shock. Once that is done, the rest is more of a personal feel issue. Compression damping controls how fast the shocks can compress when you hit a bump. Rebound damping controls how fast the shock tries to bounce back after compression. If you have ever seen an old car go bouncing down the road, then you know what it looks like to have no compression or rebound damping. Too much damping and the shock will be very harsh and stiff causing the bike to feel like it is skipping along the road. Somewhere in the middle is what you want. Absorb the bump and have the bouncing damp out quickly. Here are some useful links on the subject:

http://cgi.motorcycle.com/mo/mcmail/interviews/rathwell.html

http://www.gostar-racing.com/information/motorcycle_suspension_set-up.htm

http://www.racebikesite.com/motorcycle-modifications.htm

These will get you started. It really does make a remarkable difference in how the bike responds and feels. A bike that instills little confidence can be transformed into a bike that is totally inspiring, and makes you feel comfortable and confident.

ZapataZR7
09-04-2003, 08:45 PM
as a happily married male, but a male nonetheless

Sorry for *******izing the tread......

buck000: You are right....!!! Boys will be boys...and who says that even if we are happily married men, we can no "toss" a girl in the passenger seat from time to time....????? :-D

Love is a wonderfull thing....as far as your wife does not find it out.....!!!!!!

:chug:

Anonymous
11-07-2003, 10:45 AM
Howdy,

:tab Well, when I had my 01 VFR in the shop for its' 32K service I broke down and had Race Tech springs installed up front and an Ohlins rear shock installed in the rear. I chose to forgoe the cartridges in the forks due to cost and the fact that I think the stock damping characteristics of the VFR front end are pretty good.

We rode really fast sweepers and really really tight switchbacks all week. I was riding solo with a GIVI 50 liter topcase stuffed to capacity and then some. About 95% of the time, the bike felt great. Ocassionally the front end felt like it could use a little more damping, particularly on rebound.

Get Race-Tech's Gold Valves and Rebound Valves put in when you have a chance. They are worth every penny they cost, and your front suspension will feel as good as the Ohlins in the back -- and will be about as good as any new sportbike on the road. I know because I did the same mods on my VFR800, and it made a HUGE difference. Good luck.

Tourmeister
12-23-2003, 01:12 PM
Howdy,

:tab I thought I would put the number for Patrick's shop in here:

Motorcycles Unlimited, Inc.
1964 FM 1960 West
Houston, Tx. 77090
281-444-0545
Hartsracing@yahoo.com
Patrick and Suzanne Hart

I highly recommend them. If/when I ever get around to putting a new rear shock on Beth's VFR, this is where I will be having the work done. Also, my VFR is fast approaching the 48K mark and will need the valves checked, plugs changed, etc,... and I'll have it done here.

If you do go to Patirck's, be sure to tell him I sent you. I don't get any kickbacks ;-) I just want him to know that this site is helping spread the word for him.

Adios,