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April 27th, 2004, 09:14 PM   #1
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Guide to basic suspension tuning

Offroad Tuning

Understanding basic suspension tuning can give you an advantage over your competition, or simply make your riding experience much better. So here is a breakdown of basic suspension tuning and common problems experienced while setting up bikes for different terrain and riding conditions commonly found off-road.

Race sag:

This is the most important of the suspension settings. Set the race sag to the setting supplied by your suspension tuner. Most Husabergs run somewhere around 100mm. After you have spent some time and gotten the other circuits dialed in, you can try some different sag measurements to create a distinct feel and weight bias. As a general rule you should use about one third of your available travel as sag.

Free sag:

This measurement is taken to determine if you have the proper spring rate for your weight. Observe the characteristics of the motorcycle under its own weight. If the bike tops out or has less than 3/4 of an inch of sag then the spring is too soft! If the bike sags drastically under it's own weight, then it has too stiff a spring rate.

Now that you have got your spring set, you can get to the fun part: Riding your motorcycle!

Getting started, shock:

You should start with your clickers at a position near the middle of the adjustment. This should help you get in the ballpark if your using stock suspension.

Setting the rebound:

1.) Find a relatively fast trail with braking bumps, rocks and roots leading into the entrance of a corner. Reduce (Turn clicker out) the rebound damping until the rear end begins to hop or feel loose. Finally, increase (Turn clicker in) the rebound damping until the sensation goes away.

2.) Find a log or ledge that tends to bounce the motorcycle after hitting it. If the rear end bounces up uncontrollably, add rebound. (Turn clicker in)

3.) Find some large whoops. The motorcycle should track straight through the whoops with the rear wheel extending to the ground before the next impact. If it does not perform as described, as above, it is packing and the rebound dampening should be reduced! (Turn clicker out) (Please note the guide for sand set-up, as these rules don't apply for sand.)

4.) Find a corner with acceleration bumps, rocks, and roots on the exit. The rear of the motorcycle should follow the ground. If the rear end "breaks up", reduce the rebound. (Turn clicker out) (If this fails soften the compression two clicks.) (Turn clicker out)

Setting the compression:

Keep in mind that some of the earlier WP shocks with the knob compression adjuster actually turn backwards. Counterclockwise makes it stiffer and clockwise makes it plusher.

1.) Find some rough sections, a large jump and a couple of "G-Outs". The shock should bottom on the roughest section but it should not be a slamming sensation. Add compression to fight bottoming. (Turn clicker in.) But avoid going to far as the suspension's ability to react to small variations of surface and rocks will be sacrificed in the trade. Remember the adjusters have a primary effect on the low speed, so even a large change in setting may only effect bottoming resistance slightly. Remember bottoming your suspension is not necessarily a bad thing. You should strive to bottom off the biggest bottoming load obstacle on the trail. If you don't you're not getting maximum plushness from your suspension. Run your suspension as soft as you can get away with but remember that if the trail has sand sections or lots of g-loads this will work against you.

Getting started, forks:

Setting the compression:

1.) The forks should react to all trail variations. If the forks seem harsh on small bumps, holes, rocks, or roots soften the compression. (Turn clicker out) If they are relatively smooth, stiffen (Turn clicker in.) until they do feel harsh and then turn back a click or two.

2.) Now find the rough part of the trail again. The forks should bottom over the worst g-load or jump. If harsh bottoming occurs, add oil in 5-mm increments.

Setting the rebound:

The rebound damping is responsible for the stability and the cornering characteristics of the motorcycle.

1) Find a short sweeper. When the forks compress for the turn, the speed at which the forks return is the energy that pushes your front wheel into the ground. If the forks rebound too quickly, the energy will be used up and the bike will drift wide, or wash. If the rebound is too slow, the bike will tuck under and turn too soon to the inside.

2). With the bike turning well, the wheel should return to the ground quickly and not deflect off successive impacts. If it does, reduce the rebound. (Turn out)

Guidelines for different conditions:
For hardpack to intermediate:

Set the compression softer, (Turn clicker out) front and rear to help get maximum wheel contact and plushness.

Sand conditions:


(Non-square edged bumps); More low speed compression and rebound are necessary. Start by adding 1-2 clicks (Turn clicker in.) of rebound and as the track gets rough, add compression 1-4 clicks. (Turn clicker in.) (Supplementary sand set-up techniques). Harshness is a result of packing in forks. Remember to add compression (Turn clicker in) to help keep the front end from packing The rear suspension will exhibit packing by swapping. To eliminate swapping begin adding compression (Turn clicker in) until the bike tracks straight and then add rebound (Turn clicker in) to keep the rear following the terrain of each whoop. Don't be concerned if your clickers are nearly maxed out in sand conditions. Unless of course you had your bike revalved for sand.

Rocks and Roots:

Rocks and roots will make your suspension work at it’s worst. Try reducing compression till the suspension can react and not deflect off every impact.

Unpleasantries?

Head shake:

Adjust the forks lower in the triple clamps. If that does not improve the suspension then reduce the rebound on the front fork. (Turn out)

Excessive rear end kick:

Check for packing, which is identified by kick to side in hard to loam conditions. If you observe packing, soften rebound. (Turn clicker out.) This can not be avoided if you brake improperly and lock the rear wheel up and/or pull in the clutch, on the entrance to corners.

Keep a record of the conditions and the different settings if you ride in different areas. That way you can start at a point that worked well the previous times.

General Ideas:

The ideal offroad suspension is designed so you have a decent amount of low-speed compression so you will have reasonable stability and control of your motorcycle, with a absolute minimum of highspeed compression for a plush reaction to sharp spikes of shaft movement. Remember that if you make the suspension too soft you will use lots of energy just maintaining direction, and control. Be careful when you set it, there is a difference between soft and plush. Soft is often hard to control and harsh, while plush is smooth and controlled. The goal is to maximize control and comfort. Think about the entire section of trail or the average conditions of the trail. Factor in your skills as a rider and then select the setting that will provide the best overall ride characteristics. Consider that in offroad riding you will encounter an incredibly wide range of conditions and you’ll need to shoot for the middle ground or your suspension will be very good in some sections and very poor in others.

Maintenance:

The dampening of suspension changes as the components are used. This is caused by wear and oil viscosity breakdown. It is important that your suspension has regular maintenance. Improper assembly or inadequate fluids will drastically alter the way these components were designed to perform.

For the shock, if you are racing or riding hard every weekend it is recommend that the shock's oil should be changed every 3-6 months. Seals will generally last a season, so once a year replace or inspect them. These figures can be lengthened according to your riding.

For the forks, it is recommend that you bleed off the gas pressure once a week. Oil should be changed once a month. A complete service is suggested every 3 months. Seals will usually last 3 months, if they are not contaminated with dirt and water. Again, the same applies here as it does for the shock, you can go longer on the oil if you dont ride or race every weekend.

Don't wash anywhere around your seals with power washer (including the chrome.) Also do not remove the dust scrapper for internal cleaning. This typically frees up dirt caught in the scraper, which will work its way into the oil seal.
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April 28th, 2004, 03:22 AM   #2
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Excellent read even though I still think this whole suspension setup on my bike is very hard. To many spots to adjust it.

top of shocks
bottom shocks
spring
highspeed dial in compression rear shock
lowspeed dial in compression rear shock

Can I get some more help on this??

I have a 2002 Fe400e and am scared to fiddle with any of the settings cause i might make the bike worse to ride.
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April 28th, 2004, 06:35 AM   #3
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I'm surprised this topic hasn't helped you faktor, as it's the best write up I've seen yet to get you on your way to bouncing correctly, BUT if you need to, you can view part two of the Husaberg video here to get a visual of what to do:

Link to Husaberg video part 2 of 4

You will have to put this post's details of why with the videos details of how.

thanks,
json
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April 28th, 2004, 06:27 PM   #4
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faktor

Seeing your in Victoria you should really speak to the guys at KROOZTUNE. I have had my '01 & '03 Husabergs suspension set up & serviced there. All of my current riding buddies do the same...
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April 29th, 2004, 08:04 AM   #5
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Dave,
Thanks for the excellent suspension write-up! I'd hate to see it get buried deep in the forum posts so I wonder if maybe Jason and others think a new "suspension" category should be added to the FAQ section. This would be a great way to start it off.

I'm still blown away at how many great resources we have at this site! Nice to have "bergdaddy" aka Tim King as well as "dave186" and others to help with suspension questions.

You guys are great!


Logjump (Rick)
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April 29th, 2004, 08:23 AM   #6
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hi rick,

I'm working on a new FAQ system right now, and I'll be looking for an admin to grab the good stuff from the forum and post it there. I'll let everyone know when it's ready.

I agree with the thought of how lucky we are to have such knowledgeable and good guys to help out.

thanks,
json
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April 29th, 2004, 01:47 PM   #7
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well, i cant take credit for writing that entirely. Jeremy Wilkey wrote it originaly, but he gave it to me to do as a please with. I modified that a bit to be specific to Bergs. We give it out to customers when we install MX-Tech Valving.
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April 29th, 2004, 04:29 PM   #8
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I've never really setup my own suspension. But i've had it done profesinally. i belive that is the most importain and best mod you can do. It enhances accelaration, improves breaking, and it will help you go alot faster over rough terrain. I did a lot of motor mods and some break mods and was able to go a litle faster threw the trails over rough terrain. But when i did my suspesion i was able to pull two geras faster up the same trail. So if you are going to do any mod consider suspension befor a pipe, silencer, and airfilter. Mine was done by Moto pro.
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April 29th, 2004, 06:56 PM   #9
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Great post Dave186! And a thanks to all who have contributed to make this site the place that it is; Schwim, Taffy, Linaweaver, Uncklemoose, tuts, and all of you others that make this the best Husaberg hangout. This post will give me more confidence to tackel something I know nothing about before. I have always wanted to mess with my suspention tuning but never screwed with it after my dealer set it up for me as I always thought I would jack something up. To be honest, I never knew much about what all the screws and knobs did...... i probably don't know any better because I have been riding one setting for ever and living with it. Can't complain if I have nothing to compaire it to.
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April 30th, 2004, 03:11 AM   #10
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Re: A guide to basic suspension tuning

Originally Posted by dave186
Free sag:

This measurement is taken to determine if you have the proper spring rate for your weight. Observe the characteristics of the motorcycle under its own weight. If the bike tops out or has less than 3/4 of an inch of sag then the spring is too soft! If the bike sags drastically under it's own weight, then it has too stiff a spring rate.

Now that you have got your spring set, you can get to the fun part: Riding your motorcycle!
I'm sorry but how does this tell you the right spring for the rider's weight when it is not used in any part of the measurement? Surely this can only tell you whether the spring is right for the unladen motorcycle.....right?

Personally I would always use the measurement of total sag - e.g. rider in full race wear - on top of the static sag in order to determine the right spring rate.

Cheers,
Simon
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