In Class I: Suspension

It’s week 11 of our week Motorcycle and Power Equipment Foundation course; the first level of four in becoming a Red Seal Certified Tech. It was for the love of my motorcycle and desire to be wholly self-sufficient in working on my own bike(s) that I decided to take this program. Since I am overdue in posting about this program, I will give you a brief rundown:  There are 14 students, 1 badass teacher, and 7 manky SVs (which have been beaten on by students for the better part of 10 years). My bench partner (Sven) and I were paired with a 2003 SV 1000 which we’ve named Floyd. The poor bastard has 3 measly kilometers on the clock and has been beaten to shit like some prison snitch.

Floyd, rear suspension disassembled.

Currently, we are learning about frames and suspension; an in-depth chapter involving the disassembly and reassembly of our bikes in ways not yet seen. Last week we used my GSX-R 600 as guinea pig to set suspension. Realizing after-the-fact how soft my suspension was, it would have been beneficial to set the suspension before hitting the canyons this past summer- but hey! that’s why I enrolled in this course. So, back to setting suspensions on my GSX-R: in class we increased both preload and damping which stiffened the front suspension and made for smooth and full-bodied riding along with minimized front-end ‘diving’ upon brake application.

K11 GSX-R 600 and my K9 GSX-R 600

What is Preload? Preload is used to adjust the shock or spring to the correct range of operation within the suspension’s travel; more preload will raise the bike up on its suspension, keeping the rider near the top of its travel. With less preload, the bike’s stance is low and rides closer to the bottom of its suspension travel. Preload on my K9 GSX-R 600 is adjusted by turning the force adjuster (1) below. We, in class, changed the preload setting by turning the adjuster 1.5 turns from the minimum (tightest) to 3 (still too soft), to 5 (too soft), then finally to the standard (STD) of 9. Basically, we increased the preset pressure on the spring for added rigidity whilst riding.


Next, we set the damping. Damping is used to control oscillation as the springs continue to compress and extend. Setting the damping on my GSX-R involves the use of aflathead screwdriver on (1), below. 

We increased the rigidity of the front end of the bike, to minimize dive and to make for smoother cornering. Riding away from school that afternoon, the bike felt a different ride and I was very thankful to have my bike used in class for this purpose. And If you’d like to know more, Keyon of K Squared Racing does a great job explaining suspension setup. Plus, he rides a GSX-R. I must reiterate the point that he is trying to make:  adjusting the bike’s suspension to the rider’s weight, capabilities and individual preference is key. 

In class this week we’ve taken apart both front and rear suspension on the SV 1000. The rear suspension involves the complete removal of the rear wheel, along with the swing-arm and the exhaust system. Let me tell you, the layout of the rear exhaust system is a pain in the ass to remove, and is, no doubt, a component far heavier than ideal. If it were my bike, I’d cut those ugly SOBs off. 

Floyd,  rear suspension apart

Next, we removed the rear shock. For a bike with only 3 kilometers on the odo, the shock was in pretty wretched condition. 


Afterthat we inspected all the parts, deeming them worthy of another year of sadism. Reassembly ensued.


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