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Suspension Dynamics   817-563-6891    qcain@tx.rr.com

 

Should You Revalve (modify) Your Suspension?

The most important factor for good race results is the talent level of the athlete.  The second most important factor is a well-tuned and tailor-made suspension.

So, should you revalve?  There are more things to consider before you decide.

On the positive side you can get: increased performance, more control, higher confidence, less fatigue, faster lap times, and general satisfaction.

The negative side?  Well, you are spending money, a wrong choice could leave you unsatisfied with who does the work, and in some cases you may have significant downtime.

Does it make sense to spend the money?  Is your bike old or are you getting a new one soon?  I do not recommend spending the money to revalve your bike unless you are going to be using it for a full season.  An exception is if you are in high standings in a “points” battle or race series and you need a little extra performance to edge out your competition.

If you do NOT revalve:

For most riders money is the biggest consideration.  If you find you cannot afford to revalve, at least do a setup on the bike.  A bike setup is basically setting the race sag (very important),  tuning the adjustable compression and rebound dampening, setting the fork tube height, balancing the bike, and in some cases changing spring rates according to rider weight.  Setting up a bike is really where the expertise of the tuner plays a major role. The ideal setup will involve rider feedback, which involves asking the right questions and knowing what the answers mean

If you are not going to modify your bike but you fall outside the weight range for which the bike was intended, you should at LEAST re-spring the bike for your weight.  Note: if you are making a big change to the spring rates, two sizes up or down, it is even more important that you consider revalving the suspension because the rebound will need more or less dampening according to whether you went heavier or lighter on the spring rates.

OK, let’s say you CAN afford it.  WHEN should you have it done?

Do it when it is time to change the suspension fluids, which is about every 30 hours of riding time.  If you are getting a new bike and already know that you are going to revalve the suspension, go ahead and ride it first.  Put about two hours on it so that when the suspension oil is changed you remove most of the metallic contaminants from the break-in of the newly machined surfaces.  These contaminants will imbed themselves in the soft side of your bushings and increase friction --- something you do NOT want.

Choosing the company that does the work

What you find in the world of suspension is very much like what you find in any profession (doctors, teachers, engineers, etc.) There is always a common breakdown of talent:

1 of 10 is exceptional.

2 of 10 are good, recommended.

5 of 10 are just OK, average.

2 of 10 should not EVEN be in their profession.

If you are willing to believe that breakdown, and most adults do, you have a 70% chance of wasting your money.  Ask around and do some good research before you spend those dollars!

There are two general categories: Local and National.  There are benefits and risks, pro and cons for each.

A well-established National company will have good technicians and limited mistakes.  The job will be better than stock suspension, but not as customized.  Due to their size they generally use cookie cutter type formulas for the suspension decisions.  Most of the technicians, while adept at the technical aspect, are not the true designers and tuners of the suspensions they work on.  This is OK, and it is not risky.  It is safe and you get a good product.  There are problems with downtime due to shipping, and this is magnified if you have to return the suspension for needed changes.  There is also the issue of bike setup and support.  They cannot set the sag and balance the bike for you.  These technicians will basically go by a number off of a chart that was created by someone else as a “standard” setting, so there is less “fine tuning”, especially considering different tracks.  Unfortunately for the rider this setup info not based on feedback, and does not work as well.  Remember this: a stock bike that has been properly set up is preferred to a revalved bike that has NOT been setup.  If you choose this route, find a local person to do the setup, or learn to do it on your own.  It will be to your advantage to know a little about suspension, anyway.

There are local shops and individuals that claim to do suspension work.  The obvious reasons to stay local are time, ease of recourse with problems, and simply keeping work in your community.  Another big reason, as already mentioned, is bike setup.  The biggest advantage to go the “local” route turns out to also be the biggest risk.  If you can find a true suspension tuner you will reap far more benefits that using any big-name national company (unless you are famous and fortunate enough to use the guy who started the national company).  The key is in the customization.  It is the equivalent of working with the one who makes the formulas, rather than the one that follows them.  A true suspension tuner will ask questions and work on feedback.   There is much risk in this because there are few individuals out there that can do this, yet there are many who claim it.  Beware that MOST locals that claim to revalve suspension do not actually understand it and simply copycat or use “cookie-cutter” type formulas that may or may not be an improvement.  In their very best outcome you will be getting the same product as if you had used the national company, but with a lot of risk.  They are good at changing parts and their best function as it relates to suspension is for oil and seal changes after you supply them with the technical info from your tuner.  Also, trust me on this: you do not want the guy whose main job is sweeping the shop floor to be working on your suspension.  You also don’t want someone who “dabbles” in suspension.  It should be their main focus, not just something they do on the side.

If you absolutely love your suspension as it is and you see no possible way for it to be improved, then you will probably want to stick with it.  But I have to say, in all the years I have been doing suspension, and even as stock suspensions continue to get better, I have always found improvements that can be realized for the rider.

This tech tip was provided by Quinton Cain of Suspension Dynamics (SD).  Suspension Dynamics does bike setup, suspension service, and revalve modifications on all bike brands for racers in motocross, arenacross, supercross, and cross country.  Suspension Dynamics can be found at TEXAS area races on the weekends.  There are also two locations where you can drop off your bike or ship your suspension.

  1. Action Motorsports in Decatur, TX (Hours M-F 9a-6p, Sat 9a-4p)
  2. Suspension Dynamics in Arlington, TX (call for appointment: 817-563-6891)
 
     
 

Proper suspension adjustment and maintenance can make an incredible difference on the track or trail!  Enjoy the latest tech tip article from our suspension expert Quinton Cain  

Suspension Knowledge: Leaking Fork Seals 

By Quinton Cain of SUSPENSION DYNAMICS

  

You can count on the fact that all fork seals will eventually leak, sometimes even if you do not ride your bike.

 

There are two things YOU can do that will extend the life of your seals:

 

  1. Prevent mud from DRYING on the chrome tube.  The dust wiper cannot remove this, and all of this crusty dirt scrapes by the seal lip dulling the sharp edge to the point that the seal does not wipe well, inviting in more dirt.  Be sure to also remove the dirt near the bottom of the tube that hides behind your fork guards.

 

  1. Remove burrs on the chrome tube that come from hitting rocks or other bikes, in some cases.  The burrs do the same thing as the dried dirt, except on one area of the seal only.  The fork tubes should be de-burred and polished in ONLY the affected area.  In other words, you do not want to polish the entire tube.  Doing so will compromise the ENTIRE surface that is specially designed to retain an ultra thin film of oil, making it nice and slippery.

Adjusting the “clickers”

By Quinton Cain of SUSPENSION DYNAMICS 

 After speaking with many riders and parents over the years, I thought it may be helpful to clarify some of the misinformation on suspension adjusters, also known as “clickers”.   In most cases, as you turn the adjusters clockwise, you increase the dampening, which makes the suspension stiffer.  This is the same as making it “harder” or “slower”.  The adjuster moves a needle valve that controls the free oil flow, and as you limit that oil flow, you increase the dampening.  Plus (+) and minus (-) indicator arrows correspond to more and less dampening.  It is the same with (H) and (S) indicators, which stand for Hard and Soft.  Be aware that there are exceptions to this “clockwise equals stiffer” relationship.  One example of this is the compression adjuster on the KTM shocks from a few years back.  Read on ...

Balance and Sag 

by Quinton Cain of SUSPENSION DYNAMICS

Let’s clear up some confusion and dispel some myths. 

I will explain sag and how it is measured.  I will also explain an often overlooked aspect of the bike known as balance.

Balance is what you want to achieve.  Sag is what you adjust to get it. 

 

Race sag, also known as rider sag, is the distance a bike settles down from its fully extended position when a rider is on board. Free sag is a similar measurement, but with no rider on board.  Your free sag should never be zero.  Typical ranges are 15 to 35 mm. 

 

Balance is just what it sounds like.  The front and rear of the bike should go down at approximately the same rate.   Read on ...

 

How suspension can affect turning

by Quinton Cain of SUSPENSION DYNAMICS

 

Bouncing out of ruts? drifting to the outside?  tucking under? It’s probably just YOU, but your suspension and bike setup could be partly to blame.  Read on ...

 

Bouncing out of ruts? drifting to the outside?  tucking under?  It’s probably just YOU, but your suspension and bike setup could be partly to blame.

 

I will list some of the changes you can make to your bike that will affect turning.  But first, a secret that will help you understand how these changes effectively work.

 

Basically, any change you make to the bike or to your riding position that ALTERS the steering angle of the bike will affect turning.  Having the fork tubes at a steeper angle will make the bike turn sharper.  That is it. 

 
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   Suspension Dynamics   817-563-6891    qcain@tx.rr.com