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What would I do to improve my bikes handling.

I like the phrase straights are for fast bikes, corners are for fast riders. I ride my bike for the corners and improving suspension is the key to maximum enjoyment.

Here are the steps I would take and the order I would take them to improve my suspension for those who are working to a budget.

Those who are not constrained by a budget, may want to go straight to Step 4.

These can be done in stages or all at once however, I recommend you start with a suspension set-up, as this will establish what standard suspension is capable of, which can be quite good.

Please note; ensure your suspension is set up optimally before adjusting geometry (e.g. lowering forks through yokes, inserting a spacer above the shock, or changing the profile of the tyre). It is important to get the suspension working in the correct range before geometry changes, and you may find a set up gives you the response your looking for.

Always follow step 2, 3 and 4 with step 1.

Step 1

Suspension Set-Up

Get your suspension set-up for you.

A suspension set-up should always be done for a bike that’s new to you, whether the bike itself is new or used.

The suspension on today’s motorbikes is very adjustable. Many people assume that a standard Japanese bike is set up for a rider of 10 stones. In my experience some of the springs found at the front may be for a light rider and the rear spring for a heavy rider (or vice versa), and the rebound and compression adjuster are set in the middle of their range regardless of whether this is the optimum setting. It all needs to be set-up for you the rider.

Getting your bike set-up for you will

  • Get the SAG correct for your weight, and as a result ensure the correct geometry.
  • Get the suspension working in the best range of travel.
  • Ensure the rebound and compression adjustments are correct for the low speed valving.
  • Ensure the bike is balanced.

These are features relating to settings, on my Suspensions Set-Up page are benefits listed relating to the riders feelings.

Step 2

Spring rates

Ensure the springs are correct for your weight

The springs are the things that support the weight of you and your bike, and through SAG, affect geometry. 

  • If the front is too weak the forks may dive too far under braking and the wheel could be deflected too much by bumps.
  • If the rear is too weak, the rear may squat too much under acceleration and the wheel could be deflected too much by bumps.
  • If the front is too strong the front may not dive enough under braking and the bike itself could be deflected by bumps.
  • If the rear is too strong the rear may not squat enough under acceleration and the bike could be deflected by bumps.
  • If the front and rear are not matched then the centrifugal forces in high-speed corners may compress the weaker spring more than the stronger spring. This has the effect of changing the geometry of the bike mid corner affecting the bikes ability to hold a true line.

Step 3

Re-valve and shim your suspension

A suspension set-up as described in Step 1, can achieve very good results by adjusting the slow speed damping.

However, it is the feel from the front that gives us most confidence in our bikes and so I recommend re-valving the forks before rear shock to achieve great suspension.

High-speed damping relates to the speed of deflection of the wheel, not the velocity of the bike. But, as the velocity of the bike increases then High-speed damping plays a bigger role, especially as compression damping is the thing that gives you “feel”.

Original equipment valves can have restrictive venturis. Also, these valves have basic shim stacks and together they cannot flow enough oil. This means that when the wheel wants to be deflected by a bump (actuating high speed damping) the valve cannot pass enough oil to allow the wheel to move freely. This inability to flow enough oil may create a hydraulic lock like resistance and this will result in a harsh feeling.

Re-valving with high flow valves, places oil flow control on the shim stack and away from the valve. This provides outstanding tuneability giving a major leap in feel, traction and confidence to stock suspension.


Step 4

After market parts

For those riders who want to achieve really high performance then after market parts will be required.

Nitron Shocks


Matris Cartridge Kits


K Tech shocks and Cartridge Kits

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