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Hey guys,

Just thought I'd post up something that I wrote for another site when a member asked about suspension on his ZX-9R. This also applies to any bike that has any of these options. You can use it on another site, Just please give me credit for it, or link it to this site.

Marshall2 (Brad Boutilier) said:
The pre-load is not to firm up the front end. The pre-load adjustment is to set the sags on the bike. Sag being how far the suspension compresses under the bikes weight, with the rider, while on 2 wheels. Static sag is how much the suspension compresses with only the bikes weight. Trying to firm up suspension with pre-load is not a good practice. It can make the bike handle really bad, and lead to worse problems.

If you need to firm up the front end, than you should be adjusting the compression damping. Compression damping is how fast the front forks will compress when presented with bumps, etc. If you are finding the front end to soft while riding, you should look into firming up the compression damping. If your bike does not have a compression damping adjustment, and you still find the front end too soft than look into higher rate springs. If that is out of the question, sometimes you can cut spacers and install them to stiffen the front end. If neither are a possibilty for you, invest in some heavier weight fork oil.

Rebound Damping is how fast the suspension comes back once it has been compressed. If you adjust the compression damping, you should also adjust this aswell. You don't want a bike with a stiff front end when hitting a bump etc, than have it spring back like a pogo stick afterwards.

Steering dampers are great, But if used improperly can cause you more troubles than good. A light setting is usually good. If you crank it wide open, and it's hard for the bars to move it can be bad. Besides making the bike harder to ride, It can have negative effects on the bikes handling. What a steering damper does, is limits how fast the forks on you bike can travel side to side. Your bike needs to be able to have some movement side to side. If it cannot, the steering damper will start to transmit the forces it is absorbing into the frame, causing undue flex affect your bikes handling. This isn't much of a problem on new 600+ bikes, But some older type bikes have this problem, specifically the GS500, and the EX500.

Brad Boutilier
 

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not a bad write up.

The issue of having a damper set too tight isn't just that it transmits lateral forces into the frame, but it also keeps the front tire from doing it's job effectively. In order for the front tire to get maximum grip it needs to go where it WANTS to go. Setting a damper too tight will keep it from doing this and has a similar effect as giving the handlebars a death grip.
 
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