Motorcycle Suspension: - A Troubleshooting Guide
By Mark J Thompson



Trouble Shooting Suspension Problems.


Adjustment locations: Forks


Rebound adjustment
(if applicable) is located near the top of the
fork. Compression adjustment (if applicable) is located near the
bottom of the fork. Spring preload adjustment (if applicable) is
generally hex style and located at the top of the fork.















Lack of Rebound


Symptoms:


Forks are plush, but increasing speed causes loss of control
and traction

The motorcycle wallows and tends to run wide exiting the turn
causing fading traction and loss of control.

When taking a corner a speed, you experience front-end chatter,
loss of traction and control.

Aggressive input at speed lessons control and chassis attitude
suffers.

Front end fails to recover after aggressive input over bumpy
surfaces.

Solution: Insufficient rebound. Increase rebound "gradually"
until control and traction are optimized and chatter is gone.


Too Much Rebound


Symptoms:

Front end feels locked up resulting in harsh ride.

Suspension tucks in and fails to return, giving a harsh ride.
Typically after the first bump, the bike will skip over
subsequent bumps and want to tuck the front.

With acceleration, the front end will tank slap or shake
violently due to lack of front wheel tire contact.

Solution: Too much rebound. Decrease rebound "gradually" until
control and traction are optimized.

Lack of Compression

Symptoms:

Front-end dives severely, sometimes bottoming out over heavy
bumps or during aggressive breaking.

Front feels soft or vague similar to lack of rebound.

When bottoming, a clunk is heard. This is due to reaching the
bottom of fork travel.

Solution: Insufficient compression. Increase "gradually" until
control and traction are optimized.

Too Much Compression

Symptom:

Front end rides high through the corners, causing the bike to
steer wide. It should maintain the pre-determined sag, which will
allow the steering geometry to remain constant.

Solution: Decrease compression "gradually" until bike neither
bottoms nor rides high.

Symptom:

Front end chatters or shakes entering turns. This is due to
incorrect oil height and/or too much low speed compression
damping.

Solution: First, verify that oil height is correct. If correct,
then decrease compression "gradually" until chattering and
shaking ceases.

Symptom:

Bumps and ripples are felt directly in the triple clamps and
through the chassis. This causes the front wheel to bounce over
bumps.

Solution: Decrease compression "gradually" until control is
regained.

Symptom:

Ride is generally hard, and gets even harder when braking or
entering turns.

Solution: Decrease compression "gradually" until control is
regained.

Adjustment Locations: Rear Shock


Rebound adjustment (if applicable) is located at the bottom of
the shock. Compression adjustment (if applicable) is located on
the reservoir. Spring prelude is located at the top of the shock.

Shock: Lack of Rebound

Symptoms:

The ride will feel soft or vague and as speed increases, the
rear end will want to wallow and/or weave over bumpy surfaces and
traction suffers.

Loss of traction will cause rear end to pogo or chatter due to
shock returning too fast on exiting a corner.

Solution: Insufficient rebound - Increase rebound until wallowing
and weaving disappears and control and traction are optimized.

Shock: Too Much Rebound

Symptoms:

Ride is harsh, suspension control is limited and traction is
lost.

Rear end will pack in, forcing the bike wide in corners, due to
rear squat. It will slow steering because front end is riding
high.

When rear end packs in, tires generally will overheat and will
skip over bumps.

When chopping throttle, rear end will tend to skip or hop on
entries.

Solution: Too much rebound. Decrease rebound "gradually" until
harsh ride is gone and traction is regained. Decrease rebound to
keep rear end from packing.

Shock: Lack of Compression

Symptoms:

The bike will not turn in entering a turn.

With bottoming, control and traction are lost.

With excessive rear end squat, when accelerating out of
corners, the bike will tend to steer wide.

Solution: Insufficient compression. Increase compression
"gradually until traction and control is optimized and/or
excessive rear end squat is gone.

Shock: Too Much Compression

Symptoms:

Ride is harsh, but not as bad as too much rebound. As speed
increases, so does harshness.

There is very little rear end squat. This will cause loss of
traction/sliding. Tire will overheat.

Rear end will want to kick when going over medium to large
bumps.

Solution: Decrease compression until harshness is gone. Decrease
compression until sliding stops and traction is regained.

Mark Thompson has spent the past 20 years racing motorcycles and
managing Race teams and riders. He now runs the Trackbikes
Website along with a number on Internet Ventures
http://www.trackbikes.co.uk/
 
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