Motorcycle Suspension - It's All About the Set-Up

You can bolt on as many go-faster aftermarket goodies as you like to your motorcycle, but the most effective way of making your motorcycle go faster is simply sorting your set-up. When your motorcycle leaves the factory gates the manufacturer has no idea who will be riding the motorcycle. So a motorcycle's suspension has to be set to a average level that can accommodate any weight of rider.

But fear not, the array of anodized adjusters that festoon your fork and shock are there to help you tailor your motorcycle to your individual weight and riding style. That's the good news. The bad news is that as well as improving your motorcycle, fiddling with these adjusters can also bugger up the handling.

But with some assistance, you should be armed with the basics to give you the confidence to approach your suspension and start fiddling as we describe what each adjuster does and what its effect feels like on a motorcycle. When riding your motorcycle, see if it has any of the symptoms we diagnose, this may point you in the right direction when it comes to adjustment. Read what suspension experts say as they explain what's happening inside your suspension – and why – to give you a greater understanding of how your motorcycle's bouncy bits work.
Altering suspension can have a detrimental effect on your motorcycle's handling. Unless you ride a Harley-Davidson, you'll find that tweaking your suspension will affect the handling, so don't rush the job. The best advise is to find a stretch of road you are familiar with and experiment. Ride the road with your motorcycle's suspension set as stock and concentrate on what the motorcycle feels like, how it's handling and what feedback the chassis and suspension is giving you. Now adjust one particular part (don't do it all at once – this can only cause confusion) then go for another ride and see what effect the changes have had. Little by little is the best advice.

Setting a motorcycle up is like making a good cocktail; it's trial and error and you need lots of sampling to make the parfect mix. Like a cocktail, a bad mix may give you a heavy headache, but a good one should leave you euphoric and craving for more... Check out our Motorcycle WIKI on Motorcycle Suspension Set-Up
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