Geometry, Suspension & Sag Information Page
One of the biggest
misconceptions in the industry about suspension is that
it only benefits those that are racing or super
aggressive etc. The truth is better suspension helps the
Novice rider with his/her first streetbike just like it
aids the Expert Racer at the top of the sport. Doesn't
matter if you are commuting in stop and go traffic every
day or trying to set a new lap record. If the bike is
more compliant, more comfortable and more responsive then
it is better for anyone's needs regardless of skill level
or intent of use. The suspension can be further fine
tuned to your specific needs as the racer at the limit of
traction aiming for a new lap record has different needs
from the damping rates than the guy wanting to take his
girlfriend on a ride to his favorite lunch spot, but more
compliance is always a good thing whether you need a
better ride on your daily commute or more grip while
getting on the gas exiting Turn 5.
In separate categories on the main page of the 1000RR section you will find all the steps and different levels of improving the suspension I tested on the 04-07 1000RR same for the ZX-10R and RC51 if you have followed any of those links here
Now let me go on to explain a personal stance because a lot of you like to send me emails trying to justify the OTHER brand of suspension you bought and want me to tell you that you made the right decision. I sell and service Ohlins because it is the best. I am not saying that other brands are not good or they won't work or anything of the sort. I am merely stating that if you want the best products in the world then Ohlins is what you choose! The pinnacle of roadracing on this planet is MotoGP and those teams can afford to buy any brand of suspension they want and they all go with Ohlins. You don't see any teams at that level using WP, Mupo, Nitron etc. They want what works the best and that is Ohlins period. Most if not all of those other brands would be glad to GIVE MotoGP teams free product just to be able to say that a team at that level uses their stuff. The real truth is Ohlins doesn't sponsor any team. Even Rossi's team pays for their Ohlins products and support. They pay because it is the best and it is worth it so when you come to me asking me what I think about the brand you chose over Ohlins don't expect me to candycoat my response and tell you its just as good as Ohlins. It's not. It may be 100 times better than the OEM crap suspension you were using, but it is not Ohlins. With the Ohlins product you get top quality everything from the actual product design to the technical support. The pool of knowledge put into their products and available to the end users is immeasurable. Additionally I should point out that sometimes it doesn't even come down to how good your suspension is, but how good you think it is. The aspect of mental confidence is rarely mentioned in this ego-driven competitive sport, but for the average rider just knowing you have the best products on the planet installed on your bike is in many cases just as effective a tool for building confidence as using those parts to their full potential would be. The point is if you already know you have the best product in the world on your bike you damn sure won't be second guessing your decision and asking me what I think about it.
The question of geometry comes up quite a bit on the various forums so I decided to take some of my postings and consolidate them here to expound a bit on the subject. Allow me to preface this by saying that in my opinion while geometry is part of the suspension set-up and overlaps with the proper sag settings and correct spring rates etc on your bike, it is still a separate facet from the damping (compression & rebound) set-up of the suspension. A lot of people try to use damping adjustments to make corrections for a poor geometry and in my experience that simply does not work.
Geometry is a combination of your front and rear ride height settings along with your suspension sag numbers that allow the bike to steer effectively. It is also part of the chassis design with its own inherent limitations per the engineers that created it. All of that in conjunction with your personal riding style, rider weight, bike weight, wheelbase even tire sizes all affect the final numbers that need to be adjusted and in some cases there simply is not enough range of adjustment available to us to overcome the original design of the bike.
For years the conventional set-up for geometry on a sportbike (such as the RC51) was to take the bike the way it was delivered from the factory and basically raise the rear end of the bike and lower the front. The only catch was not getting the already front heavy bike so biased that the front tucked too easily.
Things have changed greatly in the last decade with much higher horsepower bikes requiring much better chassis' to keep them stable enough to avoid liability issues from consumers we see a lot of things in chassis design that used to be only available in "Race Kit" parts. Along with those things we are also seeing a trend of longer swingarms and lots of compromise of the rake & trail numbers on the front ends.
Raising the front end of
the bike increases trail and raises the CoG. This is very
common practice on many newer sportbikes to improve the
handling and stop them from trying to run wide on exit.
They even sell fork cap extenders for various internal
cartrdige kits on the market to do just that. When you
raise the front though the agility of the bike can suffer
so many also raise the rear as well to get that quick
When we raise the front end up on our bikes we are basically just doing the best we can with what we have to work with. The proper race bikes all use a different offset triple clamps compared to OEM
Sag is a mathematical
equation of overall stroke. Forks have 120mm of travel so
the middle 1/3 of that range is 38-40mm for Rider Sag.
This gives equal amount of travel and oil on both sides
of the pistons etc.
Lately on the message
forums I see a lot more emphasis being placed on fork oil
height and while I appreciate that level of attention to
this facet of set-up I do have to mention that is is
often over-analyzed for street riders who would be better
off at OEM recommended fork oil levels. Fork oil height
only really comes into play at the very end of the stroke
unless there is simply too damn much oil in the forks
which limits travel altogether. Either way it is a very
useful tuning tool for the confines and consistency that
a racetrack provides, but not so much for street riders
or the commesurate street riding skillset even at a
At the bottom of all of this is personal preference involved in the geometry set-up process and a myriad of other variables as well that convolute the end result. Even orientation in minute degrees of the physical engine position in the frame & how many rpms are spinning the crank around internally cause increased amounts of gyroscopic precession to work against you etc. Sometimes just shortshifting a gear or two can significantly reduce the effort required to initiate or hold a turn at speed.
want a geometry that doesn't have the bike fighting you
into and out of the turns. If you are having to put
pressure on the handlebars in the middle of a constant
radius turn to keep the bike from either trying to fall
into the turn or stand up through it then you have a