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The most effective motorcycle suspension settings

Snapshot: It is essential to understand the load bearing capacity of the motorcycle in accordance to terrain situation and the rider weight.

No two roads are the same in the world. While some journeys encompass straight wide highway roads till the end, some others might be through beautiful twisties and many on to a bit of undulated terrain. This variation of terrain conditions effect the stability of the motorcycle henceforth also effecting the riding pace, comfort and posture while on a ride. It becomes essential to understand the load bearing capacity of the motorcycle in accordance to terrain situation and the rider weight. While in most motorcycles, the rear suspensions can be tuned to adjust damping and rebound, only the high-performance motorcycles offer adjustable front forks.

Short Weekend Rides

The main purpose of short weekend rides is to experience a fast burst of corner carving fun. This is one of the situations where the rider carry the least amount of luggage and the purpose is to ride fast and hard through the twisties. Thus tuning the suspension for straight highway road towards the destination would be redundant. For a short burst of action, it is best to keep the suspension towards the stiffer side to achieve maximum traction while entering and exiting the corner. With stiffer suspension settings there is lesser body dive as the motorcycle enters the corner and changes its direction for the exit. To cope up with undulated terrain, bumps and cracks, keeping the suspension just a click or two below the stiffest setting yields the best results the bike is not to hard to unsettle its balance while cornering, yet not so soft that it wallows mid-corner.

Trackday

Trackdays are all about taking the machine and the riders to absolute limits. Where on the roads its always a restricted 70% effort in riding, a trackday demands 100% dedication and a equal amount of effort to tune the motorcycle for best results. It is here where the word ‘fine-tuning’ is at its best play. And it takes minute amounts of adjustments to get the settings just right to get the best out of your machine. To start off it is best to leave the suspension setup at normal (company preset). If initially setup for full stiffness, there are quite a few chances for a crash as the overly stiffened setup might throw you off the line. As the tyres and brakes heat up, there is more and more feedback that the motorcycle has to offer and it becomes easier to judge the damping of the suspension. While in most cases it would require to click up to stiffen the setup, the level of stiffening should be checked again and again by putting some more decently paced laps on the track.

Touring

Any sort of journey that is above 200kms in either direction demands a suspension setup that can cope up with a variety of terrain conditions. While touring, its not a gung-ho approach to riding that has to be taken, similar to a short weekend ride. Rather, an average speed that gives an optimum balance between riding comfort, speed and balance has to be achieved. The state of suspension tuning here relies on many factors. While overall weight on the motorcycle increases due to luggage there is a need to keep the suspensions slightly towards the stiffer end as to compensate for the additional weight. If overly stiffened, the ride would become harsh and after a certain point, unbearable. An overly stiff suspension setup could also lead to back aches over a long distance. At the same time, a overly soft setup would lead to a jumpy and bumpy ride while doing high speeds in a straight line. A softer setup could also lead to wallow and pitchy cornering endangering loss of grip at the front or the rear wheels.   

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