Why Your Type of Suspension is Important for a Comfortable Ride. by: Reine J. Knobbe

For educated riders, this may seem like a silly question.  After all, most of us know that the suspension system on a motorcycle is the shock absorber.  But as I do my research, that is not quite right.  The purpose is to control the suspension movement and not the spring.  Depending on its type, a motorcycle’s suspension system can also enhance its stability and grip when riding around corners and in a straight line.  Hard to grasp when in my experience I can attest to being on a long road trip and feeling every bump, sometimes jarring me all the way up my spine and into my neck.  Ouch!  Instant headache! Thankfully,  Jan has found a really good product that we both highly recommend.  After changing the rear suspension the jarring when we hit those big unavoidable bumps in the road is not quite as bad, but more on that later.  First, let’s explore what’s out there.

Last month I wrote about the importance of maintenance on your fork legs which absorbs the shock from the road in the front of the motorcycle.  This month I am focusing on the rear suspension.  Let’s start with the different types of rear suspension.  I’m told there is the “Piggy Back” style whose purpose is to increase performance, in this case speed.  Called “Piggy Back” because of the reservoir on the side that holds additional oil.  This additional oil provides the proper volume compensation.  In addition it provides additional dampening valves therefore  increases shock performance.  It has a remote clamping system that allows you to adjust dampening according to your riding style.  Next there is the air shock which has an air chamber that contains a valve coming off of  it.  The air chamber can be inflated or deflated to lower or lift your motorcycle for a comfortable and smooth ride depending on the situation/weight of rider(s) and gear.  Many motorcycles have coil over shocks with only oil used for damping.  Coil over shocks is fine for casual riding styles and tend to be the least expensive option.  A disadvantage is that the oil can begin to foam if it is constantly moving and so the damping ability begins to fade.  Probably not the best choice for cross country riding.  There is a second coil over shock that uses nitrogen instead of oil which eliminates the foaming of the oil providing a more stable system.  The advantage is that you can go on long rides and the shock will maintain optimum performance as there is not the fading seen in the oil based coil over shock.

My technicians wanted me to point out that they have found problems with the suspensions not leveling out properly causing instability issues.  The fix is to do a one-inch lift on the rear with a better shock to increase stability.  Jan said you can even do a one-inch lift kit and one-inch longer shock to fix the stability issue.

So what does Jan have on his motorcycle?  Supershox is the brand that we have found to work the best for our riding style.  Jan and I like to get on the bike and take 300 – 400 mile rides when we have day off or when riding cross country during vacation.  As I mentioned above, as a passenger I can really tell the difference when riding a bike with Supershox shocks.  Supershox is the nitrogen filled over coil system.  Supershox is ordered per motorcycle based on owners riding style and weight making it one of the top shocks in our opinion.  We just happen to have suspension parts on sale this month for 20% off.  Feeling a bit stiff from hitting pot holes and getting jarred?  Come on in and ask Jan which system would work best for your riding style.

15 Years and Going Strong!  Peace Out, Reine

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