Fork Gold Valve Assessment

BFair

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Hi all, I am new to the forum but not to bikes. I maintain 7 bikes from touring to sport bikes. My modifications usually consist of performance and appearance items. I wanted to share my assessment of Race Tech gold valves. I didn't realize what I've been missing with suspension improvements. I just tolerated bad factory suspensions and adjusted to them over the years. Only adjusting sag and changing fork oil.

I installed the RT S4104 on my 2014 NC700x. I am 205 lbs. I used the stock fork springs with the stock spacers. Valve is 12mms longer which helped with sag. Settings recommended by RT was: blue spring, 4 bleed hole valve, 3 turns pre on the blue spring. I indicated to RT "205 lbs, novice rider with adventure settings." 15w Belray fork oil at 120 mm. Liter bottle does exactly 2 forks with little left. Drilled required 6 , 5/16 holes, deburred and chamfered. Rider sag including static (22mm) is 49mm. Could be better with .91 springs, but not bottoming.

Results were impressive. Pot holes and expansion bumps were still there but no harshness transferred to bars. I used to tense up on a 2 inch deep pot hole now the suspension smooths the roughness out. The real amazing feature was off -road. On a wash boarded rocky dirt road it was noticeabley smoother. I didn't get the feeling the front was going to wash out . The magic happened when I got on it. It felt like the front end was floating. Never experienced that on a "road bike". No more standing up over potholes and railroad tracks.

There is a down side. The rear end was very harsh. Don't know if the valves sent the forces to the rear or just made the crappy rear shock more pronounced. Probably both. The bike, in my opinion, would be tough to ride without improving the rear with the G Valves in.

I want to thank all the, "pioneers" who accurately posted there suspension mods on this site. I would not have ventured into the suspension world without their input. Thanks to all who posted. I did get a used Aprillia rsv4 shock for the rear, excellent value in the used market. Just have to figure out what spring will work best for my 205 lb butt. I'm excited to ride a "budget" road bike with excellent suspension! I feel like I'm cheating the bike industry!
 

BFair

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Thanks for the advise. I wonder if they are aware of the subtleties of putting a sport bike shock on a different model bike? Different stroke travel length ect.? It's not always cut and dry. But judging from old posts they might have come across this before. They might keep records on this sort of thing.
 

Heyeugenio

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Hi all, I am new to the forum but not to bikes. I maintain 7 bikes from touring to sport bikes. My modifications usually consist of performance and appearance items. I wanted to share my assessment of Race Tech gold valves. I didn't realize what I've been missing with suspension improvements. I just tolerated bad factory suspensions and adjusted to them over the years. Only adjusting sag and changing fork oil.

I installed the RT S4104 on my 2014 NC700x. I am 205 lbs. I used the stock fork springs with the stock spacers. Valve is 12mms longer which helped with sag. Settings recommended by RT was: blue spring, 4 bleed hole valve, 3 turns pre on the blue spring. I indicated to RT "205 lbs, novice rider with adventure settings." 15w Belray fork oil at 120 mm. Liter bottle does exactly 2 forks with little left. Drilled required 6 , 5/16 holes, deburred and chamfered. Rider sag including static (22mm) is 49mm. Could be better with .91 springs, but not bottoming.

Results were impressive. Pot holes and expansion bumps were still there but no harshness transferred to bars. I used to tense up on a 2 inch deep pot hole now the suspension smooths the roughness out. The real amazing feature was off -road. On a wash boarded rocky dirt road it was noticeabley smoother. I didn't get the feeling the front was going to wash out . The magic happened when I got on it. It felt like the front end was floating. Never experienced that on a "road bike". No more standing up over potholes and railroad tracks.

There is a down side. The rear end was very harsh. Don't know if the valves sent the forces to the rear or just made the crappy rear shock more pronounced. Probably both. The bike, in my opinion, would be tough to ride without improving the rear with the G Valves in.

I want to thank all the, "pioneers" who accurately posted there suspension mods on this site. I would not have ventured into the suspension world without their input. Thanks to all who posted. I did get a used Aprillia rsv4 shock for the rear, excellent value in the used market. Just have to figure out what spring will work best for my 205 lb butt. I'm excited to ride a "budget" road bike with excellent suspension! I feel like I'm cheating the bike industry!
Hi,

Im right in your weight range and on the downward slide (hoping sooner vs later) but I too, want to attempt this upgrade.

Other than pulling the forks, what other tools were needed and how long approx from start to finish?

Im also wondering if going with a lighter fork oil weight will assist with the high speed compression, in turn transmitting even less to the bars.

I’ve got a spare aprilia mana gt rear shock I want to try out as it offers preload and compression adjustments (it’s free) but the front forks could use the upgrade first.

Having just completed my Hypermotard fork service using Motul 7.5 wt, I’m pretty confident this is a mod I will take on in the near future
 

BFair

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You won't regret the upgrade. The design with the Gold Valves require the heavier fork oil due to the size of the holes required. Follow instructions to the letter. Watch the YouTube video of the designer and owner of Race Tech. Hardest part was deburring the holes drilled from the inside of the tube.

Tricky to correctly lower the valve in the tube with the oil. I used a cheap 4 finger grabber to lower the assembly down the tube. You shouldn't just drop the assembly it will tumble and not seat right.

The nice part is you can make adjustments without removing the forks. Use the grabber or hooked wire to pull them out. I found the blue spring to be too stiff yet. Instead of contacting RaceT for a silver spring, I made do with 1.25 turns of preload on the blue spring.

Rode 4,000 miles last season without complaint. Mind you I did the Aprila shock with stiffer spring too. You will have to do a rear shock upgrade after the GV upgrade. As for Cogent Dynamics. They excellent well engineered products as well. I just like tinkering and saving a few bucks.

Let us know if you need any help we can walk you through it. It sounds like you have the experience for this.

This forum has done all the R and D on the suspension for this bike just trust the "science"
 

BFair

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Just an update on the Gold Valves. After a year of on-off road
riding and around 6,000 miles they are performing fine. I did have to turn the preload on the blue spring down to 3/4 of a turn and contemplated getting the lighter grey spring. It turned out fine.

A recent ride took me on 25 miles of "spring rutted" dirt roads. A series of speed bump high ruts surprised me while going around 40mph and to my surprise had complete control. I sphinctered up before I hit them and the front end tracked just fine.

On the road riding side I see more uniform tire wear from edge to edge. My rear tire especially. I am riding much harder in the turns which translates to more control confidence.

I am going to replace my fork oil this season to see if performance has degraded from worn oil. But mostly to minimize internal fork wear.
 

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I have gold valves. They work well but I feel that they may be too firm. I am the same weight range as the OP and set the valves with blue springs 4 holes and 3 turns 1 less than instructed. I have posted elsewhere that with normal riding, no hard braking and no off-road I get 65mm of travel, what do you get.
 

670cc

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I have gold valves. They work well but I feel that they may be too firm. I am the same weight range as the OP and set the valves with blue springs 4 holes and 3 turns 1 less than instructed. I have posted elsewhere that with normal riding, no hard braking and no off-road I get 65mm of travel, what do you get.
Racetech offers a lighter spring than the two types supplied with the GVE kit. I think it is silver. I use those lighter springs and I think the forks respond better to sharp bumps.
 

BFair

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I had to turn mine back to 3/4 of a turn from 2 you will feel the difference. You can remove the valve for adjustment with a probe magnet and don't have to remove the forks from the triple clamps.
 

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For anyone interested in modding your forks with gold valves but don't have the time or competence to perform the mod yourself, you can send your forks to Thermosman Suspensions located in Georgia (U.S.A) and he can build them for you and ship them back to you. That's what I did on my NC track bike. He replaced the bushings, seals, wipers, new heavier springs for my weight, and the racetech gold valves.....labor, all the parts, and return shipping fee total was $653.99. Was well worth it in my opinion.
 

NWGABikeGuy

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Hi all, I am new to the forum but not to bikes. I maintain 7 bikes from touring to sport bikes. My modifications usually consist of performance and appearance items. I wanted to share my assessment of Race Tech gold valves. I didn't realize what I've been missing with suspension improvements. I just tolerated bad factory suspensions and adjusted to them over the years. Only adjusting sag and changing fork oil.

I installed the RT S4104 on my 2014 NC700x. I am 205 lbs. I used the stock fork springs with the stock spacers. Valve is 12mms longer which helped with sag. Settings recommended by RT was: blue spring, 4 bleed hole valve, 3 turns pre on the blue spring. I indicated to RT "205 lbs, novice rider with adventure settings." 15w Belray fork oil at 120 mm. Liter bottle does exactly 2 forks with little left. Drilled required 6 , 5/16 holes, deburred and chamfered. Rider sag including static (22mm) is 49mm. Could be better with .91 springs, but not bottoming.

Results were impressive. Pot holes and expansion bumps were still there but no harshness transferred to bars. I used to tense up on a 2 inch deep pot hole now the suspension smooths the roughness out. The real amazing feature was off -road. On a wash boarded rocky dirt road it was noticeabley smoother. I didn't get the feeling the front was going to wash out . The magic happened when I got on it. It felt like the front end was floating. Never experienced that on a "road bike". No more standing up over potholes and railroad tracks.

There is a down side. The rear end was very harsh. Don't know if the valves sent the forces to the rear or just made the crappy rear shock more pronounced. Probably both. The bike, in my opinion, would be tough to ride without improving the rear with the G Valves in.

I want to thank all the, "pioneers" who accurately posted there suspension mods on this site. I would not have ventured into the suspension world without their input. Thanks to all who posted. I did get a used Aprillia rsv4 shock for the rear, excellent value in the used market. Just have to figure out what spring will work best for my 205 lb butt. I'm excited to ride a "budget" road bike with excellent suspension! I feel like I'm cheating the bike industry!
I am considering doing the same mod myself, but I also have a local shop that specializes in suspension and has customers from all over the country. The owner told me that he has done many NC700's, and demonstrated and described the job you did in detail. He will charge $550, and I am wondering if it is worth it to do myself or leave it to an expert. I am not bad with a wrench, and usually do all my own work on my cars and motorcycles, but if the cost is not prohibitive, I may leave this with a pro. Would you mind giving us some idea of what your costs were for this project?
Also, you seem particularly concerned about the effects on your rear end, but that concern is not reflected in later posts. Have you learned to live with it, or fixed it? The same suspension guy I may use said that with my weight (170lb) the rear shock will not become an important concern, but recommended Penske shocks (which are very high $$$) if I should decide to change out. What say you about the rear end after more experience with it?
 

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Speaking of the rear, I was once having trouble with the front suspension on my Triumph Tiger I ended up taking it to my suspension guru. He bounced it around and said it was the rear causing the problem, not enough preload so it wasn’t putting any weight on the front and the front was therefore not working at all. He whipped out his “C” spanner a couple of turns later my suspension was fixed.
 

BFair

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It's difficult to assess mechanical skills over the net. Basically if you can or have changed fork oil, rebuilt nonadjustable front forks, and can drill 6 holes your good. If not send them off.

Cost for the front is the purchase of the Gold Valves and a litre of suspension fluid, 15 w recommended. Stock fork springs work fine.

Always set your sag first before any further suspension decisions are undertaken.

In my case when the forks were modified the rear suspension was very harsh. The mod transferred forces to the rear or magnifed the performance of a poor quality stock shock.

The rear is more expensive when you replace the shock with a custom unit. If you love the bike and ride a lot it's worth doing both. As you read, Custom Dynamics is the popular choice here. I used an Aprilla unit but it's difficult sourcing the proper spring rate.

There are very detailed posts that I used to do the rear end and I have one as well if you search Aprilla Shock.
 

TacomaJD

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Speaking of the rear, I was once having trouble with the front suspension on my Triumph Tiger I ended up taking it to my suspension guru. He bounced it around and said it was the rear causing the problem, not enough preload so it wasn’t putting any weight on the front and the front was therefore not working at all. He whipped out his “C” spanner a couple of turns later my suspension was fixed.
Suspension geometry plays a big part in handling too. When I first started tracking my 2013 NC, it was bad about pushing wide in the turns. I felt like it wasn't something I was doing, it was like I couldn't make the bike turn in like it needed to. Upon examining the rear shock, preload was backed almost all the way off. So I maxed it out, and went back to the track. This makes the bike sit a little higher, and the rear end stays higher during compression mid-turn, and it made a world of difference in how it handled. Then once I got the forks rebuilt, it handles SO good now. I really would like to put an Ohlins rear shock on it, but I'm limited by so many other factors on the NC itself that I'm really not gonna be able to go much faster with a $600 shock than I can right now with the oem shock.

...but I didn't realize how much having a squatty rear end can make the bike act crazy in the turns. This is why people always mention bikes handling differently when they lower them.
 

BFair

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The NC rake and trail settings are more for stability. The front end is really sticking out there, plus it has more travel than a sport bike. Controlling pitching is more challenging for the suspension. I too have found the bike too run wide easier when speed goes up. When I ride with any sport bikes, I have to hang back. They turn in more effortlessly. But they can't keep up on a gravel road!

kiddos to you for taking it to the limits on the track.
sounds like your abilities are exceeding your components.

That's how we get the Aprilla shocks so cheap, track guys up grade to Ohlins. Watch Dave Moss suspension tuning. He's a guru that sets up suspension at the tracks as the guys progress.
 
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TacomaJD

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The NC rake and trail settings are more for stability. The front end is really sticking out there, plus it has more travel than a sport bike. Controlling pitching is more challenging for the suspension. I too have found the bike too run wide easier when speed goes up. When I ride with any sport bikes, I have to hang back. They turn in more effortlessly. But they can't keep up on a gravel road!

kiddos to you for taking it to the limits on the track.
sounds like your abilities are exceeding your components.

That's how we get the Aprilla shocks so cheap, track guys up grade to Ohlins. Watch Dave Moss suspension tuning. He's a guru that sets up suspension at the tracks as the guys progress.
Actually, there is very little difference in suspension travel between the NC and most sportbikes. 2012-2020 NC's may have 1/2 inch or less more travel than your average 600 or 1000cc sportbike. The 2021 re-designed version has LESS suspension travel than the older models, and coincidentally, less travel than even some sportbikes have.

The NC also has damping rod style Showa forks, which are also what came on Suzuki SV650 sportbikes. No part of the NC's suspension is made for "offroad". The only benefit the NC has for offroad is a little more ground clearance over a sportbike. Other than the ground clearance, there's no reason the same rider couldn't go just as fast down a gravel road on an NC as he or she could on a Suzuki GSXR 1000, provided both were running the same tires.

The NC is an "adventure-styled" street bike with budget street bike suspension, nothing more.
 
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dduelin

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Just by getting sag right and lowering the ride height a little in the front the NC has a high rate of turn and eats up the corners. The wide handlebar and low center of gravity gives a lot of leverage to flick it back and forth. 17" wheels allow premium sticky tires. Until I bought my BMW RT my 2015 NC700X was the best handling and cornering bike I've owned. I've never owned a sport bike though so I can't compare it to a 600cc supersport which is designed to go around corners. On the other hand I rode that 700X to 8 states on many long comfortable all day rides and multiple day rides to get to those highly technical roads.

The Cogent Dynamic shock I installed had no problem adjusting to 50 mm sag and I think I set the forks at 47 or 51 mm sag then raised the fork tubes in the clamps 18 mm to sharpen the steering geometry. One of the fastest bikes that regularly ran the Dragon was a NC700X belonging to a member here named Kebrider. He's still very fast, probably faster than before, on his NC750X. He helped me set my NC700X suspension up. I rode his 700 once and was amazed and had to upgrade mine.
 

BFair

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I thought the front has a little more travel than 4.5" your right about the rear. A Gixxer can go just as fast on a dirt road but you'll never emulate similar lap times without changing the triple clamp angles. You could shorten your chain and draw the rear in an inch....
 

BFair

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Impressive Kebrider! I like it when guys can push a budget commuter past the K rockets. What brand of tires is he running?
 
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