Suspension too hard on modern motorcycles.

Griff

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This has been my experience. I am finding it particularly as I get older and my lower back gets more tender. It could be said that this is the only reason I am saying this but I am also beginning to see mutterings of a similar nature on magazines here and there.

My first inkling of this issue was when I purchased a KTM 690R Enduro new in 2010. The shock on that bike was so hard that in the first few thousand kms I actually considered changing it. We are talking about a WP so called top end item here. In the end I totally backed off the compression and rebound damping on that shock and was persuaded to live with it a bit longer. Finally at a point somewhere between 10 and 15,000kms it started to soften sufficiently to be lived with. Bad show KTM

Then on to my former NC700X. Same issue albeit not quite as severe. There was far too much high speed compression damping in the forks and shock. As such I went down the route of changing the suspension but the forks never worked properly.

My former Triumph 1200 Explorer had a front end that was almost solid ! Again work was required to soften it up.

My current X-Adv, somewhat same issue with excessive compression damping albeit it is now easing at 17,000kms but wasn't as severe as the NC

Suzuki DL1000A 2016. Fairly decent shock but again a front end that is too hard necessitating the back off of all damping to compensate.

A friend recently purchased a current Yamaha Tracer 900GT and again complains about overly hard suspension. I could go on and on........

These are my experiences and I certainly don't think it is my imagination. I believe it is a ploy on the part of manufacturers to prolong suspension life on basic suspension units . There may be other reasons but perhaps others on here have ideas.

Of recent bikes owned the CRF1000L is an exception as it was plush enough. Obviously the top end BM's and KTM's and other manufacturers with multi adjustable suspension are also the exception, but there is an overly high premium to pay for such suspension with these marques.

All I ask is something that is reasonably comfortable. End of rant
 
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670cc

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Griff, I’ve not had the range of experience you’ve had with suspensions, but I have to agree that most motorcycle suspensions are too stiff. But, from reading journalist reviews and owner’s comments on forums, that seems to be what many people want, or think they want.

I read time and time again criticisms that “the springs are too soft and the shock is underdamped.” But, an important factor usually missing from the review is the weight of the tester. If the tester weighs 250 pounds, it probably is a little soft, but if you’re a 160 pound rider, it’s probably just right. You mentioned that the CRF1000L was plush enough, but what did the media say? Too soft.

My CRF250L Rally is soft, and I like it. People criticize the fork dive and add a second spring to the front end. Well, people, if you have 10 inches of fork travel, then yes, it’s going to dive. Why have 10 inches of travel and then stiffen it up so much it doesn’t move?

Another factor is the smoothness of the roads you often travel. With ultra smooth highways, sure, let’s have a stiff suspension so we have a well mannered chassis. But if you frequent rough or unpaved roads, you’re going to want a suspension that actually moves to soak up the bumps.

I have to wonder if manufacturers sometimes set the suspension stiff to cover up the fact that the suspension designs and components are simple and cheap.
 
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DirtFlier

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Similar to cars, the magazine testers think a hot lap around a race track is the only test. Very few people do that sort of stuff because we ride modestly about 95%-98% of the time. We're just trying to get somewhere and could care less about our lap times. Unfortunately, it seems the bikes are often set-up to suit the magazine test jockeys! :-(
 

b_rubenstein

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I am finding it particularly as I get older and my lower back gets more tender.
And there you go. As the average age of motorcycle riders goes up and they approach terminal decrepitude they run into issues with the physical demands of ridding a motorcycle. Add in mods such as handlebar risers so you sit bolt upright, and highway pegs so you can't use your legs to unload the weight on your rear end, you you get a load straight up your spine every time you hit a bump. Over the almost 50 years I've been riding, suspensions haven't gotten harder, but they have become much more diverse in their quality. The NC has a cheap, nasty, nonadjustable suspension that doesn't work very well on anything other than near perfect roads. I had a Yamaha FJ-09 that had adjustable preload and dampening adjustment at both ends and could be setup to keep the tires in proper contact with the road. The electronic suspension control on the R1200GS underscores the adage of you get what you pay for.

In the end, one can spend more to get a bike with better suspension, get a less expensive bike and do their own R&D program to upgrade the suspension (which may, or may not be cheaper or as good as spending more up front), or start doing some exercise to get in better shape.
 

jimmy da vig

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Well, sadly I fit Rubenstein's profile of decrepitude. And my brand new 750 XD fits his description of, cheap, nasty non-adjustable suspension.

I read here and on ADV Forum that it's set to factory settings for a 160 pound rider. I'm 180 lbs. and hardly squish the rear shock a bit. Cheap because they are built to a price point, others write. How come my much cheaper KLR would suck up pot holes without the spinal shock? This goes well beyond the two inch difference in travel.

I really like my NC. But I just can not understand how Honda can build a bike with a totally crappy seat and suspension for six years without any improvement.

OK, my rants over too.
 

GregC

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For something as important as suspension on a motorcycle, I can’t understand why Honda wouldn’t put a good or really good manually adjustable shock and fork springs on the bike. Paying full retail aftermarket for an Ohlins shock and Racetech fork springs costs ~$1,200 (you can pay slightly more or less). Installation take an amateur mechanic in a home garage a couple hours.

Honda could get the parts for 50% of retail easily. Installing during manufacturing would not increase labor by any appreciable amount. So it seems they could offer the bike with Grade A suspension for very little at the time of purchase. Imagine a bike in the NC’s class boasting an Ohlins shock.


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New Commuter700

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I have to agree. This NC is the best bike I've owned so far for me. But it is not the softest ride I've owned so far. I don't think that it even comes close to the CB750 I owned, which is probably the closest relative to this bike. I spend the large majority of my miles just riding back and forth to work so most of the roads are not that bad but there is a section a few miles from work that is so cracked and warped that going over the four sets of railroad tracks in that half mile section is smoother than the rest of the road. I often try to avoid that section but it's quicker and probably safer to go that way.

My thoughts on a hard suspension is that it may increase durability of the suspension but it may also increase wear on other parts. Since durability is the key component that I most worry and the rest of the ride isn't bad I will probably leave the suspension as is and watch the rest of the bike for problems.
 

Griff

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And there you go. As the average age of motorcycle riders goes up and they approach terminal decrepitude they run into issues with the physical demands of ridding a motorcycle. Add in mods such as handlebar risers so you sit bolt upright, and highway pegs so you can't use your legs to unload the weight on your rear end, you you get a load straight up your spine every time you hit a bump. Over the almost 50 years I've been riding, suspensions haven't gotten harder, but they have become much more diverse in their quality. The NC has a cheap, nasty, nonadjustable suspension that doesn't work very well on anything other than near perfect roads. I had a Yamaha FJ-09 that had adjustable preload and dampening adjustment at both ends and could be setup to keep the tires in proper contact with the road. The electronic suspension control on the R1200GS underscores the adage of you get what you pay for.

In the end, one can spend more to get a bike with better suspension, get a less expensive bike and do their own R&D program to upgrade the suspension (which may, or may not be cheaper or as good as spending more up front), or start doing some exercise to get in better shape.
I agree with some of what You say, but the price differential between a BMW and a NC is vastly greater than what it would cost to put a half decent suspension on said NC. In saying that I am not talking ESA but merely a bit of adjustment to damping settings. My X-Adv has spring and rebound damping adjustment in its forks and they work reasonably well, but the shock is the same basic unit as the NC750. Even with the better forks the X-Adv is still way cheaper than the top end bikes. Adding damping adjustment to the shock would not add too much more to the price.

I mentioned above that a friend who recently purchased a Tracer 900 GT had the same issue with hard suspension. He is much heavier than me, and at least 20 years younger so in his case it is not an age thing. Also I mentioned that my 30 year old Dominator with only 11,000 miles on the odometer has much plusher suspension than any of my bikes started off with, and it has basic rightsideup forks. However it does also have rebound damping adjustment on the shock. So while I accept that age is playing some part in what I am experiencing, I still contend that suspension is getting harder on the lower priced motorcycles.

I do ride rough roads and as 670 suggests that is showing up the shortcomings of modern cheap suspension. Also I agree with the aspect of basic suspension being provided for smooth roads.
 
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b_rubenstein

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As I said, I had a FJ-09 long enough to cover 4,000 miles. The suspension was much closer to the GS than the NC. Yes, pre-load and dampening rates had to be manually adjusted, and you have to have some understanding of what the adjustments do and their effect on ride and handling to make it work for you. The Yam also has the advantage of being about half the price of loaded GS.
 

Griff

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you have to have some understanding of what the adjustments do and their effect on ride and handling to make it work for you.
Yes I have a full understanding of the four adjustments normally available on decent shocks and how to apply them. Likewise with fork adjustment. However when that makes little difference as I found on my former KTM (perhaps have a read over my initial post) or indeed when there are no adjustments available at all other than spring preload, then one has a problem.
 
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b_rubenstein

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Okay, the suspension on your KTM was a steaming pile of crap. Got that in your first post. My actual, first hand experience with 21st Century bikes are the Honda NC, Yamaha FJ-09 & BMW R1200GS. The Honda is passable under a limited number of road conditions and if it doesn't work for you, then parts have to be changed. The Yam & BMW both have adjustable suspensions. The Yam require manual adjustments and the BMW with button pushes. For my riding, weight & luggage I got comparable results adjusting both bikes suspensions.

The quality of suspensions, like most everything else, will vary by personal taste, make, model & cost.
 

bvogel7475

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The NC700 shocks are way too firm. I came from a 2003 BMW K1200GT and that bike had the best suspension of any bike I have had. I can deal with the stiff suspension on shorter trips (less than a 100 miles) but my recent 1,600 miles in 5 days beat the crap out of me. My next trip of this length will not be on the NC. I would like to pickup a 2017 VFR1200X or an Africa Twin for my next trip but i may have to get a divorce first.
 

Hondafan

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I have owned a lot of Honda's with dampimg tube forks, and all were better than the NC700. I recently changed a fork bushing, and noticed there were only 2 damping holes in the tube. Most other forks of this type have 4 or more. I tried drilling the existing holes a bit larger, but it had no noticeable affect. So I drilled 2 more holes in the tube, 3/4" up and 180 degrees to the existing holes. I was thinking about the springs, and the soft progressive coils they have. Maybe the wheel was moving up too fast on sharp edged bumps, and and getting into the high speed damping. So I got some Sonic straight rate springs. I added a pair of pre load adjusters I had sitting around and installed them. I finished with some Lucas 10wt. synthetic fork oil from O'Reilly's.
Cost about $110 and works a lot better than stock.
https://www.oreillyauto.com/detail/...fork-oil/10772/4419838?q=lucas+fork+oil&pos=1
 

dduelin

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The $180 on Cogent cartridge fork emulators and $600 on their Ohlins-based shock I spent transformed the handling and comfort. I did the Cogent fork upgrade on the 2012 and ordered the Cogent stuff before the 2015 had 100 miles on it.
 

Hondafan

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The $180 on Cogent cartridge fork emulators and $600 on their Ohlins-based shock I spent transformed the handling and comfort. I did the Cogent fork upgrade on the 2012 and ordered the Cogent stuff before the 2015 had 100 miles on it.
Sounds like money well spent. Smart to do it when you first get a bike rather than waiting. Mines a 2012 and a little late in it's life to throw big dollars at it. Lousy suspension aside, it is still a heck of a good motorcycle.
When I get to the point where mine starts having problems, I will buy another one.
 

mike884

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I was reading the original post and I was thinking to myself. The guy just needs an africa twin. Low and behold he mentioned the AT is plush. I got rid of my AT as I thought it was too plush and too off-road oriented for my riding and just modified my NC with cogent parts and it's been much better. I will say potholes were better on the AT
 
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