Performance Technic Tip: When last did you service your suspension, if ever?
Performance Technic is the new technical facility in Kyalami, run by the same team behind the phenomenally successful Fire It Up and Bike Buyers. Every Tuesday, they will be providing some technical know-how that could make your biking life a better and easier one. Today, we talk about how your suspension might be the most overlooked item on your motorcycle.
There used to be an extremely shocking and pertinent ad showing on TV. It was some years ago, so you would be forgiven for not remembering it. It started by showing a close-up shot of a modern car tyre spinning freely with its new tread making majestic waves as the tyre rotated. It was an impressive shot, making the viewer feel in awe of the tyre. A confident voice came on: “This tyre features the latest in grip technology, with an R-rating letting it handle speeds of up to 240 km/h with optimum traction in all conditions and outright performance even pushed to the very edge…”
The camera would then slowly start zooming out, eventually revealing that this spinning tyre was attached to a beaten-up car that was lying upside-down next to the road. Fittingly, the voice-over continues: “…all pointless if the wheel doesn’t stay on the road.”
We all know about motor servicing – you need to change your motor’s oil and filters somewhere between 7,000 and 16,000 km depending on the manufacturer recommendations, but we don’t know much about our suspension. When was the last time you serviced your suspension? Have you ever had your suspension serviced? Don’t worry – most people haven’t done it either.
Like your motor oil, the oil in your forks and rear shock move between tight spaces within a moving component. Like your motor oil, it is subjected to various degrees of heat and reacts differently throughout. In the cold, it is thick and gloopy and gets more fluid as the movement of the suspension heats it. For this reason, your suspension might feel stiff and harsh in the morning and get plusher as the ride continues. Like other oils, the more it heats up and cools down, the more its viscosity changes.
Like your motor oil, the friction within the moving components causes splinters and shavings of metal to come loose and contaminate the oil. Seals and other non-metal components may also further contaminate the oil. More so, those components might be worn enough to require replacing completely, especially the parts under stress, like bushes, seals, bearings, springs and valves.
To sum this up, like motor oil, you suspension oil needs replacing, and like your motor, your suspension components may also require a proper checking. Unlike engines, your suspension oil and parts do not have a clear indication within the service manual of when this needs to happen. There are some telltale signs – if there is oil leaking out of the fork or shock, then it needs repairing. If the suspension bottoms out more often than it did before or feels bouncier, then it needs servicing.
Often, though, you may never notice it because the degradation is slow and therefore may feel normal to the rider. To be sure, ask whoever is doing your motor service to check your suspension at the same time.
The job of suspension is to keep the wheels planted on the road to allow those expensive tyres to do their job. When it doesn’t work correctly, your ride is more uncomfortable, your ride is more dangerous and, as bits start going further wrong, your ride is undoubtedly more expensive.
Performance Technic Contacts:
Tel: 010 880 2849