Way soft suspension at 25,000 miles - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
2008+ KLR650 Wrenching & Mod Questions For repair, maintaining or modifying discussions related to the newly updated 2008 and beyond, Generation 2 KLR650 Motorcycle.

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post #1 of 7 Old 10-12-2016, 11:12 PM Thread Starter
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Way soft suspension at 25,000 miles

I have a 2008 KLR that I just rolled over 25,000 (mostly road) miles. The bike is lowered and side stand shortened by the LBS a few years ago.Twice in the last month he bike has fallen over in the parking lot because of the wind. Lately, I have noticed that the rear suspension seems really soft (like I can now comfortably plant my feet - Yes, I'm short). I don't see any leaks on the rear shock and the pre-load is set at 5. FWIW, rider and "normal" gear is about 260#.

Is it time for me to replace/rebuild the rear shock and spring, or is there something else I should check?

If I do replace the rear shock, would it be smart to replace the front fork springs with the progressive springs at the same time? Next year I am planning to get some off-road training and increase my off road miles as well.
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post #2 of 7 Old 10-13-2016, 10:02 AM
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Well, firstly the stock KLR suspension is designed for a load of approximately 160 lbs so a 260 lbs load is well over the design of the KLR suspension AND it was designed too soft anyhow.

AND

If the bike was lowered with lowering links, the longer lowering links increase the leverage on the shock and further weaken the springrate and dampening.

There are a number of things you can do; here's a summary from another post I did;

The stock shock is a crappy emulsion design without hardened internals. It also has inadequate dampening and springrate for the majority of KLR riders. The 2014.5 and up bikes have stiffer springs and dampening but still maintain the 1980 emulsion design.

The problem with the stock shock is that the combination of the soft body and emulsion design means that under hard use the oil turns to a nitrogen entrained mess contaminated with aluminum wear particles (grey foamy sludge) and the dampening goes to crap.

Many people put heavier springs on the stock shock and while that helps set the sag properly (which is necessary, read:Suspension and Springs ) the stiffer spring overwhelms the already weak dampening making the shock "pogo" and the dampening situation even worse.

Raising links are an option if your tall enough; the shorter links decrease leverage on the shock which effectively increases both springrate and dampening. You still have the quality issues with the stock shock and the effect isn't adjustable (without changing links) but it's something to try for those on a budget.

The best solution is a quality aftermarket DeCarbon shock. There are many shocks available; Progressive, Touratech, Ricor, Cogent, Elka, etc. ....they range from $379.00 to $1000.00 plus. For reference a stock Kawi shock is around $800 from the dealer. The best value IMO is Cogent's Adventure at $489.00; it's a high quality shock, hardened body, DeCarbon design, deflective disk dampening and an Ohlins spring. Cogent Dynamics - USA Made Motorcycle Suspension

I have the full Cogent set up (DDC's and springs up front and an Adventure and Moab on the rear ) of my two Gen1's and the difference in performance and capability is massive. Easily the most drastic functional change of the 50+ mods I've done to my bikes.


At a minimum you need to adjust sag properly; Suspension and Springs
This will likely mean springs at a minimum but beware of the dampening issues raised above.

Cheap fix for the forks is a set of progressive fork springs and heavier oil which will help but isn't in the same league as RT cartridge emulators, Cogent DDC's, Ricor Intiminators and proper straight or dual rate springs.

Hope this helps,

Dave
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post #3 of 7 Old 10-13-2016, 10:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ccdell View Post
I have a 2008 KLR that I just rolled over 25,000 (mostly road) miles. The bike is lowered and side stand shortened by the LBS a few years ago.

Is it time for me to replace/rebuild the rear shock and spring, or is there something else I should check?

If I do replace the rear shock, would it be smart to replace the front fork springs with the progressive springs at the same time? Next year I am planning to get some off-road training and increase my off road miles as well.
ccdell,
I don't know the term LBS, but it probably doesn't matter.

Yes, because you are short of leg and of a stocky build and you intend to get into rougher terrain you should replace. And you should remove, clean and regrease all of the rear suspension pivots during the process.

Yes, you should purchase a Higher Quality Custom Shortened rear shock and re-install standard suspension links. Then install the fork springs which would be recommended by the shock absorber company. Cogent seems to be most highly recommended, currently.

And if you haven't already done so, install a full length aluminum skid plate. Happy Trails or JNS come to mind.

pdwestman
Modify at "YOUR OWN RISK"!

Still riding my 1987 KL650-A1. 85,000+ miles & counting
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post #4 of 7 Old 10-13-2016, 10:07 AM
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Oh and before getting a custom lowered shock, I'd try a lowered seat and or taller boots first.....the Gen2 only has 7.3" of rear travel...If this absolutely won't work for you then a professionally lowered shock as Paul suggests is far superior to lowering links.

Ditto on the recommendation for Cogent; they are simply the best and are happy to discuss options with you. Call Rick or Todd Cogent Dynamics - USA Made Motorcycle Suspension


Dave
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post #5 of 7 Old 10-13-2016, 09:18 PM Thread Starter
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DPelletier, pdwestman, Thanks for the information. I was afraid that would be the answer.

I will have to think about it a bit before I put that much more into the bike. For me, it is a vehicle, not a passion, so continuing to upgrade components to fix known issues or questionable design choices is becoming tiresome. That said, I tend to have crap luck on these things, so it may be just one of those things. I have already done the dohicky - mine was coil bound at under 6,000 miles. It was a good thing I had the side cover off at that time because my bike had the "deep hole" issue and the starter gear had already chewed up the cover enough that it had to be replaced. Did the thermo-bob because the bike would not warm up most of the time - I'm on my third or fourth thermostat since then (in three years). Bike fell over the first day I had it, in grass, no rider - broke the right side plastics. Put SW motech crash bars on (a little late) and, a week later, tipped over on a trail, fully stopped (foot slipped). A sneaky rock completely missed the crash bars - broke the left side plastics. Etc... Sorry about the rant (not enough coffee I guess)

Anyway, I have the bike set up with a 1" lowering link and the seat has been shaved down about as far as possible and I am still on my toes at a stop (before the suspension got so soft). So I doubt I would be comfortable with it any higher. I would love to go the custom shock route, but I am not sure it is worth it (for me).

Has anyone tried TopGunMotorcycles' shock rebuild service? For about three bills, I could get the rear shock rebuilt and resprung for my weight (understanding that I would still have some of the stock shock issues) and a new set of progressive front springs as well. Is that a 25,000 mile fix? Perhaps at that point I would figure out if I really like this motorcycle thing and commit. :-)

Again, thank you for the information. Great food for thought.
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post #6 of 7 Old 10-14-2016, 10:17 AM
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Many have done the spring/rebuild and most say they like it......and most haven't tried anything else ;-)

Honestly I think spending money on the stock shock is a bit of a waste and your still stuck with all the stock shock and it's issues....PLUS the combination of the lowering links and a stiffer spring would severely overwhelm the already very weak dampening....a one-two punch. You can buy a decent aftermarket shock starting at $379.00 for a Progressive 465 or a better Cogent Adventure at $489.00.....but it's your budget and I'm sure the stiffer spring and progressives up front (with heavier fork oil) will be better than what you have currently. Also it really depends on your usage, expectations and if this is a bike you're going to keep for awhile.

If it was me, I would call Cogent and talk to Rick or Todd; they are happy to talk to you for free and have quite a few options.

2 cents,
Dave
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post #7 of 7 Old 10-16-2016, 06:47 PM Thread Starter
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The Cogent does seem like the best path and I think I may go that route when I get there. Unfortunately, life has thrown a wrench into the works so I probably won't be making any decisions on this for quite some time. But I really do appreciate the information. Thank you.
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