Front sag adjustment & handling in corners - 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 8 Old 10-10-2019, 09:58 PM Thread Starter
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Front sag adjustment & handling in corners

First off, thanks to those who have helpful feedback. I've been reading and re-reading posts regarding sag, shocks, springs, etc. I have a new shock enroute (Progressive 465 - I couldn't pony up for the Cogent) and I have already installed Progressive front springs about a thousand miles ago.

More info:
Overall, what I am trying to get out of my bike is just a better feel. I've heard / read of so many speaking of a wobble / not planted / vague feeling, etc. And I can't rightly say that I am feeling the same. Best explanation from me would be that the front wheel has an overtly or exaggerated gyroscopic effect. It doesn't respond in a manner I'm used to. It enters a corner how it wants. In some instances, I've run wide in my lane - not the line I chose. So, at highway speed - going from a straight line into a sweeping corner doesn't always feel...fun. No wobble or anything, just not a 100% in control feeling. It's not inspiring. And it's been this "feel" since day one of ownership. Tires are in good shape - Conti Escape's running 30-32 psi front. Now, this is the first big bike I've owned with a 21" front tire. My first ADV style too. My motorcycle quiver is a Honda Blackbird, Yamaha FJ1100 and my Kawi '75 F11. I've put many more miles on other bikes but what I've experienced before is a bike exiting a corner weird (old Goldwing) - not entering. But..maybe it's me.

Oh, I've checked the steering as well - it's good. Lots of good posts here on how to check. Plucking eyelashes is the hardest part when checking.

I've read that many people that report these types of issues have panniers. I do as well. They haven't been loaded up heavily as I have been doing day rides - not excursions, but they are certainly there and do have weight as they are the Tusk Aluminum. How the bike is loaded from there is pretty naked. I'm nowhere in the range of the overlanders I've seen outfitted. I'm a 6' 205 lb. rider and pillion is 150ish, but it's seldom that I have pillion.

The question:
Front sag. I've read about it - use front brakes when taking the measurement, etc., but I haven't seen/read a proper "how to set it". I'm assuming the spacers are how you adjust - as that is the only variable on how things go together that I can come up with. If there is a good read on this that you've seen, to keep from it getting explained all over again, I'd happily follow a link to learn. What I've done to the bike is take the forks off and purge old fluid, filled the right amount of fluid (don't have that amount in memory but it was double checked) and put in the new Progressive springs from RMATV. I followed the Tim2Wheels videos on both the fluid and spring install. Okay, that was all more of a request than an actual question.

Rear sag seems pretty straight forward. Lots of answers out there regarding this. Currently, I am WAY too sprung on the rear. I followed some bad advice and put on a Top Gun 9.3 Spring when I did fronts - too much spring for solo use. Hence the new shock coming. When Pillion is on, I can flat foot and the bike rides pretty nice. My issue still exists.

So, I'm thinkin' my bikes "chi" is all out of whack and is very likely the cause of the "feeling" going into some corners. If I can pin down the front sag and know that I'm doing it right, I'll go from there. If there is anything else to check - I'm all ears. Or again, maybe it's just me.

This coming week I'll be riding the 3 Sisters route in Texas - so, plentiful on serious twisty roads. I'll have lots of miles with and without pillion. I'll have the ability to pull panniers off and ride as well. New spring will be installed by then so I hope to get the rear sag sorted. It'll be a good time to test.

Thanks again for the input.

Sounds like a lawnmower, Rides like a paint shaker!

I got 99 problems but fuel injection, 6th gear or a 2nd cylinder ain't 1!

My wife: "I didn't know if that was you coming home, or a neighbor mowing"
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post #2 of 8 Old 10-10-2019, 10:21 PM
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Wow, some times you just have to adjust to what you have got or created.

But I will ask as to what brand and model of tires that you are currently running at what pressures Front & Rear? And how many miles/kilometres are on them?

pdwestman
Modify at "YOUR OWN RISK"!

Still riding my 1987 KL650-A1. 85,000+ miles & counting
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post #3 of 8 Old 10-10-2019, 11:16 PM Thread Starter
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Continental Escapes - running the front at 30-32 / Rear at 28-30. They were on the bike when I purchased. PO said they were new and do look pretty new to me (date stamp proved so too). Estimate now at maybe 2k miles on them. I moniter tires and pressures very well (that is understating it). Tires are a 70/30 style and feel plenty sticky / wearing correctly.

I've gone through this bike really well. PO wasn't a wrencher in any sense and it showed. I've aligned back axle along with the steering stem check and a host of other needs that I can't see affects what I'm dealing with. It's not a "all the time / every time" issue.

So, I know how to measure the front sag now. But setting it really hasn't been answered in any posts that I've read. I figure when I replace this rear shock, it will be a good time to sort both ends of the bike to make sure I'm at least in spec on sag. From all the posts I've read - it seems to be the starting place.

Sounds like a lawnmower, Rides like a paint shaker!

I got 99 problems but fuel injection, 6th gear or a 2nd cylinder ain't 1!

My wife: "I didn't know if that was you coming home, or a neighbor mowing"
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post #4 of 8 Old 10-11-2019, 11:29 AM
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Conventional wisdom was to set sag about 1/3 of suspension travel, which is what Cogent recommends FWIW. On a Gen2 with 7.9" for fork travel and 7.3" of shock travel, that equates to 2.61" and 2.41" ...... I tend to run a bit less sag because of the limited travel so around 30% or in General terms; 2.25" - 2.5" front and around 2.25" rear.

As you've discovered, setting the front sag means cutting the spacers.......unless you have a set of fork preload adjusters - I have the Cogent ones.

As far as sag, there is a whole procedure but I don't get too carried away on a KLR worrying about static sag like I would on an MX bike. https://racetech.com/articles/SuspensionAndSprings.htm

Dave
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post #5 of 8 Old 10-12-2019, 02:21 AM Thread Starter
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Front sag adjustment & handling in corners

Thanks guys for the advice and the link! The new shock is in, but I'll be diving into the sag on Sunday. I'll have some help holding the bike upright and taking measurements as I stand on the pegs. I'm bringing a set of appropriate tools on the trip to adjust as necessary.

I also took the time to lube the linkage since I was in the area. It was better than I expected, as this was a coastal Florida bike.
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Sounds like a lawnmower, Rides like a paint shaker!

I got 99 problems but fuel injection, 6th gear or a 2nd cylinder ain't 1!

My wife: "I didn't know if that was you coming home, or a neighbor mowing"
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post #6 of 8 Old 10-15-2019, 12:34 AM Thread Starter
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Front sag adjustment; handling in corners

So, new shock in. Sag adjusted and about 175 miles in on a mix bag of roads. So far, the rear shock upgrade is remarkable. I have yet to encounter the weird funky feel in a corner. I'll have pillion on tomorrow and have several hundred more miles in.

I knew things were going well when the ride quality didn't even register - things felt right. Smooth and planted. Hopefully tomorrow's ride is more of the same.
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Sounds like a lawnmower, Rides like a paint shaker!

I got 99 problems but fuel injection, 6th gear or a 2nd cylinder ain't 1!

My wife: "I didn't know if that was you coming home, or a neighbor mowing"
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post #7 of 8 Old 10-15-2019, 11:51 PM Thread Starter
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Just to finish this off. Riding with pillion was excellent as well. Bike was moderately loaded plus 360lbs of our combined rider weight. Today's route had everything from 15mph hairpin turns to 75mph 2 lane straights. Bumpy, smooth, blacktop and gravel.

I'd have to say that I've read posts how suspension is viewed by so many as the most transformative mod on these bikes. To this point, I'd have to concur. Looking at all the money, time and wrenching that I've done on my bike, if I had to start with best mod for the money, it would be suspension. I can only imagine what Cogent brings to the table. Starting from scratch, knowing what I do now, I would have started with a full set of suspension and worked my way out. In the last 500 miles, the reservations I had regarding the way this bike felt underneath me has largely been a non issue. Riding with a Valkyrie and a HD Softail, all 2-up, I found myself waiting for the crew to catch up after the twistys. All due to confidence I hadn't had previously on this bike.

These Conti Escapes are seriously good for a road biased tire IMO. With countless tires I've put on my Blackbird, these things held their own. I was peg scraping yesterday. A first on this bike and good fun.

Thanks again for the advice and help in dialing this in.

BTW, not sure what happened to the title of the thread... I've tried to fix it to no avail.
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Sounds like a lawnmower, Rides like a paint shaker!

I got 99 problems but fuel injection, 6th gear or a 2nd cylinder ain't 1!

My wife: "I didn't know if that was you coming home, or a neighbor mowing"
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post #8 of 8 Old 10-28-2019, 11:30 PM
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One simple trick which I haven’t seen mentioned in this post, and rarely anywhere, is to simply bounce on the footpegs a few times. (it usually helps if someone is holding motorcycle upright unless you have trials rider skills and can balance it yourself)
The action of the front and rear suspension should be uniform. For example, if you have too much spring rate or preload on the rear, you will notice that the front does most of the movement.
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