A short review of Ricor suspension - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
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post #1 of 20 Old 03-09-2013, 12:11 PM Thread Starter
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A short review of Ricor suspension

I just got back from a 600 mile trip, of which 120 miles were off-road.

The off-road included graded fire roads, jeep trails and single track.

All of this was in the California desert, so the graded fire roads were heavily gravelled and had a lot of washboard (stutter bumps, whatever you call them) and sand wash. The jeep trails were typical with large bumps, wash-outs, water bars, ruts, and baby heads. The single track stuff was actually pretty smooth, but undulating with a lot of whoop do doos. A few miles were across rocky, road-less/track-less areas where the track was almost indiscernible and often simply disappeared.

There is but a faint trail across the desert to this spot. Pretty much riding over baby heads. This spot is one of a series of huge erosion piles.


The set-up was a Ricor rear shock with 350 pound spring on it and Intiminators and Progressive springs in the front end with Amsoil #5 shock fluid. I had 7/8" of pre-load on the shock spring which gave me 3 1/2" of sag all-up and 3" with just me and the lighter riding load.

What I was comparing to was my old KLR with a custom Cogent shock with 400 pound spring and Racetech Gold Valves with Progressive springs in the front, running a 10 weight oil.

All-up on the slab, I was 270 pounds with my full gear on and had 40 pounds in my tail bag and small side bags.

Riding in the back country I had most of the contents of the bag out and so had about 15 pounds on the rack.

My first impression of the Ricor set-up came on the entry road to the area, one I've ridden many times. This is a graded road with heavy washboard and a speed limit of 15 mph. It's not regularly enforced, but you never know when you'll run into a Ranger so it's best to be reasonable.

I immediately noticed that the front suspension and, to a lesser extent, the rear packed up* on the washboard. This was most noticeable in the front end, which dived as if I was braking. The rear didn't seem as bad and after a while I didn't notice it unless I concentrated on what the rear was doing. It was a real pisser on the front, though, and I never did get used to it. I found that the suspension wouldn't really work until I was over 45 and it was pretty good approaching 60. Four times the speed limit isn't acceptable, though, just to have a decent ride.

This packing up in the front, I think, can be attributed to the Progressive springs. The close-wound soft portion doesn't provide enough force for the Intiminators to work. I had the same problem with my Racetech valves and spent considerable time tuning it out. Suffice it to say you probably don't want Progressive springs with your Iniminators unless you're willing to do some tuning.

On the Jeep trails I found the suspension to be very good on big hits, especially at speed. I felt comfortable running at up to 40 over normal jeep trails. Getting into more technical sections with baby heads and rocky drop offs the suspension was well planted and supple enough, though I would have set the Ricor shock up a bit softer on re-bound if I could.

I ran through several ravines with rough, rutted 45 degree entrance and exits with a sharp bottom. Though I was a bit shaky on the first one the performance of the suspension gave me enough confidence to run the others easily. I was by myself, so didn't get overly aggressive and passed up one very long, steep descent that would have been a hoot.

That steep descent was approached by a long, steep ascent and I was impressed at how planted the rear end was, allowing the the tires to hook up well with no hopping or monkey motion. The climbs out of the ravines were also very easy. Ever get stuck on a steep ascent where the rear end won't hook up under power or the rear end just goes all over the place? Didn't happen.

The single track run was typical, just a long trail with whoops, which the suspension handled well. Again, I was alone and didn't try any super-moto stuff but it ran pretty well over the whoops with the front end either light or in the air.

I was planning on doing a bit of tweaking on the rear pre-load (nothing I could do about the front) but the weather forecast turned bad on me and I had to get out or face camping in a desert storm. It rained from 3am to 9am the second night before letting up. On the way home I rode into the oncoming storm and rode through very heavy winds, hail, rain, and near freezing temperatures. I had to hole up in Cabazon at the restaurant with the dinosaurs for about two hours while I watched the snow line come down the hills 500 feet.

It was a fun couple of days.

All in all I would say the Ricor set up is competent and, with the exception of the packing up issue, works as well as my other set-up. I think the packing up issue can be addressed by eliminating the Progressive springs and/or doing a bit of tuning with the shim stack on the Intiminators. Ricor makes claims that their product can sense whether a compressing force is coming from the terrain or the bike. I have noticed that this bike doesn't dive terribly badly under braking, but cannot judge whether or not the inertia valve really works when the bike is at speed and both the bike and the terrain are rapidly bobbing up and down. I can say that as suspension, it works.

Tom

*I'm not sure if 'packing up' is a proper technical term, but what I mean is that the suspension would take a hit and not have time to rebound before the next hit. Progressive hits, like encountered on washboard, caused the suspension to collapse. The front end would dive and the rear would squat.

Tom [email protected]

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post #2 of 20 Old 03-12-2013, 08:43 PM
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Nice review and ride!

I know with gold valves you drill out the damper rod holes to bypass them. Do you do that with the Ricors?

When the suspension is packing down usually it needs less rebound damping. Do the ricors have shims for compression and rebound? Modern off-road suspension has low and high speed shims in the stack.

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post #3 of 20 Old 03-12-2013, 10:14 PM
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Nice Tom,
I want to hang out with you and tune my suspension. I could learn a lot from you on that.

Sounds like a great ride.

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post #4 of 20 Old 03-12-2013, 10:49 PM Thread Starter
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Spec -

The Ricors do not require that you drill the rods, but they do recommend you use AMSOIL 5W oil or equivalent. I think that's pretty much why you don't need to drill the dampers - the things are designed to run on oil so light the dampers don't even know it's there.

These things have two compression circuits and one rebound circuit.

To the best of my knowledge both compression circuits are controlled by ports and the ports are selected by the inertia valve. If the valve senses compression is coming from the bike side of the Intiminator then the oil flows through some pretty small ports and damping is pretty stiff (helps slow down brake dive). If it is coming from the wheel side, then the some larger ports are selected and damping is pretty soft.

Of course, the oil has to get by the shim stack so that's where the tuning takes place. You can vary the number of shims and the thickness (stiffness) of the shims. The ports control whether or not the damping is going to be soft or hard, and the shim stack scales everything up or down the damping range.

As far as I can tell the rebound is controlled by ports only. It does have to go by the shims but I think the controlling factor is the port size.

Now, you can fiddle about with the oil viscosity to speed up the rebound and stiffen up the shim stack to compensate on the compression circuits.

Don't take my word as gospel, though, as this is just based on what I see in front of me and from watching their 28 second video on the website. I don't have the instruction sheet for the things, and Ricor isn't too good about making that stuff available for download.

T

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Last edited by Tom Schmitz; 03-12-2013 at 10:51 PM.
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post #5 of 20 Old 03-13-2013, 09:32 AM
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Great write up Tom.

I've got the Intiminators in with the stock springs and I suppose I'm happy with them. I'm in no way any type of suspension guru. I just follow the herd on that one.

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post #6 of 20 Old 03-13-2013, 10:47 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cabrito View Post
Nice Tom,
I want to hang out with you and tune my suspension. I could learn a lot from you on that.

Sounds like a great ride.
Michael -

The place to start is "What's wrong with your suspension right now?".

We go from there!

With your Progressive rear you should turn the preload ring until you have about 3" of sag with your normal "Ima go have fun in the dirt load" and note the setting, then do the same with your normal street riding load and note the setting.

The handiest way I've found to go further in tuning the rear is to go find a graded dirt road that has heavy washboarding. One that looks like this:



Your shock has five rebound settings. Set it to the lowest setting and ride the road. With this setting the shock should not pack up, but may feel too 'soft' or 'bouncy' or 'jittery' or 'icky' or some other highly technical suspension term. Ride back and forth at various speeds (from a slow, comfortable speed to "Oh my gosh I normally wouldn't be going this fast") and note how the shock behaves at various speeds. Gradually increase the rebound damping until you notice the shock packing up at the speed you find most normal. Back it off one setting.

That setting should make you pretty happy under most conditions, as washboarded conditions are the hardest for a shock to deal with.

The front gets much more complicated, as the damper rod fork has the same rebound and compression damping and there's nothing you can do about it save changing oil weight, which changes both damping rates. A light oil will give you quick rebound, but make for a wallowy fork in compression. Heavy oil makes a stiff fork that may not rebound quickly enough.

You need to know what you're unhappy about with the front end before you set off to fix it. Once you've decided what's wrong, you can figure out a plan involving oil weights, oil height, springs, preload spacers and, if necessary, some sort of valve.

T

Tom [email protected]

I lit a cigarette and dragged a smoking stand beside the chair. The minutes went by on tiptoe, with their fingers to their lips. -Philip Marlowe

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post #7 of 20 Old 03-13-2013, 01:33 PM
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Really good write-up, Tom.

We've come to expect it from you.

Thanks.

Dan
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post #8 of 20 Old 03-13-2013, 02:29 PM
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Well in, Tom.




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post #9 of 20 Old 03-13-2013, 03:23 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Dan!

Thanks Dan!

T

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I lit a cigarette and dragged a smoking stand beside the chair. The minutes went by on tiptoe, with their fingers to their lips. -Philip Marlowe

'Why' and 'How' are words so important they cannot be too often used. -Napoleon Bonaparte


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post #10 of 20 Old 03-15-2013, 07:10 PM
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You and I are running the same setup. I have progressive springs (top gun I think) and using the yellow top gun 360lb rear.

Way better than stock as you've stated. I didn't notice the packing down on the front end with mine but you have way more experience offroad than me so that might be the rider! On road I can scrape pegs at will with this setup.

What happened to your last KLR??
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