Best front forks upgrade for Africa twin esp for overlanders
Hi all, My name is George Guille I am just back in the UK after 13months on my RD07A Riding from here in the Channel Islands down to Australia, almost exactly 30'000miles. About 6 or 7 months ago I contacted Don Richardson at RICOR with regards their new Intiminator fork valves for the Africa Twin and their rear shock that they are currently developing. As a result of that I happily agreed to fit my bike with their fork valves as a long term test. Don sent me two sets with different tunes, one soft and one firm as well as a set of shims so I could fine tune them for me.
One thing I have found on the Africa Twin which is only heighted when the bike is used as an overlander and loaded up with 50kg of gear, is that the front end will dive so much that it will totally upset the running of the bike when riding, particularly if you are starting to push it a bit, say in the Alps for example.
Before I left I tried to get around this by fitting progressive springs from White Power. They helped a lot but I was still not happy. Once in Switzerland I removed the White Power supplied preload spacers (15mm) and had a new set of alloy preload spacers made up this time 45mm. At last the bike would handle properly! Giving the GSXR's a run for their money up the grimzel pass fully loaded and a set of tyres on the back proved that.
Fast forward a couple of thousand km’s and now in Pakistan when the roads start to get a bit more bumpy, pot holes all over the place and the Karakorum highway is being dug up by the Chinese and in terrible condition. Here my front forks are now too stiff to soak up the impacts. I tell myself that this is just something I have to live with, a compromise for the improved road handling and watch my brother disappearing off into the distance on his KTM 640adv.
With everything agreed Don sent out the two different tunes to Bangkok in Thailand. Due to most of the roads in South East Asia being sealed I decided to fit the firmer tune Intiminators first. As you see from the instructions the installation of the fork valves really couldn’t be simpler. Remove the wheel with the bike on the main stand, drop out the forks from the triple clamps. Remove the cap on top of the forks and remove the springs and pour out the old fork oil. I flushed the forks a few times with a cleaner then refilled with 5W fork oil and reinstalled the springs and put it all back together easily all done in under an hour.
Excited to give them a test I took the bike straight out for a ride. To my amazement due to the way that they work my forks were FIRMER than with the progressive springs and 3x the normal preload spacers! Riding back into Bangkok I made an effort to hit any lip, bump or ruff surface. The result is a little odd at first...I could hardly feel them!
Down in Malaysia I took a couple days off roading still with my luggage and the front end was handling it just amazing, so much better than with my previous arrangement.
So as a result of installing the Intiminators I had an even firmer front end that was also much softer and able to soak up much larger impacts than before!
After 2 months with the firmer tune Intiminator in the bike when in Kuala Lumpur I fitted the softer tune Intiminator that Don had sent me. My next country was going to be Indonesia, worse roads and worse drivers...lots of emergency braking! I was also eager to leave the main sealed roads and explore some of the last jungle and wilderness in the world.
The softer tune was a big difference at first I didn’t like it, like it had been before without the Intiminators. However as soon as I stated to hit the rougher roads and pot holes I just couldn’t believe how much the front end was soaking up. It was starting to get silly when I began to purposely aim for the largest pot hole I could find just so I could watch how fast the forks react!
Riding along side the KTM640 was a great comparison, that bike has great suspension, what you would normally consider call far superior than the Africa Twin stock suspension. Now an odd things happened I started to leave the 640 behind! The rougher it got the better the inertia valves worked and the more I would leave the 640 behind.
In conclusion I am going to keep the Intiminator in the bike as I carry on around the world via South America, North America, Russia, East and West Africa until I get back to Europe.
If I had known of the RICOR Intiminators when doing the preparation of my bike, I would have without question spent my money on the Intiminator instead of the progressive springs. (The Intiminator are designed to and do work best with the stock springs)
Why try and sort out the front suspension by spending money on new fork springs and not really get it right, instead I fully recommend to spend the extra on a set of Intiminators, you will not regret it.
I rate the 3 best things I have done for my bike to be my custom made seat, big windscreen and the RICOR Intiminator fork valves.
I hope this maybe of some help to others.