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  #1  
Old 19 Sep 2002
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Suspension: Rear Shock

A new Technical page has been added:

Suspension: Rear Shock

Why you need a good shock for travel!
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Last edited by Grant Johnson; 31 May 2012 at 00:07.
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  #2  
Old 19 Sep 2002
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Hello all

I'm strongly considering using an AT to go round the world (in fact, proberbly will!). The question is - Do I really need to upgrade the rear shock?

I haven't bought the bike yet but when I do all being well it won't have many miles on the clock. I know the recommended carrying capacity is 194kg or so and I may exceed this by maybe 20 to 30 kg as I'm riding 2 up with camping equipment etc. Stuff like tools etc. will be carried low down at the front and the bike 'should' be well balanced when loaded. I'll no doubt upgrade the front shocks with heavier springs and oil though which may may make the bike 'front end stiff'.

When we're talking £500 GB for a rear shock it's alot of dosh so am I better off riding with the origonal until it falls to bits and then changing it when I need to? (The first 20 - 30,000 miles will be in a big loop of the Americas, starting off in the North.)

Any advice will earn you eternal respect but little else other than thanks!

Safe travels

Chris

Oooops -

I'll have a 43 litre tank on the bike too so that 20 - 30kg over the recomended carrying capacity could be more!

Silly me
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  #3  
Old 20 Sep 2002
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Generic answer for most any bike:

Once upon a time, long long ago, I used to tell people that "the stock shock was carefully designed to hold the rear fender off the tire when the bike is in the crate, on it's way to you". While clearly no longer completely true, I think it is still largely true for those of us running long trips two-up.

Overall, my personal feeling is that it is VERY important to put a good rear shock on any bike for a two-up round the world trip. It's not just a matter of "will the stock shock survive" but "will it work well in the meantime"?

The difference in handling - and therefore safety - between a hopelessly inadequate and overloaded stock shock and a shock built for the load is HUGE. My bike for instance handles very well fully loaded - and many G/S riders don't believe me - because they are riding on a stock shock, and have no idea of the difference. The rear shock is responsible for easily 80% of the handling of the bike, especially on a two-up and loaded tourer.

For another opinion, ask Chris Bright about how good stock shocks are - on his BMW R100GS he went through 4 stock shocks before he got wise and installed (I think) an Ohlins. Getting shocks shipped into Africa and South America is very expensive and a lot of hassle, and shocks have been know to fail spectacularly - breaking in half isn't unheard of.

Finally, no matter how hard you try, you will never get the load "balanced" - (short of putting 125 pounds of luggage in front of you to offset your passenger) you can only reduce the imbalance. "Balanced" is solo unloaded, (on some TOURING bikes balanced is two-up light load. The AT doesn't fit that category!)

Check out Works Performance (see the links page) for a shock for your bike - they custom make each one to suit the load and conditions. And their price is reasonable. You could get it installed in LA when you get there. Then you will really appreciate the difference! Tell them I sent you.

Specific to AT:

I know zip about AT's, and they may well come with a great shock for the job - but I'd be mighty surprised!

I've discussed our (as in 'world traveller') requirements at length with a real shock expert, and the conclusion is that it is practically impossible to build a shock that will work perfectly solo unloaded AND two-up fully loaded. The mechanics of the current shock / suspension system, and the characteristics of springs, are such that it just can't be done at an acceptable price and complexity. So if a bike is good solo from the factory, it has to be inadequately sprung fully-loaded two-up. A good compromise is all we can get.

Forgive the long-winded ramble, but I hope this clarifies things somewhat for all.

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  #4  
Old 20 Sep 2002
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Grant, you need to re-package the spiel on rear shocks and post it somewhere where more people will find it. I found it very useful and will likely go for a Works Performance shock next summer when I'll be in LA.

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  #5  
Old 20 Sep 2002
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Daniel, glad you liked it! Good idea - it's now linked to from the Trip planning and Tech pages. Will get around to a rewrite someday...

Any volunteers to cruise through the HUBB for good topics that should be linked to from the Tech or Trip planning pages?

The link and a description and category/page it should be in, in a plain text email (feedback form) would be great...

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  #6  
Old 20 Sep 2002
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Quote:
For another opinion, ask Chris Bright about how good stock shocks are - on his BMW R100GS he went through 4 stock shocks before he got wise and installed (I think) an Ohlins. Getting shocks shipped into Africa and South America is very expensive and a lot of hassle, and shocks have been know to fail spectacularly - breaking in half isn't unheard of.
Hi
Well, when the great Maestro Grant calleth, Chris Bright cometh running...

I would indeed have to concur that good suspension, that is
a. front forks, springs and oil and
b. (particularly) rear shock
are very important for a big trip.

I indeed broke 4 stock rear shocks (including one that snapped into 3 pieces on the Ruta 40 in Patagonia!). I was riding solo, but with a lot of luggage and also giving the bike more abuse than it was ever designed for.

After I put on an Ohlins shock the chassis snapped and my trip ended! I don't think these two acts were related!?

Before buying my BMW I rode an AT for 40 thousand miles with a stock shock with no problems. However it was only on European roads.

I would strongly suggest you buy an Ohlins and have one less thing to worry about and give you stress. If you consider the stress, freight charges and import tax of having a new shock shipped to somewhere exotic, it is cheaper in the long run, to set off with something reliable under your butt.

An Africa Twin is a great choice of travel bike.

Good luck,
ChrisB

Last edited by Grant Johnson; 31 May 2012 at 00:08.
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  #7  
Old 21 Sep 2002
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Well thats pretty definitive, definately not rambling as well. Thanks for the advice Grant and Chris. I think I'll be making a stop in LA!

Thanks

Chris

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  #8  
Old 23 Feb 2003
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My wife and i left home August 2001 on our Africa Twin. We have covered 44,500 mile on it on our overland trip to Australia.
I admit everyones story is different and opinions differ on the rear shock.We have had no problems with ours and have found it to be perfectley adequate for the job.We are carrying 100kg of luggage as well as water and fuel when needed.
Alot of people seem to think you have to fit some fancy named/coloured shock with more knobs and dials than you can figure out what to do with.Ive met so many people bragging about the fact that there shock is rebuildable.Yeh thats fantastic but you try and get it rebuilt in the middle of India!
The SHOWA rear shock is put on the bike for a reason,because it works!
We carry our jerry cans(2x10ltrs) on either side of the crashbars mounted low down and have got an African Queen tool box mounted to the front of the bash plate again to keep the weight low and forward.With the weight spread out evenly and a set of progressive fork springs fitted with heavier fork oil we have found the bike has been able to handle anything weve needed it to.sure anyone can break a rear shock if you take it past the point of what it will really cope with.
Give the O.E. shock ago as the money saved will take you along way on your trip!
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  #9  
Old 26 Mar 2003
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just completed round the world trip on domminator 2 up sometimes carrying water fuel 2 tyres and on all the worst outback tracks, and all on a standard shock.
we met many people with problems who had changed their suspension to after market shocks especially white power!
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  #10  
Old 12 May 2003
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Hello all:
My bike is an AT RD04 1991, I have a 40 liters fuel tank and habitually do trips two-up and very loaded, bike already counts on 90,000 km and the shock still works of wonders. Probably, before the 100,000 it makes it review by a specialist, but I am sure only it will be necessary to do a change of seals, oil and gas to him. Nor in dreams it could spend on “Ohlins” or “white power”. Single it would kill by the possibility of regulating it on road comfortably.
What yes I have noticed is that in the RD07 it would seem to be less resistant. With which yes I have had problems, because I don’t give the suitable attention to him, it is with the bearings of the progressive system.
Good luck.
Javier K.
Buenos Aires.
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  #11  
Old 14 Aug 2003
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Have a '92 Africa Twin (RD04) with 60,000 kms. Have covered around 22,000 kms between Melbourne (Aus) and Broome and places and spaces in between. We ride two-up, with a lot of weight,
mainly camping gear, for up to a month at a time.

Recenly we noted leakage from the rear shock cannister. Unsure if it's due to tinkerers we found
messing with the AT in a carpark; or overloading the bike through some horrendous offroad corrugations;
or a combination of both.

Currently quite a long way from service facilities.
Will pumping air into the cannister adversely affect
the rear shock... ie., mess with the nitrogen... or further screw up the rear suspension?

This would only be a temporary measure, until we get to a shock specialist..... .

Paul
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  #12  
Old 26 Sep 2004
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I am on my third Af Twin rear shock. The first lasted 40,000+ KMs. 17K of which were off road in Africa. My luggage weighs in at around 90kg I weigh 85kg.

The second shock (original Honda) lasted just a few thousand ks the third lasted just a few thousand too!! Re loads, the weight since Africa is less and the roads generally better??!! I reckon that Honda's supplier have reduced the build spec. since the 1999 model.... perhaps some one can confirm or denie this?

I am trying to get my hands on an Ohlins.

I reckon it would be better to switch straight to an Ohlins after the first one fails....
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  #13  
Old 27 Sep 2004
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I had an Ohlins on my R100GS which failed after 4,500 miles. Unfortunately the warranty period had expired and I had to fork out for another one. I fitted another Ohlins to my Africa Twin which was faulty from new and replaced by the dealer. This lasted for 6,000 miles. I put the original Showa shock back on the bike and it was still going strong when I sold the bike at 23,000 miles.
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  #14  
Old 28 Sep 2004
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Thanks for the warning about Ohlins....

So, from our experiences, neither manufacturers are reliable!

One thing with the Ohlnis, is at least its repairable, the honda shock (showa) is a sealed unit, unless you can tell me otherwise..

Could you also let me know what weight you were riding with and on what surface?? This may help diagnose a consistant fault?

All sounds like a gamble??

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  #15  
Old 2 Oct 2004
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Yes, the Showa is a sealed unit and the Ohlins repairable. Even White Power as used on KTM's and I believe, the new BM's have problems. You pay your money and take your choice. Best to go with what your happy with. In most parts fo the world you can get a new shock or parts couriered to you.
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