- Nobleswood wrote:
I'm intrigued by your progress & result with the suspension; you obviously value & are willing to pay for quality suspension parts & then have someone instal them. So I'm concluding that the Slacker suspension tool has some merit as well. Can you tell us more about your experience?
While I wasn't wanting or expecting to gain expertise on motorcycle suspensions, the GRiSO pretty much forced me into it. My speculation is that a major reason that we see so many one owner low mileage Grisos up for sale soon after they're purchased is that the lackluster suspension makes them unpleasant to ride. In shopping for a "retirement" bike I first thought that I'd like the Guzzi V7 Special Anniversary model. They weren't in yet but when Zee and I sat on a V7 III it was immediately obvious that the thing would need heavier shock springs on the rear, and by inference also on the front. Even with that the rear shocks would be crappy emulsion-type units. Adequate perhaps, but certainly not good or great. I also looked at a couple of different super scooters, and had the GRiSO that I bought not popped up just when I was looking to buy we would probably be tooling around on a Kymco.
One thing that I've learned over the past four months is that nearly all bikes, regardless of make, unless they are high end models, are greatly improved with properly selected and set up aftermarket or rebuilt suspension parts. With my other Guzzis I never thought much about it: There are what they are, and I had no expectations. But then again the flatlands and arrow-straight back roads of Michigan aren't in the same league with the curvy, hilly, and rough back roads of Arizona. It wasn't until I started poking around here on The Ghetto (at the recommendation of my bike's previous owner) that I became aware that you could have a bike that was both comfortable to ride and would handle properly.
As for the suspension measurements I did the initial ones the old-fashioned way, with a metric folding ruler, by myself...pain in the butt. Even with the heavier Race Tech spring that a previous owner had put on, the bike had 74mm of rider sag at the rear...solo! I cranked (beat actually) the adjuster down by 5mm and got the sag down to a still abominable 62mm in the rear with 37mm up front. The ride was wretched and beat us up badly, both solo and two-up. It was time for a solution if I was going to keep the bike.
You can see in my notes that I did consider other options in looking for used parts and stiffer springs on Ebay, but the problem was that there was no certainty as to the outcome. Consequently, I decided to just spend the money and get a suspension that would work. Things were complicated by the fact that I'm frequently switching between solo and two-up riding and that I don't have a garage (or my tools) here at the little winter condo in Arizona. The quest to find the proper parts took some doing. I contacted the local (or is that alleged?) Guzzi-Aprilia-Ducati-Vespa-Kymco-etc dealer only to be told, relative to a GRiSO suspension upgrade, that "we're an Ohlins dealer" and that my GRiSO wasn't in their Ohlins book. Their suspension sales rep said he'd get back with me but never did. Had I known about AF1 at the time they probably would have been the next stop but I went with GT Motors as they seemed to have all the part numbers figured out and upon further inquiry seemed to know what would work for my needs. They could have rebuilt and reconfigured the original Showa forks for about $550, but I would have had to either ship the forks to them or take the bike to them. However, the lack of having a garage where the bike could sit forkless for a couple weeks was an issue.
The parts were ordered and five weeks later they were in. In the interim I needed to find a mechanic/dealership to put them on and to take care of some other maintenance items (head, swing arm, and pivot bearings) while they were at it. Again, no response from the local alleged dealer when I filled out their online service request form. I guess they didn't want my $800-1000 for some basic mechanic work. GT Motors is a 10-12 hour ride away...too far. Cliff up at Manic Moto (a Guzzi/Beta dealer) in Queen Creek, Arizona agreed to do the work, but there was a three week wait to get in. I waited the three weeks and rode the two and a half hours to get it to him. He recommended that on my ten-year-old bike that while we had the forks off that we simply do the full service, seals, bushings and all. I agreed as I wanted to have a baseline for future maintenance.
While Cliff had the bike (some parts had to be ordered) I was watching some of the Dave Moss Tuning videos on YouTube. As it turns out lousy suspension components and setups are fairly common across most brands of bikes. At last we Guzzisti don't have to contend with throw-away shocks like some of the Japanese crotch rockets come with. Dave Moss had a video showing how easy it was to do the sag measurements on a bike using the Motool Slacker. In the interest of maintaining my relationship with my significant other I sprung for the Slacker since it provided a straightforward one-person means by which to take the sag measurements. Like most specialized shop tools, you need them when you need them, and the other 99.95% of the time they just sit there. I figured that some of my other Guzzi friends would be able to use it as well as they too are contending with suspension problems. With what I learned from the DMT videos and the Ohlins suspension setup manual it was fairly easy to get the sag settings within range. I am currently reading Race Tech's Motorcycle Suspension Bible to have a better understanding of how compression and rebound settings work.
The new iPhone Motool Service Assistant app for the Slacker V4 is a great help as it allows remote reset and recording of the data from the Slacker. It also allows you to keep notes on settings and changes. They are also very good about coming up with sag setting recommendations for bikes that are not already in the app. We went to do the measurements on a friend's 2002 California EV which wasn't in the app. A quick request via the app had the bike added the same day.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]