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alfadoc

5th Gen fork options

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I have a 1998, and my attention is turning to suspension. Everything is stock, and maybe I am not discriminating, but it seems fine for what I do. But I wonder if it is like when I did the steering head bearings: I didn't realize how bad it was until I fixed it... 

I am pretty sure the rear will be a DMr shock, $750, boom, done. The front presents options, though. As I like to go nuclear on things, I am wondering about USD forks. Has anyone done this? Have to delink brakes, but F4 lowers would too, so how about it? For esthetic reasons I would like to keep a 5 spoke wheel in front too, if possible. I am comfortable doing this myself, so parts are only cost issue.

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I kept it simple and ordered Jamie's cartridge kit all set up for my weight and riding style at the same time as my BD40 rear shock. I couldn't be happier, Jamie's stuff is tops. My "factory" front forks are amazing now, I'd do it again in without a doubt. 

If you are determined to change fork legs or stanchions (nuclear options) I can't offer any insight, but, for now, I am very happy with the way my bike is setup and rides. 

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13 hours ago, alfadoc said:

I have a 1998, and my attention is turning to suspension. Everything is stock, and maybe I am not discriminating, but it seems fine for what I do. But I wonder if it is like when I did the steering head bearings: I didn't realize how bad it was until I fixed it... 

I am pretty sure the rear will be a DMr shock, $750, boom, done. The front presents options, though. As I like to go nuclear on things, I am wondering about USD forks. Has anyone done this? Have to delink brakes, but F4 lowers would too, so how about it? For esthetic reasons I would like to keep a 5 spoke wheel in front too, if possible. I am comfortable doing this myself, so parts are only cost issue.

Hi. I'm new here and also looking for options about the suspension on my 2001 FI. I saw a post on this site about a guy in Sydney that changed the front end for a CBR929 one. He claims that is pretty much a bolt on thing, except for the brake system. I was wondering how true is that statement.

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There is no “bolt-on” frontend, no matter what anyone says. You’re simply not going to directly replace one frontend with another, without other modifications and retrofits. 
 

The easiest 5th Gen setup follows: F3 lowers fit VFR uppers. VFR front master cylinder works with F3 calipers. VFR front wheel, rotors, axle, and spacers work with F3 lowers and calipers. VFR fender requires simple brackets and spacers to mount to F3 lowers (F3 fender may direct-fit, but, I didn’t have one). F3 hose length works. Remove center piston of rear caliper, drill a hole into the fluid transfer passage for the outer pistons, and reinstall center piston. Plug center piston feed hole with a banjo bolt and crush washer. Replace rear master cylinder with a Honda 14mm version found on various CBR sportbikes (some finagling of the clevis may be required to mate to the VFR pedal). If you want brake light activation from the rear pedal, you’ll need to use a banjo bolt pressure switch. A single, VFR rear brake hose will work. Every single component mentioned should be completely rebuilt with new seals, fluids, etc, and new braided brake lines figured in, as you’re working with 20yr-old stuff. 

 

USD forks are overkill on the VFR, as they’re much stiffer and ride harsher because of that. The original forks are able to flex and absorb impacts, road chatter, etc, which takes the edge off bumps and is much more comfortable in the saddle. 5th Gen forks are the same forks as the early SV, which are being raced by countless riders around the world at a much faster pace than anyone on a VFR. A GSXR frontend (USD) and brakes aren’t worth a single second on any race track, on an SV, per a multi-time national champion who races them. Therefore, swapping a similar USD frontend onto a VFR doesn’t make sense, if one is actually looking for overall performance. Plus, the USD frontend and required de-link are going to cost more than one initially thinks, because there are all the unforeseen things, like missing/misfitting hardware, unexpected leaking seals, higher-than-expected component costs, and so forth. Lastly, just bolting on components isn’t going to magically transform the bike. Without springs, valving, correct settings, good brake pads and lines, good shock, proper geometry setup, etc, it’s just stuff bolted to a bike.
 

Now, someone is going to come along and call “bullshit”, with what I’ve just said. And, they’ll put in their 2¢ why you need USD forks, 6-piston brakes, etc, when you’re not actually exceeding the component limits of what you already have. A simple de-link and investing in optimizing most of the existing components will be more beneficial than just throwing stuff at the bike for the sake of bling.

 

You’re welcome to come ride my bike, which has good front and rear components for everything, along with geometry changes, if you’re doubting me. The last to ride it, a 6th Gen owner, called it “Amazing!”. If life works out, I’ll be at the NC get together.
 

Let the flaming begin. 😁
 

This is my setup. 
 

AB0797D0-47DB-48FE-999E-A7722D02E918.jpeg

3F6C288E-4D94-4A35-8BD1-25563BDF73FC.jpeg

81DC5E94-E413-4C69-8622-2C01B78DBBF0.png

7D5BE0DF-E45F-4590-982A-DA1F47D39735.jpeg

9A5C671C-599E-4E12-899E-C8CF131E1BE4.png

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1 hour ago, ducnut said:

There is no “bolt-on” frontend, no matter what anyone says. You’re simply not going to directly replace one frontend with another, without other modifications and retrofits. 
 

The easiest 5th Gen setup follows: F3 lowers fit VFR uppers. VFR front master cylinder works with F3 calipers. VFR front wheel, rotors, axle, and spacers work with F3 lowers and calipers. VFR fender requires simple brackets and spacers to mount to F3 lowers (F3 fender may direct-fit, but, I didn’t have one). F3 hose length works. Remove center piston of rear caliper, drill a hole into the fluid transfer passage for the outer pistons, and reinstall center piston. Plug center piston feed hole with a banjo bolt and crush washer. Replace rear master cylinder with a Honda 14mm version found on various CBR sportbikes (some finagling of the clevis may be required to mate to the VFR pedal). If you want brake light activation from the rear pedal, you’ll need to use a banjo bolt pressure switch. A single, VFR rear brake hose will work. Every single component mentioned should be completely rebuilt with new seals, fluids, etc, and new braided brake lines figured in, as you’re working with 20yr-old stuff. 

 

USD forks are overkill on the VFR, as they’re much stiffer and ride harsher because of that. The original forks are able to flex and absorb impacts, road chatter, etc, which takes the edge off bumps and is much more comfortable in the saddle. 5th Gen forks are the same forks as the early SV, which are being raced by countless riders around the world at a much faster pace than anyone on a VFR. A GSXR frontend (USD) and brakes aren’t worth a single second on any race track, on an SV, per a multi-time national champion who races them. Therefore, swapping a similar USD frontend onto a VFR doesn’t make sense, if one is actually looking for overall performance. Plus, the USD frontend and required de-link are going to cost more than one initially thinks, because there are all the unforeseen things, like missing/misfitting hardware, unexpected leaking seals, higher-than-expected component costs, and so forth. Lastly, just bolting on components isn’t going to magically transform the bike. Without springs, valving, correct settings, good brake pads and lines, good shock, proper geometry setup, etc, it’s just stuff bolted to a bike.
 

Now, someone is going to come along and call “bullshit”, with what I’ve just said. And, they’ll put in their 2¢ why you need USD forks, 6-piston brakes, etc, when you’re not actually exceeding the component limits of what you already have. A simple de-link and investing in optimizing most of the existing components will be more beneficial than just throwing stuff at the bike for the sake of bling.

 

You’re welcome to come ride my bike, which has good front and rear components for everything, along with geometry changes, if you’re doubting me. The last to ride it, a 6th Gen owner, called it “Amazing!”. If life works out, I’ll be at the NC get together.
 

Let the flaming begin. 😁
 

This is my setup. 
 

AB0797D0-47DB-48FE-999E-A7722D02E918.jpeg

3F6C288E-4D94-4A35-8BD1-25563BDF73FC.jpeg

81DC5E94-E413-4C69-8622-2C01B78DBBF0.png

7D5BE0DF-E45F-4590-982A-DA1F47D39735.jpeg

9A5C671C-599E-4E12-899E-C8CF131E1BE4.png

Damn!!! I love that color combination!! (Keeping those wheels clean is a royal PITA, tho) Certainly, I'm not intending to race my bike, but I would love to improve it from what it is, right now, without spending as much as I did on the bike itself. Can you recommend a way to have rebound/compression adjustments on the forks?? I already got a 929 refurbished rear shock, but I'm lost about the front end. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

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VTR1000 Super Hawk lower mated to VFR upper tubes, works out well, and there are a wider selection of calipers - 954/F4i/RC51 that can be used with the matching master cylinder. Goes the the stock triple/bars/rotors/wheels. Then the next step up would be F4i lower on 6th gen upper tubes and use 6th gen triples/bars + the stock wheel/rotors + calipers F4i/954/RC51 + master cylinders. 

And then again, next step is the USD work. I will let another member tell about the set up, but its a whole nuther ball game, and mucho more parts/bucks and planning to pull it off. 

Check my gallery pics for my delink and fork it work..... 

 

:beer:

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3 hours ago, ducnut said:

Now, someone is going to come along and call “bullshit”, with what I’ve just said. And, they’ll put in their 2¢ why you need USD forks, 6-piston brakes, etc, when you’re not actually exceeding the component limits of what you already have. A simple de-link and investing in optimizing most of the existing components will be more beneficial than just throwing stuff at the bike for the sake of bling.

Hey!  What's wrong with bling?

 

Ciao,

 

JZH

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3 hours ago, aztecmeca said:

Damn!!! I love that color combination!! (Keeping those wheels clean is a royal PITA, tho) Certainly, I'm not intending to race my bike, but I would love to improve it from what it is, right now, without spending as much as I did on the bike itself. Can you recommend a way to have rebound/compression adjustments on the forks?? I already got a 929 refurbished rear shock, but I'm lost about the front end. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

You don’t NEED rebound and compression adjustments, if the forks/shock are done right, to begin with. 
 

I’ve had six bikes with reworked suspensions, with three of them still in the garage. Two of the previous bikes had fork cartridges and the other four had/have emulators. To the average person, they wouldn’t be able to feel the difference, which is why nothing I currently own has cartridges. It’s just not worth the $1200, to me, anymore. I have a bike with a Penske 8900, one with a Penske 8983 (which was going to get an 8900, but, I plan to track the bike), and the other with reworked WP. Three previous bikes comprised two Penske 8983 and a Penske 8900. As with the forks, it’s really difficult to feel the difference between the Penskes. The WP bike is in another genre, so it’s not relevant for here. Of all my bikes, I only touched adjusters to make minor adjustments on my track bike and one bike that was setup a bit too aggressive for my street use. At the next suspension service, the tech exchanged out components to soften it up, at which point it was perfect, out of the box. The same guy outfitted my VFR and it was perfect, out of the box. My SV is a bit stiffer than my VFR, but, it was setup to be a tad more aggressive than the VFR. Again, I haven’t touched any of the adjustments. There’s just no need, because good shops dyno everything, to verify settings, before shipping out. A really good tech, with excellent data, can setup a suspension to be nearly perfect, without being in the bike’s presence. It’s only when one gets into the upper echelon of racers, does one really need to adjust a suspension to the environment. I’ve been at pro-level lap times at a few tracks and never felt the need to fiddle with stuff. Fully-adjustable suspensions are overrated, for the majority of riders. 
 

No offense, but, a 929 shock is a losing proposition. By the time you modify the mounting, spring it, valve it, and service it, you’re up against what an aftermarket shock costs. Plus, an aftermarket shock can be had length-adjustable, which is far more important than being able to adjust rebound and compression. Geometry changes provide more perceivable difference than a few clicks. Likewise, a sporty profile front tire and correct brand selection will do more for what you feel than a few clicks. 
 

White wheels are very easy to keep up. I use a 50/50 mix of Simple Green/water. I just soak and rinse them. When I wash the bike, I do the same soak, wash with a mitt, then, follow up with Honda Polish. 
 

I haven’t touched on brakes. I have the 2-piston, F3 calipers. Again, they’re almost identical to SV calipers guys are racing all over the world. My VFR master cylinder is fresh with new seals, Chinesium levers (< supposedly junk and taboo, by many) Core Moto braided lines, DP HH+ pads, and Braking of Italy rotors. Like the suspension, everything is good componentry. When one puts a decent master cylinder, behind excellent lines, squeezing excellent pads, onto an excellent and higher coefficient rotor, the brakes will be REALLY good. Where people fail is by only addressing one part of a system, when every component comprises THE system. My SV has the same/equivalent componentry, except, it has factory rotors. The difference between it and the VFR is astounding. I’d put aftermarket rotors on it, but, I don’t ride it but maybe 1K miles per year. It’s just not worth $650 in rotors, to me. 
 

Lastly, it’s VERY important to regularly service all the suspension bearings and head bearings, just like servicing the suspension. People don’t normally mess with them, because they require disassembly. But, those bits all ensure smooth, stiction-free movement. Replacing the head bearings with tapered, roller bearings goes a long way toward freedom of movement in the steering, allowing the bike to effortlessly track down the road. All the little stuff adds up to a better feeling and performing bike that one can perceive, but, can’t quite pinpoint exactly what is making it so. 

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40 minutes ago, JZH said:

Hey!  What's wrong with bling?

 

Ciao,

 

JZH

I’d love to have Ohlins and Brembo as much as the next guy. But, I’m already in too deep. 😁

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I was thinking about those adjustments since I intend to use the bike in heavy traffic (really bumpy streets), highway riding, and the occasional track day. But, the VFR has been with me only for 1 year. I'm still getting familiar with the riding style (My main bike is the KLR). Thanks for the info.

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1 hour ago, aztecmeca said:

I was thinking about those adjustments since I intend to use the bike in heavy traffic (really bumpy streets), highway riding, and the occasional track day. But, the VFR has been with me only for 1 year. I'm still getting familiar with the riding style (My main bike is the KLR). Thanks for the info.

It can’t really be optimal for everything, just like your KLR can’t, either. Different tools for different usages. 
 

Track riding requires a tighter, more supportive setup. That setup comes at the expense of compliance, which isn’t an issue on a smooth racing surface. However, on the street, it’ll fairly beat the rider, especially if one chooses a stiff carcass tire to go with it. Even backing off adjustments on my track bike, riding it on the street made me wish to be on something else. Rough streets are why I have a Tiger 800XCx and is my first choice to ride. 
 

My VFR is setup to be a nice streetbike, with an occasional trackday and me knowing it’ll be a compromise at the track. That’s OK, because I’m not the rider I used to be. And, hustling a ~500lb bike, topped by a 210lb rider, isn’t too optimal, either. But, one has to draw lines and make compromises, somewhere. For me, I enjoy the bike too much on the street to totally compromise that aspect of it.
 

For reference, my ~100lb lighter track bike was running nearly the same front spring as I currently have in my VFR, because the rider is perched over the frontend of a sportbike. And, my Tiger has ~20% lighter front springs, despite being roughly the same weight as the VFR. But, the rider sits much further back on that bike. The track bike was tighter valving for absolute control, the VFR is backed off that to gain compliance, and my Tiger is even softer yet to take advantage of 8.5” of suspension travel, without being mushy. 
 

I hope all that helps. 

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It has been touched on above, but external adjusters are not the whole answer if other parts of the suspension (e.g. spring weight, preload and the shim stacks/valve bodies) are not correct. If the shims are too stiff or the valve body is too restrictive (Honda HMAS I'm looking at you) the adjuster won't make much difference. Personally I find it best to leave the adjuster alone and work on getting the shim stacks correct. The shim stack (e.g. from Racetech) will normally consist of x quantity of 17 x 0.15mm shims backed up by a "pyramid" of smaller/reducing diameter shims. Changing the 17mm shims (e.g. adding or subtracting one) makes a big difference, bigger than winding the adjuster in or out. Only takes about an hour to pull the forks out/apart/change shims/refill and refit with some practice...

 

To summarise what has been discussed above, get all of the stock parts working well, and change out the shims/springs/valves inside. I did this in steps (revalved standard, then added VTR rebound adjusters, the VTR fork lowers/F4i delinked brakes, and finally F4i forks in 6G triples). Each step is an improvement but the biggest one came from the first step. Aside from the springs, you can re-use the valve bodies and shims in all of the above; the cartridges are basically the same in 5G, 6G, F4i and VTR but with adjusters added in the VTR (rebound) and F4i (rebound/compression).

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On 1/10/2020 at 11:46 PM, ducnut said:

It can’t really be optimal for everything, just like your KLR can’t, either. Different tools for different usages. 
 

Track riding requires a tighter, more supportive setup. That setup comes at the expense of compliance, which isn’t an issue on a smooth racing surface. However, on the street, it’ll fairly beat the rider, especially if one chooses a stiff carcass tire to go with it. Even backing off adjustments on my track bike, riding it on the street made me wish to be on something else. Rough streets are why I have a Tiger 800XCx and is my first choice to ride. 
 

My VFR is setup to be a nice streetbike, with an occasional trackday and me knowing it’ll be a compromise at the track. That’s OK, because I’m not the rider I used to be. And, hustling a ~500lb bike, topped by a 210lb rider, isn’t too optimal, either. But, one has to draw lines and make compromises, somewhere. For me, I enjoy the bike too much on the street to totally compromise that aspect of it.
 

For reference, my ~100lb lighter track bike was running nearly the same front spring as I currently have in my VFR, because the rider is perched over the frontend of a sportbike. And, my Tiger has ~20% lighter front springs, despite being roughly the same weight as the VFR. But, the rider sits much further back on that bike. The track bike was tighter valving for absolute control, the VFR is backed off that to gain compliance, and my Tiger is even softer yet to take advantage of 8.5” of suspension travel, without being mushy. 
 

I hope all that helps. 

Yeah. I know that it's impossible to have a bike that performs perfectly in every environment. It's just that, right now, the VFR feels more sluggish on the twisties than the KLR (Progressive suspension components on this one), so I want to improve the handling. I used to have a 1996 GSF600S, which has a similar riding position (And even worse suspension components), but I managed to modify it enough to feel nimble and fast. I want to see how much can I improve the VFR without going broke in the process.

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3 hours ago, aztecmeca said:

Yeah. I know that it's impossible to have a bike that performs perfectly in every environment. It's just that, right now, the VFR feels more sluggish on the twisties than the KLR (Progressive suspension components on this one), so I want to improve the handling. I used to have a 1996 GSF600S, which has a similar riding position (And even worse suspension components), but I managed to modify it enough to feel nimble and fast. I want to see how much can I improve the VFR without going broke in the process.

If you’re OK with the linked brakes, just do straight-rate springs, aftermarket valves, and oil set to the correct level. Any good supplier (RaceTech, Traxxion Dynamics, DMr, etc) can send you everything set to install, with guidelines. The fork internals will work with most de-link options (they’re all Showa of the same design), so you’re not buying everything again, should you go that route. 
 

For shocks, the most affordable option, that can be serviced by about anyone, is a Wilbers. If you have the budget, a Penske 8900 is a great option, as well.  I’m not completely sure of what your options are in your location. Whatever you get, you want something adjustable-length. That’ll allow you to raise the rear ride height, which will get the bike handling more nimble. You can shim the rear clevis, by stacking washers atop it, to gain rear ride height. But, you can only go so for, before fabrication work comes into the picture. That’s why I suggest adjustable-length. Finally, I’m not a fan of shop-branded shocks, because if they go under, the owner dies, they change product lineup, you’re going to be out, as far as servicing. No one will have parts. And, so much of the stuff is Chinese-sourced garbage with a shop decal stuck on it (I know a shop doing exactly that). Spend a hundred or two more and get something serviceable around the world, hopefully with the shock company having a dealer close to you. 
 

Tires play a huge part in how your bike feels at the clip-ons. The pointier the front tire, the lighter the handling. Instead of just running what everyone else is, research front tire profiles. I always suggest a sport front tire (street sport; not a track sport) matched to that manufacturer’s rear sport-touring tire, for those wanting handling and good longevity. 
 

In short, just jacking up the rear ride height and choosing the right tire setup will do wonders, for little money. 
 


Pic #1 is showing the tank bracket drilled to gain more shim height. 
Pic #2 is a shimmed clevis. 
Pic “3 is showing the limit for rear ride height. The lower shock eye WILL hit the linkage if going too far. 

0E2C2A35-5828-47BA-92D1-586F0DBCEB55.jpeg

60B8A479-6256-4794-A8E5-B6343C0BC6CF.jpeg

C29BE554-FCB3-42FD-9450-0F43C7F2ECFD.jpeg

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Emulators?  VFRs haven't had damping-rod forks since the RC24.  Do you mean aftermarket valves, e.g., R-T Gold Valves?  In any case, the '98 RC46 has cartridge forks, so the bike's existing cartridge can either be re-valved or in some cases (not sure about this particular model) entirely new aftermarket cartridges can be retro-fitted into the existing forks.

 

Ciao,

 

JZH

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1 hour ago, ducnut said:

If you’re OK with the linked brakes, just do straight-rate springs, aftermarket valves, and oil set to the correct level. Any good supplier (RaceTech, Traxxion Dynamics, DMr, etc) can send you everything set to install, with guidelines. The fork internals will work with most de-link options (they’re all Showa of the same design), so you’re not buying everything again, should you go that route. 
 

For shocks, the most affordable option, that can be serviced by about anyone, is a Wilbers. If you have the budget, a Penske 8900 is a great option, as well.  I’m not completely sure of what your options are in your location. Whatever you get, you want something adjustable-length. That’ll allow you to raise the rear ride height, which will get the bike handling more nimble. You can shim the rear clevis, by stacking washers atop it, to gain rear ride height. But, you can only go so for, before fabrication work comes into the picture. That’s why I suggest adjustable-length. Finally, I’m not a fan of shop-branded shocks, because if they go under, the owner dies, they change product lineup, you’re going to be out, as far as servicing. No one will have parts. And, so much of the stuff is Chinese-sourced garbage with a shop decal stuck on it (I know a shop doing exactly that). Spend a hundred or two more and get something serviceable around the world, hopefully with the shock company having a dealer close to you. 
 

Tires play a huge part in how your bike feels at the clip-ons. The pointier the front tire, the lighter the handling. Instead of just running what everyone else is, research front tire profiles. I always suggest a sport front tire (street sport; not a track sport) matched to that manufacturer’s rear sport-touring tire, for those wanting handling and good longevity. 
 

In short, just jacking up the rear ride height and choosing the right tire setup will do wonders, for little money. 
 


Pic #1 is showing the tank bracket drilled to gain more shim height. 
Pic #2 is a shimmed clevis. 
Pic “3 is showing the limit for rear ride height. The lower shock eye WILL hit the linkage if going too far. 

0E2C2A35-5828-47BA-92D1-586F0DBCEB55.jpeg

60B8A479-6256-4794-A8E5-B6343C0BC6CF.jpeg

C29BE554-FCB3-42FD-9450-0F43C7F2ECFD.jpeg

Yeah. I was planning on going the same route as I did with my old Bandit, which is pretty much the same as what you are saying. I will start looking for the parts needed for the front end, since the 929 shock feels quite good, so far. I had a local shop to make a new clevis with the right spacer for the shorter shock and raise the rear for 10mm. I need to change the front tire, it's the wrong size and of some crappy chinese brand (I bought the bike that way). I put a Shinko 011 Verge on the rear. I will put the same at the front.

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53 minutes ago, aztecmeca said:

Yeah. I was planning on going the same route as I did with my old Bandit, which is pretty much the same as what you are saying. I will start looking for the parts needed for the front end, since the 929 shock feels quite good, so far. I had a local shop to make a new clevis with the right spacer for the shorter shock and raise the rear for 10mm. I need to change the front tire, it's the wrong size and of some crappy chinese brand (I bought the bike that way). I put a Shinko 011 Verge on the rear. I will put the same at the front.

The rear can still be shimmed even higher. Just let the lower shock eyelet be your gauge. 
 

The Verge has a fairly pointy front profile, IIRC. It’s been a few years since I installed a set. But, I believe it to probably be the best tire in their lineup. 
 

Do you have easy access to most items and services where you’re at in Mexico? 

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17 hours ago, ducnut said:

The rear can still be shimmed even higher. Just let the lower shock eyelet be your gauge. 
 

The Verge has a fairly pointy front profile, IIRC. It’s been a few years since I installed a set. But, I believe it to probably be the best tire in their lineup. 
 

Do you have easy access to most items and services where you’re at in Mexico? 

Products? Nope. Parts for this bike are hard to find around here, so FleaBay is my friend (Although the dollar/peso exchange rate doesn't help). As for the services, I prefer to take care of them as much as I can (I already got the factory service manual). The good thing: Shop services (Welding, machining) are dirt cheap and of good quality. As for the rear getting even higher, I would like to wait until I have the front sorted out and then start fine tuning the suspension. Thanks for the input!!

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