Discriminating enthusiasts have long known the value of suspension upgrades. Simply look beneath the surface and you will find stock “iron pyrites” replaced with aftermarket “gold”. Clearly, lap times, ride comfort and most of all rider confidence join to form the value proposition for investing in your suspension.
While modern suspension systems have been greatly improved over the years, it is quite impossible for manufacturers to get it exactly right out of the box for every owner. Variables associated with the rider (weight, style and ability), suspension (spring rates, damping and geometry) and venue (application and environment) typically allow room for improvements. Suspension adjustability, progressiveness and the consistency of action are key factors.
This particular Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R is used primarily as a track day weapon. After exhausting the available adjustment parameters, the stock suspension still did not inspire confidence under hard acceleration, braking, and, especially, turning the motorcycle, which tended to run wide on corner exit.
Suspension: The ability to control both the rebound and compression damping is crucial to suspension success. The proper spring rate and preload act symbiotically with the damping system to complement the frame geometry. On the track, an immediate improvement was obvious, shaving seconds from our lap times. The motorcycle’s behaviorwas transformed with smooth bump absorption and perfect, neutral handling and turn-in. Subsequent damping adjustments were made, placing the setup even more precisely. The added high-speed and low-speed compression adjustments on the shock helped us fine-tune the damping for different sections of the track. The precise ride height adjuster makes it easier to find an optimal setting. (Click image to enlarge)
Suspension experts, Pettersson Pro Suspension (PPS), recommended an Öhlins 20mm piston kit and fork springs, and an Öhlins rear shock and spring to better match the rider’s weight and riding style. PPS was instrumental in tuning the parts for our needs, based on their experience around various different race tracks. This knowledge is a critical value component when making the decision on whom to turn to for help.
The results of our efforts were pure gold.