Gen 4: 2011 vs +2012 forks setup - Kawasaki ZX-10R.net
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post #1 of 27 Old 09-25-2015, 04:40 PM Thread Starter
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Gen 4: 2011 vs +2012 forks setup

Hi,

I have been doing some research on setting up the suspension on my Gen 4 for the track.

I am not the fastest bloke around but certainly not the slowest with some racing experience on a Daytona 675 (I did not set up the suspension on the race bike then).

I have found an interesting variant between the Gen 4 2011 models vs Gen 4 +2012. It seems the recommended ride height setting for the front forks shows 11mm (0.43 inch) fork tube showing above top triple clamp for 2011 models but for +2012 models the fork tubes must sit flush with the triple clamps.

See website below and scroll down to the Kawas.

Suggested Sport Bike Motorcycle Suspension Settings | Sport Rider

I have a friend that races a Gen 4 2011 and he was struggling with the suspension setup until some bright spark measured the triple clamp-to-ground distance and compared it to some other Gen 4 racing bikes and his was running +- 10mm (0.40 inch) higher in the front than +2012 models with the same rim/wheel/tire setups.

They then dropped the triple clamp by 10mm into the fork tube and he said he could finally get a proper line to and from the apex.

Can somebody confirm this perhaps. I don't race but mostly use my bike for track days and would like to get the most of the stock setup.
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post #2 of 27 Old 09-25-2015, 05:38 PM
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As far as I know, there is no difference between any Gen4 years, except the electronically controlled steering damper.
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post #3 of 27 Old 09-25-2015, 06:38 PM
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As far as I know, there is no difference between any Gen4 years, except the electronically controlled steering damper.

Yeah, there should be no differences. But, your buddy discovered what everyone else has been doing by shimming the rear shock. Lowering the front does essentially the same thing - bringing the swingarm angle and rake where it needs to be for the bike to hold a line and not understeer.

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post #4 of 27 Old 09-28-2015, 05:39 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies. I'll search for some threads on shimming the rear shock.
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post #5 of 27 Old 09-28-2015, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Mario123 View Post
Hi,

I have been doing some research on setting up the suspension on my Gen 4 for the track.

I am not the fastest bloke around but certainly not the slowest with some racing experience on a Daytona 675 (I did not set up the suspension on the race bike then).

I have found an interesting variant between the Gen 4 2011 models vs Gen 4 +2012. It seems the recommended ride height setting for the front forks shows 11mm (0.43 inch) fork tube showing above top triple clamp for 2011 models but for +2012 models the fork tubes must sit flush with the triple clamps.

See website below and scroll down to the Kawas.

Suggested Sport Bike Motorcycle Suspension Settings | Sport Rider

I have a friend that races a Gen 4 2011 and he was struggling with the suspension setup until some bright spark measured the triple clamp-to-ground distance and compared it to some other Gen 4 racing bikes and his was running +- 10mm (0.40 inch) higher in the front than +2012 models with the same rim/wheel/tire setups.

They then dropped the triple clamp by 10mm into the fork tube and he said he could finally get a proper line to and from the apex.

Can somebody confirm this perhaps. I don't race but mostly use my bike for track days and would like to get the most of the stock setup.
Magazines concoct their own settings. Forget what they say, that is all to make them look sharp.

Put the bike together like the service manual specifies and then work out from there.

The service manual for the 2013 ZX-10R states 11mm above the triples just like all years of the Gen 4. If you lower the forks like they suggest you are going to have the laziest, most understeering bike around.

Like any well-designed racebike the Gen 4 is very response to changes of just 1mm for any geometry dimension; the position of the forks in the triples (and adding shims to the shock mount) is the last place to go, after everything else is properly adjusted and it is very unlikely you will need to do anything in that regard. Adjust the ride height with spring preload, if you can't get it right, replace the springs with those of the correct rating.

I always thought it was rather suspect that any publication could broadcast either a "one size fits all" or even a "baseline" setup since they didn't design or manufacture the bikes in question and have hardly got the time to spend testing these bikes and sorting them in proper manner.

Not only that but I am unaware of any real engineers working for these kinds of magazines, online or print. So forget that stuff and do it right.

Patience and careful attention to changes is what we want in sorting a bike, not reading a magazine. With all respect I know that is the nature of the business and they mean no harm but there is still a right way and wrong way to do things, and you won't find it in the monthly rags very often.

Start with the manufacturer's baseline as I mentioned before. Whatever the service manual states, set the bike up that way.

Next, if you are serious about this, select the spring rate that suits your weight and riding style. You can do this right off the bat, that is Suspension 101. It is especially important for the forks. For me this is easy, I am very light at 143 pounds so the stock springs are perfect. If you are over 160 you need new springs all the way around.

Then set the static sag and ride height, you can find out how to do this somewhere else as it is all over the place.

Do not touch the damping settings yet, ride the bike first and see what's up. It's a boatload of guesswork and really takes years of riding to be able to predict what changes are needed.

Some guys will say, "It needs two clicks of rebound damping and a click of compression damping in the forks, and the high-speed compression damping should be backed off a half-turn on the shock whilst the low-speed compression damping must be bumped a full turn clockwise. Then adjust the rebound damping on the shock 1.5 turns clockwise, that will do it."

Of course, no one can really do this; some riders can get pretty accurate in predicting these things but only after a lot of experience and observation.

As I said on my bike, stock spring rates were correct. I had to adjust the ride height in the rear by simply adjusting preload on the spring, and it didn't take much; the range of motion of the ringnut was less than 1/4 turn to find the "neutral" handling I like. Quick turn-in but still very stable in high speed turns, on/off throttle and brakes, no tendency to over/understeer.

I only had to increase the damping perhaps 1-2 turns all round, front/rear, and dial in two clicks of additional spring preload in the forks; I like to brake quite aggressively and do not like the front end to dive. I cannot remember my exact damping settings and there is little point in writing these things down because as the tires and bike wear these settings change and need to be adjusted to compensate for wear and riding style changes.

If you are quite heavy or can really run in the podium group at your local race club you are going to need better than this of course but that is a different discussion.

A final note; when my bike was rebuilt from the frame up, with a new frame, the technician did a superb job of reassembly and essentially blue-printed it exactly to all factory specifications. It handled better than it had before. The forks were set to 11 mm above the triples by the book, steering bearings by the book but also with the proper final touch which only experience can provide. Like he said, after thirty years he should know how to do it, but many don't.

The KISS principle applies to suspension more than almost anything else in life.

Sturm und Drang

Last edited by White Fang; 09-28-2015 at 10:19 AM.
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post #6 of 27 Old 09-28-2015, 10:28 AM
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Thanks for the replies. I'll search for some threads on shimming the rear shock.
You had best replace the rear spring with one of the correct rate and set ride height/sag front and rear before you start shimming and moving forks in the clamps.

Shimming and sliding forks without first having the correct spring rate is dangerous as the suspension will still be too darn soft and then what you will try to do is crank in all kinds of damping to compensate, screwing up the suspensions' ability to be compliant.

Magazine guys and those on the cheap love to shim because it is a seemingly quick fix, "Wow the bike steers a lot quicker!"

These guys would use a hammer to change something, they are working on a deadline to not only finish a clever story but they have to return the motorcycles -- sometimes within just days -- to the manufacturer.

Gone are the days when we had bikes for weeks at a time and could really put some effort into them.

These days it seems to be believed that most people have only a six-second attention span (vine) and I think there may be something to that.

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post #7 of 27 Old 09-28-2015, 12:12 PM
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Project ZX10R | Fastersafer.com <- if you start at the bottom of the page Ken gives notes on how he initially set up the bike (8mm shim on the rear)
https://www.zx-10r.net/forum/f23/trac...on-113649.html <- this thread has a bunch of setup info from racers and trackday riders. Most of the info is getting the correct spring for your weight, and this makes a huge deal.
https://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=E99gbBsCVvw&lc=JidIw5iz7EZoptrG71xH V9ZrZijmgYwtdsISfAQqas4 <- Dave Moss replies in the comments "set the forks with 6mm showing and shim the shock 6-8mm." You have to get the geometry right to help the suspension work correctly.

Besides what the magazines mention about shimming the rear to put the geometry in the proper place, the above 3 links are well-known pros in the motorcycling community
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post #8 of 27 Old 09-28-2015, 12:21 PM
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Definitely ignore what the mags say! That's a waste. But also disregard the manual. Only because the manual is basing their numbers off a perfect world and a specific rider talent range.

but in the real world, it's FAR from perfect. Forks aren't the same length, riders don't have the same talent.

I would start by not measuring ride height by the amount of fork showing through the clamps. It's more accurate to measure from the bottom of the lower clamp to the end of the fork tube.

I recommend first removing the wheel, set the fork height (both sides obviously) and then install the wheel. This will ensure that you can verify the axle is aligned correctly. Preventing added friction. And lets you know that your legs are also that same length.

For example, my right fork (OEM) is 3mm shorter than my left fork.

As for what's the "right" fork height? That's ALL up to the rider and the track. There is no "secret" or "magic" number...
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post #9 of 27 Old 09-28-2015, 03:18 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks again for all the replies and insights. I did some more research and as I am on the heavier side of heavy, I will start with the rear shock/spring to suit my weight and get the preloads set up correctly first.
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post #10 of 27 Old 09-28-2015, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Animal11 View Post
Project ZX10R | Fastersafer.com <- if you start at the bottom of the page Ken gives notes on how he initially set up the bike (8mm shim on the rear)
https://www.zx-10r.net/forum/f23/trac...on-113649.html <- this thread has a bunch of setup info from racers and trackday riders. Most of the info is getting the correct spring for your weight, and this makes a huge deal.
https://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=E99gbBsCVvw&lc=JidIw5iz7EZoptrG71xH V9ZrZijmgYwtdsISfAQqas4 <- Dave Moss replies in the comments "set the forks with 6mm showing and shim the shock 6-8mm." You have to get the geometry right to help the suspension work correctly.

Besides what the magazines mention about shimming the rear to put the geometry in the proper place, the above 3 links are well-known pros in the motorcycling community
Let us just get one thing clear, bear with me...well-known pros just means they have promoted themselves with some success.

Now if you want some good advice the names you want are not the guys writing articles for magazines or running riding schools. Nosiree.

You want guys who have actually built and set up bikes that have won championships, at least on a recognizable level. I don't know about all the clubs out there, but certainly AFM, WERA, and Willow Springs Motorcycle Club (now defunct) gave rise to some very, very good racers. Being California clubs, they race very often, WSMC used to run 12 months out of the year, rain, snow, hurricane, ice, or blazing heat.

So that would lead me to first say, "How about Lee's Cycle Service, Jeremy Toye's shop (he was with WSMC for years, #1 Plate Holder, etcetera)? That would be the best contact as Jeremy Toye just hammered Pike's Peak on a Gen 4 and is in the process of sorting the Gen 5." No? well than, "Hey, why not have (Chuck) Graves Motorsports help you out?" Next up I would say, "Check out Kevin Erion Racing." If you have his number, I'd say "Give Al Ludington a call. (He might blow up your phone but he knows what he is doing, lol.)

Go to people who have actually done something noteworthy other than start a website or riding school if you want the best answer.

Sturm und Drang
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