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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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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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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.
 

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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.:crackup:
 

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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)
http://www.zx-10r.net/forum/f23/trackdays-stock-suspension-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=JidIw5iz7EZoptrG71xHV9ZrZijmgYwtdsISfAQqas4 <- 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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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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Discussion Starter #9
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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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)
http://www.zx-10r.net/forum/f23/trackdays-stock-suspension-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=JidIw5iz7EZoptrG71xHV9ZrZijmgYwtdsISfAQqas4 <- 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.
 

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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.
LDH is a great resource, and he has a shim in his rear shock clevis ROGUE RACING Ohlins TTX Shock

Mike Canfield MCTechnologies, JD Beach's crew chief, among many others in the past. Worked with Ken Hill to set up his zx-10r. Scott Russell, Mr Daytona, WSBK champ, etc. test rode the bike and gave his stamp of approval.

Ask SDsting or Krystyna if Toye shims the rear or uses an adjustable length shock to change the geometry.
 

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LDH is a great resource, and he has a shim in his rear shock clevis ROGUE RACING Ohlins TTX Shock

Mike Canfield MCTechnologies, JD Beach's crew chief, among many others in the past. Worked with Ken Hill to set up his zx-10r. Scott Russell, Mr Daytona, WSBK champ, etc. test rode the bike and gave his stamp of approval.

Ask SDsting or Krystyna if Toye shims the rear or uses an adjustable length shock to change the geometry.
Shims are great, we love shims, shims are our friend. I am saying don't shim first, do all that other stuff, that is what it is about.

This OP already said he was heavier than what the stock springs could accommodate, suspension does not work right unless it operates in the correct range of travel. So springs first, then adjust preload, THEN if necessary, shim as needed. Or if you have a shock with adjustable ride height, go for it.

Also thread started with OP citing wrong information from Sport Rider about the fork tube position, it is the same for all years of Gen 4.

You start cranking up the butt end of the bike, the front end will want to tuck and oversteer. You want to approach this stuff methodically, you want to have a method or process. The shim is like Step 12.

Wrong info is bad, it is not our friend.:crackup:
 

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Shims are great, we love shims, shims are our friend. I am saying don't shim first, do all that other stuff, that is what it is about.


You start cranking up the butt end of the bike, the front end will want to tuck and oversteer. You want to approach this stuff methodically, you want to have a method or process. The shim is like Step 12.

Wrong info is bad, it is not our friend.:crackup:
wrong info is not our friend.

I concur that setting the fork height should be done per the service manual. Then move them 2-3mm up or down and see how you like it. Mine are 11mm (12mm on the right side cause that fork is longer) from the triple.

What I was trying to show you with 3 or 4 examples, is the shim is necessary no matter what. it helps the bike steer faster and finish a corner. You can set the sag with the stock spring and it'll be close, but not ideal. That isn't the case with the geometry in the rear.
 

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wrong info is not our friend.

I concur that setting the fork height should be done per the service manual. Then move them 2-3mm up or down and see how you like it. Mine are 11mm (12mm on the right side cause that fork is longer) from the triple.

What I was trying to show you with 3 or 4 examples, is the shim is necessary no matter what. it helps the bike steer faster and finish a corner. You can set the sag with the stock spring and it'll be close, but not ideal. That isn't the case with the geometry in the rear.
Yes agreed. But little ol' me didn't need that shim, too skinny. All I am on about is just be careful with suspension, too many guys just want to slap a shim in there straight away before looking at the first causes, like wrong spring rates, binding in the fork, simple stuff.

Dang I was wondering why I put so much effort into this thread but it is because these bikes we are riding here don't tolerate being much out of whack, all that power turns a small problem into a big headache right quick. Even a bike with 100 HP is not near as likely to get all crazy on you.

I cranked in about 2-3 mm of preload on the rear shock and my bike just oversteered like mad. Seriously, I turned around after a mile of twisties and came back about 1.5mm and it was just right.

It was real lazy out of the crate, wanted to run wide as they all seem to do. GSX-R 750 was the same way, and BT016's which it had also just make it worse.

Proceed with caution.:helmet:
 

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Yes agreed. But little ol' me didn't need that shim, too skinny. All I am on about is just be careful with suspension, too many guys just want to slap a shim in there straight away before looking at the first causes, like wrong spring rates, binding in the fork, simple stuff.

Dang I was wondering why I put so much effort into this thread but it is because these bikes we are riding here don't tolerate being much out of whack, all that power turns a small problem into a big headache right quick. Even a bike with 100 HP is not near as likely to get all crazy on you.

I cranked in about 2-3 mm of preload on the rear shock and my bike just oversteered like mad. Seriously, I turned around after a mile of twisties and came back about 1.5mm and it was just right.

It was real lazy out of the crate, wanted to run wide as they all seem to do. GSX-R 750 was the same way, and BT016's which it had also just make it worse.

Proceed with caution.:helmet:
Sorry OP, we have completely jacked your thread.

Fang, you may want to check with your suspension expert of choice. My understanding is your are using preload incorrectly to change the ride height. If you try a shim in the rear it will produce the desired effect of changing the geometry for less lazy steering, and then you can use the spring preload to set sag, as intended. You being lighter weight just means the spring in the rear is probably correct from the factory. YMMV :helmet:
 

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Yes agreed. But little ol' me didn't need that shim, too skinny. All I am on about is just be careful with suspension, too many guys just want to slap a shim in there straight away before looking at the first causes, like wrong spring rates, binding in the fork, simple stuff.

Dang I was wondering why I put so much effort into this thread but it is because these bikes we are riding here don't tolerate being much out of whack, all that power turns a small problem into a big headache right quick. Even a bike with 100 HP is not near as likely to get all crazy on you.

I cranked in about 2-3 mm of preload on the rear shock and my bike just oversteered like mad. Seriously, I turned around after a mile of twisties and came back about 1.5mm and it was just right.

It was real lazy out of the crate, wanted to run wide as they all seem to do. GSX-R 750 was the same way, and BT016's which it had also just make it worse.

Proceed with caution.:helmet:
Adding shims or moving the forks changes the geometry of the bike and the effect on performance is independent from setting pre-load, changing spring rates, or other suspension settings. If you had an extended swing arm and wanted the bike to turn in faster are you saying you'd adjust the suspension settings before you'd try bringing the rear wheel towards the front? I'm exaggerating, but it's the same case.

Being a certain weight has no bearing on whether or not to shim the rear shock either. That's not to say adjusting suspension settings didn't get you where you personally wanted to be. I'm glad it worked for you. I'm also not saying geometry and suspension settings don't all work in harmony to affect performance. Further, tire size, sprocket sizes, all have an effect on geometry. Tire pressure and tire rigidity also play major roles.

I spent a couple days with Dave Moss (this does not make me an expert) and the first thing he asked was if I shimmed my rear shock. I said I did, but wasn't sure if it was 100% necessary. His reply was "The 2011 zx10 stock rear shock needs to be shimmed at least 6mm (depending on tire size and wheelbase due to aftermarket sprockets) as a baseline. The geometry out of the crate isn't good enough" Do your own research on Dave, but he's not just some guy writing articles for magazines.
 

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BTW where is LDH in all this? lol
Setting up stock suspension is not what I do so basically When I don't know something I just keep my mouth shut hence my absence from this thread.
:smile2:


To the topic though, there is way more to setting the geometry than any one person can relay in a reasonable amount of time.

The geometry is basically fine tuned to a riders needs and is dictated by how fast the rider actually is, how far they lean off the bike, the size and profile of the tires, the quality of the suspension and a list of other variables.

Stock suspension will require a different type of geometry than quality aftermarket suspension would. With proper damping and spring rates in most quality aftermarket suspension you will limit the amount of front end dive under trailbraking and squat under acceleration etc which drastically alters the way the bike enters and exits the turns and adds not only stability, but consistency to the set-up. Stock suspension lacks that ability and you have to ride around those issues which makes geometry setup a compromising nightmare. I learned years ago that stock suspension is shit. I don't care how many accolades whatever magazine or blog throws at it, it's still shit and is much harder to get set up properly for one specific weight, rider or riding style when it was built as a one size fits all.

I don't ride on stock suspension nor do any of the pro racers I derive set-up data from so I do not personally know how to set up stock suspension on a ZX-10R. It would never even occur to me to try so I'll defer that level of expertise to the guys that make their living at trackdays working on bikes with stock suspension. What I would not do is listen to any moto-journalists advice on the subject. Most of those guys are just writers that happen to know how to ride a motorcycle and as I have said before they don't have to be good at either one to do the job. The rest of them are retired racers or test riders that have specific requirements or feedback they look for in a motorcycle set-up that may make the bike handle great for them, but would likely mean very little to the average rider.
 
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