• Announcements

    • Bryan Bosch

      JUST IN!   04/24/2018

      HOW TO: 4-STROKE PISTON REPLACEMENT DONE RIGHT!
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

The little things can mean BIG improvements!


Stillwell Performance

Small details can mean the difference between a bike that is so so versus a stellar performer.

 

So let’s assume you have been out to the track or trail and have come up with some good settings through your testing. (For more info on how to start testing you can refer to an earlier article by Stillwell Performance on Thumper Talk entitled “Tuning Your Suspension-Where To Start?”).

 

Once you establish good, baseline settings you can start digging into the smaller details. As always, your testing should be done in a controlled environment and at a speed less than your best Bubba Stewart impersonation. The adjustments listed below can DRASTICALLY alter the feel of your bike, so take it easy at first!

 

There are several things you should pay attention to:

 

• Your sag setting can drastically alter how the bike feels. On current model bikes like YZ-F’s, CRF’s and SX-F’s for example the chassis balance is critical to turning, rear wheel hookup and overall feel of the bike. 2-3mm here can mean the difference between a plush ride and a hacky feeling. Learn how to correctly set your sag (and make sure your buddy reading the sag scale has his glasses on, lol!).

 

• Look at your tire pressures. On the front, for example a tire that is too hard can cause deflection and a harsh ride. Last week we were testing in the Colorado Mountains and one of the riders was complaining about his bike bouncing off of rocks. Nothing had changed from the previous day when he was quite happy with his settings-except he had adjusted tire pressure. When we checked the pressure it was at 20 PSI, up from 12 the day before! Turns out he was in a hurry and misread the gauge. That increase turned his perfect front end into a skitter-scatter ride. Too little pressure and you can experience front end push or tuck. Find a pressure that works for you and make sure it stays consistent. We run 12-13 PSI in the front when testing. NOTE: Check it during the day, Colorado is cold in the AM and hot in the PM many days-you can see pressure build up during this time!

 

• Note where your rear axle is adjusted. Running the axle far forward will make the wheelbase shorter, can make turning sharper and can also make the bike want to wheelie easier on uphill climbs. With the axle far back you will notice an increase in stability at speed and sometimes a bit slower turning. Also-if you are using the axle or axle blocks as a starting measuring point for your sag calculation this measurement will change when you adjust the axle!

 

• Where your forks ride in the top triple clamp is important. Flush with the top means a bit more stability, and possibly less sharpness in turning. Moving the tubes up in the clamps can increase how sharp the bike turns but can also create headshake at speed. There is no right or wrong here, and each bike can be different. I would suggest trying them flush, then pulled up in the clamps 3-4mm. Ride the same terrain and compare.

 

• Like the above tip, some bikes have triple clamps that can be moved forward or backwards to either pull the head angle back or push it away. In general, less offset means sharper turning and more offset helps with stability. This is not an absolute so test it out if your bike has this option. The 2010 KTM SX/XC models for example went from an adjustable 18/20 offset clamp to a fixed 22mm clamp. It not only made the bike more stable (which you would expect) it also made it turn better. Weird but true. Test, test, and test some more to see what feels best to you.

 

• Look at smaller things like the position of your bars-some guys feel better with them back, some forward. The key here is how much weight do you transfer to the front end and what effect does that have on the bike? One of our sponsored riders, Ex World and GNCC Champ Shane Watts runs a very neutral bar position. One of our other pro riders, ISDE Junior Trophy Team rider Ian Blythe wants his bar setup further back as he feels he can transfer more weight to the front tire in turns, increasing traction and feel. Try some different bar positions and see what feels best for you.

 

• Bleed the air from your forks. I drove from Denver (5200ft.) to Pitkin, CO (9100 ft.) with a new 2011 KTM last week to test. When we had set up the forks in Denver we bled the air. In the first 10 miles of testing the forks were feeling hard. Popped the bleeder screws and I’ll bet 15 PSI of air came out of each leg! Presto, instant plushness.

 

Just like that last point above; don’t overlook the small stuff if you really want to make your suspension the best it can be.

 

Take your time and have fun!

 

Keep It Pinned,

 

Alan Stillwell
http://www.stillwellperformance.com


Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0


User Feedback


There are no comments to display.



Guest
This is now closed for further comments

  • Similar Content

    • By DH893
      Hey all,
      My brother bought a used 2018 KTM 350 SXF and when he tries to set the air pressure on the fork, the reading jumps around and is very difficult to get it to settle at the desired pressure. It is not the pump, as it works just fine on his 2017 250 SX. Any ideas what could be going on here?
    • By joelpotter
      Attempting to change the fork seals due to a leak in one fork on my 1984 Honda XR500R with Showa mg3-771 forks. My dust seals don't look anything like the youtube videos, photos, forums that I have researched. Also researched this specific fork and found nothing. Also I can only find information about models relatively close to my bike(XR350, XR400, XR600), but not exact. My dust seals seem to be permanently attached to the inside of the fork tube, probably some adhesive and has a foam ring underneath it that is deteriorating, hence the leak. Anyone have any ideas how to change the fork seals without removing the dust seal? Also noticed that the foam ring should be under the white plastic washer, not on top of, when compared to my other fork tube that is not leaking.
       
      Left Fork: Leaking, foam ring on top of white plastic washer
      Lef
       
      Right Fork: Not leaking, foam ring under white plastic washer

    • By noja83
      Hi all. This is my first time posting here, been using this wonderful resource for some time though. So a brief introduction and question. I got back into riding a few years ago after a long time  away.  A couple years ago I picked up a new to me 2009 KTM 200 XC-W. I've had a lot of fun the last two seasons riding the bike, but even after a fair amount of riding and getting more comfortable on the bike, it still feels really tall and really stiff.  I ride trail and single track, some pretty steep and rocky trails here in northern CO. No MX, racing, or big jumps.
      I've spent a considerable amount of time on hold and emailing suspension companies trying to get recommendations with no response. So hopefully you knowledgeable folks here can help me out.
      I was told by the previous owner the bike was set up for a 190lb rider. I weigh maybe 140 soaking wet. I've played with the clickers and have a lower seat but the suspension seems too far out of the range for a person as light as I am. I've torn the forks down for seals and replaced a damper rod tube that had 80% of the threads snapped off where the fork cap / reb adjuster screws on (probably that 190lb previous owner going all Lennie form Mice and Men on it) causing the adjuster rod to be bottomed out just to get the cap on two threads and the clicker on the cap to be stuck. 
      I'm an experienced mechanic and have no issues with the forks and can get the shock spacer added and serviced / charged with nitrogen locally.
      My question is on spring rates. Racetech's calculator gives me .359 fork and P5 progressive rate shock. Do I want to go up in rate much from there when lowering 1" all around?
      Here's my plan, based solely on the racetech calculator and my measurements from when I had the forks apart, so your thoughts and experience here are very much appreciated.   
      Stock spring dimensions are 43.2 x 508 x .41. The rate in there now is unknown.
      I plan on using Racetech 42.7 x 493 in a .38 spring rate. That's .6 in shorter, There's enough shims up top to remove to get correct preload with an inch lowering spacer at the bottom.
      For the rear stock is 8.4 rate. I can't find any marks to guess what's in there right now. I am planning to use the P5 from racetech, again based on their calculator.
      Sorry for the long winded post, I'm a mechanic raised by a machinist and I've been trying to work this out for a while.
       
      Thanks in advance,
      Noah 
       
    • By Cubes
      Hey Everyone,
      I have just recently gotten back into riding, and I have been trying to get my sag set on my bike.  I have a 2005 RMZ 450.  The manual calls for 104mm of rider sag. I am a bigger guy, 6ft and 320lbs.  I know the spring that is currently on the bike is stiffer than stock, but I am not sure what the rating is on it. 
      I currently have the bike set at 120mm rider sag, and 10mm static sag.  I know this means that my spring is too soft, and I need to go to a heavier spring.  However, I probably wont be able to switch out the spring for awhile. 
      So for now, what is the best sag setting with my current spring?  Should I try to get rider sag closer to 104mm, or should I worry more about raising my static sag? I do mostly trail riding and I am a novice. Will messing around with adjustments on the rear shock help?
    • By 06thumpstarpro
      I just picked up a 2006 Thumpstar 125 and I want to upgrade the rear shock to accomodate my weight. I'm 6'1" and just about 300lbs. My bike has the A style or triangle style swing arm. There's some decent looking 1200lb rear shocks on ebay or there's the Fast Ace 550lb rear shock on Tbolt which says is for A style swing arms. My question is, would the 1200lb rear shock be the way to go for a guy like me even on the A style setup? Also would a 280mm shock work? And does the shock have to be A style specific or not?