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Looking into DIY suspension revalves. The obvious is Race Tech - but I've heard good things about Smart Performance too.

 

Does anyone have experience with them? What makes their parts better than race tech? Do they give you compression and rebound valves, and shim stacks? How does their system compare to other valving companies like Pro Action, Factory Connection, PR2, RG3, etc?

 

I'm looking to install them on a 2012 Husqvarna CR 125 with 48mm KYB.

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Well...let me give you the good, the bad and the ugly.

First, we are super busy and very dysfunctional. Not everyone likes us, but those that do, love us.

We don't do normal "re-valves" but take more of an engineering approach to developing the circuits as to get them to do things that they were never originally designed to do.

We seldom replace the valve bodies (pistons).

We have our own fluid which smells like someone would smell if they didn't take a shower for a few weeks.

The feel and the performance of our designs is completely different than nearly all of the stuff that is out there. THAT...does not mean that you will like it. But usually if you think everything else feels "just okay" or you don't like it, then you'll most likely like what we do...if we can ever get it built and shipped.

We REALLY REALLY know our sh*t, but we suck as a business.

How's that for a start?

Edited by DaveJ
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Well...let me give you the good, the bad and the ugly.

First, we are super busy and very dysfunctional. Not everyone likes us, but those that do, love us.

We don't do normal "re-valves" but take more of an engineering approach to developing the circuits as to get them to do things that they were never originally designed to do.

We seldom replace the valve bodies (pistons).

We have our own fluid which smells like someone would smell if they didn't take a shower for a few weeks.

The feel and the performance of our designs is completely different than nearly all of the stuff that is out there. THAT...does not mean that you will like it. But usually if you think everything else feels "just okay" or you don't like it, then you'll most likely like what we do...if we can ever get it built and shipped.

We REALLY REALLY know our sh*t, but we suck as a business.

How's that for a start?

 

Not quite the response I expected, but honesty is always appreciated. :rolleyes:

 

I'm an engineer, so I'm sure I can appreciate what you guys are trying to do. Can you explain a little more about Smart Performance's suspension mods in more detail and how they improve the suspension characteristics without replacing valves/pistons? Sounds like fluid dynamics.

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I've been working with Dave for what, about 3 years or better, done some testing for him, bought a lot of stuff from him for myself and for customers, and yes, once in a while, he can be hard to get hold of.  But IMO, his stuff is definitely not the same old cookie-cutter shim shuffling.  Most suspension companies make adjustments, Dave redesigns things.  Absolutely worth it.

 

He's a legitimate engineer, like yourself, and has applied that training to dirt bike suspension as has no one else I can think of.  A lot of people talk about how virtuous it is to think outside the box.  I see Dave as one of those people who either doesn't realize that there is a box in the first place, or just won't acknowledge it.  Back when Yamaha forks were all the 46mm open bath KYB's, "everyone" understood that you had to spend $700-1000 on them to get them close to being as good as an early stock CRF450.  Dave, almost obsessively, kept working on them until his very heavily reworked KYB's were as good as anyone's modified Showas.  Unfortunately, accomplishing that involved so many custom made internals that the design was impractically expensive, and he discontinued it. 

 

But several of the principals he used in that one lead to things like the redesigned mid valve in the "Dell Taco" version of the KYB SSS fork, and the mid and base valve reconfigurations for the "Phase 4" 48mm KYB open bath WR450 fork.  He's recently been working with a kit for the 50mm WP that is producing excellent results.  And, he developed (and is still developing) his own suspension fluid to address shortcomings in the standard stuff.

 

You've probably heard all sorts of negatives; here's a couple of positives, many from my own personal experience.  His stuff works, and it produces results that you can't get otherwise.  He charges less than most people.  He sells DIY kits, and then supports them.  I'll bet he hasn't sold a single kit to a first time customer where that person didn't call him back at least twice asking questions.  Every time I've needed to talk with him, I've been able to. 

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I've been working with Dave for what, about 3 years or better, done some testing for him, bought a lot of stuff from him for myself and for customers, and yes, once in a while, he can be hard to get hold of.  But IMO, his stuff is definitely not the same old cookie-cutter shim shuffling.  Most suspension companies make adjustments, Dave redesigns things.  Absolutely worth it.

 

He's a legitimate engineer, like yourself, and has applied that training to dirt bike suspension as has no one else I can think of.  A lot of people talk about how virtuous it is to think outside the box.  I see Dave as one of those people who either doesn't realize that there is a box in the first place, or just won't acknowledge it.  Back when Yamaha forks were all the 46mm open bath KYB's, "everyone" understood that you had to spend $700-1000 on them to get them close to being as good as an early stock CRF450.  Dave, almost obsessively, kept working on them until his very heavily reworked KYB's were as good as anyone's modified Showas.  Unfortunately, accomplishing that involved so many custom made internals that the design was impractically expensive, and he discontinued it. 

 

But several of the principals he used in that one lead to things like the redesigned mid valve in the "Dell Taco" version of the KYB SSS fork, and the mid and base valve reconfigurations for the "Phase 4" 48mm KYB open bath WR450 fork.  He's recently been working with a kit for the 50mm WP that is producing excellent results.  And, he developed (and is still developing) his own suspension fluid to address shortcomings in the standard stuff.

 

You've probably heard all sorts of negatives; here's a couple of positives, many from my own personal experience.  His stuff works, and it produces results that you can't get otherwise.  He charges less than most people.  He sells DIY kits, and then supports them.  I'll bet he hasn't sold a single kit to a first time customer where that person didn't call him back at least twice asking questions.  Every time I've needed to talk with him, I've been able to. 

 

Thanks, that's the response I was looking for.

 

Do the DIY kits include valves, or are they simply shim stacks developed from his research? I have read, as you mentioned, that he's really difficult to get ahold of - and as this is my first revalve on my own, I know I'll need some help.

 

My budget is very limited, so hopefully we're in the same ballpark. I sent him an email, looking forward to the response.

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The kits don't normally include pistons, because in most cases, there isn't really anything wrong with the originals, and not much to be gained by replacing them.  He does provide instructions as to how they can be carefully modified to make improvements, including changes to the ports and bleed holes where those things apply.  His kit for the KYB SSF does include a piston though, as there was considerable room for improvement there.

 

A "valve" is an assembly that normally consists of a piston, a stack of shims, and a stem on which they mount.  Sometimes there are other components like springs, collars/spacers, and the like.  The kit for any specific fork may include a number of any of these parts to be used in place of the original parts.  So it's accurate to say that they come with parts to modify the valves in the fork or shock, much as do most other kits. 

 

As an example, part of what the "Dell Taco" setup does is that it alters the basic design of the mid valve.  The standard configuration is a short shim stack that slides up and down the valve stem on a collar and is held against the piston face by a light spring.  That spring allows the stack to "float" (rise off the piston face with very little resistance) for a distance under light flow rates, then stop and begin controlling oil flow with the shim stack as flow speed increases.  Dave's kit reverses that somewhat by using a heavier spring and allowing more lift, which forces the valve stack into play much earlier, but then allows it to lift off the piston when the flow rate rises farther.  The parts to accomplish that are included, along with illustrated instructions and a build sheet customized to you.

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As an example, part of what the "Dell Taco" setup does is that it alters the basic design of the mid valve.  The standard configuration is a short shim stack that slides up and down the valve stem on a collar and is held against the piston face by a light spring.  That spring allows the stack to "float" (rise off the piston face with very little resistance) for a distance under light flow rates, then stop and begin controlling oil flow with the shim stack as flow speed increases.  Dave's kit reverses that somewhat by using a heavier spring and allowing more lift, which forces the valve stack into play much earlier, but then allows it to lift off the piston when the flow rate rises farther.  The parts to accomplish that are included, along with illustrated instructions and a build sheet customized to you.

 

In the standard configuration - does the fork have a 'spike' in stiffness in that 'transition' period when the shims 'top out' - allowing the shims to control the flow instead of being piston controlled? That system seems to lend itself to having a spike in dampening since the flow rate is changing from piston controlled to shim controlled in a very short period of time?

 

If so, I can see how Dave's kit would be smoother, because the flow is controlled by how much the shims are allowed to 'lift off' from the piston, which is a function of how fast the oil is being forced through (speed sensitivity). Is my understanding correct or am I way off?

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Is this system used for the shock as well? Is the rebound damping also altered somehow?

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That varies from one bike and shock to another, but in general, shocks don't have the equivalent of a mid valve that one could modify in that way.  Usually, the shock kits are somewhat simpler, hardware wise, and mostly involve exchanging shims within the valving.

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I've ran Dave's stuff in three bikes.  All three were A class riders in ND.  Which is B class riders in most other states.  They all loved the setup.  Used his valving and oil.  The oil is awesome, used that in quite a few bikes.  But as Dave stated, it's hard to get your hands on the stuff.  If you do you will love it.

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Hi guys

1) Dave is in an intellectual working in an industry filled with un-educated suspension experts. He not only explains theory behind his designs, but also the drawbacks of the stock designs as well.

2) He is extremely competitively priced - maybe too much, given the information he shares with his customers.

3) His suspension calibration specs and designs are always being upgraded and he will update his customers with the latest info.

4) He loves to talk moto - how can you not like the guy??

5) Yes, it is challenging to reach him sometimes. Speaking from experience, everyone wants to talk to the president/owner of the company. At some point, you need to not take calls to get work done.

6) SPI stands behind their product.

Just my opinion,

Thanks,

Rob

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Most people love the setup some hate it.

I love what the spi revalve did to my 09 crf.

It made the bike work.

I'm not the fastest guy I ride single track, desert and occasionally track. I feel the suspension is great for me everywhere.

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JRod you will love the smart performance stuff. I have done 3 DIY kits on different bikes - they are fairly simple to do. The build sheet that Dave sends explains all valving and clicker settings. Also out of three kits the clicker settings have been very close.

As for the old SPI fluid that Dave said smelled, I'm here to confirm, as the first time I did a shock, I basically took a bath. By the way it smelled like rancid skunk piss. The new fluid smells like perfume compared to the old.

Now the bad side- I have been waiting for a kit for my 2000 KX250 since this past March. The problem is that I have has such success with the other kits (1 for my bike, 2 for others bikes), that I will not go any where else.

Good luck

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Both my bikes have Smart and are some of the best riding bikes I've ever been on. I wouldn't even imagine using another tuner.  I just got done installing Smart kits for two friends.  They both rode my bikes and said that is what they wanted. The only bad thing is Smart has gone back to the not so good smelling fluid because it lasts longer.  Dave is a stand up guy and will take care of you, you just have to be patient.  

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