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When Did the Evolution of Suspension Slow Down?

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This is a fairly broad topic but I guess I'm looking for a broad response. I would argue the evolution of suspension on dirtbikes was changing greatly for many years, and in the last decade or more has slowed greatly. Let me know if you disagree. Obviously improvements are being made, but it seems to me that suspension from, say, 2010 would still be competitive today. With that said, around what year range would you say that doesn't hold true? The reason this question is even in my head is because of old discontinued 2 strokes. I really like the idea of fully rebuilding an old KX250 or CR250 to be my 2 stroke for years to come.

The one question I have about those old bikes is suspension. If it's rebuilt properly is it competitive with today's suspension? Where do you draw the line? 2000? 2005? 2010? When did major changes slow down to become what is generally all considered good suspension? Would it be worth the time and money to get new triples and forks from a newer bike, or just rebuild and run old forks? 

I can't say I know a whole lot about my suspension - I ride 50+ days per year and consider myself a good rider, but I never have done anything beyond adjusting compression. It feels good and I ride the damn thing. At what point in the evolution of suspension would I hop on an older bike and say "crap, this sucks..."

Thanks for any insight! I imagine there'll be a lot of differing opinions here but I look forward to hearing all of them.

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My opinion is that there was massive improvements in suspension technology from the mid 80s through to the 2000s. So roughly 1985-2005. After which it's mainly the affordability filtering the technology down from top race spec to consumer products.

Internal hydraulic bump stops, free rebound devices, inertia valves, roll/dive valves (similar to intertia valves), roller bearing technology. These all seemed to appear in the 80s and 90s. These technologies were then refined greatly during the late 90s and into the 2000s.

 

I may be wrong with my time line but that is the information I can gather from my research.

 

Luke.

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1997 the twin chamber came out , and the shock was pretty much as today

I would say honestly we have not progressed much , settings and tolerances and materials have improved more than the design

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5 hours ago, mog said:

1997 the twin chamber came out , and the shock was pretty much as today

I would say honestly we have not progressed much , settings and tolerances and materials have improved more than the design

Just keep getting bigger in dimensions and stiffer spring rates.

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6 hours ago, mog said:

1997 the twin chamber came out , and the shock was pretty much as today

I would say honestly we have not progressed much , settings and tolerances and materials have improved more than the design

Pretty much my thought... 

I think AER forks added another change... 

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I think Honda started using the twin chambers around 2001. Yamaha made big improvements around 2006. I think any of those can be made to work, and the tuning parameters seen to be understood better now than then.  I don't recall technical discussions on things like float back then where it's common now.

As for 2 smokers the 2005 CR was way better than 2004.  Obviously with the YZ had the big fork upgrade in 2006.  Suzuki transmissions liked to grenade until about 2004.  I don't feel any of those bikes would hold back at the amateur level.

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Why not just buy a 2010+ yz250?

The advantage of a bike like that is that the parts avaliability is unmatched because they made the bike for so long.

The suspension is unriveled as far as stock suspension goes.

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Suspension is very much still evolving, look at the electronically controlled / multi-mode dampers on today's cars and trucks. The cost to get them on competitively priced motorcycles gets to be an issue. imho...

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I get along great with early 2000's suspension.  Stock valving generally sucked but this is an easy fix.

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11 hours ago, mxaniac said:

I think Honda started using the twin chambers around 2001. Yamaha made big improvements around 2006. I think any of those can be made to work, and the tuning parameters seen to be understood better now than then.  I don't recall technical discussions on things like float back then where it's common now.

Thanks a lot for the info!

Quote

As for 2 smokers the 2005 CR was way better than 2004.  Obviously with the YZ had the big fork upgrade in 2006.  Suzuki transmissions liked to grenade until about 2004.  I don't feel any of those bikes would hold back at the amateur level.

Your last sentence is my thought exactly. Bikes pop up around here every couple months for around $1,000. If the motor is good, a full rebuild could be completed with roughly $4,000 total investment from what I've calculated, and I simply like working on bikes. I think bringing an old bike back to life would be super fun and rewarding. And then I've got an essentially new bike for far less than I'd pay for a new KTM or Husky. Is it the most practical? Probably not. But there's something about those bikes they don't even make anymore that is so damn appealing to me... And I feel like the newer 2 strokes really aren't that much better than an old CR until TPI came along, which is still developing and is a $10,000 bike. 

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Beware ,getting parts for old bikes can give you major stress,and the parts you can buy are often not oem quality

A few friends have rebuilt old bikes and almost lost the plot with failures and hard to get parts

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1 hour ago, mog said:

Beware ,getting parts for old bikes can give you major stress,and the parts you can buy are often not oem quality

A few friends have rebuilt old bikes and almost lost the plot with failures and hard to get parts

Are you suggesting I shouldn't attempt the Chadapult on my 81 Maico 490 with stock rims and hubs?

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4 hours ago, robw122 said:

Suspension is very much still evolving, look at the electronically controlled / multi-mode dampers on today's cars and trucks. The cost to get them on competitively priced motorcycles gets to be an issue. imho...

But not always improving. I had bikes in the 80's that were as good stock as my re-valved hi-zoot current stuff.

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3 hours ago, Icerink5am said:

Thanks a lot for the info!

Your last sentence is my thought exactly. Bikes pop up around here every couple months for around $1,000. If the motor is good, a full rebuild could be completed with roughly $4,000 total investment from what I've calculated, and I simply like working on bikes. I think bringing an old bike back to life would be super fun and rewarding. And then I've got an essentially new bike for far less than I'd pay for a new KTM or Husky. Is it the most practical? Probably not. But there's something about those bikes they don't even make anymore that is so damn appealing to me... And I feel like the newer 2 strokes really aren't that much better than an old CR until TPI came along, which is still developing and is a $10,000 bike. 

At this stage TPI is not an advancement for most. 

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3 hours ago, mog said:

Beware ,getting parts for old bikes can give you major stress,and the parts you can buy are often not oem quality

A few friends have rebuilt old bikes and almost lost the plot with failures and hard to get parts

that is exactly my point with the yz250, they made the same bike for like 10+ years.

parts everywhere, forever.

and it happens that the suspension is the benchmark...

its a no brainier really.

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14 hours ago, EnglertRacing said:

Why not just buy a 2010+ yz250?

The advantage of a bike like that is that the parts avaliability is unmatched because they made the bike for so long.

The suspension is unriveled as far as stock suspension goes.

Ya know, logically you're 100% right. Maybe I'll get my head out of my ass and quit thinking building a bike out will be so fun. Maybe not! Haha. Something appealing to me about bringing an old, discontinued bike back to life. With that said, if I found a good deal on a YZ I could do the exact same thing. Thanks for your input.

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I did something similar last year.

https://thumpertalk.com/forums/topic/1256740-1997-kx125-build/

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