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CRF 230 Need softer suspension help

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Yes that's right I said softer, believe it or not. First of all let me explain my position. I'm 6' and 165# and for the type of riding that I do the CRF is really punishing to ride. My riding consists of very slow woods type riding, 1st and 2nd gear along cow trails. In this situation the forks and shock barely move leading to a very very rough ride.

This was confirmed by watching another rider on the bike, riding it the same way and I could not see hardly any suspension movement over the bumps. Over rocks it would just deflect off to the side instead of rolling over. I know most everyone says that the suspension bottoms over most anything but I'm wondering if the springs, both f/r off of the 150 would fit to get a softer spring rate?

Yes the preload is all the way out on the rear and that was only a very minor improvement.

What I'm trying to achieve here is something like a mid 80's dual sport....you remember how soft and mushy those were...well I'm the only one that liked that spring rate! Anyone have other ideas on where to get proper dia springs with a softer rate than stock?

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I'm 5'-11" and weight 150 pounds without gear. I'm 43 years old and can still be quite an aggressive (and competitive) rider depending on the company. My 230 is set up using 25% (2-3/8") sag up front and 33% (3") sag at the back and it works very well when I ride very hard. When I say it works very well I mean for a nearly stock bike it will stay straight and on the ground when required, turn when required, and only bottom when pushed really hard.

That being said...I agree the suspension is VERY harsh. The forks are absolutely TERRIBLE and are the worst damper rod forks I've ever been on top of. The rear shock has way too much slow-speed damping and not enough high-speed damping. It rides like a brick and for those of you reading this who don’t believe me throw your leg over a late model XR250 and feel the difference for yourself.

I would suggest switching to lighter oil in the forks for starters. I would try 7.5 weight or maybe even 5 weight. Leave the springs alone as they are fine for your body weight. As far as unwinding the rear shock preload I would say this was not a good way to handle your problem. Bruce’s Suspension website provides fantastic advice on suspension preload setup: http://brucessuspension.com/kb6.htm. I will quote a small part here:

“OK. So lets suppose you decide that you won’t spend your money on a new spring, and will just run more race sag and less preload to make the suspension work easier. WRONG. The amount of stored energy you are going to reduce by backing off the preload will be more than offset by the additional secondary stored energy that will be added by increasing race sag. So, if you run too much race sag, the secondary preload goes way up and the suspension will become harsher on the small bumps. In addition, the rising rate linkage that the shock is hooked to (or the tapered needle inside on a PDS shock) will be in the harder part of its travel. I hope I have convinced you to use the right spring, which will guarantee a smoother ride. I have used the rear spring in this article, but the front suspension works the same way, only using lighter springs.”

Although spring rates have a definite effect on ride quality, the damping rates are really what control the ride quality. If you want your 230 to be really right, send the forks and shock to Hlebo Bros. in CA. You won’t do any better than that.

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I am with you Jimmy! I do the exact same kind of riding and had the same problems. Here is how I fixed it.

Front has Racetech emulators, single rate fork springs from Moto-Pro Suspension, and 7.5 wt. oil. Rear is a Works shock. Rides like a dream now. Quite literally changed the entire character of the bike.

If you don't want to spend all that money, there are a few things you can do. On the front I've been advised by a suspension expert that you can enlarge the compression holes in the damper rod to allow faster oil flow when you hit a sharp bump. The holes are quite small and restrictive now. There are six holes. You might start by drilling out three or four of the holes to 1/4 inch and see what that does, then you can enlarge the holes or drill the others if you want even less compression damping. I've never tried this, but the guy swore to me it would help. Too much compression damping is what's killing you up there in front.

On the rear, the only thing you can do short of whole new shock is have your stock unit revalved and reworked by an expert. Outfit out of Campbell CA called Hlebo Bros. will do it.

Good luck.

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Thanks for the replys!! I really thought no one would believe me when I said that a bike that others were bottoming endlessly was too stiff for my needs. Will check out all the outfits mentioned and see what would work best for me.

Thanks again 👍

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The emulators and works shock almost make it feel like a different bike the way it now sucks up the bumps.

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