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Mike5100

question for the suspension techies

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Mike5100

This Africa Twin, just like my last one, was excellent straight out of the box.  I never touched the damping at all.  But it seems such a waste.  There's full compression and rebound damping front and back and it got me thinking.

I ride long distances on motorways to get to places like the northern Spanish mountains or the Scottish highlands and the ideal suspension setting surely cannot be the same both for the motorway cruising and the B-road scratching?

It's probably a 5 minute job with a screwdriver to alter all 4 settings so I thought if I had my own presets, I could do this when I stopped for a coffee when leaving one environment or the other.  But I don't know where to start so some pointers would be helpful.

If I want the ultimate soft ride at 70mph on smooth flat motorways do I reduce the damping for all 4 parameters (front and back, rebound and compression)?  And then if I want to ride hard and fast through back country lanes do I increase all 4 damping parameters over and above how it came from the factory?  (or is it more complicated than that

Mike

PS - I've already sorted the sag.

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Wedgepilot

I'd say if you're happy with how it currently performs in both situations, then leave well alone! 🙂

 

If the B-roads are very bumpy or 'washboard' like some round here, faster compression/rebound damping is the way I would go, i.e. allow the suspension to respond faster to the small bumps. Too fast though will make it wallowy.

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Tex
Posted (edited)

I agree with Alan, Mike. You have the ‘Holy Grail’ of suspension settings - one that works acceptably well everywhere. I am in the same situation with my Ohlins and I never touch them! Good suspension just, plain works. 

 

The adjustment is handy for extreme loads etc (if you were to add a fat passenger and masses of luggage you can ramp up the damping to suit the different preload requirements) but to try and ‘tune’ it to different sections of a ride is a little, er, ‘extreme’..

 

FWIW, you sound like a perfect customer for some of the latest electronic damping adjustments that come on high end models from BMW, Triumph, Ducati and others. When it will trickle down to bikes that ordinary mortals can afford is debatable? Although I would imagine the Affy Twin would be a perfect candidate? But Honda do seem very slow in keeping up with some modern technology (cruise control etc).

 

 

 

Edited by Tex
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Mike5100
19 hours ago, Tex said:

I agree with Alan, Mike. You have the ‘Holy Grail’ of suspension settings - one that works acceptably well everywhere. I am in the same situation with my Ohlins and I never touch them! Good suspension just, plain works. 

 

The adjustment is handy for extreme loads etc (if you were to add a fat passenger and masses of luggage you can ramp up the damping to suit the different preload requirements) but to try and ‘tune’ it to different sections of a ride is a little, er, ‘extreme’..

 

FWIW, you sound like a perfect customer for some of the latest electronic damping adjustments that come on high end models from BMW, Triumph, Ducati and others. When it will trickle down to bikes that ordinary mortals can afford is debatable? Although I would imagine the Affy Twin would be a perfect candidate? But Honda do seem very slow in keeping up with some modern technology (cruise control etc).

 

 

 

The point you make in your last para was what got me thinking - if electronics are adjusting the suspension on the fly, but it only takes 5 minutes to do it manually why aren't we doing that when we change road surfaces.

You may be interested in my results from yesterday.  Firstly - out of the 6 possible settings (rebound and compression in each fork and in the shock), only 2 were as per the book's factory default settings.  This is a brand new bike and the two forks had settings different from each other dialled in !!

I backed off all damping settings to about half way between factory default and minimum damping, then went for a motorway ride - and noticed no difference.  So then went into the Dales and again didn't notice anything except MAYBE the ride was worse - harsher over potholes and fast bumps.  So I put it all back to factory defaults and in Sport 3 and High power engine mode with minimum engine braking mode and rediscovered what an amazing bike this is :D

Mike

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Tex

Interesting indeed! Firstly, the electronic suspension reaction time is unbelievably quick. A hundredth of a second? A thousandth? Something completely unmeasurable anyway. Basically your tyre hits a bump and before it even registers in your brain the suspension has been adjusted to suit. Clever stuff indeed! And ‘clever’ never comes cheap.. 

 

Have no idea about the Affy Twin but some modern bikes split the damping between the legs (compression on one leg, re-bound on the other) and it’s not uncommon to find different settings on each leg. Your handbook should spell it out. 

 

I think by having a little play with your adjustment you definitely answered your own question!  :niceone:

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baben

I've never touched the boingy bits on Tigger and he handles beautifully. I suspect tyre choice and pressure makes more of a difference.

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arengle

Role of the suspension is to keep the wheels in contact with the tarmac you adjust the suspension based on the bike weight and your style of ridding, if you change the tarmac in theory the suspension doesn't need adjustment but your comfort will be affected, you can adjust for better comfort but you will affect the bike dynamics, is the old issue what do you want a comfortable bike with soft cornering or a hard bike with fast cornering capability. if on both road surface, motorway and B roads, you ride in the same way, you don't need to change the settings. 

On bikes with electronics adjustment the bike switch from soft to hard suspension in fraction of seconds, it is like having different suspension and the bike automatically select the right one for the road. 

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Tex
12 hours ago, baben said:

I've never touched the boingy bits on Tigger and he handles beautifully. I suspect tyre choice and pressure makes more of a difference.

 

Illustrating that Triumph got the base settings bang on. 

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Mike5100
9 hours ago, arengle said:

Role of the suspension is to keep the wheels in contact with the tarmac you adjust the suspension based on the bike weight and your style of ridding, if you change the tarmac in theory the suspension doesn't need adjustment but your comfort will be affected, you can adjust for better comfort but you will affect the bike dynamics, is the old issue what do you want a comfortable bike with soft cornering or a hard bike with fast cornering capability. if on both road surface, motorway and B roads, you ride in the same way, you don't need to change the settings. 

On bikes with electronics adjustment the bike switch from soft to hard suspension in fraction of seconds, it is like having different suspension and the bike automatically select the right one for the road. 

Well I think that's my point Adrian, surely we don't ride in the same way on motorways and B-roads.  Motorways are for getting from A to B in comfort whereas for most of the time B-roads (and indeed in the case of the Africa Twin - off-roads) are for having fun.  So doesn't that imply that we should be tweaking our suspension (if the bike allows it) for the type of riding that we are planning to do on that day.  It would be helpful if Honda produced a little table in the owner's manual that suggested damping settings for different types of riding, instead of the one catch all default setting.

Mike

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Tex

 

25 minutes ago, Mike5100 said:

  It would be helpful if Honda produced a little table in the owner's manual that suggested damping settings for different types of riding, instead of the one catch all default setting.

Mike

 

Unlikely to happen. That would mean the manufacturer taking at least some responsibility for the actions of it’s customers. “I set the suspension as it said in the handbook and rode straight off a cliff..”

 

The second reason is that if you need instructors then you’re probably not going to benefit from the changes you make. 

 

You’re overthinking it, matey. Just enjoy your bike. And if you want the ‘ultimate suspension experience’ you’re going to have to dig deep and buy something with electronic control of the settings. 

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arengle
2 hours ago, Mike5100 said:

Well I think that's my point Adrian, surely we don't ride in the same way on motorways and B-roads.  Motorways are for getting from A to B in comfort whereas for most of the time B-roads (and indeed in the case of the Africa Twin - off-roads) are for having fun.  So doesn't that imply that we should be tweaking our suspension (if the bike allows it) for the type of riding that we are planning to do on that day.  It would be helpful if Honda produced a little table in the owner's manual that suggested damping settings for different types of riding, instead of the one catch all default setting.

Mike

You can play a little bit to find out what you like, but if you are happy with the current settings don't bother to change only because you must change.

If you are in Wales, you can try to go to Honda Adventure Center and ask the guys there how do they set the bikes, of course you can pay £500 and do the training if you want.

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neojynx

I used to have electronic suspension settings on my Trophy.  TBH.  I often forgot to change it and never really noticed..

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Trumpet

Active suspension is not far away. Imagine suspension that reacted to the road, taking into account and adjusting you ride height seamlessly and altering damping dynamically as it responds to the bumps and your style of riding.....

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Rocker66
41 minutes ago, Trumpet said:

Active suspension is not far away. Imagine suspension that reacted to the road, taking into account and adjusting you ride height seamlessly and altering damping dynamically as it responds to the bumps and your style of riding.....

Isn’t that basically what BMW Ducati and now Aprillia have already.

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Andy m
1 hour ago, Trumpet said:

Active suspension is not far away. Imagine suspension that reacted to the road, taking into account and adjusting you ride height seamlessly and altering damping dynamically as it responds to the bumps and your style of riding.....

Except its potentially illegal in the EU. 

 

Ride height adjustment is OK but anything able to induce steering input gets painful on type approval. We raise trucks to get space under raised lift axles and lower coaches at 80 kph because it cool (Sorry, I mean it makes a brick shaped vehicle aerodynamic 😉😂😂). They lock the left right difference adjustment at 10 kph so it can't induce steering (we do that by the ESC, but that's tested 😁). 

 

Electronic damping adjustment has been about since the 90's, its just a motors that move baffle plates inside. We don't use it much, life is easier for us because air is almost free and is a natural variable rate spring. 

 

The difference is these motorised dampers are designed to be adjusted frequently and on the move. Adjusters on a standard shock are going to be designed for once a race on the track and once an owner on the road. How long before a thread goes? 

 

Andy

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fred_jb
Posted (edited)

I'm not sure about Ducati and KTM, but the BMW ESA semi-active suspension now adjusts preload using input from height/movement sensors, and in the case of the GS it has these on both front and rear.  This only makes any adjustment for changed load after moving a short distance, so if the last ride was two-up and the next one solo you can be on tippy-toes until it adjusts!  I suppose it may check this periodically while on the move, but as the objective is keep the bike set as near to its designed ride height and front/rear attitude as possible, I don't think there is any issue with inducing unwanted steering input.

 

The semi-active part refers to the constant tweaking of the damping in response to road conditions, load and riding style, and this has been standard on many cars and bikes for some time now.

 

I think fully active systems use some means of scanning the road ahead and adjusting suspension accordingly, and could include some dynamic levelling system.  I think some supercars have this type of thing which actively opposes body roll, but I've not heard of a bike with such as system.

 

Edited by fred_jb
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Andy m

It adjusts height between moving off and say 10 kph so it has enough power and no one turns up with bandaged fingers and a lawyer on cleaning day. 

 

An active suspension would respond to braking by increasing the stiffness of the forks, to acceleration by jacking up the back end etc. These are shorter term and need more information than is available. A general stiffening of the forks after say 90 seconds at 100 kph is an easy guess, doing it half a second after the ABS cycles and half a second before the brakes go into loose surface mode requires more information and probably the ability to change your mind quickly. I have for example no idea what a suspension should do when the rider brakes while leant over? A truck style version would be trying to prevent body roll to keep the C of G inside the wheel base. 

 

I'm surprised the GS, Tiger, KTM etc don't adjust seat height at speed. Lower than a Harley at traffic lights, height of a Dakar racer by 25 mph. 

 

Andy

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fred_jb
Posted (edited)
32 minutes ago, Andy m said:

It adjusts height between moving off and say 10 kph so it has enough power and no one turns up with bandaged fingers and a lawyer on cleaning day. 

 

An active suspension would respond to braking by increasing the stiffness of the forks, to acceleration by jacking up the back end etc. These are shorter term and need more information than is available. A general stiffening of the forks after say 90 seconds at 100 kph is an easy guess, doing it half a second after the ABS cycles and half a second before the brakes go into loose surface mode requires more information and probably the ability to change your mind quickly. I have for example no idea what a suspension should do when the rider brakes while leant over? A truck style version would be trying to prevent body roll to keep the C of G inside the wheel base. 

 

I'm surprised the GS, Tiger, KTM etc don't adjust seat height at speed. Lower than a Harley at traffic lights, height of a Dakar racer by 25 mph. 

 

Andy

 

Apparently BMW's system uses solenoid operated valves to modulate the flow of oil and hence alter the damping, as these valves can be adjusted very quickly and accurately by the bike's computer, and the same system is used on their more upmarket cars.

 

I'm pretty sure the likes of Ducati and KTM use a similar system, and from what I've read, can indeed increase the stiffness of the forks to inhibit fork dive under heavy braking, though the trade-off is that this also inhibits suspension compliance - so you don't want to be hitting a lot of bumps in the road while braking hard!  I think BMW use a similar system on bikes with conventional forks, but the GS has Telelever, the geometry of which is set up to all but eliminate fork dive, hence the suspension can retain normal compliance even under heavy braking. The bikes with IMU systems which provide multi-axis information about the bike's attitude are supposedly able to modulate the action of other systems such as ABS and TC so as to take account of lean angle, acceleration/deceleration, etc, but my riding style doesn't generally trouble such systems!

 

However, having said that, I set off sharply from the lights onto a roundabout yesterday because I wanted to get ahead of the car on my right so that I could change lanes, and popped an unintended wheelie which gave me a bit of a fright.  I thought the TC was supposed to intervene to stop this happening, but according to the more hooligan element on the UKGSer forum, it just limits how high the front wheel will lift depending on what engine mode you are using - so it seems I need to be a bit more circumspect with the throttle, especially in 1st and 2nd gears!

 

Edited by fred_jb
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Rocker66

Hooligan!!! 😂😂

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