During a lunch break at Erik's we went for a drive down to see Erik's friend Bas, who happens to be the man who runs the Hyperpro fitting and service centre in Holland. (think there are two now, but 8 months ago there was only one). Everywhere in Holland is just a short drive away anyway
If there is one thing the Dutch do well, its suspensions. Ok maybe suspensions and cheese. Frequent visitors to Amsterdam might have further ideas, but lets just stick to vehicle suspensions and Gouda cheese. In the same way that the British are very good at building race cars, the Dutch dominate aftermarket suspensions. It all started back in the days of dutch company Koni being at the forefront of automotive racing suspension ... Over the years, the wise guys as Koni began drifting off and starting their own companies, some of them motorcycle related, like WP, Technoflex and Hyperpro. So while I was in Holland, it made sense to talk to a Dutch suspension guru, and that happened to be Bas.
Bas didnt have to try too hard to convince me the airshock would just not work properly with a whole bunch of luggage on board, all day long. So the fully adjustable shock was built up around a purple progressive hyperpro spring, adjustable preload fitted and progressive springs fitted to the forks. There is not much more Bas could do with the basic forks the X-Challenge comes with, but he did put in a thicker fork oil.
Here's the fitting, 2 weeks later:
The old linear (on the left) vs the new progressive springs on the right:
And the verdict after 50,000km? The rear set up is incredibly versatile. Set up correctly it allows the bike to handle like an unladen bike when loaded up. That's a huge asset. I really like the combination of the top class damper with the progressive spring. Its very confidence inspiring on rough roads and at high speeds. I could never go back to stock suspension. I also like the fact that Hyperpro use a 16mm piston rod rather than the 14mm in Ohlins and WP stuff. In Siberia I met a Finnish guy on an Africa Twin with a snapped Ohlins piston rod, waiting for replacement. (check out the beefy piston rod in the top foto above). I am now a Hyperpro convert.
And the front? Well the front does the job. The progressive springs are a cheap way to gain some improvement and certainly enough for general adventure touring, but the quality of the rear set up has now got me thinking (or drooling) about matching it with some sort of fork transplant for the front. Its probably not necessary to do anything to the front, but each change allows for faster, safer, more aggressive, more exciting riding.
I have ridden faster and more aggressively, covering more miles per day on this trip than on previous trips, and that's down mainly to the great rear suspension. Bring on some new front forks!