trials suspension setup resource?

Discussion in 'Trials' started by ThrottleJock, Mar 16, 2012.

  1. ThrottleJock

    ThrottleJock Shaved Ape

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2007
    Oddometer:
    86
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Hi guys, new to (motorcycle) trials guy here, I picked up an '07 GasGas Raga about 2 weeks ago and have been slowly working through the basics. I've got the RY video memorized and have basic bike setup where it needs to be I think except for the suspension, for which I'm having difficulty finding info on how to set it up.

    I'm 200lbs with gear on and with fork preload maxed out, compression maxed out and rebound damping almost all the way backed out it still seems to be riding too low in the travel, doesn't seem "springy" enough for hop type moves and blows through the travel and bottoms hard anytime I do "big" (to me) moves like bunnyhops landing on the front wheel, larger double-blips (fork clanks on obstacle on the way up) and drop offs over 3ft or so. I'm almost afraid to push too much further on large moves because it feels like I'm going to kill the bike. BTW the rear suspension feels alright, I've got the preload cranked up and haven't found adjusters for the other stuff yet (Sachs shock).

    I did a search on here and came up with a lot of talk about suspension but nothing regarding specific trials setup. I'm not sure what it should be, how it should behave. I'm guessing it's nothing like you'd try to tune a motocross or roadrace bike for (i.e. keeping the tire on the ground and controlling stroke). My guess is that I'd want to go up in spring rate, maybe raise oil level a few mm to keep from 'clanking' on the bottom-out. Or is it possible that trials suspension is just like this... extremely soft.. and the bounding around and bouncing the front and stuff that you see the pros do is all masterful technique?
    #1
  2. lineaway

    lineaway Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2011
    Oddometer:
    3,355
    Location:
    nm
    :eek1Should not be a clank sound coming from any suspension. Sounds like your springs could have a problem. Time for inspection of the forks. And yes trials suspension is set soft. All that hopping by the Pros is skill and timing. Takes hours and hours to be good at it.
    #2
  3. ThrottleJock

    ThrottleJock Shaved Ape

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2007
    Oddometer:
    86
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Got my first "competition" (I put it in quotes because it may actually be more like a crash-fest for me) this weekend; I'll have one of the expert guys check it out and see what they think. In the meantime I'm going to order some stiffer springs and as soon as they arrive, rebuild it. Might as well start there.
    #3
  4. Sting32

    Sting32 Trials Evangelist

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,496
    Location:
    Minneapolis, Ks
    Ok, only thing a "newbie" to trials should have to worry about on a newer bikes is, ride heights, and some of that wont affect you at all unless it is whacked out, so seeing an experienced rider to see what he thinks, is a great idea...

    compression and rebound settings, will affect you when you ride amature or above (mostly), unless there is a "problem" and in MY humble Opinion.

    Sach shocks are not rebuildable, meaning it does nOt come apart, so that the 'average' mechanic or tinkerer can disassemble them and most importanlty get them back together with oil and nitrogen... They can be rebuilt though, and should have it done in 3 years of use, if you can find reasonable person to do so. I had one rebuilt and he changed valving, and I loved it. I also have stock shock on current '2010 raga gold colored 300'

    Anyway, back to some tasks you can do. again if novice and if bike isnt messed up, you probably dont need to do this stuff? But I feel that gasgas bikes are more for 180lb riders, than us in 211-220 like me, so:

    Front forks, on cheap, you take out the (I hope I have memory right, it is something like) 1.5 inch spacer that exists in the forks, and replace them with longer spacers made from PVC pipe with similiar attributes (inside or outside diameter). creating a spacer that only adds 1/2 inch overall lenght, and doin this on both sides helps a lot on stiffness and preloads for heavier people, both sides could be too much for you at 200?.
    ***I think somewhere is says you cannot add more than 1 inch per fork, if you do springs bind up before full compression, I cannot recall for sure, so DONT SHOOT ME.

    Another option, You can buy springs that are 10% stronger. I put 2 of these in my bike, which replaces existing springs, and left the spacers STOCK lenght. Then lost 55 or so lbs, had to take one out, as it was way too stiff, and might take the other out soon. I used to like stiffer springs all around, now I like softer! so preload is using softer springs, means you wont always be perfect what was it, 1.5 - 2 inch sag. as they used to like it.

    Go watch best rider in world, Bou, on youtube! his bike seems to be maybe 1/3 down on where full_weight_off_bike_suspension- travel would be, when standing still position mostly centered. My perception could be off, but then again he weighs in under 200 I am sure, and rides 100x better than I, if not 10000x, so like anything else that is a "clue" to maybe how it is setup, you know?

    Compression and rebound: Does nothing to ride height or prelaods

    Oil weight in front forks, make big differences in how the compression and rebound works. the clickers make "sllighter" changes... Thicker (10w vs 7wt) means rebound or compression is SLOWER with 10 than 7. Screwing clickers to the POSITIVE, which I think is IN, makes it slower (wait is that right, + means more dampening, I need a picture can only not see it in my head atm)...

    One fork does compression (dampening) the other does rebound (dampening) in GASGAS, and dampening means resistance to change in position. I say that just so ANYONE reading this post understands what I believe I understand the terms mean, and hopefully descriptions will make sense if you use same definitions I am. COnvert to your own words if you wish...

    I liked (again meaning I used to) use 15wt in compression side, and as close to 5wt I could buy for rebound. now I think I have 7 & 7 (or whatever it was that the factory shipped the bikes with, for oil) in latest bike and am fine with it.

    Good luck, you will have fun tweaking as you get better!

    One addition, as I reread your second paragraph. Finesse, and some adjustments can change how the forks "bang"... if you jump off things with straight legs and arms, and try to let bike doo EVERYTHING to absorb, then you will want to increase for oil weight and preload. Problem is this is not simple, not hard, you just have to follow a proceedure to change the oil in forks, and you probably should do it once a year anyhow at least, so... mines overdue :)

    the Bang also could be something not right in forks, so hopefully your new "experienced" buddy will help figure this out...
    #4
  5. CodeMonkee

    CodeMonkee Geek Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2001
    Oddometer:
    5,669
    Location:
    Orygun
    Gonna buy a Beta Alp.

    I am 6'6" and 260#

    I can't imagine that I am not going to have to have the bike re-sprung for my weight. Probably re-valved too. It made a huge difference when I had this done for my Husaberg.

    Are there suspension resources in the Portland OR area that know how to setup a Trials bike suspension?
    #5
  6. caryder

    caryder Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    217
    Location:
    Phoenix
    Watch some trials bicycle video and imagine jumping off of a 15 foot obstacle with no suspension. You would absorb all of the impact with your legs. Apply that to the Raga. Other than that, refer to the Gas Gas USA website for suspension setup. 10% stiffer springs with 10 wt oil is probably appropriate for a 200 lb rider. The stock suspension is setup for 150 to 170 lb expert rider. Laden sag should be ~1.5 inches. If you have to crank the preload in "all the way" then you need stiffer springs. Also note the raga forks have different oil levels in each leg. The preload side takes 130cc, the left leg takes 230cc. At least that's the fluid levels on my 06 300 Raga, or 180mm from the top with springs removed and the fork compressed.


    Chuck
    #6
  7. Twin-shocker

    Twin-shocker Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,673
    I am not sure all the advice on suspension is going to be quite as helpful to a newcomer, as simply spending as much time as possible on the bike, and becoming familiar with very basic stuff like throttle control, balance, steering etc?
    #7
  8. wilkinsonk

    wilkinsonk soup de grimace

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2008
    Oddometer:
    886
    Location:
    Sanford, NC

    Agreed, but the OP is also worried that his suspension may not be working correctly and that damage may result if the bike continues to be operated in it's current condition.

    ThrottleJock, you may find this article by Jon Stoodley useful:
    http://www.gasgas.com/Pages/Technical/trials-suspension-tips.html

    - Ken
    #8
  9. motojunky

    motojunky Professional Idiot

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,089
    Location:
    North East, MD
    I'm reading about bunny hops, big double blips and 3 ft drop-offs and wondering how come I wasn't doing all of that stuff in my first two weeks of trials riding. :D
    #9
  10. lamotovita

    lamotovita Ageing Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,665
    Location:
    WA/AZ, USA
    Slacker!:D

    I advise a new rider to practice, turns, throttle control, turns, staying centered over the bike, turns, unweighting and turns. After that go practice turns, uphill, downhill, right, left, anyway you can think of.
    #10
  11. Twin-shocker

    Twin-shocker Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,673

    Exactly.........mastering trick riding, comes after you have the basics not before.................
    #11
  12. ThrottleJock

    ThrottleJock Shaved Ape

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2007
    Oddometer:
    86
    Location:
    North Carolina
    I'm one of those guys, I was a Cat1 mountain biker (xc and dual slalom) and goofed around a lot on a stock class trials bicycle over the years; 12ft drops to flat at 1mph w/ no suspension, etc - I think that's why I'm a little further along after 2wks on the Raga than a guy without that admittedly unusual skillset in the quiver going into it. What I"m struggling with is timing (with front & rear suspension added into the mix) and clutch control. Which is only "everything" when it comes to mototrials skills!


    This is all really good help guys, thank you! I just wasn't sure if the suspension was knackered completely, I'm too fat, or it's improper skill. Sounds like I do need to go up in preload a smidge via spacers or heavier springs, and refresh the oil w/ proper weight.

    I'm going to have one of the experts ride the bike tomorrow to give me a starting point of where I should have it set up, and as soon as I feel like tearing it apart I'll send the forks off to be rebuilt. Suspension is totally black magic to me, I don't know why I'm even trying to figure it out.

    Wish me luck tomorrow, I'll take a few pics!
    #12
  13. ThrottleJock

    ThrottleJock Shaved Ape

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2007
    Oddometer:
    86
    Location:
    North Carolina
    I read some Newbie sticky post about this after I'd spent two weeks trying to bound onto 4' high concrete tubes in a single leap (which I can do now, by the way) and there frankly is no better advice. Yesterday I went out and spent an hour doing track stands, slow, tight turns,turning on cambered hills, etc. That stuff is where the the core; even if you can clear big obstacles there's no way you'll be able to do it if you can't get the right angle/set-up and/or stop afterwards within boundaries.

    Trust me, I have MUCH to learn. If I make it thru the day tomorrow - that is, riding all sections - and end up in last place in Novice I'll be ecstatic.
    #13
  14. caryder

    caryder Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    217
    Location:
    Phoenix
    Seems to me that all the guys that come into trials with aggressive and or outstanding bicycle skills advance really fast. Good luck in your endeavors.


    Chuck
    #14
  15. motojunky

    motojunky Professional Idiot

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,089
    Location:
    North East, MD
    I certainly agree, but I don't see harm mixing in some "fun stuff". I'd lose interest if I focused exclusively on the basics.
    #15
  16. PSchrauber

    PSchrauber Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Oddometer:
    884
    Location:
    Summer: Kemiö, Finland; Winter: North Germany
    Anyway when you are around on a new bike or a new bikesport everything is new and there is this request inside telling you are you now doing the right thing or is this nuts again ...

    If you are in weight above or less then Joe Average the above question may circeling around your brain depending the suspension, befor this will couse trouble while circeling with the bike around any trees, there is a neat little decription about adjusting your suspension fork and expecially shocks from Öhlins, you find it here: http://www.zupin.de/uploads/tx_userzupindownloads/OM_07252-01_01.pdf

    The site where you can upload the file is in Germany, (German Importer Zupin for Öhlins shocks and forks), but the document is written in English and explains and give the adjustments for setting up of sag, compression and rebound, (no doctoral thesis just eight pages).
    #16
  17. Sting32

    Sting32 Trials Evangelist

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,496
    Location:
    Minneapolis, Ks
    Throttle Jock...

    I hate putting this information up here, that I was almost 280 lbs (nekid). I guess I should be proud of losing some of it... Maybe you can figure out what you need to do?

    If someone owned your bike, and when tying the bike into trailer or truck, without MERCY pully straps tight, you will find that the springs will collapse (relatively) over time. when I load bikes, I losen the straps whenever Im not traveling (as in the night before I leave) etc.

    Plus I have straps and things with redundancy and placement of hook ends, so I never just sinch the hell out of the straps! this means the bike is never sucked down full suspension travel, to haul it... be it front or rear on pickup bed or 3 row trailers... there are better ways, like redundancy for strap failures IMHO.

    Anyway, assuming there is nothing "broken" on front forks, on your bike...

    whenever I got a bike, 08 raga 300 (previous bike) for example...

    I would I put 2 10% stiffer springs, into it and the (hope memory is correct) it was either 15% or 20% stiffer rear spring, and on of the last things I had done with that setup, I had the Sachs shock rebuilt, valved differently. I loved it, though front forks were borderline stiff, anyone under 220 hated them.

    Then I lost 60+ pounds. IT didnt come off overnight though... so about 2/3 of the way, we had a muddy trials, which I had ONE HELLVUA time in, at least I felt I worked too much harder than I should have had to, for traction. Just about that next weekend, I swapped bikes (to the 2010 Raga 300) only installed 1 front spring. cranked a few round into rear STOCK spring. it has been riden this way every since, and I like it MUCH better.

    I now weigh like 210 ish (nekid). so compared to most expert/masters Im still a fatass. I have left in 1 stiff front spring, sold the other to fellow rider (you have to buy in pairs)... I removed everthing not stock, from the 08 raga, as my kid rides my old bike, he's 5-11 and under 200, he thought 190 at most? I didnt double check his weight. But it just seems fine, he's amature, and if he would work at it, intermediate rider.

    I still dont like big drops. but nothing BANGS on our bikes... that banging scared me when you posted originally! But as I thought about it, I thought someone without too much experience with trials bikes, might jump something a MX bike could handle, and make things bang easy enough. I mean a buddy of mine (years ago) bought a montessa trials bike, but when to flat track it for an hour with some people he met at the riding are, burnt it up that fast.

    hopefully everyone noticed I stated that messing with the suspension (unless there is a problem) was silly for almost any beginner to NOVICE winner rider. as we're assuming you bought a bike that new that works good? and that we know that there is too many other things to learn. But if your big and the previous owner was small, or vice versa, you need help getting the suspension at least to where it can be adjusted closer to your weight, which is mostly done with the 2 things I pointed out, that spacer in the front (you should keep the stock one) make new ones out of PVC, that either add lenght (preload) or shorter for lighter people. lighter people have less problem adjusting these bikes IMHO, but I'm definitely not one of them, so Im guessing by adjusting my son's bike since he was 12 and riding a 125. and rear springs have lost of preload adjustment.

    By all means you should get experienced friends and trials buddy's to "try your bike" or at least look and listen to yours, This way, if something is messed up, you catch it instead of assuming it is normal...
    #17
  18. Twin-shocker

    Twin-shocker Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,673
    An awful lot of people lash their bikes down with suspension compressed, and as you rightly say this does very much reduce the life of the springs. Its a very good idea to either work out a way of transporting bikes without compressing suspension, or to change fork springs once a year so no problems with weak springs.
    #18
  19. ThrottleJock

    ThrottleJock Shaved Ape

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2007
    Oddometer:
    86
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Wow what a blast and what a big help my first trials event was! There were luckily two extremely helpful guys on the same bike there to help out. The issue I was feeling is that the previous owner had installed a 3" stack PVC spacer presumably to stiffen the fork. The result was only that I've lost all but 2.5" of fork travel, it bottoms against compressed spring and spacer about 4 inches too early. Comparing side by side with another raga was confirmation (and dumb luck that one happened to be there and in my same class). At any rate I'll be ordering a set of 10 percenter springs from lewisportusa and rebuilding before my next event.

    Btw, I'm hooked. Big time. I started in novice this time at everyone's advice but then moved up to intermediate after 2 sections. That was a great, helpful group. Ended up winning the class with 13 points (5 of which were very dumb, I didn't know u couldn't roll backwards to set up for an obstacle), and will move to sportsman for the next round. I'm excited to Keep learning and meeting such a neat group of guys who share the passion of going slow! Thanks again for the tips, all
    #19
  20. motojunky

    motojunky Professional Idiot

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,089
    Location:
    North East, MD
    Glad to hear that you sorted out the clank. I was curious about that.

    Sounds like you're well on your way to being a great rider!
    #20