Africa Twin CRF1000L suspension

Discussion in 'Japanese polycylindered adventure bikes' started by uk_mouse, Jun 22, 2016.

  1. uk_mouse

    uk_mouse Aquatic adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,886
    Location:
    UK
    Hi all, I thought I start a new thread for discussion of various suspension options for the CRF1000L.

    To me, the OEM suspension feels a bit basic. The rear wheel skips over bumps, and it's just generally lacking that "plush" feel that the WP on my KTM Adventure has.

    One immediately obvious problem is that the suspension sags too much. If we aim for a rider sag of about 30% of total travel, I've found that I need the preload to be wound up to nearly maximum to achieve this. And then of course the static sag is wrong, and there's no scope for adjustment when carrying a passenger and/or luggage. So basically the spring rate is wrong.

    I've measured the fork springs with a view to getting a new set made. The dimensions are:

    Length: 435 mm
    OD: 40-39 mm
    ID: 31-30 mm

    There's a slight taper so that the diameter is about 1mm less at one end of the spring.

    There's also a 417mm spacer tube fitted above the spring.

    As for the options, I've been told Andreani make replacement fork springs and also a cartridge kit.

    For the rear, I think we have a choice between:

    Touratech - £1050 (link)
    Wilbers - £825 (link)
    Ohlins - £875 (link)
    Nitron - £820 (link)
    (any more? please comment if so)

    (edit - I've added prices for those products I know about. Where there's a choice of spec, I've gone for the higher end, with remote preload adjuster if it's an option.)

    Has anyone got any experience of these shocks, good or bad? Please let us know below!

    Personally, I'm thinking of getting new springs for the forks, and an Ohlins for the rear. Then if the forks still need work, I can think about adding a catridge kit.

    The other option is a new spring and a revalve for the OEM Showa shock - again if you have experience of this please let us know.
    #1
  2. markbvt

    markbvt Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,791
    Location:
    Georgia, Vermont (that's one town, not two states)
    I'm also not hugely impressed with the stock suspension. Off the showroom floor, it wasn't nearly as good as the basic, stock suspension on my Tiger 800 XC (though admittedly Triumph did an amazing job nailing the settings for the nonadjustable fork -- I wouldn't fiddle with it much even if it were fully adjustable).

    I had to add a LOT of preload to the AT's forks and shock, add a little rebound damping, and soften the compression damping several clicks to get the AT's suspension to feel good. I agree, it's still not as plush as I would like -- when I test-rode a friend's Tiger 800 XCx with its stock WP rear shock and factory settings, I was amazed at how good it was. The AT's suspension, even after a lot of tweaking, is still only slightly better than my 2011 XC's.

    I won't be paying for aftermarket suspension, but I am interested in any further settings-tweaking suggestions people may have.

    --mark
    #2
  3. azshtr

    azshtr Long timer

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2009
    Oddometer:
    9,934
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    I have not changed anything yet as I just got the bike and it's hot to play around much. However it would help if those who list what changes were done and the end result could please add the riding conditions and overall added weight (rider and gear).

    Thanks.
    #3
  4. SOCALDUCRIDER

    SOCALDUCRIDER 2014 Ducati Pikes Peak, 2016 RX3 2016 AT DCT

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2015
    Oddometer:
    160
    Location:
    SOCAL
    I am actually shocked at how good the factory suspension is, I am 280 with gear and all I have done so far is add two clicks of preload to the rear. I have only been able to ride in the street have not seen the dirt yet so we shall see.
    #4
    Drum Dog likes this.
  5. oalvarez

    oalvarez Resident Raggamuffin

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,073
    Location:
    CA HWY 2
    What is it that those of you are looking for that find the stock suspension lacking? And are we talking about on or off road? Amazing these threads after reading so many comments as to how great the bike handles the twisties/canyons although I've read many complaints related to vague feeling of the front wheel.

    Thoughts?
    #5
  6. markbvt

    markbvt Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,791
    Location:
    Georgia, Vermont (that's one town, not two states)
    With stock settings, both ends of the bike sagged too much (I'm 6'4"/260, FWIW), yet the rear was oddly stiff over rough pavement/bumps and unsettled on anything ripply. And the front end did feel vague in corners.

    With the adjustments I've made (added a lot of preload to forks and shock, softened compression damping in the shock by four clicks and in the forks by three clicks, increased rebound damping in forks and shock by a click or two), the suspension feels much better and is a lot more settled on rough pavement and especially in bumpy corners. It could still use a little more tweaking to get it just right (perhaps a little more rebound damping in the rear), but it's close.

    --mark
    #6
    SloDon and oalvarez like this.
  7. oalvarez

    oalvarez Resident Raggamuffin

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,073
    Location:
    CA HWY 2
    Interestingly enough that's a more popular setup for me too (slower rebound, softer compression).
    #7
    fraeli likes this.
  8. warnabrother

    warnabrother .. if you see the Rozzers

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,482
    Location:
    Morn. Pen. Melbourne
    At 260 you are operating the shock and forks way too deep in the valving.. new springs will make a world of difference..
    Good discussion in the Aus AT thread with good graphs from a respected suspension guru here in Aus..
    #8
    oalvarez likes this.
  9. Helixx

    Helixx Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2015
    Oddometer:
    39
    Location:
    Frederick, MD
    Any chance you could post a link to this discussion? Thanks
    #9
  10. Cruz

    Cruz Lost but laughing.

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2008
    Oddometer:
    11,350
    Location:
    Northside Brisbane, Qld Australia
    #10
    Helixx likes this.
  11. uk_mouse

    uk_mouse Aquatic adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,886
    Location:
    UK
    This is my experience too - the suspension feels far too stiff, yet at the same time wallows on the big bumps.

    260 lbs is 118 kg. I weigh 85 kg and even my weight is too much for the standard suspension. I needed to add about 25 clicks of preload on the rear to get the rider sag close to 30%. This precludes getting the correct set up with a pillion and/or luggage on the bike.

    I've been talking to a local suspension shop about this, apparently the Ohlins shock comes with a 9.5 rate spring (in the Aussie thread it was stated that standard spring is 8.36) and there's an optional 10.5 one available. The guys I was talking to are Ohlins dealers so they'll obviously recommend that product, but it sounds comparable to other offerings.

    Cost wise the Ohlins rear is about £900 and the Andreani fork cartridges (including springs) are about £500. I haven't found any info yet on the spring rates of the forks (either standard or aftermarket) but if I do, I'll post it.
    #11
    Woody469 and oalvarez like this.
  12. uk_mouse

    uk_mouse Aquatic adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,886
    Location:
    UK
    I've updated the first post in the thread with links to the various shock products.
    #12
  13. markbvt

    markbvt Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,791
    Location:
    Georgia, Vermont (that's one town, not two states)
    I read somewhere (don't remember where now) that the OEM Showa shock is fully rebuildable -- so the obvious first step, before shelling out lots of money on an Ohlins or similar replacement, would be to just get the Showa unit resprung with a spring rate appropriate for the rider's weight. Same with the forks, of course.

    I'm satisfied for now with the settings I've found for the shock, but I'm getting excessive fork dive on hard braking. So stiffer fork springs may well be coming along sooner rather than later.

    --mark
    #13
    Zave likes this.
  14. Woody469

    Woody469 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2010
    Oddometer:
    380
    Location:
    Wichita, Ks.
    At 280 in just my undies, I find the stock setup absolutely too plush! It feels really good but extremely soft on pavement and gravel roads. I also got an excessive amount of front end dive. At full preload I am still a long ways off from getting the correct sag setting. Actually, even as it sits stock static sag of 10% not happening at full preload!!! This bike is OBVIOUSLY under sprung in a BIG way... That's really gonna hurt the wallet...


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    #14
  15. craighkzn

    craighkzn Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 8, 2016
    Oddometer:
    846
    Location:
    South Africa
    Hey guys...id be careful reducing the sag too much....I have found that even with the stock spring, too much preload results In front end instability / twitch.....reducing it slightly brings back full stability...I would think you would need to beef up the front as well to maintain stable geometry....I'm not a suspension pro...in fact what I know about it is probably dangerous......just my findings :)
    #15
  16. Woody469

    Woody469 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2010
    Oddometer:
    380
    Location:
    Wichita, Ks.
    My front is at full preload as well,it's much better than the stock settings but obviously still under sprung for someone my size... Which wasn't really a surprise, I'm a large man!
    #16
    edo604 likes this.
  17. shantijourney

    shantijourney Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2010
    Oddometer:
    86
    Location:
    Knysna South Africa
    Greetings all .
    Been trying to figure out the various suspension settings for my new bike .
    Looking at the manual that the bike came with under each adjustment (preload , damping and compression ) the book says use the adjuster to suit load and road surface .
    Now coming from bikes where I have not been faced with these options , what am I looking at ?
    As the title says some help for this dummie in plain english would be most appreciated .
    Firstly what does each adjustment actually do in regards to load and road surface ?
    Secondly a real world situation or a few examples would be great .
    For instance lets take my example - I am 74kg - riding to work and back on tar roads what would be optimal settings ? ( for lack of a start point lets make this the start point , adjustments from here up and down )
    - If I add a pillion where would I look at adjusting - front and back -preload ,damping ,compression ( road riding ) ? lets call the pillion 60kg
    - If I intend to do dirt riding without pillion what adjustments could I make from my original road riding position ?
    - again the above but with a pillion
    - lastly pillion with +30kg camping and gear - road and dirt
    Possibly from here one could include adjustments for more technical terrain - rocks , soft sand etc
    Thanks and happy riding
    #17
    IndiBiker and Blenderdriver like this.
  18. ChazW

    ChazW Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2012
    Oddometer:
    104
    Location:
    Kansas City
    I have similar questions. I've read the Aussie report, so have a place to start, but since I'm leaving on a three week, 6300 mile trek across the Trans-Lab highway on 7/22, I need to figure it out pretty quickly.

    Best regards,
    #18
  19. markbvt

    markbvt Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,791
    Location:
    Georgia, Vermont (that's one town, not two states)
    Here's how I adjusted my AT's suspension. I'll admit upfront that I am far from a suspension expert, and came up with these settings (apart from preload) by trial and error, and application of a little logic/common sense.

    First, get the end you're adjusting off the ground (obviously having a center stand helps enormously) and measure the suspension at full extension. In my case, my friend David, who was helping me, measured from the grab bar down to the axle in the rear, and from the top of the fork to the axle in front. Then put the bike on the ground and sit on it, holding it upright while putting as little weight as possible on your feet (if possible, have a friend hold the bike upright for you while you sit in your normal riding position). Measure the same places as before to determine sag. Add preload to each end until the sag is approximately 1/3 of the suspension travel (or to be really loose with the figure, about 3 inches).

    Next up is compression and rebound damping. I found the stock settings harsh over hard-edged bumps; the compression damping was too firm. So I softened the compression damping by 4 clicks at each end (if I recall correctly). You'll want to experiment a bit to find a setting that feels good to you. At the same time, I had to increase rebound damping a bit because the suspension was getting too bouncy.

    I'll end up still doing a little more tweaking (will probably try adding a little more rebound damping), but the suspension is now far better than stock. But if any suspension gurus out there want to offer further suggestions (beyond purchasing aftermarket suspension), I'd love to hear them.

    --mark
    #19
  20. XRman

    XRman Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2006
    Oddometer:
    8,160
    Location:
    SW Victoria Oz
    Good advice for a starting point MarkBVT.

    Suspension is a black art in many respects, especially when you have so many variables. What I like in handling, you may not.
    It is obvious that Honda set this bike up for smaller riders and those who stuck to smooth roads. Typical of Jap bikes usually.

    There is a formula to work out if the spring rate is wrong for the individual rider. I will find it and post it later. It could be on the Race Tech website. Obviously once you have the correct spring rate for you bike, the correct sag set and then you can fool around with the compression/rebound clickers. If you are still not happy then it is of to the suspension tuner for a revalve. They can watch you ride over various terrain and tune it according to your needs/wants.

    When I rode the AT I was wondering if dropping the forks through the clamps a bit more would sharpen up the steering a bit too.

    If you still want better outcomes then you will need to buy higher specification equipment.

    See: http://www.ohv.8m.com
    #20
    michaeln likes this.