We had a rider come in yesterday, frustrated about a problem that is not uncommon for tourers. This guy rides a Harley Davidson XR1200, a beauty of a bike, but it wasn't performing as well as he expected. However, his expectations weren't the problem at all, it was just a matter of tuning his suspensions to optimize the motorcycle's performance. So here's how it went.
When he came to us, his complaints were:
- Bike is uncomfortable, feels a bit too high - a comfort issue.
- At 130km/h and above, the motorcycle feels wobbly and unstable - safety issue that we suspected to be caused by the height of the motorcycle.
So as always, we took the beast for a test ride, and upon diagnosing, here's what we found:
- The front wobble and stability issue was mainly due to the geometry of the bike.
- The front was also lowered which caused a a shorter trail, hence less longitudinal stability for the front wheel.
- As a result, at high speeds, 130km/h in this case, the wind that hits the visor causes lifting of the front fork and wheel, affecting the contact patch of the motorcycle.
Of course, when the contact patch is reduced, the grip is subsequently reduced by a significant magnitude, compromising the overall handling of the bike. The nose high geometry also caused a shorter trail, subsequently causing less longitudinal stability for the front wheel. The current set up was a safety hazard. The combination of issues was what caused the bike to wobble.
Obviously we had to solve this problem. So what did we do?
- We upgraded the rear shock absorbers to K-Tech Razor Piggyback 4-Way Adjustable Rear Shocks. Absorbers made to enhance the performance of tourers.
- We lowered the motorcycle to a more suitable Asian height. Let's face it, many of us aren't exactly 6 feet tall.
- We finished the job with a full suspension setup and tuning because well, that's our forte.
We took the bike out for another test ride, ensured that all problems were solved. No more stability issues, and motorcycle now rides as comfortably as it is expected to. We absolutely love what we do.