Dual Sport Motorcycles
Dealing With Load Changes

I thought it might be of interest to owners of dual sport motorcycles to explain a little about springs and changing preload on your springs. These are an important part of the suspension units of your bike, and it is necessary to understand how to use them for different load and riding situations.

My first adventure bike holiday ended at the casualties with my dad getting a plaster cast. Speed can be part of the pleasure of riding your dual sport bike on off beaten tracks. But normally it is not your first priority. The main goal is to enjoy a wicked holiday. So what ultimately counts are safety and comfort on the bike.

Proper set up of dual sport bikes is essential. Their suspension has long travel like dirt bikes. Load changes have a big effect on the geometry of the bike and can easily cause handling problems. Something you want to avoid at all costs if you head out for an adventure holiday.

Adventure bikes differ greatly from dirt bikes in that one day you may ride solo, the next you may lift a passenger and often you may add bags, lots of extra gas tanks etc. In other words there can be weight variables from one ride to the next. One of the first rules for proper suspension set up is to find the right spring rate for your weight. This means that theoretically you need one set of fork and shock springs for solo riding and a second set for riding with passenger or laden bikes.

Because this is obviously not possible there are two things that help alleviate the negative effects of load changes:

Making use of the preload and the progressive springs will improve your handling and increase chassis and suspension reliability on a long tour or Trans Africa trip.


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