Let’s face it: the Roof of Africa is rocks, rocks and more rocks.
Lesotho is a rough country to say the least and good suspension is a
must. I have to admit that I never attempted this race. But my husband
(remember – the suspension specialist) won his class twice and finished
it 15 times. So I would say he knows what he is talking about.
And here is what he has to say:
Before you even consider touching the suspension do the following:
Suspension function can be split into 3 basic needs:
All three of these areas are crucial for proper functioning on a race like the Roof of Africa AND everywhere else. Good suspension is a compromise between all these three things.
is what most people think they want in rocky terrain. This is true in a
way as maximum comfort is good on any terrain. Remember though the more
comfort you feel, the more safety and balance you forfeit.
is why going softer on compression helps up to a point. But you will
always lose safety and balance the softer you make the damping. For the
Roof of Africa you cannot afford to forfeit too much safety and balance
as the terrain is rough and dangerous at all times.
Never remove any damping from the shim stacks inside the forks or shock. If you have an enduro bike setup from the factory then leave the shims alone at all costs. It will be enough to open up the compression adjusters a few clicks at a time until you feel the most comfortable (working with your click adjusters). If you have an MX bike then get someone who knows what they are doing before you consider any internal shim mods to make it enduro worthy.
To get the maximum comfort from your suspension is very easy:
Do this as close to the race as possible. At least 70% of the comfort you need on rocks can be found by reducing friction and not by removing shims or damping! If you do not change the bushes and seals, then at least make certain that you grease and oil the seals every day at the Roof of Africa.
Making your suspension a little softer (with external clicks only!) is a
way to achieve some extra comfort, but make sure you test it before the
race. Open 3 clicks at a time on compression until you feel most happy.
I would not recommend removing oil either from forks as this messes with the balance and fork progression too much.
On rocks you need damping and the softer you go the more chance you have of the bike kicking you off unexpectedly. This happens when balance is affected and safety is lost or by the suspension working too low in the progressive part of the stroke or bottoming. You might think your fork or shock is too hard in this situation, when actually it is way too soft and does not absorb bumps properly any more. So be careful how soft you go!
Hope that helps! Good Luck!
The Dirt Bike Garage Manual
HOW TO GUIDE for "do it yourself" riders