Factory suspension tuning is very rare and to be honest it is really
trick! (Around EUR 2500 and up trick). Probably only the top 5 riders in
each category in the world champs will have access to that stuff.
On this page I will first explain what factory suspension tuning is all about. Then I will write about the 3 levels of tuning in order to get as close to the factory material as possible.
The internals (valves and shims) of this super trick suspension are often almost identical to what is in the production bikes. It is the metals used, the surface plating as well as the contours that are special. These ensure two key characteristics of good suspension:
Besides the top of the range materials the pros will also go testing with suspension technicians to find the best personal setting.
This is still critical to get the most out of the trick stuff. Valving (synonym for shimming, re-valving or setting change) adjusts the suspension to fit the rider like a perfect glove according to his riding style, weight, personal preferences etc.
This personal testing is always done pre-season at various test tracks and is the key to their success. Once comfortable with the personalized setting they will use it for the whole season. They will only ensure that the units are serviced very often and carefully for optimal and constant performance.
Click changes are done at different tracks by the technician to adjust the suspension for track conditions and to keep the rider happy and confident. Changing a setting once a rider was satisfied at the beginning of the season is seldom done. Such big changes in suspension set up between races will prevent the rider from reaching his peak performance. In consequence this might undermine his confidence in the material and possibly in his team as well.
By now I hope you have internalized my mantra for optimal suspension set up: Get the right springs for your weight, get the sag right, put clicks on standard. If you don’t know what I am talking about follow those links first!! Otherwise read on.
In order to optimise your production material you can do the following:
Get a suspension specialist to polish all surfaces and to check all components. He will correct any production mistakes and in layman terms “rough edges”. This will notably improve the performance of your production material. Production settings have been tested quite extensively and are a very good base for all riders (as long as you did what I mentioned above). This will cost a little more than a service but if you are serious about your racing it is well worth it.
The second step is to do some individual testing. For a single person this will take one to two days. For a team depending on size this takes 2-4 days. Testing can be costly but once done you know your set up is perfect for you for the whole season. Servicing and a click here or there will ensure you have the best you can get for relatively little money.
The next level involves buying aftermarket material which is usually one step up from production as far as materials and surfaces go. If you purchase Aftermarket material just make sure that you have a suspension specialist help you with the set up. Aftermarket manufacturers are facing serious time restrains for testing as the time between the launch of the production bikes and the launch of the aftermarket material has to be very short. Good aftermarket suspension can be an advantage, but it will only be as good as it has been personalized for you.
If you combine all three levels of suspension tuning you will be very close to the factory material.
The Dirt Bike Garage Manual
HOW TO GUIDE for "do it yourself" riders