Harsh/stiff front end ride - Kawasaki Vulcan Forum : Vulcan Forums
 
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-18-2018, 03:41 PM Thread Starter
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Harsh/stiff front end ride

Now that I have my 1st 100 miles on my 03 VN1600 Classic, one thing for sure is the forks need some tuning. It has a harsh stiff ride, especially over sharp edged bumps. The rear end feels really good even for a bike with 30,000 miles on it. But the forks need work for sure. I'm 215 lbs in riding gear, tire pressures are 40 front 42 rear, so I could bleed those down a good ten pounds each.

Anyone have experience modding/tuning the front forks for a better ride. Here's what I plan:
1. Progressive fork springs; softer coils on the bottom and getting stronger near the end of travel.
2. Pull the damper rods out and slightly increase the hole size through the damper.
3. Lighter weight oil, like ATF or SAE 15 weight oil.
4. More oil per leg; the old guideline was to remove the fork springs, push the fork legs up to the end of travel, pour in oil up to three inches from the top of the tube.
5. Convert the fork leg caps to add air fitting and tubing to adjust the air pressure in the forks with a small hand bulb pump. I'd have both fork legs connected to a center fill port with a Shrader valve. Then I can adjust the air preload up to maybe 15 psi.

The idea is to increase the damper holes for easier oil flow, quicker response over small bumps. Increase the oil volume to more quickly increase the air pressure in the fork leg during compression to act as a bump stop. The air caps will let me fine tune the preload in the fork legs.

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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-19-2018, 11:59 PM
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I'll be very interested to see your results.I'm not too crazy about the ride and handling myself.I expected a nice soft comfy ride with a big cruiser,instead,I still get beat up almost like on my ancient Honda.

Do you plan to lower the bike while you're at it?I've been considering that too

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-29-2018, 09:02 AM Thread Starter
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Nope, no lowering for me. I prefer handling and cornering ability. The bike as I bought it already has shorter KYB brand shorter shocks and I have been grinding the floorboards on easy turns. I don't want my bike limiting my riding options. So I am actually raising the ride, going back to stock length shocks in the rear with a pair of air adjustable shocks from the Nomad.

My other main rides are my two BMW twins and I like to fully use the tires edge to edge.

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-29-2018, 11:23 AM
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Interested in selling the shorter shocks then?

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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-31-2018, 09:33 AM
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Best of luck with your change. I have had my 1600 for 9 months or so. I love it. She’s got 21,000 miles. I’ve put a 1,000 of them on. Rides great and is a comfy ride. But it sounds like I should be ready for something similar in that 30,000 mile range.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-31-2018, 10:24 AM Thread Starter
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I've had a lot of experience with upgrading the suspension/shocks on my BMW R1100RS. I spent a lot of bucks to install Wilbers high end custom shocks when I had 120,000 miles on the bike. Got terrible front tire cupping/wear and I didn't even realize how the ride had degraded. With the new shocks, total change, no tire wear/cupping issues after going through five tires on the front (50,000 miles). At the time I also worked at the local BMW dealer and got to ride all the new bikes. With the new shocks my 94 BMW handled and rode as well as the new bikes.

Now with this 1600 Classic the ride is no where near what it should be. So some updating and tuning should produce a much improved ride. What I learned too, is that stock shocks wear out damping wise in about 20,000 miles. If the shocks aren't rebuildable, just putting on another set of new standard shocks will be worn out in 20,000 miles again. Same for any shocks off ebay or from a salvage yard, they're basically just springs with no damping. At least the stock air-adjust Nomad shocks can be drained and refilled to change the oil and adjust the ride, as long as the seals are good.

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