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Discussion Starter #1
Hidalgo’s ride and handling has been suffering for a long time. For instance the rings on the damper rods in the forks have Never been replaced. Yes, the oil and dust seals have been replaced a few times as well as the bushings. But never the sealing rings.

Some time ago I read about a product from Race Tech that is supposed to help improve the ride and handling of the ‘old style’ damper rod forks. That product is called a ‘Gold Valve
Cartridge Emulator’. I also talked with their Vintage tech who suggested replacement rings from other manufacturers to install.

Installation will require enlarging some holes in the damper rods. Up until now any modification I have done can be reversed or removed because I have steadfastly refused to modify any existing part of Hidalgo. I have not even cut into the wiring harness. So this will be the FIRST modification to Hidalgo that cannot be easily reversed. I can only hope that it will be worth it.

Over the next week or two I will be installing the Race Tech Gold Valve Cartridge Emulator and upgraded springs. I will also send the front wheel it to be thoroughly inspected and trued.

As I go they this I will post my work.

 

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Discussion Starter #3
About what was the cost of this upgrade (parts)?
The spring kit is $180
The Gold Valve Cartridge Emulator kit is $130

I am providing the labor.
 

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I went and looked at an old... '85 I think Yamaha XJ650 before I landed on my Vulcan where the owner had put racetech springs in it and said it really improved the handling of the bike quite a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Current state of Hidalgo’s suspension upgrade:

First let’s get the front end off the ground with jack stands:


Comparing the springs. The stock spring is on top:


All the components in the kits:


Gold Valve components:


The Gold Valve Cartridge Emulators with suggested springs installed and adjusted. The tools shown were used to make the changes. Being an American product the fasteners are SAE.




Hidalgo without her windshield. (In case you are wondering what’s behind it.)


Due to the damper rod being larger in diameter than the valve and the pockets of the damper rod being outside the valve I have some fitment concerns regarding the valves. So I am holding for confirmation from Race Tech before continuing.


 

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Discussion Starter #6
I had an epiphany! The OEM spring washers completely cover the opening of the damper rod but their ID is slightly smaller than the emulator. A bit of work with a Dremel stone and sanding drum adjusted the ID to fit over the emulator perfectly. I await confirmation from Race Tech if this is advisable.







Since the damper rod rings are not available separately from the damper rods Race Tech suggested alternate piston rings from other manufacturers. They are a bit thicker but I was able to thin them out with a bit of 400 grit sandpaper to get them to fit in the groove. (White is original ring with 216k miles on it)






The spring preload is set to 0mm. (Flush)




I will wait for fitment confirmation and more spring spacer material.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Pics of ‘non reversible’ modification:
Drilling the damper rod compression holes:



The original damper rod has four holes a bit larger than 1/4” diameter. The cartridge emulator will be performing all the metering duties so the damper rod needs to be able to flow more than it was originally to designed to. The original holes are enlarged to 5/16” (8mm) along with adding two more holes for a total of six holes.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
UPDATE:

Race Tech got back with me with the quote "Nicely Done". So I guess that means that the fitment is good. They recommended PVC pipe for extra spacer material so I will be obtaining that tomorrow.

The front wheel is 'undressed' of tire, brake rotor, and speedo drive. I will be taking it to a local shop for truing. (First time ever!)
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Hidalgo's Suspension Upgrade is Complete!

I picked up the front wheel yesterday evening and installed it. The shop owner said that the wheel was 'not too bad off'. He even straightened a small divot from a hit to a curb-like edge a few years ago. (I was forced onto the shoulder at speed then the shoulder went away and then came back sharply. I was going between 50-60mph.)

I also replaced the rear shocks from a set I found on ebay from a 2004 model.

First impressions:

The ride is very firm. I will reserve further judgement until I load her up for the next trip.
She does seem to be planted more securely to the road and not bouncing all over. That in itself is big Plus.
She doesn't nose-dive as much on heavy braking. And I did find myself having to put my foot farther down to reach the ground after stops so she's not squatting as much either.
 
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