Motorcyclists come in all shapes and sizes: Tall, short, thin, not-so-thin and everywhere in between. And their riding styles vary from easy cruising to hard charging, from two-up touring to racing. People choose motorcycles based on their size or riding style, but for any given model one size must fit all. Not only that, but motorcycles are built to a price, and suspension is one place where cost-savings are easily realized. Upgrading your motorcycle’s suspension is one of the best investments you can make for a more comfortable, confident ride.
Race Tech provides suspension enhancement products for all types of motorcycles, as well as ATVs and snowmobiles. It primarily provides components to rebuild existing forks and shocks, such as valve and shim stack kits, cartridge emulators, shocks, springs, fork coatings, oil and tools. All of Race Tech’s kits come with complete instructions for do-it-yourself mechanics, but Race Tech or its dealers around the world can do the installation for you. To search for products available for your motorcycle or a dealer, visit www.racetech.com.
We went to Race Tech’s headquarters in Corona, California, for a full suspension upgrade on a 2005 Kawasaki ZRX1200. During this model’s last two years of production (2004-2005), Kawasaki switched to a sealed (nonrebuildable) cartridge fork to reduce costs. That meant that we weren’t able to install Race Tech’s well-known Gold Valve Fork Kit, though we were able to install a Gold Valve Shock Kit in the rear. The new valves, as well as the accompanying custom shim stack, improve damping and rebound and optimize the oil flow area to put valving control on the shim stacks. Race Tech claims that its long-wearing, low-friction sealed design decreases fade and provides better performance. Front and rear, new springs were also installed, with all components calibrated to the particular rider.
Tony Marasco, one of Race Tech’s top suspension technicians, walked us through each step of the installation process. For something as critical to safe motorcycle operation as forks and shocks, only experienced mechanics with appropriate tools should tackle the project themselves. With the fork removed, the stanchions were polished to remove scratches and chips that can carry dirt inside the seals. All components were cleaned and inspected, new springs were installed and fresh fork oil was added. A similar process was followed for the dual rear shocks, but a complete Gold Valve Kit was also installed with a tailor-made shim stack (very thin aluminum washers of varying diameters). After the installation, Marasco dialed in the suspension settings.
Our tester, Vasco Nunes, had put 8,000 miles on his ZRX before the installation. The effect of the Race Tech suspension upgrade was immediate and dramatic, delivering more traction and better control. Rather than adjust his riding position and style to adapt to the stock suspension, Nunes felt more comfortable and the bike responded more naturally with less harshness. On the rough streets of Los Angeles, compliance was more plush and forgiving. And in the canyon roads outside of the city, he reported a more consistent, confident ride where he could better hold his line or make subtle adjustments as needed. The bike become “more his.” That’s exactly what you want, as any racer will tell you.
Race Tech’s Gold Valve Fork and Shock Kits for Kawasaki ZRX models are $169.99-$179.99, and fork and shock springs are $109.99-$119.99. For pricing and fitment for your motorcycle, see Race Tech’s website.
To see Greg’s interview with Tony Marasco, senior suspension technician at Race Tech, click HERE.
For more information contact Race Tech Inc., 1501 Pomona Road, Corona, California 92880; (951) 279-6655; www.racetech.com
I didn`t have such a great experience with my Race Tech susupension after spending over $1000.00 having everything rebuilt with Gold valves and new springs front and rear. I used a local RT center, maybe the center in California is more capable. My suspension was harsh and after the gratuitous one time adjustment it wasn`t much different. The customer service is really lacking, I tried to speak with the office in California to get more product information and possibly more support. After leaving several messages for the person in charge and not getting any return calls I have decided I will have to figure out how to cure it myself. At this point and I will probably go back to the stock valving and start over.
I agree 100% the tech support is really lacking. When you buy suspension parts the most important part is support.
You can have the best parts with no support and the suspension will be worse, not better. It is best to buy something simple and cheap like fork springs and see how you are treated before making a major investment. It is also better to buy one piece at a time so if there is a problem it is the piece you just bought. If the fork spring have right preload then adjusting the damping is easier. It sounds like maybe the damper was not put in right.