story and photography by Dave Bucher
[This Progressive Suspension 465 Series Shock Review was originally published in the June 2010 issue of Rider magazine]
When my buddy Joe told me he was replacing the rear shock on his 2007 Suzuki 650 V-Strom after 23,000 mostly highway miles, I was curious. Did the OE shock fail? Was it worn out? His answer was 100 percent guy: “I just think this will make my riding better.”
Somewhat dubious, I still jumped at the chance to participate in a midwinter wrenching session at the local motorcycle shop.
While Dave Hartz, the assigned tech at Trans-Am Cycle Sales in Lititz, Pennsylvania, had lots of experience applying performance suspension components to street bikes, this was his first shot at a V-Strom. A couple of zaps with an air tool and he had the factory damper out and we were on our way.
There was no scale handy, but the “heft-in-hand” method revealed little difference in the weights of the two units. However, the Progressive Suspension 465 Series Shock has a highly polished, hard-anodized housing and mounts, and a powdercoated, gloss black spring. It looks more like a trophy than something to hide in the dark backside of an adventure-touring motorcycle. Configurations are available for a variety of on/offroad applications and for sportbikes and metric cruisers. All 465 models offer a high-pressure gas monotube design with a 46mm bore, a 16mm hard chrome shaft tracking in Viton seals and a one-year limited warranty. MSRP is $495.95.
Installation was fairly easy and well covered by the instruction sheet. The adjustments for spring preload and damping are as well, but could be clearer, and some illustrations would have helped. Since we were going from a comparitively poor shock with a convenient remote preload adjuster to a potentially better performer with standard ring-and-locknut adjustment, Progressive provides a small spanner to make the preload adjustment, but Hartz’s range of long-handled spanners with varying angles of attack made it easier. He also put some anti-seize on the mating surfaces of the shock body and the adjusting ring to ease turning it as tension increased. Still, it took some grunt to get it where the instructions, and our interpretation thereof, indicated it should be.
After a test ride, Joe returned to the shop to have Hartz back off the preload a couple of turns, as it was way too harsh. Then he moved on to the damping. That’s an easy adjustment using the provided Allen key. Progressive recommends one of five numbered settings, but Joe found his sweet spot in between the marks.
Somewhere in the experiment Joe introduced the variable of changing the fork preload adjustment, but science be damned. The seat-of-the-pants result is that he’s now thrilled—his V-Strom has way better handling and ride comfort. And with the yearly mileage Joe rides, on a cost-per-mile basis the price for all of this improvement is negligible.
For more information: See your dealer or Progressive Suspension