If you’re just going to stare at it, then by all means leave the correct stock rear shocks on your vintage bike. But if you actually want to ride it and the bike has dual rear shocks, odds are there are few components on the motorcycle more in need of replacement. In general, dual shock absorbers didn’t really begin to perform much better than pogo sticks until the mid-1990s, and even today most are still a budget-driven compromise meant for a wide range of rider weights and riding styles. To say you can improve upon them is like saying the Titanic could use a coat of paint.
Off-the-shelf replacements will sometimes do the job. But if you really care about suspension performance, custom shocks are the way to go, and Race Tech offers a pair that is made-in-the-USA for under $900. In combination with its Gold Valve cartridge emulators and springs in the rebuilt fork, its G3-S dual shocks transformed my 1982 Yamaha Seca 650 from an unwieldy undersprung and underdamped beast into a vintage sportbike I wouldn’t hesitate to take on tour or to the track.
Although Race Tech can fit just about any motorcycle with a custom shock or shocks, its G3-S customs are designed for vintage and dual-shock bikes to look the part with black anodized or polished billet-aluminum ends and a choice of five colors for the ultra-light springs. Race Tech’s internal Gold Valves give the shocks a plush feel with excellent bottoming resistance, and the shock shaft is oversized for better performance and strength. Custom lengths and piggyback and remote reservoir models are available, but I just needed the internal-reservoir IFP (internal floating piston DeCarbon type) shocks for my Seca for the street riding I do, and to keep the bike looking close to stock.
The G3-S shocks start at $799 per pair, and for an additional $100 Race Tech added adjustable rebound damping (compression is not adjustable). This gives the shocks 75 clicks of fine adjustability that ranges from almost no damping to nearly locked down when compressed. I settled on 30 clicks out from max and left the ring-and-locknut preload adjustment as-is. But the key to getting the feel right was Race Tech’s custom order process. I turned in a custom order form with my weight and a description of how I planned to use the bike (sport-touring use on rough two-lane winding roads), with the caveat that I wanted a plush ride most of the time. Race Tech also had me fill out a custom shock geometry form, since it hadn’t made a pair of shocks for a 1982 Seca in a while. This involved some measuring and research but only took a few minutes, and I had the shocks a few weeks later.
It only took one ride to appreciate the transformation. In addition to a plush ride with no bottoming, the bike handles bumps and corners like a much more modern motorcycle now, and I’m riding it a lot more. I’m looking forward to a long sport tour with luggage, in fact…just as soon as I find some new seat foam.
For more information, call (951) 279-6655 or visit racetech.com.