Twelve years after buying my 2006 Triumph Bonneville T100, with 38,000 miles on the odometer, the very conventional suspension was showing its age, the 41mm fork feeling somewhat less springy, the shocks a bit unbouncy.
I whined to EIC Tuttle, and he called up Race Tech, which happily offered to bring my bike up to date. Race Tech sent a pair of its G3-S IFP shock absorbers, a fork kit with new springs and its Gold Valve Emulators, which would effectively emulate the cartridge fork on many more sophisticated bikes.
To do the necessary wrenching I went to my local technician, Herb Varin at C&H Motorsports here in Central California. He pulled the fork apart and enlarged the holes in the damping rods, and drilled four new ones. The original holes would no longer be responsible for controlling the flow of oil, as the emulator deals with the compression damping, while the rebound damping is done by the oil viscosity. The emulators are held in place by the new springs, which are rated at 0.8 kg, suitable for my 230 pounds. The neat thing about these emulators is that they can be tuned by controlling the flow of oil; Race Tech advised me to use 15 weight. However, adjusting means pulling off the fork tops and fishing the emulators out, so it is not the simplest of tasks. And a bit messy.
Along with the fork kit, Race Tech sent along a pair of G3-S IFP shock absorbers, which come with preload and rebound damping adjustability. These have Internal Floating Pistons in their reservoirs, and preload was preset for my weight; a pinwrench is needed to alter the preload. The rebound damping has a hand-turned adjuster knob, one way for stiffer/slower, the other for softer/faster. Sag was set at the factory at about 30mm, and the spring rate is 2.2 kg.
The Bonnie is not going out on any racetrack, but the improved comfort and handling on my county roads has made a major difference. When leaning into a curve the occasional ripple seems to even out, and less harshness is evident on a rough road. Cruising around town the fork provides an excellent feeling of control, even when bouncing over manhole covers. I went out with several friends who have stock Bonnevilles, one who rides slightly more aggressively than I do, the other, less, and I like to say they were both a bit envious.
The springs ran $130, Gold Valve kit, $170, shocks, $900. If you send the fork off to Race Tech, the cost of installing the kit will be about $175. Of course, most riders, including myself, have the ability to change the shocks.
The only problem is that while I am happy with the settings that Race Tech advised me to use, I’m wondering what might happen with a little bit of fiddling. Who knows?
For more information, see your dealer or visit racetech.com.