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oldjohn

Recommended shock absorbers

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What would you recommend as a good shock absorber for a 199? I'm not a serious competitor so don't need the latest and greatest, just something reasonable with a reasonable price. The Betor Experts on it now were fine when they were in good condition but now they're barely functional. And what spring rate for an 80kg rider?

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I occasionally use NJB, if you ring Norman, (the N of NJ Blakemore), he can advise you on what spring rate you need. 

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Avoid the NJB 'clubman' oil filled shocks, however - had some new ones on the TY when I bought it and they gave period correct performance (ie. crap by modern standards)

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Hey Snarly - Have NJB Trixshocks, and they are good for the average rider, and good value also. I am getting a pair of his new Ultimate shocks when I ever get a response from him.

Go a bit longer than standard also (360mm?) to quicken the steering.

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Thanks to all for the replies.

Interesting too that you mention going a bit longer to quicken the steering bodwheel, I'd been thinking of trying this. Might even throw on a pair of 365mm Chinese cheapies just to see how it affects the steering, and if I like how it steers I could then get something decent in the same length.

 

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Well there's been some progress... I'd been thinking it'd be nice to try some longer shocks to see what effect it had on steering, but didn't want to spend a lot of money on good shocks without knowing the effect of the change in length, so thought I'd buy some cheap, longer Chinese shocks. If the extra length turned out to be a step backwards I wouldn't have lost much money but if it turned out to work well I could then buy something decent in the same length.

Anyhow, I bought a set of GX Motors shocks, 365mm long, from eBay. These actually don't look too bad on paper - for a start they have a longer stroke than most of the other Chinese jobs, a fraction longer than the old Betor experts I used previously. Many of the Chinese shocks use the same short body and adjust the eye-to-eye length by using a longer rod-end mount. So many of them end up with a shorter travel than you'd expect. The GXMotors shocks have a reasonable travel length and they also use a 12mm rod which should make them a fair bit stronger than the somewhat flimsy Betors. I was expecting them - as a "budget" shock - to be underdamped and if so that'd be fine - I liked the old Betors best when they'd lost a lot of their damping effect. That's not how they turned out however...

The ones I bought were listed as being suitable for an early 125 Elsinore and I thought they wouldn't be a bad match with the Sherpa as they both have similar weights. The reality turned out to be somewhat different when I got the shocks - there's no way these would have worked at all on an old CR125. For a start they were fitted with a pair of the heaviest springs I've ever encountered - they'd be too heavy for a Harley (seriously), but they might work on the rear axle of a Mack truck carrying the Queen Mary. They were so stiff I had to use a spring compressor to get them off and then modify the shocks to allow the old Betor springs to be fitted.

The damping was odd too. Rebound damping was fairly normal, maybe just a tad heavy. But the compression damping was like nothing I've ever experienced. Pushing down slowly they behaved fairly normally apart from overly heavy damping. But if you tried to compress them quickly they'd virtually lock solid - they didn't just slow up, they stopped. I found you'd get one quick compression stroke before they locked, and if I bounced on the seat (stationary) several times there was very little movement at all. Weird. But I fitted them anyway just to see how they'd go when actually riding.

How they went was just like a rigid frame - they were basically hydraulically locked. But I wanted to keep riding so I took the shocks off and refit them upside-down. Being old-style double-tube shocks I thought that this would stop the damping from working altogether and at least I'd get some movement back so I could ride for the rest of the afternoon. I got a pleasant surprise though: the compression damping did in fact go away but the rebound damping continued to work to some extent. Riding the bike I found the semi-disabled shocks to be actually not bad - pretty bloody good in fact. The bike rode nicely, traction seemed largely unaffected but there was a tendency for the rear end to kick up over logs and ledges. Although the bike was now obviously underdamped I was now convinced that damping quite a bit lighter than the old Betor Experts was what I wanted.

What about the extra length? It did feel just a little less prone to pushing the front in a very tight turn, though the difference was small and possibly just imaginary. Still, I thought it felt a little better and certainly no worse, so decided to stick with the same length when I bought the "good" shocks.

I actually rode with the upside-down Chinese shocks for a while before ordering the new ones. I wanted something not too expensive, rebuildable and with light damping, and eventually settled on some Falcons with the Superlight damping option and springs as per Falcons recommendation for my bike and weight. They arrived quickly after ordering (considering the shipping to Australia) so I fitted them and took the bike out to my usual practice area for testing.

My first impression was that they were perhaps just a tad overdamped even with the Superlight option, but even so they were very, very good. Falcon advise that it takes a little while for the new shocks to break in and free up, and that's exactly what I found. After a few hours they felt damn near perfect. Traction over rocks and roots and so on was very noticeably improved, and the tendency for the rear to kick up over logs and rock ledges disappeared completely. It felt weird at first riding over bigger logs (for me anything over 500mm is big) on the back wheel and being able to feel the rear wheel roll over the top and down the other side. I could hit things like this quite hard without the tyre being kicked clear of the obstacle, and while the bike felt less "lively" it was certainly more stable and composed over the really rough stuff.

After a while I noticed I was riding slightly differently, with more weight over the front. Like most people I guess, I unconsciously position myself to put the weight where it's needed - to the back for more traction, or more forwards to keep from pushing the front out. It seems that the improvement in traction was allowing me to keep more weight over the front and this helped with steering. In short, I'm delighted with these shocks and surprised at how much they have changed the feel of the bike. With the old Betors I always felt that the front suspension worked better than the rear but now I feel that the forks could stand some tuning...

So, was the exercise worth it, and what did I learn?

Yes I think it was worth it. I can't say the extra length makes a big difference but I think it's a tad better than before. I think it is just a tiny bit easier in very tight turns.

My gut feeling from the start was that quite light damping was the way to go, and that turned out to be true for me. If you come from a background of motocross or enduro riding then you need to forget everything you already know about suspension. A trials bike wants springing and damping that would be impossibly light for an enduro bike. I guess the low speeds, light weights and baggy underinflated tyres make the difference. The spring rate recommended by Falcon turned out to be spot-on.

The experiments with the cheap ebay shocks helped guide me with damping. The old Betors were overdamped, the ebays were grossly overdamped when the right way up and underdamped when upside down. I concluded that being slightly underdamped was better than being overdamped. As it turned out the Superlight Falcons were ideal for me and I certainly wouldn't hesitate to buy another set. But keep in mind I'm not an expert rider and that others may have different preferences.

Top pic is Falcon, bottom is eBay cheapies.

Apologies for the long post.

falconshock.jpg

ebayshock.jpg

Edited by oldjohn
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Just seen this, but had you bought Rochshocks you could have easily changed the length to experiment. They probably cost the same as falcons, and the cost of the  cheep chinese would have paid for alternative bottom mounts for varying the length.

Edited by b40rt

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5 hours ago, b40rt said:

Just seen this, but had you bought Rochshocks you could have easily changed the length to experiment. They probably cost the same as falcons, and the cost of the  cheep chinese would have paid for alternative bottom mounts for varying the length.

You can do the same with Falcons,it was one of the reasons why I bought them for my HT5. We are very lucky,I think to have the choice of Falcon or Rockshocks,both can be rebuilt or altered,both have great backup.

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11 hours ago, b40rt said:

Just seen this, but had you bought Rochshocks you could have easily changed the length to experiment. They probably cost the same as falcons, and the cost of the  cheep chinese would have paid for alternative bottom mounts for varying the length.

Rockshocks are twice the price of steel body Falcons. Alloy Falcons probably about the same price

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Sorry John - sold the bike with the Betors as they were way too stiff for me also. Always found that bike difficult to ride compared to the M158.

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1 hour ago, bodwheel said:

Sorry John - sold the bike with the Betors as they were way too stiff for me also. Always found that bike difficult to ride compared to the M158.

No worries Terry, I've always been happy with the bike and even more so now. It's never let me down even though I ride it nearly every weekend and it's given me a huge amount of pleasure.

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Weather you choose: Rockshocks, Falcons or Magicals they are all very good.

I personal like the Magicals best on Spanish twinshock bikes, as they simply fit best in look through their design with the colored springs. Magical even made special rear shocks dedicated to the Sherpa.

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