Here are some basic symptoms of suspension damping problems that you might find affecting your bike. Remember these are extreme examples; your symptoms may be more subtle. You may also have to find an acceptable compromise on either end of the adjustment spectrum. It all depends on how the bike's handling "feels" to you.
LACK OF REBOUND DAMPING (FORK)
- The fork offers a supremely plush ride, especially when riding straight up. When the pace picks up, however, the feeling of control is lost. The fork feels mushy, and traction "feel" is poor.
- After hitting bumps at speed, the front tire tends to chatter or bounce.
- When flicking the bike into a corner at speed, the front tire begins to chatter and lose traction. This translates into an unstable feel at the clip-ons.
- As speed increases and steering inputs become more aggressive, a lack of control begins to appear. Chassis attitude and pitch become a real problem, with the front end refusing to stabilize after the bike is countersteered hard into a turn.
TOO MUCH REBOUND DAMPING (FORK)
- The ride is quite harsh--just the opposite of the plush feel of too little rebound. Rough pavement makes the fork feel as if it's locking up with stiction and harshness.
- Under hard acceleration exiting bumpy corners, the front end feels like it wants to "wiggle" or "tankslap." The tire feels as if it isn't staying in contact with the pavement when on the gas.
- The harsh, unforgiving ride makes the bike hard to control when riding through dips and rolling bumps at speed. The suspension's reluctance to maintain tire traction through these sections erodes rider confidence.
LACK OF COMPRESSION DAMPING (FORK)
- Front end dive while on the brakes becomes excessive.
- The rear end of the motorcycle wants to "come around" when using the front brakes aggressively.
- The front suspension "bottoms out" with a solid hit under heavy braking and after hitting bumps.
- The front end has a mushy and semi-vague feeling--similar to lack of rebound damping.
TOO MUCH COMPRESSION DAMPING (FORK)
- The ride is overly harsh, especially at the point when bumps and ripples are contacted by the front wheel.
- Bumps and ripples are felt directly; the initial "hit" is routed through the chassis instantly, with big bumps bouncing the tire off the pavement.
- The bike's ride height is effected negatively--the front end winds up riding too high in the corners.
- Brake dive is reduced drastically, though the chassis is upset significantly by bumps encountered during braking.
LACK OF REBOUND DAMPING (REAR SHOCK)
- The ride is plush at cruising speeds, but as the pace increases, the chassis begins to wallow and weave through bumpy corners.
- This causes poor traction over bumps under hard acceleration; the rear tire starts to chatter due to a lack of wheel control.
- There is excessive chassis pitch through large bumps and dips at speed and the rear end rebounds too quickly, upsetting the chassis with a pogo-stick action.
TOO MUCH REBOUND DAMPING (REAR SHOCK)
- This creates an uneven ride. The rear suspension compliance is poor and the "feel" is vague.
- Traction is poor over bumps during hard acceleration (due to lack of suspension compliance).
- The bike wants to run wide in corners since the rear end is "packing down"; this forces a nose-high chassis attitude, which slows down steering.
- The rear end wants to hop and skip when the throttle is chopped during aggressive corner entries.
LACK OF COMPRESSION DAMPING (REAR SHOCK)
- There is too much rear end "squat" under acceleration; the bike wants to steer wide exiting corners (since the chassis is riding rear low/nose high).
- Hitting bumps at speed causes the rear to bottom out, which upsets the chassis.
- The chassis attitude is affected too much by large dips and G-outs.
- Steering and control become difficult due to excessive suspension movement.
TOO MUCH COMPRESSION DAMPING (REAR SHOCK)
- The ride is harsh, though not quite as bad as too much rebound; the faster you go, the worse it gets, however.
- Harshness hurts rear tire traction over bumps, especially during deceleration. There's little rear end "squat" under acceleration.
- Medium to large bumps are felt directly through the chassis; when hit at speed, the rear end kicks up.