The other day I was thinking about the Yamaha FZR 600 suspension, as I rode to a work gig, knowing that I would have to return, late at night, on the treacherous course called the Long Island Expressway. I have ridden this road many times before – and it is always nasty, but this ride would be after a long day of work, in the dark, with limited visibility for the numerous potholes and bumps that riddle this strip of thoroughfare….
I made it back safe and sound, but the ride definitely had it’s moments. Stretches of pavement pocked with holes, waves in the asphalt that unwittingly shift your line, and the traffic’s preoccupation with driving like it’s a Formula 1 race, all combined to make it a ride I was happy to be done with, when I pulled up in front of my apartment.
It got me to thinking: How well does my bike handle? It would be considered an early ‘Sport Bike,’ so most would consider it to have an advantage over many other types of rides out there. With the improvements I have made to the suspension, both front and rear shocks upgraded, I would hope that this baby would hug the road, despite the challenges that the LIE presents.
There are many factors that contribute to the handling of a motorcycle. Some of them are rider related, some are in the design and maintenance of the bike. All of the inform the way the bike will handle a stretch of roadway. Most handling tests are done on a track, with bikes tuned primarily for optimum speed and control around a closed course. But for some of us, we may never see the inside of a race park, and must determine the best set-up for a “typical” ride, whatever that may be for you.
Good handling is on a case-by-case basis determined by riding ability and style, as well as local terrain. For me, the upgrades to the suspension have been a step in the right direction, but must now be tuned and dialed in, to create the maximum control for my given scenario.
In the next few weeks, I will be testing my abilities to tune, and the variables that reside in the settings on these upgrades. Shock preload, rebound and damping will all be tweaked, as well as fork oil viscosity and spacer size to see what more the front end has to offer. We will see what type of improvements we can come up with. Stay tuned…