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The stock suspension works fantastic. You can never have suspension that works in every scenario that off road trails has too offer. Most of us want to ride at a modest pace on Jeep trails, & the Africa Twin works fantastic
 

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Big shout out to Motociclo on the ADV Rider forum. I asked for recommendations for stock suspension comp & rebound and his suggestions were spot on.

I'm 150 lbs wet; 165 lbs in riding gear with hydration backpack. 2017 AT standard has SWM crash guards, bash pan, rack & Touratech pannier racks. No bags.
Sag I've set spring preload - 20 clicks in on rear, front at OEM settings.

The shock at OEM settings and 1-2 clicks either way was horrible on rocky uphills - hard to keep traction accelerating uphill on corrugated gravel with the rear hammering up and down. Front diving hard through cross ditches or when landing log jumps.

Following Motociclo's suggestions I set the suspension as follows:
Fork reb 3/4 turns from hard in
Fork comp 1 click (0 being the first click) from full in (It bleeds so much through this circuit. Adjuster really doesn't do much)
Shock reb to 2 clicks out (stock rebound valving is very weak)
Shock comp to 8 clicks (This adjuster works pretty good. Really is adjust to taste)
The bike is now more composed jumping logs and with much better traction accelerating on rocky uphills.
 

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Big shout out to Motociclo on the ADV Rider forum. I asked for recommendations for stock suspension comp & rebound and his suggestions were spot on.

I'm 150 lbs wet; 165 lbs in riding gear with hydration backpack. 2017 AT standard has SWM crash guards, bash pan, rack & Touratech pannier racks. No bags.
Sag I've set spring preload - 20 clicks in on rear, front at OEM settings.

The shock at OEM settings and 1-2 clicks either way was horrible on rocky uphills - hard to keep traction accelerating uphill on corrugated gravel with the rear hammering up and down. Front diving hard through cross ditches or when landing log jumps.

Following Motociclo's suggestions I set the suspension as follows:
Fork reb 3/4 turns from hard in
Fork comp 1 click (0 being the first click) from full in (It bleeds so much through this circuit. Adjuster really doesn't do much)
Shock reb to 2 clicks out (stock rebound valving is very weak)
Shock comp to 8 clicks (This adjuster works pretty good. Really is adjust to taste)
The bike is now more composed jumping logs and with much better traction accelerating on rocky uphills.
Nice it works for you, but seeing these detailed settings kind of worry me, I was always told and in my tests I found that it correlates, that the rebound and compression should not
end up at much different adjustments between front and rear, because this can horribly unbalance the motorcycle.
Your compression seems dangerously far in my opinion, just 11/12 on the front and rear 8/20 (if I remember correctly max on mine was 20 clicks), so that would mean your rear
compression is only 44% that from the front, this seems kind of dangerous to me, I don't see Honda giving totally different compression characteristics to forks against shock,
especially that from OEM settings, compression are within 6% from each other and rebound are within 4%.


Maybe some suspension Guru could chime in, but to my engineer logic this doesn't seem a good idea at all to use these settings, not dissing you or Motociclo but you know how
sometimes a lot of dangerous stuff float around forums.
Mine is adjusted for road, but I can't imagine off-road settings being so far from road ones, maybe I'm wrong so if someone can give some serious experience here.
 

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Nice it works for you, but seeing these detailed settings kind of worry me, I was always told and in my tests I found that it correlates, that the rebound and compression should not end up at much different adjustments between front and rear, because this can horribly unbalance the motorcycle.
Your compression seems dangerously far in my opinion, just 11/12 on the front and rear 8/20 (if I remember correctly max on mine was 20 clicks), so that would mean your rear
compression is only 44% that from the front, this seems kind of dangerous to me, I don't see Honda giving totally different compression characteristics to forks against shock,
especially that from OEM settings, compression are within 6% from each other and rebound are within 4%.

Maybe some suspension Guru could chime in, but to my engineer logic this doesn't seem a good idea at all to use these settings, not dissing you or Motociclo but you know how
sometimes a lot of dangerous stuff float around forums.
Mine is adjusted for road, but I can't imagine off-road settings being so far from road ones, maybe I'm wrong so if someone can give some serious experience here.
I'm a Mech Engineer. I understand suspension basics and I know how to set SAG, but I'm not an expert in the design of shim sticks, low & high speed damping etc. Once you realize Honda did not design the AT with a nicely balanced and linearly adjustable suspension for off-road use you begin to explore how to get good performance from the stock boingers. You don't have to spend $ with suspension tuners if you are 75kg and lightly loaded to get good performance - you just have to understand the suspension limitations and work with it. Some are very happy with soft and plush and only ride pavement.

If you want to read about the limitations of the AT suspension there's 167+ pages here https://advrider.com/f/threads/africa-twin-crf1000l-suspension.1155122/page-167

Essentially the fork is really old school and the shock of more recent design. From a proper suspension design and functionality viewpoint both are under sprung for anyone over 75kg. That's why I've the shock at 20clicks in to get proper rider suspension SAG - bike with rider should use ⅓ of suspension travel with your normal riding load.

The shock rebound damping is very weak (hence my traction problem on corrugated gravel) too weak to control the stock spring. Anyone heavier installing stiffer spring to get proper SAG will need to have the shock revalved. the compression damping works pretty good.

The fork compression damping bleeds so much through the circuit the adjustment really doesn't do much until nearly closed - effective range is the first 2-3 clicks off bottom, hence my problem bottoming through ditches or diving when street riding. Well recognized problem - Cogent has a solution - https://www.motocd.com/product/honda-crf1000l-africa-twin-revalve-kit-cogent-1-kit/
 

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Here's Teknik Motorsports review and guideline settings for stock AT suspension https://www.teknikmotorsport.com/Honda-CRF1000L-Africa-Twin-Suspension-modification

Suspension can bottom through ditches, even under brakes. This is slow speed damping. It won't be a hard bottoming, but can be felt. The bleed circuit (the clicker adjusters) is what primarily controls this. Shim stacks come into play also, but mainly the bleed circuit. Harder hits, like logs and sharp edges will use shim stacks to damp. This is more high speed damping. Same principal fork or shock.

If you're getting good sag measurements on stock springs, bonus. Shock spring is OK for a <80 kg rider, next rate up would be a bit better though. Best to have proper SAG setting with minimal preload.

Comparing Teknik vs what Motociclo suggested on stock, untouched AT suspension.

Forks, Compression,
Motociclo - 1 to 2 click out from hard. It bleeds so much through this circuit, adjuster really doesn't do much. Teknik suggests 5 clicks.

Forks, Rebound,
Motociclo - Half a turn to 1 turn out from hard. Teknik suggests 1-turn.

Shock, Compression,
Motociclo - Any where from 5 to 10 out from hard. This adjuster works pretty good. Really is adjust to taste. Teknik no suggestion.

Shock, Rebound,
Motociclo - 1 to 2 clicks out. That seems extreme, but stock rebound valving is very weak. Teknik concurs, suggests 3-clicks out.

My suggestions. First properly set your suspension SAG. Then dial in Tekink's recommendations for compression and rebound. Play from there.
 

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I'm a Mech Engineer. I understand suspension basics and I know how to set SAG, but I'm not an expert in the design of shim sticks, low & high speed damping etc. Once you realize Honda did not design the AT with a nicely balanced and linearly adjustable suspension for off-road use you begin to explore how to get good performance from the stock boingers. You don't have to spend $ with suspension tuners if you are 75kg and lightly loaded to get good performance - you just have to understand the suspension limitations and work with it. Some are very happy with soft and plush and only ride pavement.

If you want to read about the limitations of the AT suspension there's 167+ pages here https://advrider.com/f/threads/africa-twin-crf1000l-suspension.1155122/page-167

Essentially the fork is really old school and the shock of more recent design. From a proper suspension design and functionality viewpoint both are under sprung for anyone over 75kg. That's why I've the shock at 20clicks in to get proper rider suspension SAG - bike with rider should use ⅓ of suspension travel with your normal riding load.

The shock rebound damping is very weak (hence my traction problem on corrugated gravel) too weak to control the stock spring. Anyone heavier installing stiffer spring to get proper SAG will need to have the shock revalved. the compression damping works pretty good.

The fork compression damping bleeds so much through the circuit the adjustment really doesn't do much until nearly closed - effective range is the first 2-3 clicks off bottom, hence my problem bottoming through ditches or diving when street riding. Well recognized problem - Cogent has a solution - https://www.motocd.com/product/honda-crf1000l-africa-twin-revalve-kit-cogent-1-kit/
I'm 74kg so like you I didn't need to up the forks preload much, if i recall correctly, mine is at 7.5 so middle of the spring range which is fine, mostly like you I'm at 22 in the back
because I often carry the luggage. Last travel I had 40kg of luggage so I'm still thinking about upgrading the rear spring to Hyperpro, because max setting was just enough not to
unbalance the geometry on long higway rides.


I also noticed the rebound damping on the shock is crap, because I would not feel much difference and had difficulties setting it, unlike the front which was obvious.
But sorry to disagree to me the compression feels quite progressive, didn't have issues setting it on the forks I'm also high but I ended going pretty much as high on the rear, before
I did I would get an awfull front heasdhake on highways with luggage, so it was unbalanced and the rake angle was too big because of excessive squat on accel, even with correct
SAG.
I set it for the front feel in curves, but I'm surprised by you saying you would bottom the susp, I did off-roading with jumps and never bottomed, sometimes I wonder if my AT is
different than other people's.

Maybe you don't feel this on off-roading, but I still don't think having a 44% value as to the front compression is safe, did you try only upping your rear compression and see what
happens, guides are nice but I learned through trial and error to set my suspensions myself, you can't break anything so why not try because when you said you had traction issues,
my logic says when you accelerate then it's compression that gives traction not rebound directly, rebound comes in play with irregular surfaces more or when throttle is off.


And there are great suspension companies like you linked, but still they need to sell their products, so they will all say their products are better and stock is weak, I know the susps on
AT aren't all around best for extreme off-road, so I take their claims with skepticism and try adjusting mine, I'm one of those engineers that prefer testing rather than theorizing, because
the real world doesn't always agree with theory. Also there are lots of people that like to blame it on the motorcycle, overblowing their abilities and kind of want to buy better gear...
as some kind of testament that they are great at riding, sure this bike aint perfect, but you can wonder how many really need better suspension.


You definitely do more off-road and harder than me, so I respect what you're saying, it's just that these settings don't work on road to me and far values like this always makes me wonder.
 
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I'm 92kg. Have done tens of thousands of kilometres fully loaded on and offroad. I still maintain the suspension is fine for all but the most extreme riders. It's plush and does its job without issue. If you feel you need it then upgrade your suspension but I don't agree that it's a night and day difference as some riders report. Try out a stock and one with an updated suspension see if you can tell measurably how different they are.

Suspension looks just fine on this other post here on the forum (AT not far off super bike times for laps without having any pretension of being a sport bike) - https://www.africatwinforum.com/forum/129-honda-crf1000l-africa-twin-videos/35193-worth-watch.html
 

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I'm 92kg. Have done tens of thousands of kilometres fully loaded on and offroad. I still maintain the suspension is fine for all but the most extreme riders. It's plush and does its job without issue. If you feel you need it then upgrade your suspension but I don't agree that it's a night and day difference as some riders report. Try out a stock and one with an updated suspension see if you can tell measurably how different they are.
Suspension looks just fine on this other post here on the forum (AT not far off super bike times for laps without having any pretension of being a sport bike) - https://www.africatwinforum.com/forum/129-honda-crf1000l-africa-twin-videos/35193-worth-watch.html
I'm 75kg and I've been riding for 50 years. The stock AT suspension is budget but works for me when properly adjusted, though I'd rather a stiffer rear spring so I don't have to use so much pre-load to get proper sag.
Suspension performance on a paved racetrack is markedly different from an uphill corrugated gravel road.
Until I cranked the shock rebound to 2-clicks from hard in the rear wheel just hammered up and down when accelerating uphill on the Hedley NickelPlate road. Now it hooks up better and I can hang with the KTM's.
Would be nice if the useable adjustment was full range and not the last 2-clicks of 20 ...
 

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I’m 6’-2” 210lb striped I’ve done a lot of off road races in my younger years & still ride my Honda 450x. The AT is an incredible machine ,the suspension is capable of handling anything you want to ride, depending on the skill level of the rider. For me being on the heavier side , I needed to go with a heavier shock spring , this made a huge difference especially when loaded up with all my camping gear. I have ridden the California BDR ride & Arizona BDR ride from start to finish with no issues, the AT at 500lbs plus is a fantastic motorcycle.
 

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I’m 6’-2” 210lb striped I’ve done a lot of off road races in my younger years & still ride my Honda 450x. The AT is an incredible machine ,the suspension is capable of handling anything you want to ride, depending on the skill level of the rider. For me being on the heavier side , I needed to go with a heavier shock spring , this made a huge difference especially when loaded up with all my camping gear. I have ridden the California BDR ride & Arizona BDR ride from start to finish with no issues, the AT at 500lbs plus is a fantastic motorcycle.
I know I'm not that skilled off-road, but I rode back to back R1200GS on enduro mode with knobbies and my AT with 80/20 tires in a quarry, the AT was more
fun yet a bit easier than that tank of a GS, the suspensions were just fine next to the electronically piloted GS's.

So yeah the suspensions are fine for most people, you'd really need to be racing to upgrade.
As I said when some people can't see or accept they don't have the skills and want to buy lots of upgrades, theorizing the motorcycle is unable to do stuff while
it's them that lack skill actually.
 

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I hesitated to post my experience but after the last couple of posts, I will.
I suspect that most of the buyers of AT's are NOT technical off-road riders (or technical anything). Many will like me have bought it because it's an incredibly comfortable bike with an upright riding position and very compliant long travel suspension. And they will have bought it for going long distances on road (pavement to some of you guys)
My 2018 model is slightly more jittery on road than my 2016 model (maybe they did something in the front forks). Anyway last week because I had to travel several hundred miles on motorways and dual carriageways before getting to the backroads, I experimented with dialling out all damping front and back (actually I left rear compression damping as factory set). This made a big difference to the ride quality - and I loved it. My intention was to dial standard setting back in when I got to the single tracks B and C-roads of the Highlands (These are not off-road, but very twisty and very potholed). But I left the settings the same (ie minimal damping), and the bike was brilliant.
I'm sure I could have gone faster round those back roads if I had firmed everything up, but hey I was touring some of the most beautiful scenery in the world so why would I do that.
(I'm 85 kilos, riding solo with about 35kg of OEM luggage, and I turn up the factory preload on the rear by 7 clicks)
Mike
 

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The amount of disinformation on the inter webs about suspension settings is second only to political ranting. And the books I’ve read seldom show that the author actually understands the physics of the variables much better. Typically they are just regurgitating some tripe they heard some other guy (that they have respect for) say.

The system isn’t really that complicated when you break it down into individual functions, but due to their interaction and overlap it’s easy to get confused. But you also have to throw out most of what you’ve heard in the past and think of these things logically.

First misconception to dispel is regarding the preload adjuster. People think this makes the shock stiffer. It doesn’t. The spring is the spring and cranking on the preload won’t change the spring rate. When you crank down on the preload it accomplishes exactly one thing: it changes the ride height at that end of the bike. Now that is not insignificant, as ride height can affect steering and handling significantly, but in terms of just the suspension and how it reacts to the road surface, the effect is very small, basically only the amount that the change in attitude shifts weight from front to rear.

Ideally, you want to set your preload so that, nominally weighted, the suspension sits at about 1/3rd compressed statically. That gives you the best range of motion to react to road surface irregularities without bottoming out or topping out. But, what the preload can’t affect us how much the suspension deflects for a given impulse of a bump. To change that, and therefore change how stiff the suspension actually is, requires changing springs.

If people are interested I will go on with more details in suspension theory. If not, I’ll just shut up now.
 

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Preloading the spring does make the spring stiffer, the adjuster is there so you can add some preload for extra weight that is added too the motorcycle, like luggage or a passenger. You are correct it doesn’t change the spring rate.
 

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I think 1 Wheel Driver is correct Desert Rider, but there is some truth in what you say too - at least as far as Honda are concerned. There are very long discussions on the NC700 forum (because its suspension is much worse than the Africa Twin). And those discussions deal with this issue of whether the preload hardens the suspension or not. On most bikes it does not, but because Honda use a particular kind of geometry in the rear suspension altering it will change the effective spring rate - but only by a very small amount. It's a couple of years since I was involved in those discussions so I hope I have remembered it correctly.
Mike
 

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All springs ever made create more force, by adding more preload to the spring, that’s a fact
True
F=kx
F is the force
k is the spring constant
x is the displacement or amount the suspension travels
Ideally you want to achieve proper rider suspension sag (⅓ of travel) with minimum preload. Heavier riders and heavily loaded bikes work better with stiffer springs than stock. Allow you to stay in the working zone of the suspension without bottoming outdo often.
 

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True
F=kx
F is the force
k is the spring constant
x is the displacement or amount the suspension travels
Ideally you want to achieve proper rider suspension sag (⅓ of travel) with minimum preload. Heavier riders and heavily loaded bikes work better with stiffer springs than stock. Allow you to stay in the working zone of the suspension without bottoming outdo often.
Your description above is spot on concerning what we want, but that formula is for a leaf spring (as fitted to a truck or railway carriage). At least that what this article shows. And the same article provides a formula for a coil spring (as fitted to a motorcycle) that is probably more appropriate and says that spring stiffness is proportional to several things, but overall length of the spring does not seem to be one of them:
http://suspensionsecrets.co.uk/how-to-calculate-coil-or-leaf-spring-rates/
Mike
 

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The formula F=kx is universal for all springs.

The link mike5100 gave is excellent in describing how to determine 'k' the spring constant. Easy to calculate for coil springs. The practical example for coil springs describes the F/x=k method, just doesn't list the formula.

The article also discussed how difficult it is to empirically determine the spring rate for leaf springs, thus gave the example about how to practically determine 'k' by measuring force and distance - which may confuse you into thinking the formula is for leaf springs only.

Correct - coil spring stiffness / rate is proportional to several things - see the pic.
Length of the spring is only of interest when you require longer travel where the coils cannot become bound up and in fatigue life calculations for the spring where stress must be kept within parameters for infinite life.
 

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For those of you not happy with the AT suspensions, go try a Scrambler XE lol

I went from this:


To this: https://youtu.be/VVckQoJIUfo

And yesterday I softened the forks and shock a bit while adding some preload to the shock. This bike rides like a magic carpet and I'm 200lbs. It really depends on what you do with the bike, but I ride mostly on road and gravel/dirt roads. Because of our winters, the paved roads are often harsher than the dirt roads...

I sold my 2017 to buy the Scrambler...and just sold the Scrambler to buy a 2019 Africa Twin, the main reason was the suspensions...sure like with any suspensions you can always improve them with different springs, cartridge kits, etc...but just with the adjustment available, unless you are really hardcore offroading, the stock setup should allow to suit a large proportion of riders (that is if you're not expecting a sport bike type of suspension).
 
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