Honda Africa Twin Forum banner

1 - 10 of 10 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
349 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Good morning fellow Twinners,

After bottoming my suspension one too many times last week in NC, I am finally absorbing the rather substantial cost of upgrading to Öhlins front and back. I've ordered both front and rear dampers with stiffer springs as I'm a big rider. I'm planning to do the install myself and save a few bucks. After a few discussions, I ordered new parts from Todd at Cogent Dynamics in NC. Todd was very helpful in getting me what I need for Ol' Red. As a seasoned aerospace dynamics engineer it was an easy choice to move to Öhlins. They build and sell phenomenal products.


It will be a few days before the components arrive here in FL. In the mean time I'll put up some details about what I've purchased and why. The full cost of the kit was right at $4k US. This includes marketing discounts from Cogent. Once the install begins I'll talk the forum through that adventure. And when the install is complete I'll let you know about tuning the suspension for on and off-road riding.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
235 Posts
Excellent choice. I've got Ohlins on mine and love it. Floats over washboard but still excellent on-road. I too went with Cogent. Great folks to deal with.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
349 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Here are the items I purchased from Cogent for Ol' Red:

The rear shock is an Öhlins STX 46 Adventure with a stiffer-than-stock spring:

58456


STX 46 Adventure - Shock absorber for motorcycles | Öhlins Racing

The new rear spring is rated at 105 N/mm, or 600 lbf/in. This is a bit more compliant than the spring I ended up pulling over the Penske shock on the FJR at 1,000 lbf/in (see picture below).


58450


That FJR is a stiff ride now - lots of fun in the twisties. That back tire stays glued to the road. But an Enduro bike has different requirements--sometimes you want the wheel to soak up the bumps without disturbing the chassis while keeping the power down, so you want more compliance. I'm hopeful this new AT rate will make a significant difference in this regard when all loaded up.

For the front, I decided to get a complete replacement with FFHO 101 forks, again with heavier springs.

58457



For the springs, I went with the 7.5 N/mm (42.8 lbf/in) based on my weight. This is the single spring rate so the front rate will be twice this amount, or 85.6 lbf/in. The forks come stock with 7.0 N/mm springs, so I'll have an extra set that will probably end up on Ebay. A set of fork springs runs $155 and I asked Todd to install them before shipping--$50 labor.

Here are the install instructions and other details:


I'll be back with more info when they arrive.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
312 Posts
It's a game changer. You'll love them. I haven't done my shock yet (this spring) so cannot speak to that, but I've got about 600 miles of mostly offroad now on the forks and my riding style has totally changed. I have so much more confidence, I'm so much more relaxed... Not hyper focused on sweating every line. The bike finally handles like I imagine the designers designed it to, before cheapening out. Cogent is an awesome company. It was a great experience dealing with them. Talking with Todd and Rick, I think I'm going to have them just rebuild my shock.... New internals, spring, and add a high and low speed adjuster.

Can't wait to hear how you like them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
349 Posts
Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Well, the goods arrived last week while I was down in Sebring for the 12 hour endurance race. Last Monday I opened the three boxes, a big box for forks, middlin' box for the rear shock, and a long, thin box for the springs, and inspected the items. I enjoyed the experience of inspecting some really finely-made hardware. I was reminded of my days working the manufacturing side of the Aerospace business in Palmdale. The attention to detail, the fit and finish, and the care taken in the packing and shipping were all top drawer.

Here's an example: I ordered heavier springs for both the forks and the rear shock. The rear STX 46 shock comes from Öhlins with the heavier spring installed as the compressed length of the spring has to be carefully controlled and cannot be changed once the AT shock is assembled. The AT forks, however, come standard with 7.0 N/mm springs installed. Cogent had first received the items from Öhlins, inspected them, then installed the 7.5 N/mm springs in the new forks. They then repackaged the 7.0 springs into heat-sealed bags, replaced them into the 7.5 box and shipped the whole order together. The spring box was marked as 7.5 so I was a bit confused as to whether the heavier springs had been installed. I emailed Todd who called me back immediately and asked me to check the markings on the springs. The springs were clearly marked with part number and rate (7.0 N/mm) indicating the heavier springs were where they belonged. Todd mentioned they reseal the removed springs to keep any oil from contaminating the shipping container. Nice attention to detail. Thanks Todd!

Well, I installed both the shock and the forks over two days this week. The forks went up day one in about 2 hours. I didn't need to raise the bike, just put it on the center stand with the bags and top box on. The first step is to remove the front fender - no big shakes. Next, remove the front wheel and unbolt the brake calipers. Now the OEM forks are just attached to the bike by the pinch bolts in the triple crown. Loosen these and the forks slide out easily into your hands. The Öhlins go onto the bike in reverse order. I first cleaned inside the pinch areas with a rag sprayed with brake cleaner to get a clean mating surface with the shock tubes. The only careful measurement you'll want to make is to get the height of the upper fork tube relative to the upper triple crown the same on each side. I went with .012 inch making sure both sides were equal. The overall value isn't as important as the fact that both are equal. When you're happy, torque these pinch bolts down to Honda spec. Here's the front coming apart for the fork removal.

58718


Next, we realign everything. First, reinstall the wheel, calipers and fender loosely then take the bike down off the center stand and compress the forks hard several times to align everything and purge the damper of any trapped air. Back onto the center stand to torque the fender, caliper and front wheel bolts to Honda spec. Next, set the forks to recommended settings for rebound and compression and go for a test ride to shake every thing out. This is definitely a different ride. Here are the Öhlins installed.

58719


58720


The next day I put the bike up onto my Harbor Freight bike lift with some trepidation. The footprint of this lift side-to-side (front-to-back on the bike) is only about 15 inches. It needs to be carefully loaded up. The center stand needs to be down for the shock removal and this pushes the lift forward a few inches. I used 2x6 wood shoring between the bike and the lift paws to get a wide (front-to-back) load spreading underneath Ol' Red. The wood also helped to stabilize the bike front to back. 4 ratchet straps tying the bike to the lift and we're ready to proceed.


58721


With the bike raised, removing 3 bolts releases the OEM shock from the frame and swingarm. Pretty easy. Getting the f&%^%^g thing out is next on the list and I'll confirm previous posters by telling you this is like a Rubik's Cube problem.

I did not move the voltage regulator as the instructions suggested, thinking I could remove the shock by managing the swing arm as posted by another Forum member somewhere. Here's what I got to work: First, with the swing arm down, rotate the loose shock about 120 degrees counter-clockwise as seen from above, putting the preload arm pointing slightly right and to the rear (5 O'clock as seen from above, 12 O'clock being forward). Next, raise the rear wheel and swing arm to the top of its throw (I used a hydraulic floor jack) and carefully work the shock out. There will be some resistance but it can be done if you're careful. This step took me 45 minutes to complete as I was learning on the job so to speak. I would also check the regulator connections after removal as they are right in the middle of this Gordian Knot and can be easily knocked loose .

The STX 46 shock slides in without any issue. It's a little more compact than the OEM shock and doesn't have that big preload arm to deal with. 3 bolts and the shock's in. Make sure to set the compression and rebound settings and then install the preload adjuster to the right-side frame as required. Here's the shock installed. I would rather the spring were red, but yellow is what you get from the supplier:

58722


Next, I'll be doing the ride adjustments to get the correct set-up for my load and riding style. Stay tuned.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,071 Posts
Can't wait Willy for your end user assessment.

... and you can't use, " ... the ride was transformed ... ". That line is over-used. ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
349 Posts
Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Will do DT. I haven't set the sag yet - I'll do that tomorrow rigorously. I did ride about 5 hrs today loaded up playing with the settings to see how sensitive the system is now. For the rear shock, a small change is hard to detect. For the forks, the opposite is true. When I get the sag set I'll hit my favorite dirt road here (mud, deep sugar sand, washboards and ruts) and play with the settings.

Here's what I noticed today: on rough paved roads the bike is more supple. It is better at keeping the rubber attached to the road without disturbing the chassis. This is really noticeable when leaned over to the pegs at speed. The stiffer springs have also made a big difference in the bike's stance when I'm on it. The very first ride gave me the impression I was leaning over the bars. This was just because the spongy OEM spring settled (sagged) far more than this spring does so the back of the bike is higher.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Chopperbob

·
Registered
Joined
·
562 Posts
It’s a lot easier to remove or reinstall OEM shock if you remove the preload knob first.
Raised swingarm is the key.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
264 Posts
Hey @WeeWilly, thanks for the details on the install. I am thinking of doing the same process, but maybe starting with the rear shock to spread the financial pain out across a couple of checks. I've got the stock pre-loaded at max to get the correct sag, with just me and the junk I normally carry.

It's a pretty big investment into a bike that is likely worth about 2x the price of the upgrades, but so far, after a little more than a year, I can see keeping the bike long term, so will amortize over maybe 10 years of riding.

It bottoms out more than I would like, and I would like to be able to carry a little more gear for longer trips, maybe even an occaisional passenger. I could likely get by with a better spring, but who wants to just get by?

I look forward to your followup on dialing the system in and the benefits compared to stock!

Cheers,

B
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,071 Posts
...
It bottoms out more than I would like, and I would like to be able to carry a little more gear for longer trips, maybe even an occasional passenger. I could likely get by with a better spring, but who wants to just get by?
...
In terms of on road experience, and sometimes not on the smoothest urban roads (40 to 60 km/h speed range) the pavement is really needing some tax payer's love. With a passenger and a 50L top box filled with whatever, I yet to bottom out the rear. In fact, I have preload range left before maximum (approximately set to 75 to 80% of max.). I am not a lightweight (easily > 210 lbs naked), and the pillion is an adult too. High speeds on smooth pavement is a non-issue.

I suppose all that gets thrown out the window once that load scenario goes off road.
 
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
Top