habitual line stepper
Join Date: Apr 2002
Years Riding: X
How you found us: .
For what it's worth, here's my take, my rambling...
Suspension is KEY. Having a properly sorted bike with good suspension can make a huge difference in how easy it is to go fast. Now that doesn't mean that my suspension is going to make me fast, there still will be other riders faster, even on worse bikes, with worse suspension. They ride around the problems. I will always be my biggest limiting factor. I choose to ride the way I do and which chances I take.
It was a few years ago when I was contemplating getting a new shock. I asked people why I would spend $850, or whatever, on a shock. What would it do? What benefits would I get? All I ever got were responses like, "man, you wonít believe the difference. It will totally transform the bike." But when pushed for more details, I never got any.
It wasn't until I took a ride on an MV Agusta F4 that I got it. I finally felt what suspension could feel like, ďThe difference.Ē I hardly road the thing for a few miles and not hard, but I could feel it. I had that feeling again when I road a friends RC51 on the track. He had done a lot to the bike and damn if it didn't feel like that F4.
So how would I describe it? Planted. So planted it was confidence inspiring. Going through a long sweeper it just felt like I could get lower and lower each pass. Lower than I had ever been before, and on someone elseís bike on a track I had never been to before. The bike did exactly what I asked, it didn't shuffle, twitch, just bam and you were at lean and in control. I could feel everything on the track, yet nothing upset it. It was just so predictable, not spongy, not springy, just totally damped. It made it easy to concentrate on other aspects of my riding. It was how I wanted my bike to feel.
The great thing about our sport is that it is challenging. There's always something to learn, practice, and try and get better at. Suspension is no different. I think there are two paths, or maybe two levels to suspension. One is getting someone to set the bike up for you. This is great, and what I did. A good tuner will set you up with a shock with the appropriate spring, and forks configured for your riding. And theyíll be able to give you basic setup settings, rebound, compression, ride height, tube placement, etc. for you and your tires. Depending on your tuner you could be there, the almost perfect setup.
But what do you do next? Do you know what the knobs and screws do? What about different tires, can you adapt? What about different tracks? What about tire wear? This is where it gets tough and there are no shortcuts. You have to ride, learn what the settings do, get ideas of what to try and try them. To have such a sense of feel for your bike and what it is doing that you know what settings to tweak, what to change or try. That is experience and the challenge.
I donít want to give anyone the wrong impression. Iím not a great rider by any means. I enjoy the sport and I enjoy trying to get better. If anything, Iím a student, at best.