Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
texscottyd

2015 FJ09 suspension upgrades: What I did & why I did it...

Recommended Posts

In preparation for the cut-over to the new forum software, I was browsing through old PMs to see what I might want to save.  I've actually sent this same message to numerous folks who have inquired about my suspension upgrade choices (YA535 Ohlins & RaceTech forks), so I thought it might be worth just posting to the overall forum.
 
 
 
Usual caveats apply:  Just my experience, your mileage may vary, and be honest with yourself about how you actually ride your bike.
 
 
>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 
 
A suspension upgrade on the FJ is a big investment, so I totally understand and appreciate your wanting to investigate the pros & cons. I think a lot of it will depend on an honest assessment of how you ride the bike, and what your expectations are from the upgrade.
 
 
 
As a bit of background, I come from a long history of sportbikes, 15+ years road racing with the CMRA, and several years as an instructor with Lone Star Track Days. So, while the FJ is absolutely my relaxed weekend play bike, I admittedly ride it more aggressively than many other owners do. Also, I'm a big guy... 6'1", 230 pounds, so I'm definitely outside of the range where the stock suspension was designed to operate. Personally, I found the stock suspension too softly sprung, and damping wasn't right to keep the bike settled and stable in the turns. Honestly, even in a straight line I didn't really like the ride... too 'floaty' (if that's a word) and busy/choppy over pavement imperfections. Even with the fork preload cranked way up, the brake dive was horrendous under anything more than moderate braking, and the fore/aft pitch just made riding smoothly harder than it needed to be.
 
 
 
That said, I still loved riding the bike bone stock... I got 4,800 miles out of the stock Dunlop D222s, all on the stock suspension (adjusted as best as I could for my weight and riding style). I was one of those that would periodically drag the center stand in right hand corners, so certainly the bike worked fine. It just didn't feel planted, and - especially in faster sweepers - it was just nervous the way the bike would pack down on the springs, then wallow slightly through the apex of the curve. Fun to ride, but not as buttoned-down as I prefer.
 
 
So, at the 4,800 mile mark, I did tires and suspension all at once: Michelin PR4s, and the Ohlins YA535 shock and Race Tech fork internals (1.0 springs and the Gold Valve damping stack). I had it done at my favorite local shop in Houston, since the owner is a friend who has done lots of suspension work on my racebikes over the years, and I trust his judgement implicitly on setting up this type of stuff... he knows me and my riding style, so the communication was easy. All in, the shock and forks, with labor/taxes/supplies/et cetera, ran about $1,800. I could have spent more on the forks (AK-20, etc) but we agreed that this setup would be 'good enough' for a street bike.
 
 
 
Bottom line: It totally transformed the motorcycle. As a real-world sportbike, it's tough to beat. The bike is stable, compliant, relaxed at speed, and does exactly what I ask it to do. Before, I felt like it was a negotiation to get it to turn... now, it just flat works. Braking is improved since the bike stays more level, and on/off throttle transitions don't have it pitching around on the springs. I've managed to just barely drag the right footpeg (with the ridiculous stock feelers removed) once or twice since the upgrade, but that's been in full-on haul ass mode... 99.9% of the time, ground clearance is a non-issue now. Even if you're less aggressive with your cornering, it is still a much more comfortable and controlled ride. It is a bit firmer over bumps and in routine commuting duties, but I actually prefer that feeling. It's kind of like the difference between the way a Lincoln and an Audi ride... not that one is better than the other, but I'll take the quicker & firmer responses vs the softer, longer-duration bump absorption.
 
 
 
So, I'm not sure if that helps you or not, but it's my personal observation and experience. The FJ is an absolute gem of a motorcycle, and getting the suspension fully sorted just makes it that much more enjoyable. I plan to keep this thing for several years, and haven't ever regretted spending the $$ on the suspension upgrades.
 
 
-Scott
 
 
 
>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 
 
  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
@texscottyd - Thank you for this. You and I are the same size and sounds like we ride the same way, though I dont have a racing background.
 
My assessment of the stock suspension is similar - "surprisingly adequate" until you pick up the pace. One thing I dont like is "wallowing" through fast sweepers and I couldn't get that dialed out with stock suspension.
 
I went with a Penske 8983 and "Forks by Matt" advanced option, comfortable on the highway while taught and controlled in the canyons. Biggest bang for the buck, hands down.
  • Like 1

***2015 Candy Red FJ-09***

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
One thing I dont like is "wallowing" through fast sweepers and I couldn't get that dialed out with stock suspension... 
Biggest bang for the buck, hands down.
That was my number one complaint. Everything else I could ride around, but the wallow in fast corners was a bit disconcerting... it just wouldn’t rail like it does now.
 
I 100% concur with your ‘bang for the buck’ comment. Far and away the best money I’ve spent on this bike.
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
the best upgrade someone can do to the tracer (fj09) is the suspension upgrade. there are a lot of variations and solutions... just take off the oem crap from the bike
  • Like 1

MODS: custom remapped 133 wheel power by T.R.E. / K&P WORKSHOP,  WOOLICH RACING + race tools package, reprofiled cams,  ported cylinder head,  higher compression, bored throttle bodies, ape cam tensioner,  OHLINS FGK237 cartridge & YA 535,  GPR V4, SKF Fork seals,  BREMBO RCS 19 Corta Rossa with SC pads, HEALTECH shift light PRO, AKRAPOVIC racing carbon exhaust, slipper clutch + Barnett clutch springs, JT Sprockets + JVMX 525 black 112 links chain, oil temp gauge drain plug, air filter DNA + Modded airbox, PIRELLI ROSSO CORSA II, YAMAHA LED plus blinkers, antitheft alarm scorpio 900i + perimeter sensor + kill engine module, CELLULAR INTERPHONE led slim fog lights with yamaha oem mounting bracket, YAMAHA heated grips and more....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/1/2018 at 7:14 PM, texscottyd said:

In preparation for the cut-over to the new forum software, I was browsing through old PMs to see what I might want to save.  I've actually sent this same message to numerous folks who have inquired about my suspension upgrade choices (YA535 Ohlins & RaceTech forks), so I thought it might be worth just posting to the overall forum.
 
 
 
Usual caveats apply:  Just my experience, your mileage may vary, and be honest with yourself about how you actually ride your bike.
 
 
>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 
 
A suspension upgrade on the FJ is a big investment, so I totally understand and appreciate your wanting to investigate the pros & cons. I think a lot of it will depend on an honest assessment of how you ride the bike, and what your expectations are from the upgrade.
 
 
 
As a bit of background, I come from a long history of sportbikes, 15+ years road racing with the CMRA, and several years as an instructor with Lone Star Track Days. So, while the FJ is absolutely my relaxed weekend play bike, I admittedly ride it more aggressively than many other owners do. Also, I'm a big guy... 6'1", 230 pounds, so I'm definitely outside of the range where the stock suspension was designed to operate. Personally, I found the stock suspension too softly sprung, and damping wasn't right to keep the bike settled and stable in the turns. Honestly, even in a straight line I didn't really like the ride... too 'floaty' (if that's a word) and busy/choppy over pavement imperfections. Even with the fork preload cranked way up, the brake dive was horrendous under anything more than moderate braking, and the fore/aft pitch just made riding smoothly harder than it needed to be.
 
 
 
That said, I still loved riding the bike bone stock... I got 4,800 miles out of the stock Dunlop D222s, all on the stock suspension (adjusted as best as I could for my weight and riding style). I was one of those that would periodically drag the center stand in right hand corners, so certainly the bike worked fine. It just didn't feel planted, and - especially in faster sweepers - it was just nervous the way the bike would pack down on the springs, then wallow slightly through the apex of the curve. Fun to ride, but not as buttoned-down as I prefer.
 
 
So, at the 4,800 mile mark, I did tires and suspension all at once: Michelin PR4s, and the Ohlins YA535 shock and Race Tech fork internals (1.0 springs and the Gold Valve damping stack). I had it done at my favorite local shop in Houston, since the owner is a friend who has done lots of suspension work on my racebikes over the years, and I trust his judgement implicitly on setting up this type of stuff... he knows me and my riding style, so the communication was easy. All in, the shock and forks, with labor/taxes/supplies/et cetera, ran about $1,800. I could have spent more on the forks (AK-20, etc) but we agreed that this setup would be 'good enough' for a street bike.
 
 
 
Bottom line: It totally transformed the motorcycle. As a real-world sportbike, it's tough to beat. The bike is stable, compliant, relaxed at speed, and does exactly what I ask it to do. Before, I felt like it was a negotiation to get it to turn... now, it just flat works. Braking is improved since the bike stays more level, and on/off throttle transitions don't have it pitching around on the springs. I've managed to just barely drag the right footpeg (with the ridiculous stock feelers removed) once or twice since the upgrade, but that's been in full-on haul ass mode... 99.9% of the time, ground clearance is a non-issue now. Even if you're less aggressive with your cornering, it is still a much more comfortable and controlled ride. It is a bit firmer over bumps and in routine commuting duties, but I actually prefer that feeling. It's kind of like the difference between the way a Lincoln and an Audi ride... not that one is better than the other, but I'll take the quicker & firmer responses vs the softer, longer-duration bump absorption.
 
 
 
So, I'm not sure if that helps you or not, but it's my personal observation and experience. The FJ is an absolute gem of a motorcycle, and getting the suspension fully sorted just makes it that much more enjoyable. I plan to keep this thing for several years, and haven't ever regretted spending the $$ on the suspension upgrades.
 
 
-Scott
 
 
 
>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 
 

Thanks for the write up. If I didn’t know any better I would have thought you were talking about my bike. Parts will be ordered this week for mine. 

  • Thumbsup 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Darkduc said:

Thanks for the write up. If I didn’t know any better I would have thought you were talking about my bike. Parts will be ordered this week for mine. 

All the stock ones behave pretty much the same way, especially if you’re north of about 180 pounds.  

The only downside to the RaceTech forks is the lack of compression damping adjustment...  you’re still limited to just preload and rebound.  That said, the RaceTech valving is just about spot on for me.   I might have tried just a touch more compression if I had the option to fiddle with it easily, but it is what it is, and - fortunately - it’s great for me.  

Good luck, and keep us posted with what you decide to do.  You’re going to love your new & improved FJ. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, texscottyd said:

The only downside to the RaceTech forks is the lack of compression damping adjustment...   I might have tried just a touch more compression if I had the option to fiddle with it easily, but it is what it is, and - fortunately - it’s great for me.

If you wanted to experiment, the next time you service the forks try a higher viscosity oil to slow the compression stroke.

  • Thumbsup 1

***2015 Candy Red FJ-09***

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, betoney said:

If you wanted to experiment, the next time you service the forks try a higher viscosity oil to slow the compression stroke.

Great suggestion, and exactly what I plan to do at the next service interval.  

  • Thumbsup 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice write up.  While $1800. may seem like a fair amount to spend considering the value of an FJ-09/Tracer if you consider what you get for it it’s a great investment.  Simply put you get a much better bike that’s a lot more fun.  Conversely if you think about what you would spend to get the same kind of  performance from another bike it’s a plain old fashion bargain. Thanks again for the write up. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stoltec has a fork kit- a DIY kit or swap the right side leg internals for a simple job as Stoltec does the shim stack/needle work...

I also went with a Penske Double clicker rear shock... 

  • Thumbsup 1

2012 wr250f - C-class 30+ age group
2015 fz-07- Hordpower Edition-80whp
2015 fj-09- Graves Exhaust w/Woolich tune by 2WDW @120whp

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, texscottyd said:

All the stock ones behave pretty much the same way, especially if you’re north of about 180 pounds.  

.

I have had my 2015 FJ for a little over a year and have done nothing to the suspension. Maybe I'm just naive and don't know the difference, but the suspension never  really bothered me. Granted, I'm a newer rider with only a few years of experience. I am getting a little more free with the leans and the throttle though....... I was talking to my service provider and we'll be setting up the stock suspension in the new year. However, I am around the 210 mark Maybe I'll be out of luck. Well, worst case scenario I suppose it will be "better" than the factory settings..... 

  • Thumbsup 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, getpetey said:

I have had my 2015 FJ for a little over a year and have done nothing to the suspension. Maybe I'm just naive and don't know the difference, but the suspension never  really bothered me. Granted, I'm a newer rider with only a few years of experience. I am getting a little more free with the leans and the throttle though....... I was talking to my service provider and we'll be setting up the stock suspension in the new year. However, I am around the 210 mark Maybe I'll be out of luck. Well, worst case scenario I suppose it will be "better" than the factory settings..... 

Hi @getpetey - If you’re happy with how the bike works for you, then there’s really no reason to consider significant upgrades.   Setting up the stock suspension is definitely a great next step, and hopefully you’ll find some noticeable improvements without having to spend a lot of cash.  

You bring up a great point, however.   Stock certainly isn’t horrible, and the combination of your riding style, size, expectations, preferences, and bank account will all play a factor in deciding if significant (and often expensive) upgrades are for you.   There’s no right or wrong answer, so while I’m happy to share my positive upgrade experience, it doesn’t mean I arbitrarily expect it to be the right answer for someone else. 

  • Thumbsup 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@getpetey - As much I will always be an advocate for custom suspension as a worthwhile performance upgrade, I will echo what @texscottyd said.  Not everyone "needs" to spend a lot of money on an upgrade, since the FJ/Tracer is such a versatile machine, everyone is going to use it a little bit differently.  If you were just riding around town or general commuting, the suspension isn't horrible, especially with the correct springs. As you get more comfortable with the bike and pick up the pace in the twisties or use the bike for more longer distance touring, you will probably realize the limitations of the stock components and want it to be more plush for highway comfort or compliant for sport riding.

If you need advice or assistance with upgrades, feel free to ask.

  • Thumbsup 2

***2015 Candy Red FJ-09***

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, getpetey said:

I have had my 2015 FJ for a little over a year and have done nothing to the suspension. Maybe I'm just naive and don't know the difference, but the suspension never  really bothered me. Granted, I'm a newer rider with only a few years of experience. I am getting a little more free with the leans and the throttle though.......

I stuck with the standard suspension for several years and although I could feel that things weren’t perfect, I was able to ride around the limitations and enjoy the bike. The thing that will strike you when/if you upgrade is how much work you were having to do, to ride around these limitations. The new suspension suddenly takes away the effort you had to put in to simply maintain control. The bike is calmer, smoother, just points into corners properly, brakes without bouncing and you’ll find yourself riding more fluently.

I ended up raising the forks in the triple trees to get back some of the front end “twitch”, speed of steering, after the upgrades.

It is certainly a big step, both financially and mechanically to change shocks and forks, but I haven’t read of anyone who has regretted it. There are other expensive items that will return less dramatic improvements (seats for example)

  • Thumbsup 2

Red 2015 Tracer, UK spec (well, it was until I started messing with it...)

North-West 🇬🇧 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I may eventually upgrade the stock suspension on my bike.  The stock bits on the GT are not too bad, and adequate for the intended purpose of the bike with my weight, (173 pounds....lost a few since I started running).  My only real gripe is the harshness of the front fork over rough pavement.  I used to ride pretty fast and aggressive in the twisties but after beating the odds for years, I have decided I to slow things down.  Will continue to ride on the stock suspension this spring and decide if I really need to upgrade based on my more relaxed pace of riding.

But.....I do agree that suspension upgrades are money very well spent, especially if you are hunting apexes at a fast pace.  I had the suspension on my Ninja 1000 rebuilt by Traxxion Dynamics and the improvement was remarkable! 

  • Thumbsup 2

There is nothing like spending a day riding with friends in the grip of a shared obsession.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  


×