On my first ever track day a Manx GP racer said this to me - "Spend your money on setting the bike up and add fuel to the tank, you don't need masses of BHP to go fast"
It registered with me, but I now understand exactly what he was telling me....but only after I'd experienced it.
Suspension can be a mine field, but with the correct kit and advice, even road riding you'll tell the difference.
My starter advice is this:
Changing springs was a night and day upgrade for me.
On standard "all world" springs no matter what I did to the setting I bottomed them out. What do I mean by "all world?" These springs were provided by Honda to allow comfort, two up travelling, and to accomodate riders of average weight. They're also progressive, so the feel or spring rate changes as they compress. On heavy braking the zip tie around the fork was against the lower leg. No matter what setting I tried, I still hit the bottom.
Running out of travel or bottoming the forks means you've nothing left to soak the bumps - except the tyre flex. Not good when tipping into a bend, you're running the risk of tucking the front as the tyre gets overloaded and eventually gives up.
For the track, swap to linier springs that match your weight. Linier means that the spring rate is constant as its compressed.
I fitted K Tech 10.0 nm and 10W Castrol Racing fork oil and instantly I got an amazing amount of feedback.
The spring was holding the front and was allowing the other adjustments such as rebound to actually do there job. I'd gone from max preload to less than half with travel spare and could run loads more corner speed!
Progressive (left) 'V' Linier (right)
According to K Tech the SSK pistion kit gives "enhanced damping control over the original equipment, giving confidence to the rider" I agree with this entirely!
This isn't a part that can be fitted at home! I stripped the forks and posted the internals to them. They were back within a week! You can provide the whole fork but the servicing/fitting charges would be higher.
As I got the piston kit brand new from eBay and took the fork apart the total cost was less than £200. A bargain!
The K-Tech Flow Control Valves (red) are "a direct replacement part available to fit most front forks with cartridge damping system. They are designed to be used with the SSK and SSRK piston kits but can be used with original cartridges to give a more precise range of compression adjustment."
With new springs, pistons and valves, these felt like completely different forks. The best upgrade money can buy. Forget chasing power, get the chassis working.
New tuned (silver) pistons with new needle adjusters.
Is the above a true reflection of the suspension, or just more experience?
In my view, its both, but 75% suspension, 25% experience. When you find a setup you like you just tweak it to the conditions. Without making the changes to the forks I'd be at the limit on the second lap over with standard internals.
I regularly find myself going around the outside of most of the latest superbikes and being able to hold them off down the straights with a 2001 Fireblade as I've gained much more exit speed and can then brake later.
Still not convinced??? "Spend your money on setting the bike up and add fuel to the tank, you don't need masses of BHP to go fast"
Give K-Tech suspension a call and get some parts ordered....
(It's not a cheap upgrade but it's worth every penny!)