I am wondering if anyone who owns an RC51 with an aftermarket shock could tell me if they notice a big difference in street riding. Or do you think that you could even notice a difference if you didn't know what it had for a shock. I realize that it is never going to be a sport touring bike, but, damn, she is really stiff at both ends.
Lastly, what benefit does the shock link provide from Kyle Racing. Is there much use for a guy to buy that if I am never or rarely, ever going to go on the track with this bike? I am like the other guy asking if I should ppony up the thousand plus dollars for a shock. For the track, sure, but I'm not so sure about the street.
Having done lots of street, track, and finally racing, I've been able to experience both stock and aftermarket suspension in a variety of riding forms.
An aftermarket shock is set up with a much more linear response rate (spring), rather than the progressive rate of an OEM shock. The OEM use progressive rates (springs) to accommodate a variety of rider weight and gear and passenger options. This also allows for a softer street ride, while still providing the firmer ride necessary when doing the sport in sport bikes, at a track for example.
On the track where there is a much narrower range of riding parameters and notably higher rates of speed and cornering, a linear response rate becomes more useful to fast riders and racers. The suspension can be set up to maximize its ability/use over a small range of high speed/cornering activities under specific and consistent conditions (the same rider is used ie weight, type of track as in flowing or short and rough, etc). An aftermarket shock set up for the track will be much firmer and stiffer than an OEM shock to be able to work well under the much higher suspension loads.
An OEM shock, provided it is maintained and is not worn out, works fine for the street. Do you put your knee down often? (I don't condone this on the street) Because I know that a stock shock will easily allow you to ride fast enough to drag knees, on the street or the track. Here is a picture of me on stock suspension on a track-only bike, https://www.rc51forums.com/forums/sho...690#post125690
. As you can see, the stock suspension allows very big lean angles, and speed, with race tires.
You can back off the settings on an aftermarket shock for softer feel and comfort in street use, but fast riders would not use those same settings at the track. And on the street the aftermarket shock settings should be changed if there is a large change in rider weight, or passengers are added, or gear added. It is not so much done on OEM suspension.
Most street bikes have soft initial suspension for basic street duty. The RC51 is a relatively rare exception to this, because it was primarily made as a homologation race bike. So interestingly, an aftermarket shock can be set up with its wide range of adjustment (on compression and rebound) to make the RC51 have a softer street feel. Although it shouldn't ride any differently (other than feeling softer).
So, aftermarket suspension is totally not needed on the street. Even at the track I knew many people who weren't fast enough to really need aftermarket suspension. But as I said, an aftermarket shock can be used to give a softer ride on the RC51. It is not the normal way people use aftermarket shocks, but it would suit your needs there just fine. Also, many many many people buy aftermarket suspension on street bikes essentially for the hell of it. It doesn't hurt, it looks cool, etc. I may do it myself at some point on the RC51.... just to put another nice piece on the bike.
Long, but I hope this helps. As for the suspension link question, a good explanation has been provided.
Here is some good info from http://www.peterverdone.com/archive/suspension.htm
Most current sportbikes have very high quality suspension, both front and rear, that until recently was only dreamed about by the average rider or racer. Cartridge forks and remote reservoir rear shocks gained widespread use in the mid-ninties. A cartridge fork is essential for the performance minded rider. The presence of external damping or preload adjusters is not very important since proper tuning will archive the desired results. Some top racers feel the need to upgrade their forks to one of the several types of Ohlins Forks, or swap the entire fork cartridge assembly with a K-tech or GP Suspension cartridge unit. While these are beautiful examples of the state of the art, they are far outside the performance needs of most riders or even most racers. Ebay has become THE place to find OEM fork upgrades from other bike models. For riders stuck with the older damper rod forks, Race Tech makes a Cartridge Emulator that can significantly improve the performance of the stock fork.
Two major players are in the rear shock market, Ohlins and Penske Racing Shocks . Other manufactures do exist in this market, but these two are unquestionably at the top. Ohlins has been producing very high quality suspension products for a long time. Penske is fairly new to the motorcycle market, but brings years of knowledge from their domination in almost every other form of auto racing... One of the most desirable traits of the aftermarket rear shock is the ability to adjust to different 'eye to eye' lengths. Some stock bikes may have this feature, or what is known as "Ride Height Adjustment", but most do not. This gives the tuner the ability to change the bikes geometry from the rear of the bike, affecting not only steering angle and trail, but more importantly squat behavior.