A guide to buying rear suspension for the RC51 - Honda RC51 Forum : RC51 Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-11-2014, 06:59 PM Thread Starter
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Thumbs up A guide to buying rear suspension for the RC51

This thread provides input to people looking to buy rear suspension for the RC51. The insights are from lots of research, analysis & experience. Add as you wish.

Note that price discussions are based on the North American market. Places such as Europe, Australia & Asia, may have significantly higher prices for both used & new rear shocks. With this, many world wide RC51 owners buy from North America. No matter what you choose, consider the following.

Aftermarket rear suspension - Consider buying new
When buying an aftermarket rear shock for the RC51, I suggest to strongly consider buying new. The RC51 is fairly unique because we can buy a new triple adjustable top of the line HO204 Ohlins rear shock from Mike or Dan at Kyle USA for only around $950 plus shipping. The shock is specifically built for the RC51. It is fully loaded with adjustable high & low speed compression damping, rebound damping & ride height adjustability... as well as hydraulic preload adjustability. That is a great price brand new, plus it has a two year warranty & is sprung for your weight. That price from Kyle USA is also better than buying an Ohlins shock for many other model bikes (often 50% better), further showing its value. Additionally, Ohlins is the gold standard of suspension with full street & race cred & a worldwide race win history. Ohlins has the best resale & brand recognition... for a reason.

Don't use any experience with other bikes to estimate new or used shock pricing for the RC51. A used Ohlins shock for $850 may be a great deal for an R1 but it is NOT a great deal for the RC51.

Another thing to consider is that when you buy new you can start a relationship with a business. Building a relationship with a shop or business can lead to price discounts on products & service. Do that, spend some money, talk to the owner & ask for discounts after you've shown some repeat & continued buying. Shops & businesses usually reward return & long-term customers. You may save a lot more money over the long term by buying some things new & building a relationship with a shop than buying something used.

The full Ohlins HO204 spec sheet can be found here. You may need a google account to access & download. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5J...it?usp=sharing
Check my next post below for even more detailed information on the Ohlins HO204.

There are a variety of other new shock options for the RC51 in North America or elsewhere (Ohlins, Penske, Elka, WP, Maxton, Nitron, Wilber, etc). If buying new, I recommend using the Kyle USA Ohlins HO204 rear shock as the gold standard (see earlier) to judge all other new shock prices. And make sure you compare feature sets. Not all shocks have all the features.

Buying a used aftermarket rear shock
If buying used, off to the marketplace you go. I've seen many high-priced used rear shocks on the market for the RC51. Be careful price-wise when buying used rear shocks.

First, make sure the shock is for an RC51 application. It would be disappointing to get the wrong/mislabelled shock.

Look at the brand next. Different brands & types have different resale values. I've had some of the lesser known brands with success. But resale of lesser brands is poor. OTOH Ohlins is considered to be the best by the masses with the highest resale. Penske is next, followed by the rest (Fox, WP, Elka, Race-Tech, etc). IMO all these choices are good products, but one shouldn't be paying used Ohlins HO204 prices for used Fox twin clicker or Race-Tech shocks.

What type of rear shock is for sale? The top of the line shocks such as the HO204 Ohlins from Kyle USA go for around $950 NEW & are triple adjustable (high speed compression damping, low speed compression damping, rebound) with ride height adjustment & hydraulic preload as well. That's fully loaded. There are shocks sold with less adjustability. The Penske 8981 is only double adjustable for example (it only has general compression damping with no separate high & low speed adjustment) with no hydraulic preload. A lower optioned used shock should cost less. Does the shock have ride height adjustability? If not, that is a notable hit to used resale value. Also, a piggyback shock is the best design (than remote reservoir for example).

Rear shocks wear over time & need service. This should be factored into the price. Service costs can be in the $100-$150 range, plus consider the additional two way shipping costs.

Note that aftermarket rear shocks have more linear springs on them so it's very important to get a rear shock set up with the proper spring for your weight. Buying a correct spring can be around $75 plus shipping. Then you need to find & pay someone to install it or buy the tools to install it.

If you need to spring and/or service a used shock it will cost you some significant additional money. If you have to add shipping it costs even more. This can add up to $250+ extra to the purchase price of a used shock.

Also I would recommend only trusting a seller's declaration of recent shock service if the seller can provide you with a receipt for the the work.

Add in the condition of the shock overall. Any scratches, missing items, corrosion, damage, wear, etc? The more issues the lower the price should be.

Does the shock come with the original box (this is a big thing if you are going to keep the bike over time, because it makes shipping the shock for future service easy & much less susceptible to damage), installation instructions, set-up guide, etc? Ask for these things. In/Ex-clusion should affect price.

All of these comparisons should be made... because (again) for brand new with two years of warranty you get NEW Ohlins for around $950 plus shipping.

Price thoughts on used aftermarket rear shocks
What do used shock prices come down to? Prices are somewhat personal, but half price of new is a good starting point for used suspension; that means half of $950 (currently) for Ohlins. Then start adding or taking away money depending on the previously mentioned items.

If, for example, a used shock is HO204 Ohlins, cherry, recently serviced or proven low miles, sprung for your weight, & with the box/materials, I could see $700-$750 ish, plus shipping, maybe. Beyond that price (& even at that price) many will pay the extra to buy new.

If for example a used shock is fox, double adjustable, in rough condition, no proof of service nor sprung for your weight, I could see $200 because you could get into it another $200 to $300 before bolting it into the bike.

Some additional notes on buying aftermarket rear suspension
You may want to consider service options when buying a new or used rear shock. After all, a person should service the rear shock every so often. For many people this consideration won't matter as they don't have a local option or they just want the best. For others they may have local Penske (or other major brand) service shop near them. That may tip the balance in choosing a shock. Also rest of world (ROW) RC51 owners may want to consider other ROW manufacturers if they are close to retailers or service shops. FWIW, Ohlins is available and in demand worldwide with their dealer/service network. A used Fox shock may not be the best option for a euro owner.

If buying used see what other rear shocks are on the market for sale. It's bargaining leverage. Check out other forums, ebay, etc. An educated buyer gets better value.

Fox shocks are no longer made; it factors into their used prices.

Race-Tech & Traxxion Dynamics upgraded stock shocks are a good value smaller step upgrade but their used price should reflect that. Many use them on track/race bikes. I've seen the market for used Race-Tech rear shocks somewhere around $150-175$, depending on factors discussed here.

Rework & upgrading of a stock rear shock
The Ohlins source & price discussed is hard to beat for any other new RC51 shock option on the market at this time. But I will mention a value option to those available who want an upgrade at a lower cost. The stock shock can be reworked by various shops with better internals & a linear spring (plus they make the shock serviceable). For example, Race-Tech & Traxxion Dynamics rear shock upgrades are popular choices. If you are interested in this value option ask the forum for recommended service shops as there are a bunch. I've had friends who hot-shoe (top class) track days mid pack with no issues on this equipment. Many people on all types of bikes run Race-Tech & Traxxion Dynamics worked rear shocks with no significant issues. Prices depend on the work needed but can run from $250 to $400 or so. Keep bills!

Stock OEM rear suspension
Stock shocks are a reasonable street use option in my experience. Their progressive spring gives maximum weight flexibility from single to two-up riding. I even have used them in the first season of tracking a bike. And they can be serviced by some shops. Is there room for improvement? Yes, as discussed earlier.

If looking for a used stock OEM rear shock it should be inexpensive. It's a good option if you want to replace a worn out high mile unit. Supply is high and demand is low. Some people even give them away. Without known mileage, I recommend assuming a used shock has high mileage (better to be surprised than disappointed). Also, examine the condition (high resolution pictures, zoom, etc). IMO $50-75 plus shipping is ok on a clean & low/moderate mileage stock rear shock. Ignore high prices often seen on Ebay, as the market will correct if people don't overpay.

That's all. Hope it helps. Good luck with the search & cheers.
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Last edited by kwtoxman; 08-09-2018 at 09:41 PM.
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-11-2014, 07:32 PM
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Well put together and articulated.

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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-11-2014, 07:40 PM
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Elka ? Being a Canadian even ?

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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-11-2014, 08:02 PM Thread Starter
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Thx weyrauchrc51.

Forgot about Elka DH as I was more focused on content than brands. Added them to the shock list. Probably missed a few others.

Some more info here for the technical people.

Kyle USA also have a shock dyno in their shop. They can provide dyno charts that show the standard damping and then can show the changes as the adjusters are used. Not just for the Ohlins HO204, but for any brand that someone would be willing to send as a comparison, as well as the OEM shock.

They can also graph out spring rates to see if they are linear progressive, rated as to what they are

Here are some examples of the same info on BMW S1000RR shocks

While very technical, one thing I can see from the graphs is how much better the Ohlins shock is in adjustability range and linear response compared to the stock BMW shock.

Last edited by kwtoxman; 08-09-2018 at 09:42 PM.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-12-2014, 12:29 AM
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Guide for buying front suspension?

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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-12-2014, 12:50 AM
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guide to buying front suspension:

find Ohlins and prepare for wallet rape
have your forks reworked by DK and wonder why you dont have the gold bling

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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-12-2014, 02:59 AM
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Thanks for writing this, hopefully useful for people wanting to buy suspension.

I would add that Ohlins is generic and only the spring is really tailored to the user's weight...
It's possible to have a shock made to special order specific to the owner's riding style, road surfaces typically encountered and rider's weight, etc. In my case I've chosen a custom made Maxton shock, which is much the same price as an Ohlins shock from Dan Kyle but there are other choices out there. Nitron, Wilbers and Maxton spring to mind. It's worth looking into these, especially when having forks re-worked to match (& set up on a dyno).

I have no plans to change to an Ohlins shock, even though I have subsequently bought & fitted the same Ohlins 832 forks as the author.

kwtoxman, you mentioned some time ago your intention to write a detailed guide to Ohlins forks from gathering information from various sources. I think Sub, Duck and others would like this and myself included.
Some of us also have experience with having forks re-worked and found it to be beneficial. Maybe you can start a thread with your gathered info and we can go from there.

Euro RC51 SP2: HRC WSB Ti Hi-Level, T1 Airbox & Snorkel, PCIII, Dymag CA5 Carbon Wheels, Ti64 Spindles (F, R & Swing Arm), Mori Link, Maxton GP7 Shock & Ohlins 832 Forks, Brembo GP Calipers & SBK narrow track (F), Braketech Disc (R), Brembo billet Underslung x 2 Brembo RCS, Tyga Triple, 7075 Stem, Probolt Titanium all over, Babyface rearsets, MR Complete Carbon Lineup, Custom Undertail & CBR 1000 LED, Watsen LED Indicators, Harris Brace, Giles clip-ons, Corbin seat, etc. 2013 BOTY.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-12-2014, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by RC-DEVIL View Post
guide to buying front suspension:

find Ohlins and prepare for wallet rape
have your forks reworked by DK and wonder why you dont have the gold bling
That made me laugh out loud
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-12-2014, 05:21 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DirtyTaco View Post
Guide for buying front suspension?
I'll consider it DT. I plan on an ohlins front forks guide shortly.

LOL on RC-Devil's info. True, though lot's more considerations for sure. I'll have more info soon with an Ohlins forks guide.

I've made some minor additions to the original post.

Thx Stig!

IMO, I find a "custom" shock to be a marketing term and misnomer. No manufacturer builds a custom shock to a narrow range of parameters as it wouldn't suit the real world (even for a single person, there are a variety of road conditions, track conditions, and a huge difference in perceived rider ability and actual rider preference, one man's fast is another's slow, etc), even if a manufacturer asks for input. To engender a custom set up, aftermarket manufacturers incorporate a large range of adjustment in their suspension, which doubly suits the marketplace as it will work well in a custom manner for individuals as well as for a wide range of rider abilities, riding conditions and rider preferences.

I spoke with Dan at Kyle USA again and he confirmed my knowledge. Ohlins does not make a generic shock. They have a comprehensive stock of options for different core parts, from which they build the core of a platform specific model (which the high end manufacturers do). As such even the core parts of a shock vary from platform to platform. The HO204 will not fit any other motorcycle without modification. And it should not be used as such. As well, the Ohlins shim combination, needle seats, and valving are developed specifically to account for a bike platform and its geometry. Plus as mentioned earlier, the range of adjustability is huge on the Ohlins HO204 and other top shock offerings mentioned in order to account for different rider ability, preferences, road/track conditions etc. Interestingly, on a general note, I also found out that a piggyback shock is superior to a remote reservoir design.

Regardless of one's opinion on custom, there are a variety of excellent ROW (rest of world) manufacturers of shocks worthy of note in this thread. Maxton is another. Thx for mentioning them. I've added their names to the first post.

For sure I am planning to do a definitive guide on Ohlins forks soon based on what I have learned. I am aiming to post it by the end of next week. Since the beans were spilled to some owners I haven't been in a rush and I've been busy with some other stuff. But I'm getting close now so thx for the patience. It will be posted shortly and I look forward to contributions.

Last edited by kwtoxman; 04-11-2014 at 07:30 PM.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-12-2014, 09:59 PM
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By generic I meant - for RC51's Ohlins doesn't tailor a shock sold retail for road use. Dan Kyle supplies with the correct spring rate for a rider's weight, but that's all (Which for leisure use is a GREAT thing, I'm not knocking it! ). The adjustment is then left to the rider's preferences after setting initial sag. At least that's what I understand of it - I've never bought anything from Dan Kyle but I'm sure he does a great service.
But I believe you're mistaken - Maxton's shocks do have bespoke damping based on the rider's information supplied when placing their order. At least that's what their sales information says and having known the founder a long time and discussed this directly with Ron Williams before - I don't doubt that's what they do with the suspension they build.

For me, Maxton's decades of experience with setting suspension up for TT competitors plays a part in my choice of going with them for my shock (& fork re-work to match). A lot of their work is for road-race bikes used in the UK (Where roads are pretty bumpy!) and they also rebuild & fine-tune Ohlins forks. If you check their news pages (there's history over the years) you'll see a lot of info about the racers they supply in UK. If their products are good enough for road racing, then they're more than good enough for fast road use - that's my line of thinking at least.

It won't be everybody's choice but I have definitely felt the difference. Their recommended initial settings (Note their GP10 monoshock has low & high speed compression damping control - operated separately, since compression damping encompasses the most important part of damping on a motorcycle) have barely needed any adjustment in my case. Perhaps an indication of their experience...

Ohlins is great stuff, no doubt about it - but for road bikes it's not as tailored as can be. There are other choices & you pays your money and go with what you want in the end. A lot of racers in the UK choose Maxton (& Nitron) and they wouldn't do so blindly either. If Ohlins was the best choice by far, most would use their products only I daresay but the fact they don't speaks some volume on their choices & why.
At higher levels of racing most suspension is re-worked to suit the rider and bike as closely as possible - as a starting point. Take Ohlins too - there are Ohlins engineers at higher levels of racing, tailoring suspension to rider's needs too. For road & track days, it's fine - A mono-shock spring matched to a rider's weight and setup by the rider will work very well. But for higher levels it takes more setting up to get it as right as possible and this is where bespoke / made to order suspension put together by people with decades of experience in racing can offer an advantage.

On another perhaps partly related topic, over 15 years I have used a lot of cars with various Ohlins suspension setups (Some for road & track use & racing). Ohlins has their own manufacturing & distribution in Japan for performance cars. Good products no doubt about that but just as with bikes, there's other choices out there too - some manufacturer's shocks for cars are better IMHO. Nitron, for example - make better products than Ohlins for track use, for example. A lot better - lap times show this. Few tuner demonstrators (In time attack competition) if any will use off the shelf Ohlins suspension. To get best results, suspension needs to be re-worked.

Also having recently taken apart my forks and compared to OEM valving on Carlos' forks, I saw visual differences in machining there from Maxton but anyways, it's all down to choice in the end... forks are to be discussed later...

Euro RC51 SP2: HRC WSB Ti Hi-Level, T1 Airbox & Snorkel, PCIII, Dymag CA5 Carbon Wheels, Ti64 Spindles (F, R & Swing Arm), Mori Link, Maxton GP7 Shock & Ohlins 832 Forks, Brembo GP Calipers & SBK narrow track (F), Braketech Disc (R), Brembo billet Underslung x 2 Brembo RCS, Tyga Triple, 7075 Stem, Probolt Titanium all over, Babyface rearsets, MR Complete Carbon Lineup, Custom Undertail & CBR 1000 LED, Watsen LED Indicators, Harris Brace, Giles clip-ons, Corbin seat, etc. 2013 BOTY.

Last edited by The Stig; 02-12-2014 at 11:08 PM. Reason: Clarification & addition of explanation.
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