A guide to Ohlins forks / front suspension for the RC51 - Honda RC51 Forum : RC51 Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 54 (permalink) Old 02-21-2014, 06:33 PM Thread Starter
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Thumbs up A guide to Ohlins forks / front suspension for the RC51

I have done a lot of work researching Ohlins front suspension options for the RC51 and have been asked to provide a guide. There are many other companies offering front suspension products for the RC51 I could include, however it would be a mini-novel to try to discuss all of them. And even when limited to Ohlins products, this topic is already enough work for me. So the purpose of this guide is to provide detailed information on Ohlins products and options for the RC51 front suspension, including the RC51 Ohlins forks. It is either everything you wanted to know about Ohlins front suspension options for the RC51, or everything you didn't want to know.

The goal is to help the RC51 community on this topic and to provide useful information. This guide will also help people who are buying or selling Ohlins forks or the other Ohlins front suspension products. It applies to both SP1 and SP2 bikes. The information is current, though some options and things may change over time. The information comes from my experience and research; it includes discussions with a number and variety of knowledgeable authorities on the Ohlins forks as well as with some owners. Mike and Dan at Kyle USA have been indispensable for much of this and I thank them for their time. And thx to all the other info and picture sources used here and YtseJam for hosting as well.

This guide thread is long . At least it is all here. Take your time and read it piece by piece if you want. In the words of Heath Ledger as the joker: And...here...we...go...



Ohlins front suspension for the RC51 comes in a variety of options. The current options range from various upgrades that use the OEM RC51 Showa forks to full spec Ohlins forks specifically made for the RC51 (FG832 and FG322).



Ohlins revalve and respring of the original RC51 Showa forks
The simplest and least expensive Ohlins front suspension option for the RC51 consists of a basic revalve and respring of the original RC51 Showa forks. This basic upgrade utilizes 20mm Ohlins valving and upgraded Ohlins springs with a linear rate, matched to rider weight, to improve suspension action. Essentially this kit is an Ohlins version of a basic valve/spring upgrade offered by many other manufacturers (e.g., Race-Tech, Traxxion Dynamics, etc). This basic upgrade is very effective and the most inexpensive.

Kyle USA offers a more comprehensive Ohlins upgrade package for the OEM Showa RC51 forks that builds upon the basic 20mm valve kit. Their "20mm Ohlins valving upgrade" consists of the following modifications and Ohlins parts: Ohlins 20mm valving, polishing the fork tubes to reduce friction, modifying the top-out springs, replacing the forks springs, new preload spacers and Ohlins fork oil. Go to their website for information on this excellent option.

Kyle USA also offers an in-house manufactured valving option similar to the 20mm Ohlins valving, which is less expensive. This less expensive alternative is worthy of consideration in the 20mm upgrade. Call Mike or Dan at Kyle USA for more information.

The ohlins 20mm valves look like this




Ohlins 30mm NIX cartridge kits custom retrofit to the original RC51 Showa forks
There was a 25mm cartridge kit for the RC51 OEM Showa forks at one time from what I can tell. It is no longer offered so I won't comment on it in detail. Can't buy it anymore new, but the odd used set may come up for sale. This is the same size valving as Ohlins forks and may be considered to slot in between the Ohlins 20mm revalve option and full Ohlins forks (FG832 and FG322).

The 30mm NIX cartridge kit is the most current Ohlins R&T front suspension option. However, for those who don't know, it is not a full Ohlins fork. It is a drop in kit for forks on current sportbikes. This kit replaces all of the internals on the OEM RC51 Showa forks. Amongst other internal changes (the kit is a full cartridge change), it uses 30mm Ohlins valving in place of the original 20mm Showa valves. Compression damping is found on the left fork leg while the right leg controls rebound damping. The main advantage of this setup is the ease of and speed in which spring changes can be made as well as other internal suspension tuning. Spring changes can literally take 8 minutes, which is very valuable in a racing environment. The compression adjusters on the bottom of the RC51 fork leg remain but are no longer used. Technically, Ohlins does not make this kit specifically for the RC51 as they don't normally provide new product for older bike platforms. However, Kyle USA has developed a custom kit that retrofits the Ohlins 30mm NIX cartridge kits into the OEM RC51 Showa forks. In order to retrofit the kit, custom extended fork caps are made by Kyle USA and used. That is why you see large black caps on the forks in pictures of this kit for the RC51.

The Ohlins 30mm NIX cartridge front suspension kit is generally considered to be the best option for people who want the ultimate performance, which is often on the track and in racing. Their performance in a racing environment is generally considered slightly better than even upgraded Ohlins FG832 and 322 forks. The aesthetics of the 30mm NIX upgrade are not as appealing to most people compared to the Ohlins FG832 and FG322 forks.

A few pictures of the 30mm NIX kit




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post #2 of 54 (permalink) Old 02-21-2014, 06:33 PM Thread Starter
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Ohlins FG832 and FG322 forks (aka FG 832 and FG 322)
The Ohlins FG832 and FG322 forks are prized by the RC51 community in general as the full Ohlins front end treatment for the bike. These forks are made specifically for the RC51 platform, and are very similar overall. They consist of a cartridge system, 43mm stanchions, 25mm valving and Ti-Nitride coating (the low friction gold stanchions), with aesthetics unmatched by any other Ohlins option. Even in racing conditions with the fastest riders, (with upgrades) the FG832 and FG322 suspension performance comes very close to the NIX 30mm kit. In fact, 25mm valving is still used on the current top-of-the line >$10k Ohlins superbike forks.

Both the FG832 and FG322 forks are based on the FG43 Ohlins Road and Track (R&T) fork. Essentially, the FG832 and FG322 forks are sub-types of the FG43 R&T forks. There is no stamping on the forks of the sub-type, only FG43 and the manufacturing date is stamped. The FG832 and FG322 forks are the correct overall length and outer tube diameter; they bolt onto the RC51 using OEM parts. There are no issues with the stock triple clamps, brakes, rotors, fender, axle, etc. Other FG43 fork sub-types will NOT be the same as the FG832 and FG322 forks. The main significant difference between FG832 and FG322 forks is the caliper bracket design and mounts (described below). Beyond that, there are a variety of slight differences. Different sleeve diameters for the wheel axle are used in the fork bottoms so the sleeves are not interchangeable between the FG832 and FG322 forks. The FG832 forks have two blue nuts on top of each fork, whereas the FG322 forks have one blue nut on top of each fork. Internals are very similar overall as both use standard 25mm valving, with some subtle part number differences. For example, the FG322 forks use a narrower diameter longer spring design combined with subtle differences in the valving component part numbers. Detailed fork specifications and part numbers can be found in the attached pdf files at the bottom of this post.

Neither set of forks are made any longer by Ohlins for the RC51. As mentioned earlier, Ohlins normally develops and sells forks for current-market bikes, and older bike platforms lose the ability to buy new Ohlins forks so the RC51 is not alone here. The FG832 and FG322 forks each have some merit over the other (described below), with preference depending upon personal judgement and priorities. Overall, both the FG832 and FG322 forks are generally equally sought after. With high market demand and very low supply (which will further decrease over time) these used Ohlins forks made specifically for the RC51 go for high prices, with little to no depreciation through ownership at this time. Ohlins FG832 and FG322 forks command the highest prices on the used market of any Ohlins front suspension option; even more than a new 30mm NIX kit for the OEM RC51 Showa forks.

Ohlins makes upgrade options for their own forks, including the FG832 and FG322, which are still currently available. More information follows the descriptions below.


Ohlins FG832 forks
The Ohlins FG832 forks were the first Ohlins forks made specifically for the RC51, available in 2001. They have the commonly found axial caliper mounting design for that time period where the caliper bracket attaches to the bottom of the fork tube, and as observed on the OEM Honda Showa forks. The advantage of the FG832 forks are that all the Ohlins parts are still available for them, including the caliper brackets. Various aftermarket axial and radial brake options have been adapted to the FG832 forks, with support for the custom brake caliper brackets required to do the retrofit. The simpler design of caliper brackets also makes it easier and less expensive to produce custom caliper brackets for custom brakes. Caliper brackets costs I've seen are in the range of half the price compared to FG322 fork caliper brackets. However, the FG832 caliper mounting design is not as strong for radial brake set-ups compared to the FG322 design.

Note that a number of required parts and two spacers are included for installation. These parts can be found in detail in the FG832 installation pdf file linked below. Also available is/was an aftermarket alternate spacer required for non-oem wheels which is different from and cannot be used in lieu of the originally supplied spacer for oem wheels.

Full CAD drawings of the Ohlins FG832 RC51 forks can be found here. You may need a google account to access and download.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5J...it?usp=sharing

Here is a picture of the Ohlins FG832 forks with the supplied axial caliper brackets


Here is a diagram of the Ohlins FG832 caliper brackets and mounting


Here is a picture of the Ohlins FG832 forks with aftermarket radial brackets and brakes


Ohlins FG322 forks
The Ohlins FG322 forks came out around 2005. The internals are very similar to the FG832 with subtle part # differences due to changes in the FG43 fork line. The significant change was incorporating the new radial brake caliper bracket mount design where the caliper bracket attaches to the bottom of the fork tube. The original Ohlins supplied brackets are for the OEM RC51 axial brakes. The advantage of the FG322 updated caliper mount design is that it makes the caliper brackets better suited to custom radial brake applications, with less flex (than the FG832 design). Unfortunately, Ohlins no longer supports any caliper bracket applications for the FG322 forks; there is no way to purchase new or replacement Ohlins axial or radial caliper brackets. And there is no significant aftermarket supply of custom-made axial or radial caliper bracket options for the FG322 forks since Ohlins stopped. This currently makes the used market for FG322 caliper brackets extremely tight and rare. High prices are also found with new and used FG322 caliper brackets (as compared to the less expensive FG832) because of their complex design and rarity.

Note that a number of required parts and two spacers are included for installation. These parts can be found in detail in the FG322 installation pdf file linked below. Also available is/was an aftermarket alternate spacer required for non-oem wheels which is different from and cannot be used in lieu of the originally supplied spacer for oem wheels.

While there has not been any significant aftermarket support for custom-made axial or radial caliper bracket options for the FG322 forks since Ohlins stopped years back, there recently was an opportunity (summer 2014) to have caliper brackets made. Sbkdrew got a small manufacturing run to committed buyers of some custom-made radial caliper brackets for the FG322 forks. It is unknown if this will continue into the future. Sbkdrew deserves much credit for this opportunity. More information on sbkdrew's work and discussion with other members can be found here. https://www.rc51forums.com/forums/sh...ad.php?t=34778

Full CAD drawings of the Ohlins FG322 RC51 forks can be found here. You may need a google account to access and download.
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5JI...F2a1dDdm8/edit

Here is a picture of the Ohlins FG322 forks with the supplied axial caliper brackets


Here is a diagram of the Ohlins FG322 axial caliper bracket mounting


Here is a picture of the Ohlins FG322 forks with aftermarket CBRK 1k radial caliper brackets and fender


Continued below.
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Ohlins FG832 and FG322 valving
While both the FG832 and FG322 Ohlins forks use very similar standard 25mm valving, which are a big upgrade from the OEM Honda Showa forks, Ohlins provides significant valving upgrade options with improved performance.

The internet history regarding Ohlins forks for the RC51 on various forums describe a superbike (SBK) valve kit upgrade to the Ohlins FG 832 and FG 322 forks. Essentially, these were the valves used on the Ohlins superbike forks, the top-of-the-line forks, hence the name superbike valves. The problem is that the generic label used, "superbike valving", is vague. Why? It turns out that the SBK valve kit mentioned in all the older internet history is all old stuff and now out of date. There is a newer option available that no one has ever mentioned or noted anywhere on the internet for the RC51 Ohlins forks. There was a big gap in knowledge as no one knew about the new superbike valve kit for RC51 Ohlins forks. I'm happy to have found this information out and post it to the benefit of the RC51 community.

The old superbike (SBK) valving kit for Ohlins FG43 forks was kit part number 03200-25, based on the older generation of superbike forks. This is the superbike valve kit that people are familiar with and that all the posts and discussion have been about on various RC51 forums until now. This 03200-25 kit is now old-spec and obsolete as there is the new kit available.

The previously unknown and latest upgrade SBK valve kit for all Ohlins FG43 forks (including the FG832 and FG322) is part number 03200-27. It is the valving used in the newest and current generation of superbike forks. Dan Kyle at Kyle USA is the solid (and amazingly helpful) source of this information. The 03200-27 kit is labelled as "FG511 Ducati 1098S Performance Kit", which is probably why it flew under the radar as also the newest FG43 upgrade kit. I could only find a little information on the internet about this newer 03200-27 kit, and not many retailers have it on their web pages. The older 03200-25 kit has more internet information on it, even though it has long been outdated, and many retailers still have it on their product web pages. What is not generally known is the broad applicability of the 3200-27 kit to all FG43 forks (including both the FG832 and FG322 Ohlins RC51 fork options). So it is was a knowledge gap for the RC51 community. This is likely the case for other FG43 bike platforms too.

With this information, I queried multiple quality sources with much experience Ohlins fork use and set-up, and the large majority said the 03200-27 kit was a big upgrade to the other Ohlins valving options, and worth doing. In Ducati circles this kit has been very popular; Kyle USA mentioned they have swapped out many many of the old 03200-25 superbike valve kits for the newest 03200-27 kit. The setup compression and rebound settings for the forks are completely different in the 03200-27 kit versus the stock valving, further demonstrating the significant difference between them.

The following pictures show the newest SBK valve kit, Ohlins 03200-27, they also show the Ohlins fork oil, springs and fork seals which aren't technically part of the kit. Kyle USA will sell the 03200-27 SBK valve kit in combination with springs (a great way to get a good price on addressing all parts of a fork upgrade), or without springs (if not needed). I'm happy to be the first RC51 owner with the newer 3200-27 kit. But there are already other forum members who are planning to do the upgrade.

Kyle USA also offers an in-house manufactured version of the 3200-27 Ohlins superbike valving as well. They make their own version of this valving as a less expensive option. This is worthy of consideration to anyone looking to save some expense. A minor bit of work needs to be done with the Ohlins forks in this option. Dan said the installer needs to use a lathe for about 4-5 minutes total on the outer fork tubes and it's done. And if it is being installed somewhere else (not his shop), Dan is happy to explain what is needed is to the installer and provide guidance. Call Mike or Dan at Kyle USA for more information.

In summary, the 3200-27 superbike valve kit represent the latest generation Ohlins top-of-the-line superbike valves, and there is a big improvement and difference with the newest kit compared to the original valving, as it is essentially two generations of improvement.

Here is a picture of what Ohlins standard FG43 R&T valving looks like


Here is a picture of the Ohlins 03200-27 superbike valving


Here is a picture of the Ohlins 03200-27 kit plus springs, Ohlins fork oil and new fork seals


Continued below.

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Ohlins fork manuals and service
Here are the related manuals for Ohlins forks for the RC51.

Installation
FG832. https://www.ohlins.com/app/uploads/w...4/MI_FG832.pdf
FG322. https://www.ohlins.com/app/uploads/w...1/MI_FG322.pdf

A guide to set sag. It is in the box down the page. https://web.archive.org/web/20141126...Underrubrik_1/
Here is the graphic from that page.


Service
http://www.oehlins.ch/data/120833633...04AR&TFG43.pdf
http://www.oehlins.ch/data/120833721707282-02R&TFF.pdf
http://www.ducati.ms/forums/attachme...43-service.pdf

General Ohlins tool manual
https://anzesuspension.com/wp-conten...ool-Manual.pdf
http://www.moto-services.net/catalog...atalog2012.pdf

Check the service manuals to see what tools are needed for service. A variety of suspension shops will sell Ohlins tools. Kyle USA sells Ohlins tools and they have also made some tools for Ohlins forks in-house that are a less expensive option. I recommend speaking with Kyle USA about tools for the FG832 and FG322 RC51 Ohlins forks.



Advice on buying used forks
Never trust any Ohlins forks (or any forks for that matter) with "upgraded internals or valving" WITHOUT PROOF. A few unfortunate people I know have trusted the seller and ended up with nothing but stock parts upon tear-down. Forks have even been sold along a couple times this way before finding out the truth, so it may not intentionally be the sellers fault either. For proof, service pictures are a start, but not direct evidence. An invoice would be great (and one could phone to confirm it). Also the original parts pulled from the fork would be great.

If Ohlins FG832 or FG322 forks have a valving upgrade, confirm which superbike valve kit they have. As mentioned earlier, there are now two sets of superbike valve options: the older obsolete 3200-25, and the current 3200-27. The current 3200-27 kit is the most desirable upgrade. Again, look for PROOF. I am the only RC51 owner with the 3200-27 kit at this moment, but currently four other RC51 Ohlins fork owners have shown interest in upgrading their valving.

It's crazy IMO to spend a lot of money on upgraded suspension, but then not spring it for yourself. A mismatched spring notably impairs the performance of upgraded suspension, defeating the purpose of "upgraded suspension". Upgraded suspensions use linear springs which are better for overall suspension action, but they work for a notably narrower weight range than OEM progressive springs. People always talk about respringing a rear shock to match a rider's weight when buying used or new. The same thing applies to any Ohlins front suspension or forks. Ohlins forks should be sprung for a specific rider's weight. The previously installed Ohlins springs may work, but the owner needs to know what springs are in their forks to understand if the springs suit their weight. Any set of Ohlins forks for sale that doesn't have spring rate information explicitly stated or known should affect price imo.

When buying used, consider what servicing has been done, when it was done and the mileage on it. Front suspension should have maintenance. So recently serviced Ohlins forks and front suspension as well as lower mileage units should have a higher resale value, and justifiably so. Again, look for proof of the work.

Closely determine and consider all aspects of any forks for sale. Examine the condition, parts (complete or missing parts, refer to the installation guides linked which show all the parts related to the forks), upgrades (what they are and proof of them), servicing (proof), mileage, even boxing. For example, the Ohlins spacers are required and not cheap. Few pictures, undetailed pictures, and/or vague descriptions make is difficult to justify top end prices (communicate with the seller and try to get more information and pictures). Upgrades may include a few valving options, correct weight springs, additional springs, upgraded bolts, additional caliper brackets, etc. All of these aspects and considerations contribute to the price, so take all of them into account. Also, having an Ohlins shipping box is a significant advantage imo. Superior to ship for the fork purchase, and to use for any work or servicing on the forks at a later time. Over a long ownership, the box can be used multiple times.

There are similar prices on the used market for both Ohlins FG832 and FG322 RC51 forks. Ohlins FG832 and FG322 forks do not come up for sale very often and demand for both of them is high. In general, many people purchase whichever model they can find available. The one significant difference between FG832 and FG322 forks are the brake caliper mount designs (discussed earlier). On the used market, FG322 forks may currently sell for a few hundred $$ more than FG832 if they are otherwise identical (related considerations as mentioned earlier include valving upgrades, condition, servicing, completeness, mileage, other items provided, etc). In reality though, it is difficult to compare prices because invariably there are differences in all of the considerations. As such, sometimes FG832 forks may be worth significantly more money than FG322 forks, and vice versa. And comparative prices may change in the future with all the variables discussed earlier.

With high market demand and very low supply (which will further decrease over time) these used Ohlins forks made specifically for the RC51 go for high prices, with little to no depreciation through ownership at this time. The current used price for FG832 and FG322 forks range from $2000 to $2500+, depending on all the previously mentioned considerations. However, prices may change over time. So, as this thread gets older (it's current to 2014), do not consider that price range accurate. Instead, an easy and great way to get a reasonable current used price estimate is to search the various RC51 forums too see where used prices are at for Ohlins FG832 and FG322 forks, noting the related considerations. You may have to go back a few years or even more to get a decent sample size and estimate used prices.



Fork work for options in this guide
Much of the fork work for the options in this guide can be done by numerous shops (not the 30mm NIX upgrade though). However, considering the money a person will invest in these upgrades, I recommend using Kyle USA for the work. They are the Ohlins experts for the RC51 and have vast experience doing this work for the RC51. They also have very good pricing for the parts and labour. Visit their website for more information, or call them. Much of the information in this guide has come from Dan and Mike at Kyle USA and I thank them for their time. Without their knowledge, some of these options would not even be available for the RC51.

If you are in Canada and logistics to the US are too cumbersome, I found a shop and technician in Toronto to do suspension work, including this Ohlins fork work. The technician is ultra qualified with 30 yrs experience doing a lot of bike set-up, mechanic work, and suspension work, including on the Honda factory race team. People who want someone in Canada or that area of Canada to do top quality aftermarket suspension work can PM me for info.



Adapting other Ohlins fork applications to the RC51
It is not recommended to adapt Ohlins forks from another bike application to the RC51. Differences include fork length (in particular, the RC51 has a longer fork length than other bikes), clamping surface locations (Ohlins forks outer tubes flare in and out over their length with limited triple clamp mounting areas), axles, triples/stems (e.g., diameter, length), stroke, fender, fender mounts, etc, and they all combine to make things very difficult and problematic. It also results in a lot of work and if many compromises are made it will affect the bike geometry and handling. A few people have done it. Makis did a lot of work to adapt a set of different Ohlins forks to an SP1 and did a great job documenting it. The information is spread throughout his thread on many pages, so take your time to scroll through it all. https://www.rc51forums.com/forums/7-rc51-forums-bike-month/6033-vtr-1000r-sp1-rc-51-makis-edition.html





The end
Hope this guide is helpful. It's been a lot of work. Feel free to add input.
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Well done! Wish I was local to buy you a few pints for all the hard work.

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A good and informative post.
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Holy information batman!

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WOW, that's outstanding. super comprehensive, easy to understand.
5 star thread!
Very cool of you to take the time to arrange and document all that info.
Cheers!!!

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Quote:
Originally Posted by weyrauchrc51 View Post
Well done! Wish I was local to buy you a few pints for all the hard work.
Thx! Maybe some day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SubSailor View Post
A good and informative post.
Thx! Great to hear from someone who sets the bar here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by farfignugen86 View Post
Holy information batman!
My head hurt after all that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jondog9 View Post
WOW, that's outstanding. super comprehensive, easy to understand.
5 star thread!
Very cool of you to take the time to arrange and document all that info.
Cheers!!!
Thx! Very much appreciated to get acknowledged for all the work.



All the positive feedback is much appreciated. Cheers.

Last edited by kwtoxman; 02-22-2014 at 06:19 PM.
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