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Ok, so has anyone had any experience with aftermarket rear shocks other than ohlins? I know they r the best but I would like to know if someone else makes a good shock with remote reservoir that's a little cheaper. I have a 2000 model RC and aftermarket products are getting harder to come by anyway.
 

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you can get ohlins for the RC pretty cheap right now online, you also can get half a dozen other shocks, Penske, Mupo, Bitubo, and few others. I believe hard racing has them for 949 (ohlins that is)
 

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you can get ohlins for the RC pretty cheap right now online, you also can get half a dozen other shocks, Penske, Mupo, Bitubo, and few others. I believe hard racing has them for 949 (ohlins that is)
Yep, Hard Racing had Ohlins for 20% off.
Saved myself $246 on one for my FZ1.

Elka and Penske are very fine shocks as well.
Penske has an incredible array of various valving options.
 

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Quick question,

The Ohlins shock is sold out for the 2000-2001 RC51 models, but there is still stock on the 2002-2006 RC51 SP2.

Now I have a 2000 RC51 with a SP2 Swingarm. Am I able to use the 2002 Ohlins shock. I'm thinking yes, but thought I would ask. I also have a Kyle Racing link if that matters.

Price is 949.00 right now at Hard Racing.

There is also good deals on ELKA right now. I'm wondering if saving $150 and grabbing an ELKA is worth it, or is that just to good of a price on the Ohlins?
 

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The Ohlins HO-204 shock fits all RC51s.
I would also search for a used HO-204 up for sale as well.
You could grab the shock for much cheaper than new.
And for the money saved, you could have it serviced and sprung properly to your weight.

Elka is a fine shock, made in Canada.
However, due to market penetration, you'll probably find more Ohlins service locations than Elka.
Also, Ohlins USA does a quick turn-around on the shocks as well and are very friendly.

However, from what I understand, the Elka is more user serviceable than Ohlins, and doesn't require special tools, other than a spring compressor and nitrogen source.
Watched an example of shock servicing on the Internet that used an Elka as an example, and it was very straight forward.

I heard the Penske shock is also user serviceable in a similar manner.
 

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i'm going to go with an Elka, i've heard very good things.
 

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definitely the 3 way. looks like they are going for about 890.....which is not too bad considering its being setup out of the box custom for your weight, riding style, and level of experience.

They are custom made to the order and cheaper then the Ohlins. The Ohlins are going for 1200

I love Ohlis and they offer a great product. i have full Ohlins on my Aprilia. I'm just looking to see what else is out there and how they compare. Elka sounds like a very similair product at a bit cheaper price.
 

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Makes sense to check out other options. Nitron or Maxton are good choices, but made in the UK. It's better to get a shock that's made specifically for your weight, bike, riding style, road types, etc. that's been set up on a dyno, that getting one off the shelf. The benefit of having a custom made rear shock also means you can have your forks sprung and re-valved to suit - that way both the front & rear of the bike will react the same as they go over the same bump one after the other - keeps the bike much better controlled.

I had Maxton suspension on my bikes for over 15 years and it's the best modification. I have had Ohlins on various track / racing cars as they're OK, but certainly not as good as custom built coil-overs we've gravitated to as best performing.

TBH I haven't tried Ohlins on a bike of my own so I can't comment on them by comparison but as Maxton revalve & re-spring Ohlins for race teams, I suspect they're not 100% off the shelf anyway.

Look into after market custom made suspension. The two brands mentioned above are amongst the best in UK, but there may be others just as good if not better in US. Custom made doesn't have to mean high cost.
 

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Until I see those other brands on the bikes in World Superbike or MotoGP then I will continue to promote & use the brand that is on those bikes, Ohlins.

Ohlins is the best period. They work almost perfect right out of the box and you don't need a personal technician trackside to get the most out of them. Unless you are about 9 seconds or less off a professional lap record most Ohlins products will be perfect for you the second you bolt them on. You install them, set the sag & go ride the hell outta them. At the most you might add a couple clicks of compression or on a really smooth track back out a few clicks of rebound. Anything more than that & you've probably screwed up your settings.

I always grin when I see other shock companies referred to in the light that they "custom build" their shocks. Just because they don't stock any inventory & only have 3 employees that build the shock only after the customer orders one does not make it "custom". In my experience that is where things usually go wrong. I mean do you want a shock that was designed by a team of 80+ engineers, riders & technicians & then mass produced on an assembly line in a batch with multiple points of quality control along the way or would you rather have one built by some guy that has to go pull all the individual parts each & every time and order comes through? Do you know how many small parts there are to make a mistake on when it comes to shim stacks & such? I hope he isn't in a hurry to go run some errands or pick-up his kids from daycare :)

The quality & consistency of Ohlins sets the bar for all the other brands period.

Last season Rea was basically a backmarker in World Superbike when the Ten Kate team was using WP suspension. The weekend they switched to Ohlins he was instantly fighting for the win and continued to do so for the rest of the season.

Honda owns SHOWA suspension and their MOTOGP team has now switched from SHOWA to OHLINS suspension this season so they can be competitive again. That in itself speaks volumes to me.


Sure there are other brands out there that are cheaper and yes almost all of it is better than the stock boat anchor that comes on the RC51, but there are 4 things in life I have learned that you get what you pay for:

1. Motorcycle Suspension
2. Race Bodywork
3. Women
4. Divorce Attorneys


Something else that bears mentioning is that most of the shock brands I have tested do not work well with the aftermarket link that many RC riders are using. This seems to be because of the lack of topout spring on many of the other brands.
 

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.... Ohlins off the shelf quality has very little resemblance to Ohlins levels of control on WSB or Moto GP machines.
 

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.... Ohlins off the shelf quality has very little resemblance to Ohlins levels of control on WSB or Moto GP machines.
Says who?

I can buy the exact same model of shock & forks on Bayliss' championship winning Xerox Ducati. I can even get the exact same valving spec installed if I thought I could make use of it...
 

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Don't twist my words. You should know WSB / Moto GP Spec shocks are in an entirely different league & cost bracket to what is generally available for an RC51 both in terms of spec & cost.

Your account of what a custom shock manufacturer does is has a clearly negative slant. A lot of racers in Europe send their shocks & forks to be re-worked by the two brands I mentioned above or in most cases fitted with entire replacements. If a shock is made so that high, mid & low speed damping + spring rate are properly matched not just for a particular bike, but rider weight and how it's ridden, it'll clearly perform better in hard use than an "off the shelf" shock that caters for all, even an Ohlins one.

I've not said Ohlins is bad. It's not, but off the shelf quality can always be improved upon. Clearly you're biassed, but try to be representative of fact whether you're talking about your preferred brand or otherwise or you'll find people don't take you as seriously.
 

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I just took a look at the last British Superbike results & it appears the guys winning & on the box are all using Ohlins. HM Plant & Crescent Suzuki immediately stand out and I didn't see any Nitron or Maxton stuff installed on their bikes... Those FGR000 & TTX shocks they are using look pretty much off the shelf to me. Sure they might have some valving changes, but I doubt that the vast majority of the 2011 BSB bikes have any truly trick Ohlins suspension parts that are not commonly available to the public. Feel free to prove me wrong though as I love looking at exotica suspension parts.


I also seriously doubt my credibility is in any danger of being soiled here. I've built, ridden & tested more parts on the RC51 than most of the members of this forum combined. People may not like my delivery, but it's really had to refute my findings. You'll never find anyone, anywhere that will tell you I lied to them about any product or that my test results are inaccurate.
 

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I met Ron Maxton about 15 years ago and remember it to the day. He spent hours with me, showing & explaining what they did & why. To this day despite not having to, Ron works to continue improving their products. When buying a shock from a company like this, more money goes into the product and less into marketting and high overheads. Quality is excellent. Remember they also rework forks to match the shock being supplied.

The following is cut & pasted from an article by Bike Magazine, April 2009.

The difference between a good and bad rider is that a good one is friends with his bike." Wise words from a man who's worked with many of the true greats of motorcycle racing. "A good rider wants to make his bike better so he can go faster, while a bad one blames it for making him slower."
Ron Williams has been the energy behind Maxton Engineering, probably the world's leading independent suspension experts, for almost 40 years now, but he did take a few years' break in the late 1970s to work for Honda.

"They'd just come back into GP racing and were having some serious problems." Richard, Ron's son tells the story (Ron is much more interested in damping curves and linkage ratios than dwelling on the past).

"Honda had some hotshot engineers back in Japan, full of ideas, but lacking direction and experience. So Ron went out there to mentor them. 30 years on, one of them, Takeo Fukui is now the CEO Honda worldwide and another, Satoro Horicke, has been boss of HRC and project leader for almost every significant Honda production bike of the last 20 years."

Think about that for a moment. Your new shock absorber or fork cartidge built by the man who taught two of the most important men in motorcycling how to make a race bike handle properly.

You know this place is different the minute you walk into the workshop. If only because the radio in the background is a posh tuner playing through an expensive hi-fi amplifier. No knackered, old Amstrads here. Spending an hour or two in Ron and Richard's company is a revelation. So much information, so easy to understand when explained by people who really (and I mean really) know what they're talking about.

Maxton's set-up couldn't be further away from the might of Honda and HRC. They've recently moved into a purpose built unit but remain hidden away in the Cheshire countryside a couple of hundred yards from the former chapel that used to be their base. It's a fantastic place, an inspiring mix of the old (hand machining and assembly by craftsmen, lots of green enamel and scary red 'emergency stop' buttons) and the new (CNC machines, high-tech shock dynos, screens and keyboards everywhere). And Maxton operate what must be a unique philosophy in motorcycle engineering these days.

"We make everything in house, apart from the springs. Our GP7 shock absorber has 111 components and we make 110 of them here. It would be cheaper and maybe easier to get things made in the far east, but we'd rather do it here. It helps with quality control and ensures that every single thing is exactly as it should be"says Richard.
The formula works. Maxton shocks are the equal of anything else out there. Beautifully built to suit your requirements, weight and riding style with a range of adjustment up to five times greater than a standard unit.

But that's only part of it. As with all of the good guys in motorcycling, it's not just the product, but the service that makes the difference. Yes, you might have to wait a while for delivery (typically 4-6 weeks right now), but it's worth it for what you get.

Tucked away down one side of the unit are rows and rows of fork legs and shocks that've come back for a rebuild or service. Everything from early 80s Japanese and Italian fork legs ('popular with classic racers - we put our own cartridge internals in them though') to what looks like a brief history of Maxton's development, in metal. The breadth of Maxton's customer base is testament to their abilities.

"Outside the factory teams (who are contracted to use specific suspension) we're as successful as anyone in British racing," says Richard, who took over the day-to-day running of the business a few years back. "But we also make suspension for sidecars (including the current world champions) and, increasingly for classic twin shock race bikes too.

Like most top-end engineering companies, Maxton also take on the occasional left-field project, but they'd always prefer to work on bikes. "For all sorts of reasons," grins Richard. "But as much as anything because motorcylists are better payers. Maybe it's a passion thing, maybe it's because to ride a bike you just have to be so much more involved in it, but they're almost always easier to deal with."

The majority of Maxton's customers are racers but there's a significant number of road riders too and specials builders. "We see a few people who fitted the swingarm from one bike into a different machine to build a special or streetfighter. They're always a challenge because chances are the shock is completely wrong for the linkage. In some cases we've had to completely re-engineer the bike to make it work, but I'd rather have that than someone buying a shock from us and not being happy with the performance." So has suspension design had to change much as chassis' and tyres get better?

"Yes and no. The principle is the same and every shock we build is trying to achieve perfect damping for that bike and rider combination over a wide range of wheel travel. What's changed is the amount of adjustable control we can build in. Our latest GP7 race shock has high, medium and low speed compression damping adjustment and each circuit uses a different method to control damping. The low speed oil flow control - for small deflections of the wheel, not low-speed riding - is via a needle, a bit like a pilot jet in a car), medium speed control (slightly bigger bumps) is via a blow-off valve and high speed adjustment is done via the shim stack.

"On the latest sportsbikes, the range of adjustment you get is small - ours have much more."

Lunch stops play. The answerphone goes on and everyone decamps to the office. There are 12 people working here (including Ron's wife and Richard's mum, Mary), most are engineers or mechanics before they come here, but there's also Connor, the apprentice; pretty handy on a 125 race bike ('so long as I stop growing soon') and keen enough that he used to come and work on weekends before he left school.

Back to work - it's a busy place and a seven day job for some. Richard spends most weekends during the season supporting Maxton's customers at race meetings.
"These days bike set-up is as much about analysing data as rider feedback, which makes it easier, but takes more time."

Talking of which, we'd best let Richard get on with some work. Thanks for the tour, thanks for solving the mysteries of suspension. Thanks for the inspiration. Coming to a place like this makes you feel good about motorcycling. Maybe they should take up counselling.

Five things you never knew about suspension

Honda's original Hornet, which has no rising rate linkage needs a 1000lb spring to control the wheel movement, while the Pan European, which weighs almost 50% more, but has a linkage needs a 60lb spring. Any bike with a 1000lb spring needs a flipping good shock to control it. Unfortunately, the Hornet, built as a budget bike, doesn't have one, which is why the shocks wear out so fast.

Suspension doesn't have a huge effect on handling when your bike is leant over. "Think about it," says Ron. "When a bike hits a bump leant over, the forces aren't barely going through the suspension. What you are feeling is more to do with chassis stiffness and tyre construction.

Compression damping control is far more important than rebound for track riding.
Progressive or dual rate springs don't really work, mainly because they don't rebound back in a linear manner. Variable compression damping is much more effective. The benefit that most people who fit them feel is down to the original springs they replaced being too soft in the first place.

If you're planning on doing the TT next year (Whaddya mean no?) don't listen to those who recommend softening your suspension. What you actually need is stiffer springs and a wider range of damping control.
Chevrons to GSX-Rs - a brief history of Maxton

Ron Williams began his career at Chevron racing cars, but it wasn't long before he left to set up Maxton in 1971. Initially he built frames for TZ Yamahas and by the late 70s was virtually building his own bikes.

Headhunted by Honda to help on their NR500 project, he stayed till 1988 when Barry Symons moved the whole Honda Britain team to JPS Norton. At this time Maxton was still running alongside, making lightweight magnesium wheels as well as keeping GSX-R1100 owners rubber side down. The wheels were beautiful, but expensive to manufacture ('we had to throw anything up to 50% away because the castings were porous') and the production process was prone to the odd fire.

So, by the early 90s Maxton were focussed on suspension. Early Maxton shocks were heavily modified Koni units, but since 1999, everything has been built in house.

Prices range from £440 for a pair of twin shocks to £710 for the top-spec GP7. Fork conversions cost between £290 and £915 for the top-spec GP25 cartridge.
 

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So by comparison to what I've said in response to you, you continue to claim WSB teams (& Moto GP) buy simple off the shelf stuff, not custom valved, sprung, etc. then use these to win races. Sounds ridiculous to me.

So I wonder why all serious race teams have datalogging equipment on their suspension. You're sure they never change spring rates, have shocks re-shimmed, change oils, etc. in the search for best possible performance?

Remember, what I said from the beginning: There is more benefit in having a custom built shock from the likes of Maxton, or Nitron than buying a simple off the shelf Ohlins from any number of suppliers as fitted to your average RC51. Compare like cost for like cost. You wouldn't compare a Golf GTi to a Porsche GT3 RS in terms of performance / cost ratio, so it would be pointless to do the same for say a Motorcycle shock. Most people will go for what's within their budget and will tend to search for what meets their needs best within a given budget. HM Plant & Crescent Suzuki are in an entirely different budgettary league than the average Joe, riding his RC51 on the road or trackdays.

I just took a look at the last British Superbike results & it appears the guys winning & on the box are all using Ohlins. HM Plant & Crescent Suzuki immediately stand out and I didn't see any Nitron or Maxton stuff installed on their bikes... Those FGR000 & TTX shocks they are using look pretty much off the shelf to me. Sure they might have some valving changes, but I doubt that the vast majority of the 2011 BSB bikes have any truly trick Ohlins suspension parts that are not commonly available to the public. Feel free to prove me wrong though as I love looking at exotica suspension parts.


I also seriously doubt my credibility is in any danger of being soiled here. I've built, ridden & tested more parts on the RC51 than most of the members of this forum combined. People may not like my delivery, but it's really had to refute my findings. You'll never find anyone, anywhere that will tell you I lied to them about any product or that my test results are inaccurate.
 

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Yea yea... the difference between you & me is that I don't need a magazine to feed me an opinion or to back up a claim.

I have enough experience to allow me discern what works or what doesn't on my own.


So by comparison to what I've said in response to you, you continue to claim WSB teams (& Moto GP) buy simple off the shelf stuff, not custom valved, sprung, etc. then use these to win races. Sounds ridiculous to me.

So I wonder why all serious race teams have datalogging equipment on their suspension. You're sure they never change spring rates, have shocks re-shimmed, change oils, etc. in the search for best possible performance?

Sure they do. I specifically said I am sure they changed the valving spec. I have seen quite a few of the actual team spec sheets so I know in many cases exactly what has been done. I also know how they adjust the oil levels and what kind of spring changes they make. I can also assure you 100% that I always spring every suspension product I sell to the customers weight & riding style which is really no different than what is happening at the professional level. Professional riders need every last bit of attainable perfection they can get out of their suspension to give them that extra edge and if I had a customer that was riding at the same level as a Pro Rider just a hair off a lap record I could set-up their suspension for that caliber of rider. For the vast majority of average riders the off the shelf Ohlins will be as close to perfect right out of the box as they could ever ask for.

I'll check on you guys a little bit later I have to get the trailer loaded!
 

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I merely pointed towards a well respected UK magazine's opinion to demonstrate their professional view of Maxton is somewhat different to your generalised description above.

So in a long way round, you've now agreed that re-working suspension can have it's benefits. That's a relief!

Big Dom who weighs 120kg will benefit from a different spring to little Joe who weighs 70kg & corresponding damping changes. Now you're no longer talking about mere off the shelf Ohlins, which is what most people using that brand would have and precisely what I was referring to before - You're talking about modifying off the shelf suspension, which clearly carries benefits.

However, I daresay a company like Maxton, Nitron, etc. with decades of experience in making suspension for professional racers has infinitely more experience & the necessary (expensive) equipment to set up a shock for a customer than you alone. You'd do well to be realistic here, as it will give you more credibility.. After all, you sell Ohlins suspension, so credibility is important as is a balanced opinion when speaking with your customer audience.

Ohlins is a good brand, I'm certainly not disputing that but it doesn't mean it's the only choice. There are alternatives out there that riders would do well to consider before choosing...
That can be Ohlins, Penske, White Power, Maxton, Nitron, etc, etc.

This is a bike forum so excuse my foray into cars for the next paragraph. It's useful to illustrate key differences with off the shelf & custom suspension:
I had Ohlins DVF's on my RX-7 for use on the track. It was OK. For the last 5 years I've run custom built Bilstein coilovers, which are much better as clearly shown by improved lap times, wear on tyres, crisp controllable handling beyond the limits of grip, etc. in combination with other handling modifications. Granted cars are different in their dynamics, but control of suspension at a car's corners with a bike also has many similarities.
On the Honda we won the 2010 Ebisu endurance championship with, the off the shelf Aragosta suspension we'd initially started with was re-worked by Bilstein's engineers after we tested & found it to be too soft & lacking in grip (Aragosta is considered Japan's No. 1 coilover manufacturer for cars). We doubled the spring rates and damping was matched accordingly using a shock dyno. Rebuilding was done by Japan's best Bilstein engineer, Kaneko of Nishiki who creates custom suspension for many race teams in Japan (Same engineer who built my RX-7's suspension). During the season we changed spring rates further to fine tune the Honda's balance when sliding, to reduce understeer on tight corners and maintain balance on higher speed corners. The results spoke for themselves: For the final 2 races of the season our car was faster in cornering than JIC's (Suspension manufacturer in Japan) Integra DC5 and others of a higher class in the series. These were results of changing spring rates, damping shims & valves, oil and ride heights and they knocked seconds off average lap times.

For our Top Secret full tune R34 GT-R we found Nitron suspension to be some of the best remote reservoir coilovers available for cars. In this case Nitron is in a completely different league Ohlins off the shelf suspension, albeit at over 2 1/2 times the price. It's the same suspension Mine's uses for their very impressive R34 GT-R demo car which consistently gets the best time attack times in competition amongst Japan's best tuners, only re-badged as their own.

What I've found through Motorsport and other experiences is that re-worked suspension offers great benefits. In racing you're simply not competitive with class leaders with standard off the shelf stuff in cars. The same applies for bikes. Control of how your bike grips & handles at the limits of adhesion are crucial and this translates to road use too, where a bike has to cope with a lot more bumps, changes in riding surface, less choice of tyre compounds, etc.
Not all RC51 riders use their bikes on the track but quality bespoke suspension has very noticable benefits for enthusiastic road riders too.

My choice for a bike, within budget wouldn't be off the shelf stuff if I can get excellent quality bespoke suspension for much the same price, if not less.

Back when I discovered Maxton there were no internet forums for bikes. I simply went to race meets in the UK, watched them race, then went to the pits and looked at what some of the faster riders were using; talked with them where I could and learnt by word of mouth. I later drove to Maxton's family run business in Cheshire and spent an afternoon with them, before leaving my forks in their care. After fitting these & my new rear shock, the difference was immediately apparent. Suspension felt much firmer and the bike steered quicker (Ride heights change as a result of different shock length and fork setups front & rear, which alters trial & therefore steering response). It felt like a finely sharpened instrument rather than a soggy blunt tool. It was nice to be able to call Ron and receive experienced advice from the very person who designed the shock & fork re-working on my bike. Maxton's products vastly improved my enjoyment of riding & have definitely been the best modification I've added.

For people in UK or Europe, Maxton, Nitron or other possible alternatives are easier to obtain than those in North America of course.
I live in Japan nowadays - so I had to send my forks half way across the world, to match with my new Maxton shock & wait a couple of months. Before sending off my forks I phoned and spoke with Mary (Ron's wife) who I was surprised to find still remembered me, despite not having spoken with each for a decade. I don't find personal service like this in many places these days.
When buying Ohlins, some of the cost you pay is for marketting, etc. You can't speak with the designers of your shock and ask their advice if you're merely an end user.

I've absolutely no doubt there are many people who are happy with their off the shelf Ohlins shock and fork spring kits, just as there are for other brands. The fact that people come back to a particular brand time and time again, or recommend by word of mouth is because they're happy with the result.

Unlike LDH I'm not a re-seller of Ohlins or have any affiliation with any particular brand so I stand to gain nothing from sales. I'm simply an enthusiast with quite a lot of knowledge gained from experience in Motorsports, tuning and preparation.

But when a customer recommends a product, it's usually because he's very happy with it or the associated service.

This thread was asking for opinions on rear shock replacement, so a dialogue like this may be useful to those who haven't decided but are looking for the best choice to suit themselves.

Some may want to go with the popular option, others with an alternative. It pays to be objective and do some research before deciding though. The most popular brand isn't necessarily always the best choice IMHO.
 
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