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Ohlins vs. Hyperpro in December MCN


moshe_levy

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Hi All-

 

Sorry for the blatant self-promotion, but I was wondering what readers of the Hyperpro vs. Ohlins R1150RT shock test in December's Motorcycle Consumer News thought of it. It was a good deal of work to produce the objective "Shock Clock" data, and then to analyze it for the article. I was curious if as readers you see the "objective" part of the tests as worthwhile, or less so. Did it shed light on your understanding of shock purchases? Any feedback appreciated....

 

-Moshe

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I enjoyed the article. What struck me most, unfortunately for the simple answer, was how tuning made more of a difference than "which one." Most testimonials on better shocks merely claim a night-and-day difference, without instrumented set-up.

 

By the way, I would have liked to see a new set of OEM shocks in the comparison. IIRC, the original set was noted as worn out?

 

I had no idea shock field-test equipment had gotten that inexpensive. I like how that system measures dynamic behavior on the actual bike instead of off-bike shock dyno measurement. But in the end, is it faster or "better" than just adjusting static sag and then tweaking damping just by rider feel?

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Aluminum_Butt

I share Penforhire's shock that there wasn't that much difference out-of-the-box, and that it took some real tuning to make a noticeable difference. I've drooled over aftermarket shocks for awhile, but was never able to make myself part with the money, and now it will be even harder.

 

Overall I thought it was well written and thoughtful - but I can say that about all your articles. The only specific feedback I can give is I would have liked more help in knowing how the graphs translated to the "butt meter". I get that they showed shock travel over time, but it was still hard for me to relate to what it actually felt like.

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>>>>I enjoyed the article. What struck me most, unfortunately for the simple answer, was how tuning made more of a difference than "which one." Most testimonials on better shocks merely claim a night-and-day difference, without instrumented set-up.<<<<<

 

First, thanks for the compliment. We had to balance the extremely subjective nature of suspension tuning with something objective, hence the shock clock. To both the clock (objective) and my butt (subjective), night and day was more between fine tuned by Klaus vs. out of the box - and less Ohlins vs. Hyperpro vs. stock. Yes, I was surprised by this too!

 

>>>By the way, I would have liked to see a new set of OEM shocks in the comparison. IIRC, the original set was noted as worn out?<<<

 

I had 54k on the stockers, so yes they were pretty much worn out. You can see the pogo effect on the construction zone test with the stockers as proof of how they perform vs. the newer shocks.

 

As it was, with just these 3 sets, we spent about 40 hours on this and went overbudget to some extent, so as much as I would have liked to test other brands, we just ran out of time. Also, I think a more realistic comparison is worn stock shocks (rather than new OEM,) since more people use worn stockers as an excuse to buy new vs. replacing perfectly good stock shocks on a new bike.

 

>>>>But in the end, is it faster or "better" than just adjusting static sag and then tweaking damping just by rider feel?<<<<

 

The short answer is no, it is not - not in my opinion and not in Klaus' either. If you spend the hours it takes to hook up the clock and analyze the data on just good old fashioned "tune, test, repeat" you would be farther ahead, no doubt about it. But for a commercial dedicated operation, the Clock might be worthwhile to have.

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>>>>I share Penforhire's shock that there wasn't that much difference out-of-the-box, and that it took some real tuning to make a noticeable difference. I've drooled over aftermarket shocks for awhile, but was never able to make myself part with the money, and now it will be even harder.<<<<

 

I realize it's controversial. It's subjective as all hell. Look, I spent 10 years on a Harley Sportster before my RT. Some chewing gum and and rubber bands would be more effective than its stock suspension. The most expensive suspension for it is $400, and when you put it on as I did, it really is night and day. The RT's stock suspension, worn out, is 1000x better than the best aftermarket Sportster suspension I can use as one reference point. It's already a 6 or 7 out of 10. Aftermarket shocks like the ones I tested are say an 8 out of 10. Maybe 9 or even 10 if tuned properly. It's more difficult to improve on something that OK to begin with.

 

 

>>>>Overall I thought it was well written and thoughtful - but I can say that about all your articles.<<<<<

 

I appreciate that, thank you!

 

>>>>The only specific feedback I can give is I would have liked more help in knowing how the graphs translated to the "butt meter". I get that they showed shock travel over time, but it was still hard for me to relate to what it actually felt like.<<<<

 

The short answer is, there is often very little if any relation between the objective data on the graph and "feel." It's MCN, remember, so the editors are not going to give me free license to write an article about how "in my opinion," this shock felt better than that. It's not in the spirit of that magazine, which is why I like it in the first place. They agreed to the concept of the article, so long as there was some proof or objective angle to it. That was my challenge.

 

In the end, however, subjectivity is more important than objectivity here. I can show you a computer generated printout that tells you what ideal tuning is for your bike, but your butt feels different, and ultimately that's the only thing that matters.

 

And Klaus' tuning showed me way more difference before and after than just swapping the shocks. His genius is in knowing how to set the stuff up from the beginning. His shocks were way more "right on" out of the box than the Ohlins were. But once tuned, the shocks were pretty similar in feel, with the "biases" I noted in the article...

 

-MKL

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Slightly off topic but close enough.

I was at Laguna Seca last week riding the track and hired a Suspension Tuner to work with me on setting up my Ohlin's suspension for $40.00. Not a one time thing but for the whole day.

He set the sag and had be do ten laps and come in so he could look at the tires to make sure the front and rear shocks were working together in balance. Made a few adjustments and out I'd go again coming in afterwards for his tire inspection and needed adjustments.

We did this all morning until and it was perfect.

 

Without me saying anything he could tell what was going on by just looking at the tire wear each time I came in. He would tell me what I was doing o the track in the turns & braking and he was right every time.

I highly recommend using someone like this to set up any motorcycle. Shocks out of the box have average settings to get you in the ballpark. Getting someone that will adjust them together as a unit makes a world of difference.

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I enjoyed the article and learned quite a bit. Did you consider adding Wilbers, a very popular brand, to the shock analysis lineup? I had a chance to meet Klaus at the MOA rally in VT and watched him install and tune a set of shocks while there. He's an encyclopedia of motorcycle suspension knowledge.

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Did you consider adding Wilbers, a very popular brand, to the shock analysis lineup?

 

We did consider Wilbers, and quite a few other brands too. But even with just these 3 sets, it became a 40 hour job, during the summer's weekends no less. Let's just say motorcycle journalism is a labor of love, and we ran out of time and resources to add more shock sets this time around.

 

Perhaps if you guys feel strongly enough about testing other brands, etc., an e-mail or letter to the editor may make it happen. They do listen to what you guys (the customers in all this) have to say.

 

-MKL

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I got the best stuff HyperPro sells ... lowered the RT an inch and love that part. Klaus set them up ... springs and settings based on weight, percentage of 2-up ... etc.

 

I've played around with them but I'd really like to have a tuner work on them, or have a manual that really discusses the process. I love the new suspension mostly because the bike is lower and the originals were shot when I replaced them - but I don't really think I've gotten my money's worth yet.

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  • 1 month later...
markgoodrich

A little late to this thread but it's exactly pertinent to my current search for replacements for my ESA-equipped R1200RT. Great article, Moshe.

 

Some questions remain open:

 

1. It's clear the best thing to do is hook up with a competent tuner. The problem: how does one find such a person in one's neighborhood? Austin, Tx, in my particular case.

 

2. ESA is great in concept, especially in my case where I'm constantly switching between solo, two up, and loaded, both solo and two up, but in practice the darn bike is like riding a pogo stick most of the time, and of course there is no way to tune the shocks beyond the electric settings. I'm aware that Works Performance makes replacement shocks, and have been talking to them, but I'd really rather ditch the ESA so long as I have an EASY AND QUICK way to adjust preload and damping on the rear shock (after tuning for the various loads...a more complex problem than a single rider carrying the same load daily. So the question is, is there a shock that affords easy access to both preload and damping adjustment? Easy is not defined as lying on the ground.

 

3. Finally, lots of queries about Wilbers come up. I called the U. S. distributor for Hyperpro this week, and was told by the very helpful, knowledgeable guy who answered the phone that Hyperpro purchased Wilbers, and their current designs are "essentially identical." I'm only reporting what the guy said....

 

Cheers,

 

M

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Silver Surfer/AKAButters

I really hope this is not a blatantly stupid question, but can the OEM ESA shocks be, "set-up?"

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Well I have had my Wilbers on Ruby for exactly 2 years and 15K miles. The setup was done by Phil (1bmwfan) and me. My contribution was jumping up and down on the seat( :rofl:) and Phil doing the measurements. The only thing I do to change the setup from 1 up, 2 up, 1 up w/luggage, or 2 up w/luggage is change the preload with .25 turn, .50 turn, .75 turn, or 1.0 full turn on the preload. That's it which requires removing the seat and turning the dial. Is that easy enough for ya?

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markgoodrich
Well I have had my Wilbers on Ruby for exactly 2 years and 15K miles. The setup was done by Phil (1bmwfan) and me. My contribution was jumping up and down on the seat( :rofl:) and Phil doing the measurements. The only thing I do to change the setup from 1 up, 2 up, 1 up w/luggage, or 2 up w/luggage is change the preload with .25 turn, .50 turn, .75 turn, or 1.0 full turn on the preload. That's it which requires removing the seat and turning the dial. Is that easy enough for ya?

 

Keith, I know almost all the shocks make preload adjustment easy, but I thought the point of adjustable damping was to be able to adjust to varying load conditions.

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Just wanted to throw in a well done in spite of the time and resources constraints for your excellent article. :thumbsup:

 

Now for the shade tree mechanics. I'd speculate that proper spring selection is a significant part of the improvement of the new shocks. For those under a tight budget, a spring change by itself can help stock suspension if not worn out. I've had some modest improvements over the years on stock suspensions starting with the sag adjustments. Then to my secret (till now) test track (rail-road crossing, on the throttle) for the many setting trials. ;)

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You may want to contact Phil on this one. He is the former racer and shock guy, at least for me that day. I just adjust the preload and it is done. BTW, Phil and me had the exact same shocks. He had the ST and me the RT.

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Thanks for all the compliments guys. I've got another coming out soon - should be March or so - which details how to install the Hexhead cam chain tensioner in the Oilhead. Stay tuned...

 

-MKL

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I have the Wilburs on my K12S and they are truly custom shocks in every sense of the word. My Mechanic, one Ted Porter at the Beemer Shop in Scott's Valley California, spent about 45 minutes grilling me on my riding style and showing me different options before we selected the setup. Wilburs are built by hand for each and every bike and rider they are made for. After they were installed I made two clicks of damping adjustment on the front and one turn of rebound in the back and they are perfect. That is how close they came to nailing it right from the factory. In my opinion a custom set of shocks should need only a little tweaking once they are installed and this was my experience with the Wilburs.

 

I have had Ohlins before and they required quite a bit of setup. Ohlins are great shocks none the less but in my opinion the Wilburs are a step above.

 

My two cents worth.

 

Cheers!

 

Todd

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Moshe,

 

As an owner of a 2003RT, I found your article on shocks valuable. I invested in Ohlins last year and spent the time at a suspension guy's shop (he's actually a Duc expert, but I forgave him for that!) He did a good job, explaining what he was doing along the way. He provided a 'pre' and 'post' spreadsheet with settings, and a How-to-and-why guide that I found helpful. I've not fiddled with it much since then. Having said that, I did notice a difference with the worn out OEM's (~40k miles), unadjusted new Ohlins and post-adjusted Ohlins. The quickest test anyone can do is the washboard (similar to your article). The bike was just 'planted' in place is the best way I can describe it post Ohlin install.

 

As for your article, I understand the need for objectivity, but at least here in Colorado where there are no bike 'race' shops to speak of, it would be difficult for anyone to make an investment in the tool you used. I certainly can't justify that expense (especially after the cost of the Ohlins). Otherwise I thought it was a well written article and I'm likely to reference it again this spring.

 

I'm looking forward to the cam tensioner article. I've had this on my 'todo' list for a while.

 

Mike O

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Mike-

 

If you read between the lines, the last thing I'm doing is recommending the Shock Clock for an individual or even a commercial suspension shop. I think it would be worthwhile for a dedicated-team professional - but otherwise, it's not worth it.

 

-MKL

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