Damping is set at the factory for the average solo rider under normal riding conditions. The rider may make adjustments to compensate for individual riding styles and varying road conditions.
Evaluating and changing the rebound and compression damping is a very subjective process with many variables and should be approached carefully.
Damping: Resistance to velocity of suspension movement. Damping affects how easily the suspension can move and limits oscillations of the system once movement has begun.
Compression: The suspension is compressed when the wheel moves upward (when riding over a bump).
Rebound: The suspension is rebounding when it is moving back from being compressed (rebounding to the road surface after a bump).
Preload: An adjustment made to the rear shock and front fork springs to limit vehicle and rider sag to a standard percentage of total suspension travel.
Suspension Tuning
Make all suspension adjustments in small increments. Radical setting changes may cause you to skip the best adjustment.
Refer to Table 1. Possible suspension and operating characteristics and their probable causes are listed. This table is helpful in keeping your motorcycle in good operating condition.
To achieve the proper settings you will need the preload properly adjusted, the tires properly inflated and a familiar bumpy road. It is useful if the road contains a variety of different kinds of bumps from small sharp bumps such as potholes or frost heaves to large cracks.
Table 1. Suspension Tuning
Bike wallows through turns.
Increase rebound damping.
Bike feels loose or vague after bumps.
Wheel tends to "pogo" or suffer continuous bouncing after passing a bump. This is often noticable by watching the bike as it travels over bumps.
Wheel responds to bump but doesn't return to ground quickly after bumps. This is more pronounced over a series of bumps and is often referred to as "packing down."
Reduce rebound damping.
Bike bottoms in dips or while cornering.
Increase compression damping.
Bike has excessive brake dive.
Harsh ride, particularly over washboard surfaces.
Reduce compression damping.
Bumps transfer through handlebars or seat.
Suspension seems not to respond to bumps. Tires chatter through corners or rider is jolted over rough roads.
Changes in Load
The front and rear preload setting will need to be adjusted for the rider's weight and cargo. This adjustment should be made before the motorcycle is ridden any distance and after changing the overall vehicle weight (adding saddlebags, etc.).
Changes in the load carried requires changes in the preload settings. Carrying less weight than was used for setting up the suspension requires decreasing the amount of preload. Increasing the load carried requires adding more preload.