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Sportster Motorcycle Suspension, Frame, Forks, Handlebars, Fuel Tank, Oil Tank, Fenders Discuss Sportster Motorcycle Suspension, Frame, Forks, Handlebars, Fuel Tank, Oil Tank, Fenders problems, advice, and/or how tos.

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  #1  
Old 9th March 2010
Spectra Spectra is offline
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Question 2009 883l fork travel

Hi!

After decades (almost 4) of riding Jap bikes I bought a new 2009 883L last week. I did my research and thought I was aware of the suspension short comings of this bike. I was wrong.

The specs for the forks had 3.62 inches of travel listed. Using the zip tie on the leg method (yes I hit the big bumps) I have:
Fork pulled for maxiumum extension to zip tie is 2.4 inches.
Fork with 170 lb person seated 1.25 inches from slider to zip tie. (about 1.2 inches sag)

I have just over ONE inch of usable travel. Ok, I have progressive fork springs on the way but with the forks fully extended to max compression I get 2.4 inches. I have 1.1 inches from the zip tie to the triple clamp.

With the wheel in the air there is about 3.6 inches from the bottom of the triple clamp to the top of the slider.

So my question is: Where is the 3.62 inches of travel? Could the forks be overserviced from the factory hydro locking? Spring binding Any help is greatly appreciated.

Thanks again, Kevin
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  #2  
Old 9th March 2010
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Welcome the forum. The good news is, there are several different solutions to minimize the problems of short suspension.

Read the "7 Pages of Suspension" in the Suspension Sticky Section. Be sure to read the Whittlebeast Low and Sportytrace Nighster threads. They cover all the different solutions. Works Dual Rate fork springs, air forks, Ricor Intiminators, and proper tuning will help a lot. There is another good thread on changing fork oil and springs.

The standard Progressive fork spring is for longer forks and will not transition to the heavier final spring rate soon enough.

Excessive oil from the factory in either forks could limit travel, you might as well check it first. If you suck out 1 oz of oil and then gain travel, there was too much oil. Be sure to read the proper way to check oil because the measurement given in the manual is with forks compressed, spring out, held straight up.

You really need to take the spring out and then compress the forks to get full travel. The spring coil binding is a possibility, but has not been proven to my knowledge.
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Former Ricor test rider for IAS Shocks, Intiminators and Vibranators. Works Dual Rate fork springs, fork brace, Avon Venom X tires, loosen drive belt, and set frame rails level to floor. See "7 Pages of Suspension" thread in the Suspension Sticky Index. It's official, I am now in the "I've forgotten more than I remember club."
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  #3  
Old 10th March 2010
Spectra Spectra is offline
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Thanks for the response. I read the stickys before I ordered the parts.
I think there is a slight chance the oil level is too high if coil binding isn't a possibility.

For the forks I plan to change the spring to progressive and preload the heck out of it to minimize rider sag and get the most travel at the expense of some ride quality. I have lined up 2 men and a boy to help get the caps back on the forks. The stock 10wt oil will be my starting point for control tuning.
I'm trying to raise, sorta, and stiffen the front to match the 412's (412-4009B 13.51inches long 4.14 inches travel 75/120 spring rate) that are going on the back. Yes the bike will lose all its "lowness" but that's not important to me, lean angle is.

I have taken some before pictures with some measurements. More importantly after I swap out the parts I'll send pictures with an opinion on how this works out; from the point of view of someone puts 12k a year on a Ninja. And no, I don't want an XR1200, just a 883 that can lean.

time to lurk and learn sportster stuff...I wonder, will the "jiffy stand" work after the mods.

Have a day, Kevin
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Old 10th March 2010
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Spectra - You're getting into all sorts of problems. Adding 13.5" shocks means you have to loosen the belt to avoid binding up rear suspension travel.

A extreme forward chassis pitch due to long shocks and short forks can induce a high speed wobble problem. Some people have done it, but I don't recommend it. Be careful on first test rides.

It is commonly thought that forward chassis pitch improves cornering, and in most bikes that is true up to a certain point where wobble becomes a problem. I found that setting the frame rails under the engine level with the floor with rider on the bike, improves stability so much that cornering is actually improved and lowering the front too much from that point only makes it handle worse. Others may disagree.

The forks must have rider sag about 1/3 to 1/4 total travel. If you stuff in as much preload as physically possible, your forks will "top out" at full extension and that can cause all sorts of problems in handling from a rough ride to tire loosing traction and sliding out in bumpy corners. Not a safe situation.

Regardless of how much preload you add to the short forks, or how long the shocks are, short forks will still have limited cornering clearance.

I suggest you spend more time carefully reading the "7 Pages of Suspension". It is all documented there.
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Old 11th March 2010
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Hi.
Yes I will be careful with test rides and I have read in other posts about the belt tension binding the suspension. I did read the 7 pages pretty well and I am using the same shocks and springs as Whittlebeast mentions in Low Handles and Stops like a Real Sport Bike. My body weight is a little less but I will be adding bags, back rest, luggage rack, tools, raingear, and some other odds and ends so my bike will be heavier in the rear.

Thanks, Kevin
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