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  #11  
Old 1st March 2015
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Getting the right spring rate is 90% of the job, in my experience. If that's not right, then no amount of damping adjustment is going to make the ride plush.
Agree 100% on the spring comment.

The S shocks are good. Common wisom is that the springs are too soft for a rubbermount, but, on bumpy city streets, who knows? They may not be far off what you need. With the short forks, raising the rear is going to throw a bit more weight on the front, therefore less on the rear. It's a balancing act.
What is good about the S shocks:
- Longer
- Adjustability (compression and rebound)
- Rebuildable (I think)


I have disassembled one and tested the spring - 52.94 lbs/in!! It is the weakest spring I have ever tested from any bike. My 86 Honda VF700C had rear 97 lb/in springs and they were inadequate. XLXR, you are right on about the weak springs; but that's why you replace the springs to what you need. The S shock is a good shock once you get the right [Eibach] spring on. On this point I would be interested to hear from anyone who swapped out springs and what their experience was.

Some early XL1200S test results:

XL1200S rear shock disassembled


Spring testing using home gym equipment


Test results


Bad about the shock = price.

Jerry
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  #12  
Old 1st March 2015
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XLXR,

Since you commented on the S Shock, here are a few more items that back up your comments on how weak the springs are.

In the first pic, you can see the suspension strategy for the stock shock using the weak spring. The free length of the spring is a tad over 10" (10.125"). Once mounted in the shock, its mounted length is only 8". That means the spring is compressed a little over 2". With a 53 lb/in spring rate, that gives you a 112.5 lb preload - and you have 2 shocks. You can dial in some additional preload, but thats it. For a lighter weight rider, that might be enough to set the initial sag but that's it. The spring doesn't have enough top end capacity to prevent you from bottoming out.

In the second pic, I show what the spring capacity is with no additional preload dialed in. This is the blue line with the "1" on it. You can see it starts at 112.5 lb preload (from the spring mounting). As you add more weight to the spring, it begins to compress until it get to the working range of the shock (2.63" later). The total capacity is 252 lbs. If you dial in all the shock preload, the # "1" line moves over and becomes the # "4" dark blue line. Compressing the spring with all the shock preload yields a max capacity of 282 lbs. That 30 lb extra capacity is only about 12% more capacity. So, if you have these shocks and weigh anything close to an average man, you need all the preload dialed in... but I bet you still bottom out alot. So the strategy is clear if using this shock, you will have to swap out the spring,

I'm going out to the garage to do some more baselining and will report back with more pics and graphs. The data from the bike will help me determine what rate spring I need.

Pic 1:


Pic 2:


Jerry
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  #13  
Old 1st March 2015
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Welcome to the XLForum.

Congrats on the new scoot.

Suspension, brakes and power. Have fun.
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  #14  
Old 1st March 2015
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Is that your shock spring tester? That's not something average Joe has in his garage. Who the heck are you?

I am not sure why your measurements are not getting into the final spring rate, which should be around 85 lbs/in. If you can't get into the final spring rate, my guess is the springs are already worn out. If the springs are worn out, throw the shocks away, the hydraulic oil and seals/bushing are probably also worn and probably not worth the effort or expense of new springs.

Another problem with the 1200 S shocks is that as far as I know there are no replacement springs available, and no rebuild service available. Maybe there was in the past, but not now. At least, I am not aware of any. Just because the shock or spring has a well known brand name, does not mean replacement parts are still available. Harley specs out there own dimensions, which probably do not cross over with anything else that particular brand made. Sometimes shocks are press fit together, and are not rebuild-able.

Even if you could swap out to a heavier spring, which would be closer to 75/120 lbs/in, I doubt the dampening curves will match that big a jump. I have had a lot of dirt bikes, Ducati with Ohlins etc with adjustable shocks. I still have a set of 3 way adjustable WP shocks, the European company sitting on the shelf. Ricor inertia technology makes cartridge/shim stack technology obsolete, until you start spending a whole lot more money.
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Last edited by XLXR; 1st March 2015 at 20:02..
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  #15  
Old 1st March 2015
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Do yourself a favor. Set you bike up with Ricor Intiminators and IAS shocks. You will save yourself a lot of time.

I suppose you know the joke about arguing with an engineer is like wrestling with a pig. Sooner or later, you realize they like it.

( I say that with complete respect and total humor. Lots of my friends, and brother, are engineers. I tried to be an engineer, but could never do better than a C in calculus.)
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  #16  
Old 1st March 2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spacetiger View Post
I have disassembled one and tested the spring - 52.94 lbs/in!! It is the weakest spring I have ever tested from any bike.

The S shock is a good shock once you get the right [Eibach] spring on. On this point I would be interested to hear from anyone who swapped out springs and what their experience was.
That's even lighter than I thought they were!
52.94 lbs/in.....9.45 kg/cm.....9.29 N/mm

I originally swapped my 1200S shocks for a pair of Hagon shocks with the lightest spring rate they had available, which was...
112 lbs/in.....20 kg/cm.....19.65 N/mm
These were not bad, but a little hard for my 1200S. Riding two-up, they felt very good.

I then fitted AST piggyback shocks, initially with dual-rate springs...
42.75-85.5 lbs/inch.....7.63-15.26 kg/cm.....7.5-15 N/mm
The initial spring rate was way too weak and taken up on sag, but the ride felt greally good.

I then tried some slightly heavier dual-rate springs...
7-114 lbs/in.....18 kg/cm.....10-20 N/mm
Much (but not all) of the initial spring rate was still taken up on sag, but the ride could at times feel a little harsh (a lot of my riding is done at speed on sometimes not very well surfaced back roads).

Thinking back to how well the 7.5-15 N/mm springs had felt, I eventually got some single rate springs made...
85.5 lbs/in.....5.3kg/cm.....15 N/mm
This feels as close to perfect as it's possible to get. I am content.

For information, I once had my 1200S weighed, and it tipped the scales at 210kg with half a tank of gas (distributed 100kg front / 110kg rear). Since then, it's lost a bit more weight (though, sadly, I have not - I fear our weights are converging ). I'd guess the bike weighs about 200kg now, distributed roughly 50/50 front and back until I hop on board. Most of my riding is solo. On the rare occasions I do pack a pillion, the pillion seat discourages trips of more than about 50 miles.

Good work on the spring testing rig, by the way.
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  #17  
Old 1st March 2015
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SteelWorker, how much do you weigh, and what length shocks are you referring to?

My typical response about straight rate vs dual or progressive rate springs is straight rate springs have only one rate to get right. Progressive rate springs have to get 3 things right. Initial rate, final rate, and transition zone between the two.

Quote:
I then fitted AST piggyback shocks, initially with dual-rate springs...
42.75-85.5 lbs/inch.....7.63-15.26 kg/cm.....7.5-15 N/mm
The initial spring rate was way too weak and taken up on sag, but the ride felt greally good.
That means your were riding only on the final spring rate, which also means you were loosing usable travel when shocks compressed through the initial spring rate. How much travel you were loosing depends on the transition zone.

Notice that the final rate of 85.5 you liked with the AST shocks, also worked with the straight rate springs.

This is why I consistently recommend the Works Dual Rate fork spring kit for guys who are willing to do the work and want better suspension. Initial, final, and transition zone are all adjustable.

Last edited by XLXR; 1st March 2015 at 22:53..
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  #18  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XLXR View Post
SteelWorker, how much do you weigh, and what length shocks are you referring to?.
I couldn't swear to my weight, as I don't possess a set of scales, but I'd guess about 190-200lbs.

The shock length is adjustable from 350mm (13-3/4") to 362mm (14-1/4"). I have them set close to the lower end of that. Stroke is 90mm. I run only minimal preload with these 15N/mm springs.


Quote:
Originally Posted by XLXR View Post
That means you were riding only on the final spring rate, which also means you were loosing usable travel when shocks compressed through the initial spring rate. How much travel you were losing depends on the transition zone.
With the 7.5-15N/mm springs, I was definitely riding on the final spring rate, with too much sag. With the 10-20N/mm springs, I had some travel on the initial spring rate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by XLXR View Post
Notice that the final rate of 85.5 you liked with the AST shocks, also worked with the straight rate springs.
The very reason I went with the 85.5lb/in springs was because the original (42.75-85.5 lbs/inch) springs had felt so good. Now I have that "perfect" spring rate with less sag, therefore a greater range of movement and more ground clearance.
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  #19  
Old 2nd March 2015
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A little progress in the garage today, but not near enough time to complete all of the baselining effort. In fact, I have to recheck a few measurements because I was writing stuff down on small pieces of paper and trying to remember what I did...

Baselining effort done:
- Checked rake
- Measured front and rear sag
- Verified rear spring rates
- Estimated rear sag weight load

Pic 1: Bike set up to collect measurements


Pic 2: Measured Front Sag


Pic 3: Rear Sag


Pic 4: Rear Right shock


Pic 5: Right shock disassembled


Pic 6: Right Shock Spring was really weak


Pic 7: Test results


Pic 8: Right Shock Capacity


Pic 9: Left Rear shock, the workhorse of the rear suspension


Pic 10: Left Shock disassembled


Pic 11: Left Spring testing: I just load a 45lb weight, then measure spring length; then repeat the process. This pic shows five 45 lb plates compressing the spring enough to exceed the working range of the shock.


Pic 12: Left Spring test results


Pic 13: Left Spring test result Implications


Pic 13_1: Here, you can see the left and right are 2 different springs; its the effective spring rate I'm looking for


Pic 13.2: Determining the Combined Spring Rate (Magenta line); to get the combined spring rate, you can add them and get the Magenta line. This is the total rear spring rate with no preload dialed in. You can see the max weight it can carry before bottoming out is 439 lbs.


Pic 13.3: This is the total rear spring rate with no and ALL preload dialed in. You can see the max weight both springs can carry before bottoming out is 577 lbs.


Pic 13_4: Now, I can measure the gap between the rubber bumper on the left shock to see how far away it is from the shock body when I was checking rear sag. Knowing this distance + having calibrated the rear springs, I can determine the sag weight load through the spring.


Pic 13_5: I am certain I will need a stronger spring. The oem setup has a small working range (1.06") and low total capacity (577 lbs). Here is the test results of a different spring from a 1986 Honda VF700C [Showa] shock. It checks out at 97.3 lbs/in.


Pic 13_6: This a pic of 3 different springs; the 2014 XL1200T oem setup, 2003 XL1200R, and the 1986 VF700C spring. The VF700C spring would be mounted on the XL1200R shock and add considerable more top end performance over both the XL springs. This pic shows the comparison with no extra preload dialed in.


Pic 13_7: This is a another comparison with max preload. Still a great top end performance gain + the spring rate is very close to the oem 2014 rate.



Some surprises:
- The right rear shock has NO damping; its just a tube that looks like a shock. The spring does contribute some, but it's about 1/5th the capacity of the left spring. The bike is almost a monoshock set up. I bet if I pulled the swing arm, I'd find it weighs a lot more than the custom swing arm
- The T bike has little suspension travel; front and rear. I cannot find what the travel - I looked on line and through the manual. I will have to determine it via testing next weekend. The front is likely to be less than 4" and the rear [shock] is only 1.06 or 1.25" depending on which one bottoms out first. The swing arm may move more than 1.06 or 1.25", but I will not know until next weekend. I will also pull a front fork and test to see what spring rates I have plus verify the working range. (Edit: I am going with the lower value of 1.06 for now but should verify the actual limit this weekend)
- I will have to work at verifying the rake and trail. I am measuring a smaller rake value (28.8 degrees) versus spec (31.1). I will have to finish building the tool to check trail.

Lots of work next weekend, but that is okay as there is lots of snow and ice outside.

Jerry

Last edited by spacetiger; 5th March 2015 at 22:16.. Reason: corrections
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Old 2nd March 2015
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Is that your shock spring tester? That's not something average Joe has in his garage. Who the heck are you?
lol, that is gym equipment in the basement. That said, I do have a few unique tools to help dissemble shocks. They are not expensive; I would recommend all riders that set up their suspension to buy a tool or find someone who lives close-by.

I am not sure why your measurements are not getting into the final spring rate, which should be around 85 lbs/in. If you can't get into the final spring rate, my guess is the springs are already worn out. If the springs are worn out, throw the shocks away, the hydraulic oil and seals/bushing are probably also worn and probably not worth the effort or expense of new springs.
It possible the spring may transition into a higher rate, but I stopped loading on weight after I exceeded the working range of the shock (2.63"). This is one of the reason I do not like dual rate springs, it is more time consuming to account for the transition points and get them matched up with the front. Also, with so small of the rear shock working range, every part of the 1.06 or 1.25" is precious, so best to go with a straight linear rate spring IMHO. The springs and oil can be replaced. The other seals/o-rings are not expensive. It is far cheaper to replace these items than to buy a new shock.

Another problem with the 1200 S shocks is that as far as I know there are no replacement springs available, and no rebuild service available. Maybe there was in the past, but not now. At least, I am not aware of any. Just because the shock or spring has a well known brand name, does not mean replacement parts are still available. Harley specs out there own dimensions, which probably do not cross over with anything else that particular brand made. Sometimes shocks are press fit together, and are not rebuild-able.
2" ID [Eibach] springs are easy to get. THe other items are too, just takes a little effort to source them.


Even if you could swap out to a heavier spring, which would be closer to 75/120 lbs/in, I doubt the dampening curves will match that big a jump. I have had a lot of dirt bikes, Ducati with Ohlins etc with adjustable shocks. I still have a set of 3 way adjustable WP shocks, the European company sitting on the shelf. Ricor inertia technology makes cartridge/shim stack technology obsolete, until you start spending a whole lot more money.

I have not had an experience with Ricor products - yet - but we shall see. BTW, I cannot find any info on them as far as rebounding damping. There is lots of material out there on the compression side but I am most interested on the other side. Can you help me find this info XLXR?
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