Race Tech Suspension Review
[This Race Tech Suspension Review was originally published in the June 2009 issue of Rider magazine]
Motorcyclists come in all shapes and sizes: Tall, short, thin, not-so-thin and everywhere in between. And their riding styles vary from easy cruising to hard charging, from two-up touring to racing. People choose motorcycles based on their size or riding style, but for any given model one size must fit all. Not only that, but motorcycles are built to a price, and suspension is one place where cost-savings are easily realized. Upgrading your motorcycle’s suspension is one of the best investments you can make for a more comfortable, confident ride.
Race Tech provides suspension enhancement products for all types of motorcycles, as well as ATVs and snowmobiles. It primarily provides components to rebuild existing forks and shocks, such as valve and shim stack kits, cartridge emulators, shocks, springs, fork coatings, oil and tools. All of Race Tech’s kits come with complete instructions for do-it-yourself mechanics, but Race Tech or its dealers around the world can do the installation for you. To search for products available for your motorcycle or a dealer, visit www.racetech.com.
We went to Race Tech’s headquarters in Corona, California, for a full suspension upgrade on a 2005 Kawasaki ZRX1200. During this model’s last two years of production (2004-2005), Kawasaki switched to a sealed (nonrebuildable) cartridge fork to reduce costs. That meant that we weren’t able to install Race Tech’s well-known Gold Valve Fork Kit, though we were able to install a Gold Valve Shock Kit in the rear. The new valves, as well as the accompanying custom shim stack, improve damping and rebound and optimize the oil flow area to put valving control on the shim stacks. Race Tech claims that its long-wearing, low-friction sealed design decreases fade and provides better performance. Front and rear, new springs were also installed, with all components calibrated to the particular rider.
Tony Marasco, one of Race Tech’s top suspension technicians, walked us through each step of the installation process. For something as critical to safe motorcycle operation as forks and shocks, only experienced mechanics with appropriate tools should tackle the project themselves. With the fork removed, the stanchions were polished to remove scratches and chips that can carry dirt inside the seals. All components were cleaned and inspected, new springs were installed and fresh fork oil was added. A similar process was followed for the dual rear shocks, but a complete Gold Valve Kit was also installed with a tailor-made shim stack (very thin aluminum washers of varying diameters). After the installation, Marasco dialed in the suspension settings.
Our tester, Vasco Nunes, had put 8,000 miles on his ZRX before the installation. The effect of the Race Tech suspension upgrade was immediate and dramatic, delivering more traction and better control. Rather than adjust his riding position and style to adapt to the stock suspension, Nunes felt more comfortable and the bike responded more naturally with less harshness. On the rough streets of Los Angeles, compliance was more plush and forgiving. And in the canyon roads outside of the city, he reported a more consistent, confident ride where he could better hold his line or make subtle adjustments as needed. The bike become “more his.” That’s exactly what you want, as any racer will tell you.
Race Tech’s Gold Valve Fork and Shock Kits for Kawasaki ZRX models are $169.99-$179.99, and fork and shock springs are $109.99-$119.99. For pricing and fitment for your motorcycle, see Race Tech’s website.
To see Greg’s interview with Tony Marasco, senior suspension technician at Race Tech, click HERE.
For more information contact Race Tech Inc., 1501 Pomona Road, Corona, California 92880; (951) 279-6655; www.racetech.com