Suspension report. Xr650(long)

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  • slowxr

Posted April 05, 2005 - 03:19 PM


Well, after 4000 miles I finally got my suspension done. I'm an advanced beginner and prefer smooth desert trails. I hate whoops but like cruising double and triple track in 4&5th gear. More of a trail rider/destination type rider. I'm about 220-230 with gear, tools,water etc. I've got a 4.5 gallon gas tank on my pig.
My only complaint was the sharp, fast, washboard type bumps that went straight through the handlebars and into my hands. Small jumps were fine. When the bike was new, I changed the fork oil out and put fresh 5 weight back in. No change. I was told 2.5 weight would make it "plushier". I tried the 2.5 with no improvement. I played with the clickers on both ends and never noticed a change. I've went from both extremes on the clickers and never noticed a difference in feel. I blamed this on my lack of experience or just that I simply ride slow.

So, after many miles I decided I'd have done what I should have done a year ago. I spoke with a few So Cal suspension guys and settled with Rob Barnum. I think what sold me on Rob was that I was going to be able to "test ride" the bike at his property when I picked it up. Rob is also well known for racing Baja on the Xr650. That meant alot to me. I wanted to make sure the bike was set up propertly and get to go over the basics with Rob.

I told Rob that my only complaint was the forks. I didn't notice the shock at all. I don't think I had ever bottomed the front or rear. Rob's thought was that the pig had problems with "high speed" stuff. I learned that "high speed" wasn't the speed of the bike but the speed the fork is compressed. I took his word on it and he promised a plush and stable ride. He recommended for my weight, different springs(both front and back), re-valving and fresh oil and nitrogen(I think)? I had faith in Robs approach and left my bike with him.

I picked it up 3 days later. I geared up and Rob pulled on his helmet and said, "Follow me". We did about 20 desert miles around his house. We stopped several times to talk about what I was feeling etc. The change was dramatic. As soon as I pulled out of his driveway, I could feel the improvement. The bumps and sharp edges that used to rattle my glasses off were gone. It was clear that I made the right choice. The bike is plush. I never understood what "plush" was, but I do now. The washboard roads and sharp hits are pillow like! I don't think this is the way fast riders want there bikes set up but for me, it's perfect. I'm thrilled.

While I was there, Rob greased my steering stem and swing arm etc. The whole job turned out to cost $50 less then he quoted me. What a surprise. I feel the bike is about 65% better. It's more fun to ride. After the test ride, Rob adjusted my rear sag and went through a couple examples of how the rebound and compresson clickers work. Very interesting.

I don't notice any difference in the rear shock with the new valving and spring.? From what I've heard, the shock re-valve is more evident when traveling fast through rough terrain? Whoops? I'm not sure. This isn't the type of riding I do, so I may never know. I'm not disappointed, this was just an observation.

The slow compressions stuff feels the same but I didn't have a complaint regarding this. The pig felt good going through rolling trails and jumps and still feels good. Its just that the sharp edges are gone. I used to stand up and look down at my forks while riding. The fork hardly moved. It moves now. It's amazing to see the forks move through the stroke while riding. That's what I thought suspension was supposed to do. It does it now.

I'm thrilled. It was money well spent. I did 150 miles of desert on Friday and I can't wait for the next ride. Rob spent alot of time with me and over delivered in my opinion.

Anyway, that's one guys opinion.

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