I am 6' 1" 170 lbs.
The suspension was "ok", but mediocre at best really for my weight and terrain.
It seemed "ok" unless you rode the 02 back to back under the same conditions on the same day. The two were worlds apart. Allow me to explain.
The stock 06 suspension felt good on hard jump landings, and smooth hits such as g outs. It beat the crap out of me on sharp edged hits (such as rocks or harsh breaking bumps) and I would easily lose control and traction, not to mention become fatigued (arm pump). The bike would headshake badly at top of 4th and 5th gear track sections when the track became very rough as it often does here. Trying to get the bike to corner with bumps was very difficult.
I played a lot with the clickers/etc. over the span of ten months and was able to improve the suspension to a usable level, but I was never very happy with it when compared to my 02. On any given day, I could ride much faster and more predictably on the 02. I could corner better, and I was much less fatigued. The bike was much more predictable. Bumps that beat you to death on the 06 you didn't even notice on the 02.
After ten months of trying to tune the suspension, I was frustrated. That's when after reading quite a few favorable reviews I decided to give Dave at Smart Performance a shot. Let me tell you that I have been more than impressed with his work and his service!
I started by e-mailing him and asking him about the forks... he had a very good explanation for what I was feeling. He offered to call me and discuss the forks. He spent about 15 minutes on the phone with me discussing them.
He had me sold, the guy really cares about you and knows his stuff. He always answers e-mails. After receiving the forks, he has e-mailed to check up on me from time to time.
Let me just say this: This guy has VERY reasonable prices and has a VERY high attention to detail. His work is top notch. Everything is thoroughly inspected and cleaned. His turnaround time was also very fast. (The forks and shock arrived on Thursday afternoon/night and left on Monday morning).
He will also sell you all the parts (at an extremely reasonable price) if you want to do these mods yourself.
He sends a VERY complete spec sheet with your suspension showing ALL of the shims (before and after) and ALL changes that were made. The documentation is very detailed. He actually shows you everything that he has done. Dave is great at sharing information.
OK... so now onto the good part.
In a nutshell, Dave said that the problems I was experiencing were common, and due to a few factors. I was going to try and explain them but Dave explains the problem much better than I can.
Here is what he had to say to me in an e-mail, I hope he doesn't mind me posting this:
So the thing with the 06 to 08 KYB/AOS forks, and just about all of the Showa twin chamber forks, is that they are either blowing through or locking up. That sweet spot in the middle where the fork performs well is seldom used by many of the off-road guys.
I hated my 07 for this very reason, on the track or on the trail.
The problem is mainly associated with the mid-valve. It floats too easily which allows the fork to blow through or over oscillate, and it locks up when velocities and displacements ramp up. The Dell Taco mid-valve (as seen on TT) takes the opposite approach to this. It has zero float and the means to blow off big displacements.
That said, when you bump up the performance of the mid-valve in such a manner you have to tune the rest of the fork to compensate so that you don’t open a can-of-worms to a host of repercussions.
So the comprehensive approach involves what I call “early velocity management” (via the 215.VM2.K5) combined with tuning the pressure spring to match the mid-valve. In other words, a softer pressure spring.
If you do any one of these three mods, you’ll see some benefits and some compromises. If you do all three, they tend to complement each other and conclude with a more comprehensive approach.
So, to be honest with you, I really don’t do traditional “re valves”. I mean, moving around a bunch of shims and charging someone $400 for it is not only a waste of money, it does not have an ideal conclusion. On the forks I take in, I do the mid-valve mod, drill the free piston, install the soft pressure springs, change the fulcrum of the base stack, open up the rebound check plate and then run the 215.VM2.K5. The new mid-valve is about the only thing I tune per the needs of the rider, which is performed via the pre-load on the spring and sometimes some minor changes to the stack. The base stack is usually left as is.
With that, it’s just a matter of deciding if you want to do the work yourself (everything I do I also make available to others) or to have someone do the work for you.
Hope that helps and let me know if you have any questions.
Anyways... So I did end up doing all of the mods to the forks.
215.VM2.K5 fluid, Del Taco, Free Piston Mod, Pressure Springs, Etc. I kept the stock fork springs as they are OK for my weight. I also had him put the fluid in the shock and he modified a few things on that as well.
What a difference! I'm not a professional rider by any means but the bike feels SO MUCH BETTER. I still have some fine-tuning to do, but right out of the box the suspension was good. The small bumps that used to beat me are gone and the bike still feels good on the big hits after I added 12ccs of oil to the outer chambers. The bike actually corners now in the rough stuff. I don't concentrate anymore on all of the little bumps in the track and trail, now I just plow right through them. My arm pump is has pretty much disappeared and I noticed that I can turn more laps now before becoming fatigued.
Great value, great performance, great service. My hats off!