Smart Performance (Dave J) 2006 YZ250 Suspension Review


36 replies to this topic
  • studboy

Posted August 04, 2008 - 05:33 AM

#1

Ever since I got my 06 YZ250, I haven't been very happy with the suspension when compared to my 02 YZ250 with MX-Tech valving.

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. :rant:

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! :p ;)

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. :mad:

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.

My review:

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! :ride:

  • RCannon

Posted August 04, 2008 - 05:38 AM

#2

Nice review. I saw the final price total and it was very low for the work involved. Hopefully no one tells Davej how far the American dollar has fallen! But the cost really is not the point. Bad suspension is bad suspension and needs to be fixed.

  • shrubitup

Posted August 04, 2008 - 07:29 AM

#3

My fork seals are leaking and I was beaten for six hours on Saturday for 52 miles of alpine trail work. I gotta send these out front and rear. Glad to see this write up. There's another guy I was considering but he's not responsive.:ride:

  • trailrider121

Posted August 04, 2008 - 07:30 AM

#4

215.VM2.K5 fluid is great stuff. It transformed my suspension to be mx and offroad friendly. Very good on small chop to braking bumps, and can handle the big whoops as well. Pretty much what studboy said, but I only installed the fuild only in the forks and shock, and it make a huge difference. Do a search and will you read alot of great info. Dave is great guy and will answer all your questions.

  • studboy

Posted August 04, 2008 - 08:08 AM

#5

My fork seals are leaking and I was beaten for six hours on Saturday for 52 miles of alpine trail work. I gotta send these out front and rear. Glad to see this write up. There's another guy I was considering but he's not responsive.:ride:


I would send them to Dave in a heartbeat.
He really inspects the parts well and he knows what to look for. He noticed a few worn parts in my fork and shock and that I wouldn't have noticed. He goes as far as to even measure the amount of oil the comes out when he changes them.

He doesn't charge an arm and a leg either! If you have any questions just e-mail or call him. He is very helpful.

  • RCannon

Posted August 04, 2008 - 08:20 AM

#6

Studboy, which bike is yours on this page?

http://dirtbike.off-...ategoryId=46410

I can work on my own forks and shock, but after seeing what Dave charges, I dont believe I will.

  • Wiz636

Posted August 04, 2008 - 09:31 AM

#7

I am a firm believer in the 215.VM2.K5 fluid and DaveJ's suspension philosophy

  • Yroc

Posted August 04, 2008 - 12:45 PM

#8

Dave has my suspension right now. I will be getting it back this week and am very excited. I will post my positive feedback when I get them back, I'm sure it will be good as everyone has posted so much good about these mods.

Usually you hear about how bad someone was, so for eveyone to be posting praise, means that much more.

  • trailrider121

Posted August 04, 2008 - 01:48 PM

#9

Dave has my suspension right now. I will be getting it back this week and am very excited. I will post my positive feedback when I get them back, I'm sure it will be good as everyone has posted so much good about these mods.

Usually you hear about how bad someone was, so for eveyone to be posting praise, means that much more.


Yroc,

Didn't you spend big dollars with Factory Connection on your suspension?

  • WIfarmer

Posted August 14, 2008 - 07:02 AM

#10

I've never heard of this guy before but everything I've searched on him looks good. I have an 06 YZ250 that needs a little help at both ends. Two questions. Where is he located?? And can I get a rough guess on cost for the shock and forks?? You all say the price is great but I don't see any #'s. (I know it will vary depending on what is all done).

  • trailrider121

Posted August 14, 2008 - 07:16 AM

#11

I've never heard of this guy before but everything I've searched on him looks good. I have an 06 YZ250 that needs a little help at both ends. Two questions. Where is he located?? And can I get a rough guess on cost for the shock and forks?? You all say the price is great but I don't see any #'s. (I know it will vary depending on what is all done).


Give Dave a call or email him. He is located in California.

Website: http://www.smartperformanceinc.com/

  • studboy

Posted August 14, 2008 - 07:20 AM

#12

He really is good. I'm very satisfied... and if you're not on the first go around he WILL help you make it right, unlike a lot of tuners out there.

He is located in California... and you can count on around $300 plus shipping for both ends unless you have to buy springs/etc. Talk to him directly for a price quote.
I was around $370 because I replaced a few worn parts as well (shock bumper, shock seal, new forks seals, and a few parts/seals in the forks). His prices are VERY reasonable.

I took my bike to the dunes last weekend... big improvement there as well. :)

I have so much more confidence now riding the bike.

  • danman

Posted August 14, 2008 - 07:30 AM

#13

I've never heard of this guy before but everything I've searched on him looks good. I have an 06 YZ250 that needs a little help at both ends. Two questions. Where is he located?? And can I get a rough guess on cost for the shock and forks?? You all say the price is great but I don't see any #'s. (I know it will vary depending on what is all done).


I just got mine back a couple weeks ago(05 YZ250). I only sent him the mid-valve and the shock without the spring. It cost me under $250 for redoing the forks and a basic service on the shock with some new parts! He actually swapped a couple shims on the shock as well. The shock is great with his oil and a small change in the shim stack.
I've been working with him via phone to get the forks 'better'. They were great right away, just a little soft. He is in California and I would not hesitate to send your suspension to him.
Very nice guy and great to work with.

  • mxjosh

Posted August 14, 2008 - 08:26 PM

#14

Oooh, he's only 20 mins away from me! I'll have to look into this if I ever have any more money....

  • ossidog

Posted August 14, 2008 - 08:41 PM

#15

Oooh, he's only 20 mins away from me! I'll have to look into this if I ever have any more money....


Money well spent, transformed my bike
and then my riding. I have been on them for about
15 months and no longer fear the square edge case.

  • mxjosh

Posted August 14, 2008 - 08:47 PM

#16

Good to know. I'm more concerned with bottoming. I'm a big dude. I'm happy with how the suspension soaks up the bumps. I'm just afraid to try new and bigger jumps cause of the harsh landing.

  • MrWood

Posted August 15, 2008 - 03:06 AM

#17

I might have to look into this myself. I'm having a heck of a time trying to tune my suspension. Depending on the track, changing the clickers will help me one way but hurt me another. Twice i've had my rear end break loose on me and throw me over the bars! i have no confidence coming around corners w/out a rut on the gas. I'm also wondering if that ti spring in the rear might have something to do with it? Any of you replace the ti with a steel one?

  • RCannon

Posted August 15, 2008 - 04:12 AM

#18

Mr Wood, I experimented with a steel rear spring in a 5.0 weight vs the stock ti spring in 4.9. I also have a 5.1 ti spring. If I had to rate them I would say both of the ti springs feel slightly progressive and the 5.0 steel has a more linear feel. The difference is not large and hardly worth the cost of switching.

  • MrWood

Posted August 15, 2008 - 04:33 AM

#19

RC thanks fo rthe info! By any chance do you know the range of weight for the stock 4.9 ti spring? i'm anywhere from 175-180 depending on the amount of dounuts & beer i consume LOL.

The bike just feels like it will not grab in the rear, i've been wondering if my 22.5 offset triple clamps shortening the wheel base has anything to do with it? i'm tempted to put back the stock TC and see if i notice any change. Either way i'm gonna have to give Dave a try soon! iIve never serviced the rear shock since i bought the bike so i'm sure it needs some tlc.

  • RCannon

Posted August 15, 2008 - 05:04 AM

#20

I THINK the stock spring would be in your range and probably not need changing.


I had much improved hook up after adding the flywheel weight. I am not so sure the rear suspension is the problem with the rear hooking up. The power on these hits hard...as you know!





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