Softer Suspension Settings for the GSXR

The Problem

Ever since we returned from our last trip to Malaysia, I have been thinking of how to set the suspension settings on the bike to make it more comfortable to ride. In my last post, I was complaining about my backache and aching wrists on my trip. In order to continue to enjoy riding the GSXR, I had to settle this issue.

Previous attempts to soften the suspension did not agree very well with me. Every click changes the feel of the motorcycle. If you love riding and cornering the motorcycle, you can feel the effect of every click. Trust me.

The one thing that I find frustrating is the time it takes for me to get accustomed to new settings. Most of the time, a change somewhere will make me feel ill at ease on the motorcycle for a period of time.

The settings that I used most of the time were on the left and the new ones where I have more or less settled on are the on the right.

Softer Suspension Settings

Differences Between the Old and New Settings

I don’t know about others, but it sure took quite a bit of time before I arrived at this settings. I almost gave up halfway. The old settings gave me a bike that was sharp and gave great feedback when we are banked over. This setting allowed me to basically switch directions instantly and slap her on the side in an instant. Mid corners, I only needed to push lightly and she changed lines effortlessly.

However, the old settings were hard. There was too little rebound and the bike kicked back over every bump, so resting your bump on the seat for a lazy ride was not possible. Likewise, it is too tiring to rest my wrists on the front handlebar as they will hit back over every bump. As a consequence of this, my rides tended to be half crouched, frantic affairs as the bike feels good at higher speeds and attacking corners. However, this meant that I was unable to relax and go slow.

The new settings removed the harshness from the seat and allowed the rider to rest his arms for longer intervals on the handlebars. However, the sharp, easy flicking nature of the bike turned into a something more stable and surefooted. It took me quite awhile before I got accustomed to this new setting (I like sharp entries into corners). I needed to use more effort to turn the bike and have to get used to the different feeling when positioning my body and arms for good corner entry (counter steering) and relearned how to sit or butt-off (can’t do the hang off yet) the bike. I miss the sharp handling of the previous setting, but have relearned and adapted to ride in a way so as to corner the bike in a confident and enjoyable way.

Highway Setting

There is another setting that I discovered that is probably quite good for long, boring highway journeys. Decrease the front fork’s compression from 8 clicks out to 9 clicks out. With this setting, you can rest your arms for the entire time. The front is plush and comfortable. However, I tried to adapt to this setting for 1 week plus and could not. The main reason being that when the bike is in the process of banking over, I would suddenly feel as if the the front wheel suddenly disappeared. It is more apparent when doing a quick flick at slow speeds. At higher speeds, it is less apparent. The best compromise setting is with 8 clicks out, though for the long boring highways, 9 clicks out might be less tiring.

So after 1 1/2 years of ownership, I have finally come to the point where I think I can make peace with the Diva / Changi Express. Looking back I realised that previous owners merely used her and did not put in the necessary maintenance. As such, there were many repairs to do when I first bought her. Now, she’s purring like kitten and the stomp of the engine from down low is impressive. I am thinking to send her for a dyno run to see how a high mileage 12 year old GSXR is putting out at the rear wheel. We will see.

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