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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So I was sitting here looking at brake lines as a cheap little upgrade to my FZ and while researching lines, someone pointed out that if you upgrade your brakes, the suspension problems become ever more pronounced through diving under braking and the like.

I mainly ride decently to well maintained roads. I'm 5'11" 185 lbs, 190+ in full gear but just shy of 200. I don't plan on tracking this bike, I figure by the time I can afford the time and money to do trackdays again I'll also be able to buy a dedicated race bike to beat up around a track.

What do you guys think on doing brakes AND suspension vs just brake lines? Even if I do both I wasn't planning on a full replacement brake setup, just the lines. Pads, rotors, etc can wait until 20k miles or so when I wear the stock ones out.

Also, what suspension options are there besides K-tech, ohlins, or Penske? I don't want to have to cut into my subframe to make something fit but I also don't want to shell out $1200 for something I barely notice right now (only at 240 miles on the bike so far though, and no twisties yet aside from a twisty highway in moderate traffic). I mean, I'm coming from riding a Husky 630 supermoto as my primary bike so the suspension still feels relatively stiff to me right now.

edit - I'm fairly leery of going the "just snag a used ZX10/ZX6/Hyabusa/etc shock". I'd rather just buy something new that's specifically meant for my bike. Look at it this way - $8900 OTD for the bike + $xxx for suspension fix still brings me in under $10,000. That's my goal is to stay under $10k for this. I don't mind going a bit over that after I do eliminator and lights and levers and such but suspension and brakes and bike I'd like to keep under $10k or as close to it as possible.
 

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Better brakes are going to mostly highlight the soft front suspension. I'd recommend putting in heavier oil and possibly heavier springs (I went with .90 Sonic Springs). Both are fairly inexpensive and make a world of difference. I did my forks early last year and only now installed steel brake lines and EBC HH pads. For the shock I went with a low milesage one from a 2008 ZX10R. They used to be <$100 on ebay but may have climbed now. No need to cut anything to install it. I can afford a Penske now but I'm not sure the difference would be worth the cost.
 

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To me, the factory pads do a very good job on this bike, unless you are going to be pushing it really hard for long periods of time (track days or extended time in the canyons). The lines are typical rubber lines and do not offer a great deal of feedback or firmness to hard braking. Upgrading to stainless braided lines will make a substantial difference in braking feel, which will only exacerbate the very poor front suspension in stock form. Front end dive with the stock suspension for someone who is a moderate to hard braker will be pretty much intolerable and certainly contribute to a very unsettled chassis when braking into a corner. As suggested above, at a minimum, you need to put the correct springs in the front end and go with a heavier fork oil. That will not solve the front end woes, but it does make for a good improvement. Once that is done, then it's time to make the switch to stainless braided lines up front. The rear end is also in need of suspension help and there are a lot of options out there for that also. Personally, I went with a Penske double clicker, but a lot of the folks are getting the wanted results with the Kawasaki shocks that were mentioned in the previous post. It all boils down to how you ride and how hard you expect to push the bike's suspension.........and of course, how much money you are willing to spend on the end results.
 

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You said you don't intend to track the bike....so I assume all you want is marginal improvement for cheap. I try to discourage "marginal improvement" because what you end up with is a bike that will never allow you to aquire any real skill. And cheap? Cheap never works. Either buy a GIXXER 750 for strafing the corners...OR dump a few grand into your FZ09 and make it right.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Heh. I've been riding for 15 years. Owned a 2007 GSXR 750 from 2007-2014 and tracked it. Also have owned a GSXR 600 (2003-2007) and a Husky 630 SMS (2014-2015). Rode dirt a bit before that. Budget's a wee bit tight at the moment which is why I'm specifically NOT spending $$$$ on upgrading the suspension. I just want it to be on par with the stock suspension of a modern sport bike. If I spend $1500 or more on suspension, that leaves me with nothing for an exhaust or power commander.


As for the ZX6 shocks and such - what makes the ZX6 so special that so many FZ09 owners are getting that shock? What about an R6? GSXR? What specifically does the FZ09 need? Another thing I'm not so sure I like is some people's replacement shocks change the ride height and shorten the wheelbase. I'd like to keep the wheelbase as is and keep the shock length as is. And hell, since I'm wishing, I'd also like a custom colored spring. Why not.
 

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i don't think just changing lines will make the poor suspension seem much worse. New HH pads would, not so sure about lines making that big an impact on suspension.
Just 'cause you dont want to do track days on it, doesn't mean its not worth spending money on.
Cheap would be heavier oil in the forks with a smaller air gap, a bit more would be new springs for your weight, then maybe a valve stack, or just all out with new cartridges.
rear would be zx6 or 10 shock, or all out for penske/ohlins/racetech etc.
brakes can be as simple as lines and pads, maybe radial MC,or add new rotors, or even bigger R1 rotors.
On my (now written off) MT i had penske rear, springs a valve/shim stack in the front, and HH pads. My soon to be delivered replacement MT has the old penske, the old springs and stack, with heavier oil and a smaller air gap. Keen to see the difference.
I'll put HH pads in when i can ride again. Was a good setup before - i might change the MC on the next one for a more feel. HH pads were good enough (power wise) for me.
 

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I do know that now I have Ohlins internals in the forks, the brakes (with braided lines) are suddenly stupendous and completely exploitable. :thumbsup:
 

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I put stainless front lines on mine a few weeks ago and I am on stock suspension. I love the new braking feel and the suspension handles it just fine though I am using the Sport Rider recommended suspension settings (for the front that means 2 rings showing and 2 clicks out from max rebound). Also I tend to brake progressively and never with more than two fingers. Oh and I weigh around 170 with gear.


So I was sitting here looking at brake lines as a cheap little upgrade to my FZ and while researching lines, someone pointed out that if you upgrade your brakes, the suspension problems become ever more pronounced through diving under braking and the like.

I mainly ride decently to well maintained roads. I'm 5'11" 185 lbs, 190+ in full gear but just shy of 200. I don't plan on tracking this bike, I figure by the time I can afford the time and money to do trackdays again I'll also be able to buy a dedicated race bike to beat up around a track.

What do you guys think on doing brakes AND suspension vs just brake lines? Even if I do both I wasn't planning on a full replacement brake setup, just the lines. Pads, rotors, etc can wait until 20k miles or so when I wear the stock ones out.

Also, what suspension options are there besides K-tech, ohlins, or Penske? I don't want to have to cut into my subframe to make something fit but I also don't want to shell out $1200 for something I barely notice right now (only at 240 miles on the bike so far though, and no twisties yet aside from a twisty highway in moderate traffic). I mean, I'm coming from riding a Husky 630 supermoto as my primary bike so the suspension still feels relatively stiff to me right now.

edit - I'm fairly leery of going the "just snag a used ZX10/ZX6/Hyabusa/etc shock". I'd rather just buy something new that's specifically meant for my bike. Look at it this way - $8900 OTD for the bike + $xxx for suspension fix still brings me in under $10,000. That's my goal is to stay under $10k for this. I don't mind going a bit over that after I do eliminator and lights and levers and such but suspension and brakes and bike I'd like to keep under $10k or as close to it as possible.
 
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Like I said before, moderate to hard braking, even when done smoothly will exploit the terrible front suspension....front end dive, lack of compression damping, and lack of rebound damping even when trailing off the brakes quickly.
 

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I put stainless front lines on mine a few weeks ago and I am on stock suspension. I love the new braking feel and the suspension handles it just fine though I am using the Sport Rider recommended suspension settings (for the front that means 2 rings showing and 2 clicks out from max rebound). Also I tend to brake progressively and never with more than two fingers. Oh and I weigh around 170 with gear.
I'm the same weight as you. What settings are you using for the rear suspension?
 

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Heh. I've been riding for 15 years. Owned a 2007 GSXR 750 from 2007-2014 and tracked it. Also have owned a GSXR 600 (2003-2007) and a Husky 630 SMS (2014-2015). Rode dirt a bit before that. Budget's a wee bit tight at the moment which is why I'm specifically NOT spending $$$$ on upgrading the suspension. I just want it to be on par with the stock suspension of a modern sport bike. If I spend $1500 or more on suspension, that leaves me with nothing for an exhaust or power commander.


As for the ZX6 shocks and such - what makes the ZX6 so special that so many FZ09 owners are getting that shock? What about an R6? GSXR? What specifically does the FZ09 need? Another thing I'm not so sure I like is some people's replacement shocks change the ride height and shorten the wheelbase. I'd like to keep the wheelbase as is and keep the shock length as is. And hell, since I'm wishing, I'd also like a custom colored spring. Why not.
Me - I'd spend the $1500 on heavier fork springs and oil, a nice shock, and some stainless brake lines. What good is more power if you can't fully use what it already has?

The 2005-2006 ZX6RR is the special one. In part it's because it's a close fit - a little longer, a little firmer spring, and more damping. Also because it's a "triple clicker" with separate adjustments for high speed and low speed rebound. The ZX6R doesn't have the separate high speed rebound adjustment, but is still a better fit for anyone who weighs more than 110lbs. I've heard Yamaha aimed the MT/FZ - 09 at the market for the 18 year old Japanese male, and that seems to fit with the suspension. I don't think it's bad forks or bad shocks - they just aren't the right ones for me.
 

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For the rear Sport Rider recommends preload at position '5' and rebound 1 turn out from max. These settings have been working pretty well for me so far.

Here's the snippet from the article for reference.


I'm the same weight as you. What settings are you using for the rear suspension?
 

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A week ago I installed a 2008 ZX10R shock, vcyclenut's flash and Kevin's O2 controller. I'm 220 lbs. in gear and have the front end settings maxed out. The bike is transformed, from all motor to a scalple/weapon, but what surprised me was the excessive front end dive under braking was gone. The bike just seems to stay level when braking with the ZX10R shock. This may be from the better rebound damping of the ZX10R shock or that the rear was raised nearly an inch, changing geometry and also compressing the front springs some, or both. I can now brake harder when called for without fearing excessive nose dive. The twisties of NorCal are my playground.

Unless you're using all of the FZ09's motor or just want aural pleasure, an exhaust system should be a distant second on the upgrade list, after a rear shock. IMO
 

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I've never understood why magazines give 'suggested suspension settings' without providing the rider weight in gear. What works for a 150 lb'er won't work for a 250 lb rider. Riding style and intended use always plays a large role in how you set the bike up.

The brake lines on their own are a good upgrade. They don't increase the brake system's power, but they increase system efficiency and provide a firmer lever. Remember, squeezing the brake lever builds pressure in the system. If the pressure causes the lines to swell, that is energy that isn't being applied to the pads.

Ultimately, the only way to stop a vehicle harder/sooner is to more effectively dissipate kinetic energy: either increase friction (pad to rotor, tires to road, or bike to stopped car) or increase brake torque (distance from axle to center of pad). Once you get into things like pad swept area, master cylinder (or caliper) piston sizing, and suspension, you're tuning the system for different efficiencies, durability, and feedback. Most riders are able to recalibrate their right hand after a line swap so that they don't upset the chassis any more. But as Vern mentioned, the end result is that upgrading parts of the brake system will highlight the deficiencies of the next weakest link. In this case, poor suspension.

If you're not going to the track, do the suspension. If you're going to the track, do as much as you can afford. As CD599 alluded to, it's usually safer to have a bike that YOU can't out-ride.

On a side note, here is a great reference for those who are interested in brake systems but haven't had much exposure to how it all works: http://www.sae.org/events/bce/tutorial-limberg.pdf
 

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Due to the fact that I felt the front end was dangerous, I did the springs and heavier oil first thing, then I did the lines and pads. As time allowed, I replaced the cartridges and put a Penske double clicker on. Now the bike does exactly what I want it to do. It will never see the track.
 

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I understand where you are coming from, though I don't think it's absurd for them to recommend suspension settings.

Suggested settings aren't absurd--hell Yamaha 'suggests' settings in a way by setting up the bike the way they did! I think Sport Rider gets closer to how the bike should have been set up from the factory. And as I understand it there are multiple riders from which they come up with a goldilocks setting to recommend to their readership.

As someone that does not tune suspensions for a living I appreciate that these suggested settings are available for my bike from professionals that have ridden a lot of bikes in their time. I also appreciate that I don't have to spend thousands more on cartridge kits and a triple clicker to get a decent ride out of my brand new bike--with a little tweaking the stock suspension works for my weight and for the type of riding I do! Before I knew about these settings I suffered from the novice tendency of wanting to crank everything to full stiff to overcome the 'softness.' But now I have a decent setup and a greater appreciation for the '09.

I've never understood why magazines give 'suggested suspension settings' without providing the rider weight in gear. What works for a 150 lb'er won't work for a 250 lb rider. Riding style and intended use always plays a large role in how you set the bike up.
http://www.sae.org/events/bce/tutorial-limberg.pdf
 

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I understand where you are coming from, though I don't think it's absurd for them to recommend suspension settings.

Suggested settings aren't absurd--hell Yamaha 'suggests' settings in a way by setting up the bike the way they did! I think Sport Rider gets closer to how the bike should have been set up from the factory. And as I understand it there are multiple riders from which they come up with a goldilocks setting to recommend to their readership.

As someone that does not tune suspensions for a living I appreciate that these suggested settings are available for my bike from professionals that have ridden a lot of bikes in their time. I also appreciate that I don't have to spend thousands more on cartridge kits and a triple clicker to get a decent ride out of my brand new bike--with a little tweaking the stock suspension works for my weight and for the type of riding I do! Before I knew about these settings I suffered from the novice tendency of wanting to crank everything to full stiff to overcome the 'softness.' But now I have a decent setup and a greater appreciation for the '09.
The best thing anyone can do is go to their local suspension tuner and spend $40 to have them set a baseline. As I mentioned, two different riders will require different baselines.

The right solution for ANY rider is to set the suspension based on measurements and ride characteristics. Period. Accepting one particular baseline as better than stock is still limiting your prospects. The FZ-09 is it's own animal - most modern sportbikes come with better suspension calibrations that can actually be adjusted for most street riders.
 

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Sure, going to a tuner is the best thing you can do.

In my case, the Sport Rider settings worked for me and it took minimal time, money, and effort to get the bike much better and IMO much safer than stock. Limited prospects? Possibly but I'm not dragging elbows out there so no concern for me.

Also I was careful to include my weight and riding style in my initial recommendation. I guess as a disclaimer I can say that YMMV!

The best thing anyone can do is go to their local suspension tuner and spend $40 to have them set a baseline. As I mentioned, two different riders will require different baselines.

The right solution for ANY rider is to set the suspension based on measurements and ride characteristics. Period. Accepting one particular baseline as better than stock is still limiting your prospects. The FZ-09 is it's own animal - most modern sportbikes come with better suspension calibrations that can actually be adjusted for most street riders.
 
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