The Suspense Is Killing Me

Getting ready to play!

Enjoying the first real spring day of the season: Fueling up for a ride with Mr. Slow.

I’m not happy. I was at first, but am not anymore. I was lubing my chain the other day and noticed that the rear sprocket is showing signs of wear, this led me to look into a gearing change, since I’ll have to replace the sprockets in the next few thousand miles anyway. This research, in turn, got my perfectionistic side all bent out of shape because I’m about to change yet another thing while I have one kink already to work out. One thing at a time, chica. One thing at a time. Thus, it came to be that I had to admit to myself that the suspension setup compromise is not working for me in the long run. But I really don’t want to go through that whole crappy fairing and fender removal process yet again. What a bummer that is. Heck, it isn’t really working for me at all, now that I had a chance to put a bunch of miles on the bike. Don’t get me wrong, I love it lowered like it is now. I’m more confident at slow speeds (even though my turns are wider than they used to be)  and I can actually flat-foot the thing in my race boots now; no more getting stuck on the incline side of a crowned road or trying to back out of a declined parking spot. She also feels more stable and planted. However, when I first started this project I hadn’t realized that maybe the adjustability range of the ‘Busa would give me problems and would lead to compromises. Lesson learned. Check the parameters before implementation to see if it’s even possible to follow through. It was a learning experience (and still is), and I wouldn’t have been able to ask the right questions at the time anyway. Yes, I could have asked for help and had the answers given to me, but that’s not how I work. I want to own my solution. I want to be guided, not shown. The Socratic Method, that’s how I like to be taught. I had to take it one step at a time, and I’m not sorry that I did. However, I am now frustrated with the current setup. The bike now corners like a bus and my arms are really getting tired from the heavy steering, at least that distracts me from my sore thigh muscles. 😉 My geometry is way too relaxed for my taste, since I am missing 10 mm of preload in the front, but the adjusters are at their limits. I don’t want to spend more money on this… I have to sleep on it, but I think the best I can do is raise the fork tubes through their triple clamp 5 more millimeters and crank in rear preload. Between those two, I should be able to affect the desired decrease in rake/trail. I’m dangerously close to getting into the no-no zone up front and I’ll blow my rear sag numbers into race territory, but I think it might just give me what I need. If not, I can always move for a reversal.


Suspension Tuning – Part 1: The Fat Lady’s Got Slammed

After almost one whole month I finally got around to finishing my suspension project, well, the first part thereof anyway. After inadvertently having to lower her rear by approximately one inch (at least that’s what the mech told me) by replacing the stock links with the Brock’s adjustable lowering links. Of course, I hadn’t planned on that. I had assumed that the Brock’s links at their shortest would be the equivalent of the stock length, but I had assumed wrong. Maybe a pre-purchase email would have been in order. Oh well… that kind of nixed the plans to keep the geometry as close to stock as possible, unless I could somehow offset the change by raising the fork tubes through the triple clamp more.

Let’s recap: I needed to raise the fork tubes by 4 mm to offset the undesired rake/trail increase that was caused by getting rid of 5 mm of rear preload to bring my rear sag within range. My front suspension at rest was also too low, so I needed to bring that up by about 16 mm, which is done by cranking in 16 mm of preload, which in turn is raising the bike’s front up, increasing ride height (which, in my case, is also undesired); to offset that, I needed to raise the fork tubes by 16 mm. We are now at 20 mm of tube raising and 16 mm of added front preload.

That was the plan, without the rear being lowered from stock height by the adjustable links from the start. No big deal, Mike (goldiron), my resident suspension expert and all-around hero, had implored me to lower the thing by an inch or two anyway, due to my persistent short-shit problem. I wasn’t fretting it. I figured I’ll work around that and balance it out with the appropriate adjustments. Needless to say, I hadn’t really thought that through all the way. Never had I considered the adjustability of the Hayabusa’s stock hardware, or the lack thereof. Seems to me Suzuki doesn’t want us to play around with their stuff much. Case in point: a top triple clamp upper that doesn’t have holes big enough to fit fork tubes through.

I ordered myself a convertible Pit Bull fork lift stand, to enable me to unload the Fat Lady’s front suspension, so I could slide those tubes through that newly acquired Exoticycle top triple clamp upper. It arrived in the mail shortly thereafter and two days later I was ready to finish what I’ve started a little over a month ago. You have to take the fender off to use the thing on the Gen II Hayabusa. What a pain in the ass that is. And it doesn’t seem that way at first. Three screws on either side and a little bracket that holds the brake line in place. Yaright! The screws are out. Squeeze… doesn’t fit. Shit, I’m gonna scratch the hell out of my beautiful fork tubes. Screw that. Oh, I see. The little hose bracket. I stick my skinny arm up under there, between the tire and the loose fender, and grope around blindly. Hex nut. No problem. I stick a socket (minus the ratchet) up in there and remove it. Squeeze. Shit. Now what. Oh hell! There’s another brake line clamp dead center on the top of the fender. Shit. It’s a complete circle. WTF? How am I supposed to remove that. Surely, they don’t mean for me to undo the damn banjo bolts? Jackasses. Time to consult the service manual. Suzuki’s documentation sucks! Their service manual is shit. Their owner’s manual is of equal quality. What the hell do I do with “Disconnect (b) then remove fender piece.” Disconnect how?!? Assclowns. Well, yeeeaaaaah! I look at the thing. I’m cold, my fingers are cold, the wind is blowing 30 mph and I’m not getting any happier. I don’t have patience for this kind of idiocy. Hubby goes inside (apparently he can’t take much more of my antics) but returns a few minutes later: “The peeps on Hayabusa.oRg say to just cut the damned thing off. It’s a Gen II thing, they got cheap and used plastic rivets.” Not good enough! That’s not what the manual says. As crappy as the thing is, they do tell you when you need to replace removed fasteners with new ones, because said removal process destroys said fastener. I feel around some more, frustrated. As the anger grows, so does my grip strength. I can’t squeeze the bottoms together (this is one of those fasteners akin to wall anchors, they go in easy one way, then lock into place by expanding flanges.) Aha! “Hand me the damn needle nose pliers!” I yank on the thing then stick the pliers in between the plastic ring and the fender and squeeze while yanking. I had previously tried it from underneath, with not much luck. Pop! It’s out. w00t! 45 minutes on just the fender removal. I still have to get the infernal plastics off. But I didn’t have to destroy the fastener, like it had been suggested on the .oRg.

Hubby puts the ‘Busa on her new front stand. I don’t have enough junk in my trunk to do it myself. I tried. I need a longer handle. Pit Bull makes them (“ask us about our longer handles, when you desire more leverage”, I should have, but I thought the standard handle would do, after all it’s the front not the rear of the Fat Lady. WRONG!) I’m getting a longer handle eventually. I hate not being able to do it myself. 😐

The Fat Lady's newly lowered front.

A closeup of the Fat Lady's newly lowered front.

I’m becoming quite the expert in fairing removal (if I have my brain in gear and don’t try to do the layers out of order, that is). The fairings are off (and although they are supposed to be in seven pieces, not counting the four pieces in the front wheel well, for me they don’t disengage from each other, they come off as one.) I also have to remove the ram air intake ducts to get enough clearance to the lower pinch bolts to use the torque wrench. We loosen the six pinch bolts. Two on the top triple clamp, four on the lower triple clamp. I was worried that the tubes would slide out once released, but they don’t. They are actually kind of hard to move, even with the bolts almost backed out. This is a job that can be done alone, contrary to what I expected. 20 mm is all we can safely raise the tubes in their triple clamp before we run into the no-no zone (the clamps have to stay on the smooth part, and that’s not negotiable according to the service manual.) It takes a while to get both sides exactly right. Hubby is pushing them up through, then I use the soft side of a rubber mallet to slowly pound them back down into their final position, which coincides with the line between the smooth and grooved parts of the forks. Since they don’t slide very easily this is a tad of a push-pound-push proposition. We finally get them as close as we humanly can. I used electronic calipers to check them; to my best recollection there is a difference of 0.2 mm between the right and the left side. Close enough. I think there are bigger inconsistencies in her chassis alignment out of the crate.

The right fork tube cap: Before

The right fork tube cap: Before cranking in preload

Now, to crank in preload. We need 16 mm to offset the change in ride height, and MORE importantly, to raise the bike on its suspension so it moves the travel up the shock to bring my sag within range. And this is where the fun starts. I have three lines left. To crank in preload the adjuster is turned clockwise which makes the thing disappear into the fork tube cap (for some reason I had it in my head that it would back out). 6 mm of the required 16 mm is all I can do before it bottoms. Drat!!! Oh well. Now it seems that my geometry is seriously relaxed from stock. Oh well. I have maxed out the rear. I have maxed out the front. There is nothing left to adjust. Preload at full-on in the front; preload at full-off in the rear. Fork tubes raised as far as they can safely go. I’m not happy. Shit! Well, off to go for a zip-tied test ride through the same 11-mile loop I’d done previously.

The left fork tube cap: After

The left fork tube cap after cranking in preload

I reduced my effective ground clearance from 4.7 inches (stock, but I don’t know where Suzuki measured this, I’m assuming in the middle) to 3.25 inches at its lowest point (in the rear). She’s 4.125 inches in the front and 3.5 inches in the middle. So I’ll have 3.5 inches before I bottom out and drag hard parts, namely the exhaust. I hope I can get this puppy down the driveway without wrecking my ass. I get my gear on and back her into the street. I’m a little nervous. I go slow, I expect to bottom the thing on the curb, but I don’t. So far so good. I stop briefly to push the zip-tie up against the fork seal and take off. I take it easy at first. I don’t trust the bike. I’m doubting myself. Not my calculations, but the compromises I had to make with the lack of adjustability of the hardware. I’m expecting all sorts of weird shit to happen. But it doesn’t take long to start trusting again. I can’t really feel any significant difference. WTF? The most difference I could feel on this quest for a personalized suspension setup was when I picked her up from the shop after they put the lowering links on for me and consequently dropped her ass about an inch. That was sweet as  hell. I’m a little disappointed in what little effect all that knuckle-busting for hours in the driveway had. But I’m also glad that I really couldn’t feel a difference. That means I at least didn’t screw something up and turned the Fat Lady’s kitten manners into a salivating hellcat.

There is a slight but noticeable heaviness in steering, but that is to be expected with the resulting (and undesired) relaxation in geometry. Hell with it. She’s a drag bike at heart anyway. I have land speed racing aspirations, so I can cope with that. Yeah, I’m a twisties girl at heart, but I can work it. I never experienced a ‘flickable’ bike. I’m used to manhandling massive hardware around turns. No biggie, I have forearms that won’t quit. =D  It’s only slightly worse than it was stock, barely perceptible. She does feel more planted and stable due to her lowering, and I feel more comfortable and in control at slow speeds. So overall, I gained more than I lost. Way more. The only way I can fix this is by replacing stock components, and that seems a little costly at the moment. Will the gains even be worth it? Is it something I should consider, given my newly acquired taste for rapid acceleration and top end speed? I can always get a cheap track bike to satisfy my need to dance through curves. We shall see. I don’t even know yet. I do enjoy wrestling a Hayabusa through the north GA mountains. The Fat Lady can dance, but you got to work with her, she has rhythm but she needs a firm lead. Go in early, come out late, and you better have your line right the first time. LOL Impressive for a skinny runt like me, or so I’ve been told. If anything I do enjoy making this shit look good.

Linkage to the entire series:

  1. Suspension Tuning – Part 1: Rider Sag, Free Sag, and Preload
  2. Suspension Tuning – Part 1: Plan ‘A’. Plan ‘B’. Plan ‘C’ It Is.
  3. Suspension Tuning – Part 1: Exploratory Surgery
  4. Suspension Tuning – Part 1: Let’s Go Shopping!
  5. The (preliminary) results: OMG! OMG! OMG! The Fat Lady Can Dance?
  6. Suspension Tuning – Part 1: The Fat Lady’s Got Slammed
  7. Suspension Tuning – Part 1 (Results): There’s a first time for everything…

The Fat Lady’s Laying Low

The Fat Lady's slammed!

The Fat Lady's good side: after lowering the front.

The Fat Lady's slammed!

The Fat Lady's bad side: after lowering the front.


Fat Lady Pixels

I suppose I need to take a few quick shots, to show off her new Bling Bling:


OMG! OMG! OMG! The Fat Lady Can Dance?

So I come back from my 14.5K service. I had them throw the Brock’s lowering links on there in addition to the kickstand, since the first looks to be a huge pain in the ass to do yourself, the pipes are in the way; I don’t have a jack; and I can’t get the ‘Busa’s fat ass on the rear stand by myself anyway. But I needed to get this done, because if I hadn’t done it today, it would have had to wait for over a week. 😦 Anyway, I gave them the parts with the instructions to take all the preload off the rear and to install the links at stock length. Dude behind the counter looks at me funny. I know the look… it’s the look of ‘girly, you don’t really know what you’re doing, do you?’ Then he asks me: “Why get lowering links when you want them at stock length?” I reply promptly: “I’ll adjust them later.” He nods, then: “All the preload?” My turn to nod:”Yes, don’t need it. Take the entire 5 mil off.” He writes it down, letting out a longish “Okaaaay.” I leave. Two hours of milling about the nearby shopping center, and hanging out at Starbucks; then the phone call finally comes in. The Fat Lady’s out of surgery. I finish my latte then walk my butt back up the road about a half of a mile. Jamie, their resident ‘Busa tech, tells me that he couldn’t install them at stock length, they’re too long, so she ended up about one inch lower in the rear. I had figured that this might happen, but I couldn’t be sure. I tell him, it’s all good, give them my cash receive my stock parts and am out of there. I walk outside and look at my baby. She’s all squat in the back… looking like she’s driving uphill. Huh. She actually looks faster sitting there with her new linkage and shed of the rear preload. He also adjusted the kickstand for me, but she’s still a little too upright for my taste, so tomorrow I’ll fix that after hubby helps me put her on the rear stand. I throw a leg over and the first thing out of my mouth is: “Holy shit, she sits like the Sporty Low!” Then I giggle. Crap, I have a ton of bend in my knees. I think I might be in danger of dragging ass cheeks. This oughta be interesting. I back her out of her parking spot and find that this is a lot easier than I remember; I’m backed out and gone faster than ever. I pull out into traffic and it only takes me about a mile, the cheese quesadilla S-curve, to be convinced that I might just like the hell out of this. After a few more miles, I’m astonished. What the hell? She’s way more stable (I expected that), she doesn’t want to unload her front-end anymore under hard acceleration (I expected that, too), she’s more settled in turns (I kind of expected that, also) and damn it… what I didn’t expect was that she is freakin’ easier to steer. WTF? That doesn’t make any stinking sense. I increased my rake and trail and the steering is lighter? I’m dumbfounded, but who cares, I’m enjoying the crap out of this new feeling. I sure hope I can make it up onto the curb in our driveway without bottoming out…

I go home and promptly exchange the stock top triple clamp upper with the one I ordered from Exoticycle. Then went for another test ride. It’s all good. Front’s still rigid, behaves pretty much the same as it did with the stock part. Then it dawns on me. I have enough leg room now for my Hayabusa gel seat that I got from hubby for Xmas. Back home I go, switch out the seats and go for another jaunt. Awesome. Now I don’t feel like I’ll be getting road rash on my ass, and I like this even better. Tomorrow when it’s daylight out, I’m going to have to go and really stress test this puppy!

One more thing has got to go though: the stock clip-ons. I need longer bars! The Pazzo Racing levers do not clear the dash plastics and interfere with full-lock when they are in the position and angle I need them to be. I had to basically adjust them to gain clearance, but I’ll be needing another 7-10 mm to prevent the parts from touching. I can still use the fork lock, but it puts the squeeze on the brake lever. I think I’ll probably need about 15 mm to have them clear when they are adjusted properly to my hands. Now I need to find a set that is longer than stock… but nobody ever posts the length of the darned things. So I guess it’s email time.

Still, even with the lever thing, I’m so damn excited, I wanna go ride all night!!!! Shit! I can’t hardly contain myself I’m so happy!!!!

Linkage to the entire series:

  1. Suspension Tuning – Part 1: Rider Sag, Free Sag, and Preload
  2. Suspension Tuning – Part 1: Plan ‘A’. Plan ‘B’. Plan ‘C’ It Is.
  3. Suspension Tuning – Part 1: Exploratory Surgery
  4. Suspension Tuning – Part 1: Let’s Go Shopping!
  5. The (preliminary) results: OMG! OMG! OMG! The Fat Lady Can Dance?
  6. Suspension Tuning – Part 1: The Fat Lady’s Got Slammed
  7. Suspension Tuning – Part 1 (Results): There’s a first time for everything…

Suspension Tuning – Part 1: Let’s Go Shopping!

We need a few things to put ‘Plan C’ into action and begin twiddling adjusters to hopefully end up with a sweet ridin’ ride. The Fat Lady’s fixing to get it!

Top Triple Clamp:

Gen II Hayabusa Triple Tree Clamp

Black anodized aluminum top triple tree clamp for a Gen II Hayabusa from Exoticycle

I got this puppy since it was the only one I could find that was said not to interfere with the controls clearing the fairings and windscreen and interfering with full lock-to-lock steering. We shall see if that is fact or fiction.

Lowering Links:

Brock's Performance Window Lowering Links

Brock's Performance Window Lowering Links

I opted for these since I wanted something that was fully adjustable and easy to use. I liked the idea of the windows showing available thread left. That’s a pain inna arse as I have discovered when adjusting the angle of my foot levers. 😦 Dog bones are too crude in their adjustment ranges (full 1-inch increments) and are a pain in the arse to adjust, should the need or desire arise. And the other fully adjustable links I’ve looked into didn’t have the windows. I like the windows. Yeah, these puppies are three times the price of dog bones, but I’ll save myself some headaches and a massive amount of cursing later.

Adjustable Kickstand:
And so the newly lowered Fat Lady doesn’t find it necessary to take an asphalt nap in my absence, I got her an adjustable kickstand at McCoy Motorsports (tobefast.com), but I’ll take a pic of that when I get it. The pic in their online store isn’t worth ripping off, it’s so damned ugly.

Linkage to the entire series:

  1. Suspension Tuning – Part 1: Rider Sag, Free Sag, and Preload
  2. Suspension Tuning – Part 1: Plan ‘A’. Plan ‘B’. Plan ‘C’ It Is.
  3. Suspension Tuning – Part 1: Exploratory Surgery
  4. Suspension Tuning – Part 1: Let’s Go Shopping!
  5. The (preliminary) results: OMG! OMG! OMG! The Fat Lady Can Dance?
  6. Suspension Tuning – Part 1: The Fat Lady’s Got Slammed
  7. Suspension Tuning – Part 1 (Results): There’s a first time for everything…

Miss Busa WANTS these. NOW!

Attention @TaildManx: Your baby needs a little something for The Fat Lady:

Brock's Window Lowering Links

I WANT: Brock's Window Links

And to make it easy on ya: Click here now, have CC ready! and please, select overnight shipping. Live a little. =D

Oh, and before I forget. I also would like a set of these:

Front End Lowering Bushings

Suzuki Front End Lowering Bushings

Here’s the linky, suga daddy: Pingel Online 😉

Or… you do know your way around a Dremel, right? If you wanna be a cheapskate (so you can get that Nolan BT modular you’re currently drooling over… you could always widen the holes in the top triple clamp to 51mm, so I can stick the fork tubes through. =D