A message from Chris Harr about Ricor suspension components

We got an email from long-time listener and guest on the show, Chris Harr. Chris wants to tell us about Ricor suspension components.
Hey Guys,
Do you read MCN? I ask because the back cover of a recent issue had a write-up on the Ricor Intiminators, a drop in compression valve/shim stack for damping rod forks which features an inertial valve which is intended to limit brake dive while also allowing effective high-speed bump absorption. In effect, the inertial valve allows the fork to have 2  different compression damping curves depending on which direction the suspension travel is occurring. The matching IAS Shock also has an inertial valve which affects rebound response instead of compression.
I did some homework on the KLR650.net, ADVRider and SV forums and found numerous positive reviews w/ no complaints, so I decided to give the Ricor parts a try.
I purchased the Intiminator fork valves and matching shock for my KLR in December under a winter special. The shock was shipped with a 300lb/ft spring which is on the soft side, but it seems to be working fine for me @200lbs in gear and with the panniers installed.
Install was straightforward. No modifications to the OEM damping orifices are needed, which means the forks can be returned to stock w/o replacement of OEM parts. I’d imagine you could install them w/ the forks in the clamps on the pre-08 KLRs but it’s better to remove them to drain the forks completely. The rear shock was also fairly easy  - the KLR’s upper shock mount nut is captive, which is a good thing since the airbox blocks direct access to it. Total install time with 2 guys working on the bike on a lift was about 2 hours. At home, I’d guess it’d take a half-day working solo, assuming you have the correct tools including an oil level tool for the forks.
I’ve had them in for a few weeks now and have logged around 500 miles since install.
In my opinion, the benefits of the combo are significant. The dive control under braking is really effective, but the forks are still fairly compliant over square-edged bumps. On local dirt roads I find that the front is far less scary over rough washboard/bumpy surfaces. Overall, the valves work exactly as advertised.
The shock is less cut and dry. The IAS system helps to slow forward pitch on the brakes relative to the OEM shock. Traction seems very good, even on wet and bumpy surfaces. The rear compression is stiffer than stock but it’s also less prone to bottoming. The improvement is definitely valving-related, as the 300lb/ft spring is only slightly stiffer than the OEM spring and I’m not running any more preload than I did with the OEM shock.
Where the IAS shock is strange, but effective, is over the wide speed bumps used in my local area. On the OEM shock, it would get launched out of the seat over those bumps at anything over 25mph (I can hit them much faster on the Aprilia BTW). The OEM shock simply had too little high-speed rebound to prevent kicking when most of the travel was used. The IAS shock exhibits far less of this behavior. The shock seems to extend quickly enough to track the back side of the speed bump as there is nearly no wheel spin after the crest of the bump, even at 45mph, but the kick is far less. Where it’s interesting is when the bike settles and then rebounds, it does so slowly and without a second or third oscillation.  To put it simply, the rear suspension seems to respond quickly when the rear suspension unloads over a bump, but rebounds slowly when dealing with chassis weight.
Compared to OEM, the bike is less pitch sensitive, less prone to bottoming, is slightly less plush over minor pavement imperfections, and is far easier to ride on bumpy gravel roads.
Post-sale, I’ve had a few questions or concerns. Brian @ Ricor has been responsive to my needs and has offered a spring rate change/revalve free of charge if needed (which I’ve decided it’s not). There may be limitations on those policies, but I’m still impressed with my interactions with their company.
Would I recommend the combo? Definitely, as long as the purchaser isn’t expecting KTM Adventure suspension quality… the kit on high-end dual sports is still superior to the modded KLR, but the gap is far less now and even with mods, I’m at ½ the cost of a used 950 Adventure and still less than the going rate for a used F650GS.
Chris, thanks for this excellent information!

Tool kit contest pictures

Get those tool kit contest pictures in before 10/10/10! To give you an idea of what we're looking for, here's my kit. I used a RoadGear tool roll and replaced most of the OEM tools with better quality stuff, then added things that I know my bike needs and that would make most road-side repairs easier. This includes a ratchet, a selection of the right sizes of sockets, some hex-head sockets, pliers, wrenches, wire cutters, screw drivers, etc.
Tool roll, closed up

Tool roll, closed up

Tool Roll, opened up

Tool Roll, opened up

And for good measure, here's a link to the Road Gear tool roll... http://www.roadgear.com/Accessories/Bike_Maintenance/Sport_Touring_Tool_Pouch/

A forum no more…

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